The sooner you are alerted to unauthorized activity related to credit usage under your name, the better chance you have to stop the crime and protect yourself. This is the goal of identity theft protection and credit monitoring services, like the one Experian offers.

How Does Experian IdentityWorks Work?

Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus that assigns a FICO credit score to consumers based on their assessment of credit worthiness. In 2010, Experian began offering an identity protection service called IdentityWorks. This program offers a range of services that allow members to monitor their credit activity to alert them to potential identity theft, misuse of their private information and the reporting of erroneous credit use to their files. Plus and Premium are the two paid levels Experian offers through IdentityWorks.

Plus includes the following services:

  • Credit Monitoring and Alerts – You receive alerts when changes to your credit usage – inquiries, address changes, new account openings – are reported to Experian.
  • Score Monitoring – Your Experian FICO score is reported two times a month and you receive notifications when it moves up or down. Each time you log in to your account, you receive score change notifications.
  • Product Guarantee – This ID theft Insurance offers up to $500,000 in coverage if you become the victim of identity theft. Note that this coverage is not available to New York state residents due to state law.
  • Fraud Resolution – Customer services agents are available via phone to provide help in dealing with potential fraud and identity theft occurrences.
  • Dark Web Surveillance Alerts – Experian scans millions of data points on the dark web to alert you to any uses of your social security number, email address, phone number, driver’s license, medical IDs, bank accounts, credit and debit cards, and passport.
  • Credit Report Lock – This feature allows you to lock your Experian credit file, which prevents financial institutions and specific other companies from accessing it to check your score. You continue to have access, as well as current creditors and their debt collectors, potential employers and insurance companies if there is an active application, and Experian.
  • Additional Features
  • Social Security Number Trace Alerts
  • Identity Validation Alerts
  • Lost Wallet Assistance

Premium includes everything Plus offers, plus the following additional services:

  • Credit Monitoring and Alerts – Includes all three credit bureaus.
  • Product Guarantee – Provides up to $1 million in coverage, excludes New York residents.
  • Additional Features
  • Financial Account Takeover Alerts
  • Court Records and Booking Alerts
  • Non-credit loan Alerts
  • Sex Offender Registry
  • Social Network Monitoring Alerts
  • Quarterly FICO Scores from all 3 Bureaus

What Makes Experian IdentityWorks Stand Out?

Experian’s identity theft protection service offers a comprehensive set of services to provide as much protection as possible for your credit. The two plan offering levels provide consumers with more choice and budgeting options. The identity theft insurance and credit lock features also enhance the IdentityWorks program.

The trial periods are a big stand-out feature for this program as a risk-free way to allow consumers to test the services and familiarize themselves with what’s on offer. Because the Premium service comes with a 30-day free trial, you can sign up for free and use all the services for a month. You can then choose to downgrade to the Plus plan if the $19.99 Premium fee is too steep for your budget. In this way, you can avoid the $4.99 Plus Plan trial month fee.

Experian IdentifyWorks Reviews

Ratings for Experian’s theft protection services range from 1 to 4.5 stars, with most of the reviews weighing in on the lower side of the scale. The biggest issue among unhappy reviewers is Experian’s customer support. Members lament the inability to speak to anyone on the phone and Experian’s unresponsiveness to complaints. Several other members experienced issues logging into their accounts, and due to the customer service issues, they have been unable to remedy these account access problems.

One recurrent theme among dissatisfied reviewers was frustration with Experian in their role as a credit bureau. These reviewers details problems with items that have been added to their credit reports and problems with their FICO scores. While these may be valid issues, they are ones with Experian as a reporting agency, rather than their identity theft protection services. This may unfairly color the reviews and star ratings that appear on the internet for IdentityWorks.

Is Experian IdentityWorks Right for Me?

For any consumer who is concerned with protecting their identity, a service like IdentityWorks can help. Because Experian offers two plan levels and monthly vs. annual payment options for their Premium Plan, it’s more likely to be a budget-friendly option for many consumers. These plan level options also allow you to determine how important credit score monitoring is in your identity theft protection service. it’s an added feature with value, but not necessary for the main goal of protecting your identity and your credit. If monitoring your credit score isn’t a priority, you can choose the lower priced Plus plan, and even this option provides you with your bi-monthly Experian FICO score.

Because many reviewers complain about Experian’s phone customer services, you may want to look to other companies if your computer skills are minimal. Experian’s IdentityWorks services are web-based, so they require a strong familiarity with online platform use. You should take this into consideration when choosing your identity theft protection service provider.

It’s also important to note that Experian offers a free identity theft protection services with limited features. This free level provides the basic essentials of credit and score monitoring and alerts. It also includes up to $50,000 in ID theft insurance. With all these available options in levels of identity theft protection from Experian, it’s likely that one will work for you.