When it comes to identity theft protection, protecting your family is something you always want to look into on top of your individual protection.
But not all family plans are created equal. Not only does that hold true just because all services are a bit different from each other, but every service out there has some twist on what a family plan means, both in terms of value and coverage. Let’s see how Costco’s Complete ID service stacks up.
Is Family Protection Really Necessary?
In a word: yes. If you have a family, whether it be a spouse, children, or both, you’re going to want to cover them.
Anyone in your family is exactly at risk from identity theft protection as you in most cases. Keeping them safe from harm is something at the forefront of most peoples’ minds when it comes to physical threats (like burglaries) but sometimes less thought is given to digital protection.
Even if your spouse doesn’t have as much in terms of assets as you (and your children certainly won’t), protecting their credit is just good sense. Both for their own personal safety and wellbeing, and for making sure that a spouse’s problems with credit don’t affect things you try to do, like jointly apply for a home loan.
Are Children Even at Risk?
Arguably, children are more at risk from identity theft than adults, as they have none of the innate protections an adult would have. Their decision-making skills are not yet fully formed, and they could end up making a mistake and revealing too much in an online chat, for example.
While talking to your children and informing them that this can be harmful is an important step in making sure they’re safe, there are a ton of problems they can run across that a child has no control over at all.
A child is a blank slate, in most cases, and shouldn’t even have a credit report. However most children have a social security number which can be exploited by bad actors to take out loans and open up accounts in their name. According to Experian’s own research, the average age of an identity theft victim is 12, which suggests children are far more likely to be a victim of identity theft than an adult.
Without identity monitoring and protection, this can go unnoticed for years, only coming to light when the child, now an adult, goes to apply for student loans, an apartment, or anything else that does a credit check and gets denied because their credit has been wrecked for a decade before they ever had a need for it.
Child monitoring is typically inexpensive and easy to set up, with a higher than average accuracy rating (since ANY hit on the child’s credit is worth alerting you about). It’s an absolute no-brainer to get for anyone considering identity theft protection, even if they don’t plan to get protection of their own.
Costco’s Complete ID service is an identity theft protection service offered only to existing Costco members.
It offers basic identity theft protection in the same vein as the bottom tier of one of the larger services.
It offers primarily data breach and dark web monitoring in all its various forms. However, it does not provide any sort of bank account monitoring, home title monitoring, or other advanced features a prospective customer would look for.
Despite these limitations though, its monitoring is extremely accurate and detailed, beyond what I’d expect from a service of this cost and relative obscurity, so it has something very significant going for it in that regard.
All in all, an average or slightly above average service for the cost, save that its cost is artificially inflated by requiring you to have a Costco membership (available only as an annual membership) before you can access it.
What About their Family Plans?
Complete ID’s family plans are a bit odd, compared to most of the rest on the market.
Essentially, they offer no real family plan option at all. Instead, you simply pay for two adult accounts at the prices listed below.
These prices do not include the base cost of the Costco membership required to access them, which is $60 and $120 respectively (bringing the annual price for both service tiers up to $227.88).
That’s a pretty hefty cost to pay for two people on their service (even taking into account that you don’t have to pay for a second Costco membership), and compares very unfavorably to even much more expensive services that offer a whole lot more protection overall. As an example, Identity Guard’s Ultra tier plan is going to run the average user somewhere in the ballpark of $320…which is often going to be significantly cheaper than this Complete ID, which gives roughly the same protection as their Value plan.
This comparison holds true across pretty much every other service on the market.
In short, when it comes to protecting two adult users, Costco’s Complete ID service is one of the worst values on the market, and is something I do no in the slightest recommend.
However, one of the saving graces is their child protection, offered separately.
That’s very cheap for what’s on offer compared to something like LifeLock Jr. or Identity Force’s Childwatch service. Even better, Complete ID covers up to 5 children for this price, unlike Childwatch which will charge you roughly the same price as this for each child covered.
It’s almost like night and day. Family coverage for adults is an astoundingly bad value, but their child coverage is equally as astoundingly good for the cost.
Complete ID as a service is pretty good for what it is, but is only of particular value for an individual who is already an existing Costco member.
Their coverage for multiple adults is atrocious in terms of its total cost. However, the value for its child identity theft protection package is quite good, and might be a potential high value consideration for a single parent looking to protect all of their children at once.
Still, in most cases it is likely best to search for your identity theft protection elsewhere, as Costco Complete ID just has too many caveats attached to its service for me to wholeheartedly recommend it as a family protection option.
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