By Calvin Fellows

Topic:  ID Theft

January 23, 2022

Many consumers use credit to fund portions of their life’s purchases; however, not many understand how credit monitoring works and how they can use it to their advantage. Credit Bureaus collect information from credit card issuers and use their established rating systems to rate borrowers so that businesses have a frame of reference when allowing a credit purchase.

Your family’s credit is monitored for suspicious activity — you can lock your credit until the problem is resolved. If your score is low, Boost adds your current subscriptions to your score to raise it.

  • Protect your whole family’s credit
  • Monitor your credit with free reports
  • Boost your FICO score with utilities and subscriptions such as Netflix

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Since the bureaus exist for similar reasons, it can be challenging to decide which one’s services you might want to use. Here, I’ll discuss and compare the consumer services provided by two of these bureaus — Experian vs. Equifax — a stand-off between 2 credit monitoring giants, with consumers in mind.

Equifax vs. Experian: Comparison

Difference
Coverage
  • 2 adults, up to 10 children
  • Lets you view your report quarterly
  • Has social media monitoring
  • 2 adults, up to 4 children
  • Lets you view your report once a year
  • Has no social media monitoring
Insurance
  • Provided lost wallet assistance to help you recover or replace your lost wallet’s contents.
  • Your name and address are monitored and verified if there is an address change initiated.
  • Has no lost wallet assistance
  • No verification if there is an address change initiated

Similarities

Similarities
Web Security
  • The Experian Family Complete plan and Equifax Identity Works Premium plan have technologies that scan the dark and accessible webs for your information
  • Internet and dark web monitoring makes sure your information isn’t being exchanged
Insurance
  • Insures up to $1 million stolen assets
  • Each plan allows for 2 adult’s identities to be covered. Each allows for a numberan amount of children’s identities to be covered
Credit Monitoring
  • Limited ability to check your credit reports; you get one 3-bureau report per year
  • Credit report locking lets you freeze your report if you’re notified of or find suspicious behavior
  • Credit monitoring for suspicious activity
  • The Fair Isaac Corporation created the FICO scores — each of the 3 bureaus use FICO scoring. Since each bureau assigns scores differently, your 3-bureau report might have differences between the scores
  • Both of these providers allow you to view a daily score with the credit bureau you purchased a plan from. Also included in both plans is the option to lock your credit report
  • The bureau you choose provides daily credit score checking for their score only
  • You can view your 3-bureau FICO scores with the more expensive plans from either provider
  • Premium plans have financial account scanning that monitors bank accounts and credit or debit cards

Equifax Features and Services

Identity Theft Protection

Monitors the credit files stored with each of the big 3 credit bureaus. By monitoring all the files, they track any changes made to your credit — if changes happen, they’ll send you an alert.y opens an account with your name.

Child Identity Theft Protection

Credit Report Control Lock protects your children’s credit from theft by preventing access and alerts you so that you can take action to protect their credit.

Credit Monitoring

Credit monitoring protects you with notifications. When you receive an alert, you can initiate a credit report security freeze so your credit is not affected by any malicious activity. The security freeze keeps anyone with your information from opening credit accounts with your name.

When you have Equifax identity theft protection, you’re able to use its Equifax Lock & Alert app to manage your credit access. If you need to allow access to your credit, unlock the app’s report, then lock it up again when you are finished.

Equifax provides you with a checklist to help you alert authorities and the merchant where the access was attempted. It will also alert the other two credit bureaus via your myEquifax account.

Pros and Cons

Description
Pros
  • Your identity is monitored for you
  • If stolen, you can recover most, if not all, of your lost assets
  • You are covered for up to $1 million in identity theft recovery
  • The annual amount of $240 to monitor 2 adults and 4 children is very reasonable
  • Your credit is automatically monitored
  • The mobile app alerts you when there is suspicious activity
  • The app lets you unlock your credit file when needed, then lock it again
  • The plan provides monitoring on the dark web and generally accessible web
  • Sophisticated software scours the net for your information, protecting the identities of your family
Cons
  • Families with more than four children are not fully covered
  • The number of children protected is low. Many families have more than four children
  • Larger families have to choose another protection provider
  • Financial account monitoring should come standard on all identity protection plans
  • Online shopping activities may not be monitored since financial accounts are not included
  • Families with more than four children are not fully covered
  • No credit score check is included or the other two credit bureaus
  • No credit score monitoring is available in ID Patrol
  • ID Patrol does not offer any identity restoration assistance
  • You need to purchase another package for each person in your family

Plans and Pricing

Complete Family Plan
  • The Complete Family Plan is all-inclusive credit security suite for a family of up to two adults and four children.
  • You’ll have access to all three of your credit reports and scores annually and daily access to your Equifax score if needed.
  • Your credit and your family members’ credit are monitored with alerts sent if there is any questionable activity.
$19.95 /month
Identity Theft Protection
  • The internet is where most identity thefts take place.
  • The Complete Family Plan comes with internet scouring technology that looks for instances of your information on the accessible web; simultaneously, it scours the dark web to see if your data is exchanging hands.
  • If any of your family members have their identity stolen, specialists work to ensure you recover any lost assets and your identity, and you’ll receive up to $1 million in ID theft insurance.
  • The Complete Family Plan is $19.95 per month.
$19.95 /month
Complete Premier Plan
  • One step down from the Complete Family Plan, the Premier Plan gives you all the same protections, except for the second adult or children
  • This plan is designed around an individual and costs $19.95 per month as well.
ID Patrol
  • The minimal package offered by Equifax, the ID Patrol, is no protection slouch. It has annual three-bureau credit reports, internet scanning, fraud alerts, credit report lock, and identity insurance coverage of up to $1 million
  • This plan provides the essential minimum protection needed in today’s online world.

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Experian Family Plans: Features and Services

Identity Protection

Experian’s identity theft monitoring and alerts program is very comprehensive. When you sign up, all of your accounts become monitored. Your social security number, address changes, and financial accounts are all watched and verified if there is activity.

Court records, payday loans, and sex offender registries are included in its monitoring service as well. Online activities, such as social media and file-sharing networks, are closely monitored to ensure that your name isn’t used without your verification. Your online information is continuously scanned across the internet and dark web.

CreditLock App 

The credit lock app installs on your mobile device and allows you to lock or unlock your credit file as you see the need. If you’re opening a new account somewhere, use the app to unlock it, then lock it back up.

Credit Monitoring and Scores

Monitors your credit files at all three of the credit bureaus. If there are changes in your FICO score, you’ll receive an alert. New credit inquiries, new accounts, positive activity, or large account balance changes trigger alerts, enabling you to take immediate action.

Boost

Everyone has the necessary bills essential to modern living — power, water, cell phones, and Netflix. These expenses are similar to paying credit debts, so Experian uses them. Experian Boost takes your basic living expenses and adds them to your credit report and score. If you keep up on your expenses, your credit score boosts.

Pros and Cons

Description
Pros
  • The low annual credit and identity protection cost of $360 for large families
  • The plan provides family protection of up to 2 adults and 10 children
  • Free Boost can provide possible score increases for your entire family
  • Up to $1 million in identity theft recovery is provided.
  • Your credit is automatically monitored
  • The mobile app alerts you when there is suspicious activity on your credit
  • The app lets you unlock your credit file when needed, then lock it again
  • Sophisticated software scours the net for your information, protecting the identities of your family
  • A fraud resolution specialist works with you to restore your identity
Cons
  • The monthly price is a bit high compared to other vendors
  • The Plus package could include a few more account monitoring options
  • The monthly price is higher than Equifax’s similar package
  • The Plus package could include financial account activity monitoring
  • You have to initiate the credit report lock instead of an automatic locking feature
  • Financial accounts are not monitored in the Plus package
  • No social network monitoring for your social media accounts
  • No option for receiving 3-bureau credit scores, only Experian
  • No alerts for identity validating are sent if someone attempts and fails to use your identity
  • No option to include ID protection for children

Plans and Pricing

$29.99/month
Identity Works Premium
  • IdentityWorks Premium covers your family, up to two adults and ten children.
  • Each family member receives the same protections on their credit and identity.
  • This comprehensive coverage plan gives you up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, internet surveillance (including the dark web), and alerts for any previously mentioned activities.
  • The Premium plan is $29.99 per month for a generous amount of coverage.
$9.99 /month
Identity Works Plus
  • The Plus plan offers $500,000 of identity theft insurance and less account monitoring.
  • Your social security number and address are the only two numbers that generate alerts in the Plus package. All of the other services are the same, including family coverage.
  • The Plus package is available for $9.99 per month — and is just as generous an amount of coverage.

Conclusion

Identity theft, and the devastating consequences of it, is something everyone should be concerned about. Even consumers without significant financial assets need to be concerned because credit taken out in their name becomes their responsibility unless they can prove they did not initiate it.

As a consumer in a digital age, you cannot go wrong with either Experian or Equifax. However, Experian has considered the needs of consumers more than Equifax. Companies should consider all consumers when a plan is conceived. Families with more than four children are forced to choose one over the other instead of a choice of plans within Equifax’s offerings.

Experian lets you add your financial account information to your plan so it can monitor your accounts for you. Replacing funds and helping you recover from having your identity stolen are essential touches. However, most thefts occur with small transactions — at vendors you don’t generally shop at — in bank accounts as tests. Monitoring for these tests alerts consumers before their accounts are emptied, letting them deal with the situation before everything is gone.

The plan from Experian differentiates itself from Equifax with its financial account and social network monitoring in addition to the scalability of its plan. For these reasons, I recommend the Experian IdentityWorks Premium for individuals or families. The protection you get with their Premium plan is well worth the higher monthly but is still a relatively low cost.

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