How We Actually Test & Score Every Identity Theft Protection Service

Our mission is to prevent 100,000 cases of identity theft from occurring by 2025.

Our Philosophy

At Home Security Heroes, we believe that our reputation is the most valuable form of currency.

This means that, above all else, we strive to deliver honest, straightforward, and unbiased reviews of all identity theft protection services on the market.

Sometimes this means that we give products shockingly low scores and potentially burn our commercial relationships with them.

We don’t particularly enjoy pointing out a product’s flaws, but it is our duty to our readers to do so.

In every review we endeavor to showcase all sides of a product, good and bad.

So how do we do this? Through our extensive testing process. Read on to learn more!

Our Testing Process

Step 1: We Research And Buy All The Products

First we need to get our hands on the product. Duh! So, we buy it with our own money.

We don’t accept gifted subscriptions of any of the products that we review because it may bias our review of it or simply convey the perception of bias.

So during this shopping phase,  we compare each service based on what they claim to provide, and choose what we think is the best value for each service. 

We usually end up paying for the highest tier family plan so that we can review every one of a product’s features.

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Step 2: We Test Each Service With Our Personal Information

Next up comes the information input phase, where one of our researchers (hi Kyle and Justin!) inputs all of their information into the product.

We try to ensure that at least two of our researchers test each product we review so that we can get more than one perspective. We have also been deliberate in choosing researchers with varying credit scores and financial backgrounds in order to give these identity theft protection softwares a variety of data to work through.

Additionally, we are careful to ensure that each researcher always inputs the exact same data into each product so that we can create truly apples to apples comparisons. After all, if a researcher inputs 5 email addresses into Aura’s dark web alerts system and only 3 into LifeLock’s, we won’t be able to structure a fair comparison between the two products.

When we are testing a service for identity theft monitoring, we are looking for all of the following:

  • Comprehensiveness: Is the service looking for threats in all the right places, such as the dark web?
  • Accuracy: Is it finding the threats I expect it to find? Since I test services all the time, there are things I know exist on the dark web. If a service doesn’t find them, I get suspicious.
  • Speed: The faster a service can find a threat, the faster I can do something about it. While a matter of hours or minutes difference isn’t a big deal, a difference of days or weeks is.
  • Actionability: Do the service’s alerts provide enough information to be actionable? Ideally, a service will include details like when the breach occurred and whether additional personal information was leaked. The alert should also advise on the next steps and give a direct line to customer support.

For example: This is what it might look like when we compare two services

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Step 3: We Test Their Customer Service By Calling At Odd Hours

Of course, along with all the number crunching we also test each service’s threat resolution capabilities by calling them up ourselves, usually multiple times, and grade them on responsiveness, knowledge, 24/7/365 availability and location (US location is preferred).

Sometimes we might call a service five or more times just to get an aggregate measure of their response time. And occasionally, this has lead to some awkward conversations:

Company Rep: “Hi thank you for calling {company} how may I help you today?”

HSH Reviewer: “Hi there. Well, I just wanted to call to see how quickly you answered the phone. And you answered in less than one minute. Nice work!”

Company Rep: “That’s great, I’m very pleased to hear that. What else can I help you with today?”

HSH Reviewer: “Nothing much, really. I’ve already asked my list of 10+ security questions to another one of your reps, so I guess I’ll just hang up now. Have a great day!”.

Step 4: We Compile The Data into ” The Beast”: Our Absolutely Gigantic Testing Database

After the information input phase comes the review phase. During this phase we are looking at everything from ease of use to how long it takes for dark web alerts to populate to overall accuracy.

Over 70 datapoints are fed into an internal spreadsheet we affectionately refer to as “The Beast” in order to begin generating a ranking.

When populating our personal information into these products, we intentionally seed them with information that SHOULD throw up an alert: these are known data breaches or past identity theft incidents that we would expect a service like this to catch.

If it finds this planted info: perfect! That means it’s monitoring everything well.

If not, that presents a problem and indicates potential gaps in protection.

Step 5: We Let Our Algorithm Rate Each Service

Here’s where our ranking algorithm kicks in. It takes all the information from our master database and gives us a detailed ranking, based on our testing criteria.

Step 6: Putting It All Together For You In Video and Article Format

Once we have gathered all the information necessary to write what we genuinely believe is the best review of that product on the market, we write, revise, and repeat until we have a best-in-class review.

But wait, it’s not over yet. Next up is the publishing process.

Remember all the blood sweat and tears that went into writing that best-in-class review? Now is the time when our editor comes in and rips it to pieces:

“Why didn’t you ask customer support this question?”

“Have you logged on to the service since they introduced that new feature last Friday? That’s missing from the review.”

“You put way too much emphasis on data broker opt-outs and not enough on credit monitoring in this review.”

After our lovingly crafted review has been sufficiently savaged and rebuilt, our head editor will finally (hopefully!) approve it and we’ll move to publishing.

Here’s an example of a finished comparison video where we compare all the best identity theft protection services available today.

One important note: Home Security Heroes is a work in progress, and some of the articles on the site are outdated. If you encounter an error of any sort, whether a typo or what you perceive as an error in editorial discernment, please let us know here.

A Note About Money (AKA Our Business Model)

Of course, we can’t have a conversation about publishing on the internet without talking about $$$. Home Security Heroes is our attempt to earn a living wage honestly and ethically, unlike those dirty identity thieves out there (yuck!).

This is how our model works:

  • You read one of our reviews, and hopefully it leads you to make an informed buying decision
  • You click one of our links, usually which offers a discount, to one of the products mentioned in the review
  • If you choose to buy that product, we will receive a commission

That’s the affiliate marketing model in a nutshell. We like it because it allows us to create an exceptional website without polluting it with ads. 

But, it’s not perfect. The obvious risk is that the affiliate model pollutes our editorial judgment, and we attempt to counter this by:

  • Being completely transparent about our business model from the beginning
  • Maintaining a separation between our commercial and editorial teams
  • Placing a premium on reader trust even when sometimes that comes at the expense of earning more money in the short-term

We hope that the approach we have taken in building this brand, which involves a far more rigorous testing process than competitors and requires us to put the full weight of our names and reputations behind it, engenders a high degree of trust in you, the reader. 

While we appreciate a sense of humor, identity theft is a serious issue and we take its prevention seriously.