Review: AARP Identity Theft Protection

Pickpocketing at the subway station

AARP offers Identity Theft Protection through TrustedID. There are benefits and pricing exclusive to AARP members that make getting protection through AARP a better choice. To be clear, you must be an AARP member if you want to sign up for its identity theft protection service. Let’s see how it stacks up.

Overview of AARP’s Identity Theft Protection Service

The identity theft features provided by TrustedID through AARP include the monitoring of your credit, alerts from all three bureaus, and having your Social Security number, public records, and medical benefits monitored. TrustedID also has a “Lost Wallet” feature that allows you to store the information you keep in your wallet so you have access to it in case your wallet is stolen.

AARP members get special access to tax identity protection, change of address monitoring, and monthly credit score tracking. Other services include black market surveillance, fraud alert reminder service, and a $1 million identity theft insurance.

Medical benefits protection is a unique service offered by TrustedID. A representative can help you request your medical benefit statement so you can make sure no one else is taking advantage of your benefits to receive treatment.

You can also set up fraud alert with TrustedID so whenever a new account is opened in your name, lenders must verify that it’s you before approving the account. TrustedID will also remind you to renew this fraud alert with the bureaus every 90 days.

TrustedID can help remove your name from mailing lists so the amount of junk mail you receive is lessened. This can be a big concern for those 50 and older, and reduces the chance you might fall for a scam.

All of this is great, but what about identity restoration, arguably the biggest benefit offered by other identity theft protection services? It’s not mentioned on the website, so we asked a representative, and AARP had this to say: “In the unlikely event that your identity is ever compromised while you’re with us, call us immediately and an identity protection specialist will discuss with you the steps to restore your identity. Obviously there are things we can’t do for you because we’re not you, like showing up in court or contacting your bank to cancel credit cards. But we will manage everything else and be there to help every step of the way.”

The short answer seems to be that complete identity restoration services are not available through TrustedID, but protection specialists are available from 5AM – midnight PST in case you need assistance.

Identity Theft Insurance

The details of the $1 million identity theft insurance policy are located on Equifax’s website here. If, at first glance, you think the identity theft insurance policy is meant to cover you from losses, you should know that’s not entirely true.

The actual purpose of the insurance policy is to protect you from any costs incurred as a direct result of having your identity compromised. For example, if you have to take time off of work to go to court or replace important documents, the insurance policy will typically reimburse those costs. It also covers the cost of an attorney should you need one.

A complete breakdown of the insurance policy is in a PDF format here. As you can see, it covers costs such as lost wages, travel expenses, childcare, elder care, and legal consultation. It will also cover funds lost due to unauthorized electronic fund transfers, but typically not up to $1 million. The $1 million simply means TrustedID will spend up to a total of $1 million to restore your identity. Each category usually has a spending limit.

Additionally, you must report your identity as stolen to receive the benefit from the insurance. This policy can come in handy in case your identity is severely compromised, to the point where creditors come after you in court (for accounts you didn’t open), or someone gets a hold of your tax refund before you do.

How AARP’s Identity Theft Protection Service Works

You can sign up for a membership online in four steps:

  1. Choose which plan you want
  2. Fill out personal information to create an account
  3. Verify your identity is correct (you’re required to enter your Social Security number in the second step)
  4. Access the platform

Once you sign up, you’ll receive an “Identity Threat Score” that allows you to see if your identity is currently at risk. This serves as a good starting point.

The details of how alerts work isn’t stated on AARP’s website, but there is a “chat” function and phone number at the top in case you have questions. We asked a representative who told us alerts are sent via email and text.

Alerts will be received in the event of:

  • A new or closed accounts
  • New credit inquiries
  • The discovery of any negative information

[Getting back thousands of dollars after bank fraud]

How Much Does AARP’s Identity Theft Protection Service Cost?

There are two plans offered: an individual plan, and a family plan. Free 14-day trials are available for both in case you’d like to try the service before subscribing. Credit card information is needed to sign up, so you must cancel before the 14 days are up to avoid being charged.

Monthly and annual plans are also available for both.

The monthly individual plan is $16.99, or you can choose the annual individual plan for $170, a 17 percent savings ($14.17 per month). Under the annual plan, you can cancel whenever you want, and you will be refunded for any unused months. You can cancel at any time on the monthly plan as well, but be aware that for both plans, partial refunds aren’t given, so cancel as close to your renewal date as possible.

The monthly family plan is $29.99 per month, and the annual family plan is $300 (which is $25 per month). The family plan is good for four individuals in your household – up to two adults, and two children or grandchildren under the age of 25.

Again, you can cancel at any time and receive a refund for unused months under the annual plan, and partial refunds aren’t given. With the family plan, you can enroll additional children or grandchildren for an extra $5 per year.

AARP claims to have exclusive pricing. During the initial review of this service, prices were listed at lower amounts (the monthly individual plan was $12.99 per month). However, it looks like pricing is currently identical to TrustedID’s normal pricing.

[Worth it or not? Identity theft protection reviewed]

Transparency Level

At first glance, it may seem like AARP is teaming up with TrustedID to provide identity theft protection services to its members, but it’s using the TrustedID platform completely.

On the bottom of the site is a disclosure: “AARP® Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID is provided by TrustedID, not AARP or its affiliates…AARP does not employ or endorse TrustedID associates.”

As a result, there isn’t much information on the AARP site about the services offered at all. Quite a few times it tells users to check out TrustedID’s website instead. It would be easier if all the information was in one spot. For example, there’s no information on how alerts work or what the $1 million identity theft insurance covers on AARP’s website.

While this service provides credit reports, it also says that anyone has the right to obtain free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. It also makes it clear that the credit reports provided are in addition to these three.

Lastly, TrustedID is an Equifax company, and any credit scores provided by it are based on the Equifax scoring model.

Alternative Identity Theft Protection Services

If you’re looking to monitor your medical benefits and want to enjoy the other services offered by TrustedID through AARP, that’s great, but it likely isn’t worth paying such a high amount. In the event your identity is stolen, especially if you’re over 50, you want a company with representatives who will completely assist you in restoring your identity.

Zander Insurance is the cheapest option at $6.75 per month for individuals, and $12.90 per month for families. While it doesn’t offer credit-monitoring services (you can sign up for free credit monitoring at Credit Karma or Credit Sesame), it does offer the total identity restoration. A representative will be assigned to your case, and they will file paperwork for you and call companies on your behalf to get your identity back to its original state. Alerts are sent via email and you can also access your information on its web portal, perfect for those who are older and not as internet-savvy.

If you happen to enjoy technology, then BillGuard is another excellent alternative to look into. It’s a mobile app available for Android and iOS, and for $9.99 per month, you get complete access to its identity restoration service. You can also monitor your spending and credit directly from the app. As you might guess, alerts are received via the app as well as via email.

Conclusion

TrustedID through AARP might be a good solution for seniors, but it’s not a comprehensive solution. Yes, seniors are more at risk of identity fraud, but they also might need more assistance to restore their identity in the event it’s stolen. Zander Insurance provides a less expensive alternative with more services. Besides, if you’re not already a member of AARP, you’ll need to register to get access to TrustedID. Zander and BillGuard are stand-alone services.

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