Family Data Safe Review: Is It Your Best Option for Identity Theft Protection?
After receiving your Family Data Safe USB key in the mail, the website explains you’ll simply insert it into your computer, follow the quick and easy activation process, and you’ll have immediate access to their state of the art identity protection system.
In addition to monitoring your credit, the system also promises to pinpoint potential threats to your identity, and then send you an immediate alert to your smartphone, tablet, or PC. And if a loss occurs, subscribers are covered up to $1 million against costs associated with quickly restoring their identity. You can even cover up to 10 of your household members under the same plan.
It’s no secret there are potentially hundreds of different services competing for the same customers as Family Data Safe (aka Data Secure Plus). Here, we’ll walk you through how they work, what you’ll pay, what other companies offer, and how you can use all of this information to come to an actionable conclusion.
Is Identity Theft a Serious Problem?
According to a 2017 Experian survey, “84% of consumers are concerned about people taking their personal information.”
Despite this, 64% think it’s “too much hassle to actively protect their identity,” 52% think “it’s not very likely” they’ll become a victim of identity theft, and 72% said they “think thieves are only interested in rich people’s information.”
But, the reality is that identity fraud is big business, which the Insurance Information Institute reports struck 16.7 million victims in 2017, totaling $16.8 billion in losses--$5.7 billion of which was related to account takeovers alone. And it’s not just debit and credit cards that thieves are out for, as they indicate that “for the first time, more Social Security numbers were exposed that year than” card numbers.
Protecting yourself involves a multi-faceted approach of being careful to whom you give your information, practicing safe online habits, remaining mindful of the paperwork you throw away in the trash, and limiting which third-party companies you give your information.
Outside of these tried-and-true techniques, what assistance does a Family Data Safe Gold plan provide?
How Family Data Safe Works: The Differences Between Each Plan
After taking a look at the terms and conditions on the Family Data Safe website, we learned that the service is offered by Data Secure Plus, who offers two additional plans. Let’s take an in-depth look at each:
The Family Data Safe Gold Plan
There’s only one plan available on the FamilyDataSafe.com website, which is Gold. It's said to protect up to 10 different household members against the “many different layers that identity theft can create.”
Their Lost Wallet Service allows you to recover credit and debit cards, checking and savings accounts, social security numbers, drivers licenses, passports, Medicare and Medicaid numbers, and even professional licenses, with just one phone call.
The DSP Detective service also promises to send you monthly monitored emails and notifications "when your personal identity data has been compromised or is at risk of a potential threat.” It’s even advertised to monitor “public exposure of your personal information to help you keep your private information private.”
You can view the DSP Detective results at any time by logging into your personal online portal from anywhere, whether you’re at home or on-the-go. There, you can add personal information for monitoring, such as emails, social security numbers, bank accounts, and so forth.
Access is completely secure, including mirrored hotspots in separate states and restricted two-token bio-metric security, along with full replication recovery during a disaster.
In total, the Family Data Safe’s Gold plan provides up to $1 million in coverage to help restore your identity after it’s been compromised, including for expenses like lost wages, filing application fees, travel expenses, and elder, spousal, and childcare, to name just a few. There is no deductible.
Additional coverage includes address change, social media, and credit monitoring from one credit bureau, as well as a one-bureau annual credit report.
The process is fully managed by a specialist who’s said to provide hands-on, one-on-one assistance, and to whom you’ll have 24/7/365 access throughout the process of restoring your credit to ‘pre-theft’ status. They’ll create a fraud package at the outset, follow up with you during the investigation, and process disputes on your behalf.
Furthermore, compared to other identity theft monitoring services, Data Secure Plus tells us they’ve refined their “dispute processes with major financial institutions, collection agencies, and government organizations, ensuring the most accurate and speedy removal of the inaccurate or fraudulent information. This includes establishing special contracts, dispute requirements, and processes."
They also have a “direct line of communication with the IRS' Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) team, which allows us to get updates on cases much more efficiently through the restoration process of your credit restoration.”
Data Secure Plus Silver and Ultimate Plans
The company's Silver and Ultimate plans are only available on the Data Secure Plus website. How do they compare to Family Data Safe’s Gold plan?
The Silver plan comes with many of the same core features as Gold, just with no address change, social media, or credit bureau monitoring. There’s also no annual credit report.
On the other hand, the Ultimate plan comes with everything found in Gold, in addition to CyberAgent, a surveillance technology that Data Secure Plus explains “searches networks & websites worldwide, and monitors the "DarkWeb" using bots to grab full identity strings of your personal data.”
You’ll also gain access to reports on sex offenders in your area, and notifications if any sex offenders register in your name.
Finally, the Ultimate plan includes monthly score tracking, three-bureau credit monitoring and reporting, as well as SSN monitoring and credit alerts.
Here’s an overview for quick reference, based on everything we discussed:
|Data Secure Plus Silver||Everything found in Gold, except for address change, social media, credit bureau monitoring, or annual credit report|
|Family Data Safe Gold||Up to $1M in coverage for up to 10 family members, claims are fully managed by a specialist, secure online portal, address change monitoring, one-bureau SSN and credit alerts, CyberAgent access, dark web monitoring; bank, credit card, court, and criminal activity monitoring and alerts|
|Data Secure Plus Ultimate||Everything in Gold, in addition to monthly score tracking, three-bureau credit monitoring and reporting, and SSN monitoring and credit alerts|
How Much Does Family Data Safe Cost
The Gold plan from FamilyDataSafe.com is priced at $24.99/mo.
On the other hand, purchasing directly on the Data Secure Plus website, customers will pay:
- Silver: $9.99/mo
- Gold: $17.99/mo
- Ultimate: $24.99/mo
All Family Data Safe Gold plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee, less S&H, which you can request by sending an email to Plymouth Direct (a third-party retailer) at Customerservice@plymouthdirect.com.
Data Secure Plus plans also come with a 30-day money back guarantee. You can reach the company directly at 800-574-1412 or via the form on their website.
Outside of their price differences, another distinction between purchasing a Family Data Safe Gold plan from Plymouth Direct (versus one from Data Secure Plus themselves) is that the former is subject to a binding arbitration agreement.
In a nutshell, this means that if you have a grievance with the company, you’ll waive your right to a trial by jury or joining a class action lawsuit as soon as you place an order, which means a third-party arbitration company will make the final decision.
Who’s Behind Family Data Safe?
The Family Data Safe Gold plan is sold through the As Seen on TV company Plymouth Direct, who are based out of Montgomeryville, PA, has been in business since 1997, and held an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau, as of 9/4/18.
On the other hand, the coverage provider is Data Secure Plus, who offers Silver, Gold, and Ultimate ID theft protection plans. DSP is owned by Stealth Technologies, Inc. out of Largo, FL, who also held an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, as of 9/4/18.
How Does Family Data Safe Compare to Other Credit Monitoring and Identify Fraud Services?
As mentioned earlier, Family Data Safe/Data Secure Plus is far from the only company offering credit monitoring and ID fraud protection services. And the fact of the matter is that they tend to have much more in common than otherwise, including:
- Up to $1M coverage for full-service, step-by-step fraud recovery services
- Monitoring and alerts: Dark web, SSN and non-credit, change of address, court and criminal records, sex offender, financial account and application takeover
- Free annual credit reports from one or more reporting bureaus
- The ability to monitor other household members (including children)
- Secure online portals
- Lost wallet replacement assistance
Here were some of the top search results as of this writing, several of which were also offered by Experian:
|Family Data Safe Gold (Experian)||$24.99/mo||Monitors Medicare and Medicaid numbers, DSP Detective, USB key via mail|
|CompleteID (Experian)||$8.99+/mo (for Costco members)||Includes investment account activity alerts, service guarantee for lawyers and experts|
|LifeLock||$9.99+/mo||Unlimited plan includes 401(k) & Investment Activity Alerts, file-sharing network searches|
|National Credit Report||
|Includes access to TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian credit reports and scores; ScoreTracker and ScoreCast allow you to track how your credit scores have changed over time|
|IDShield||$9.95+/mo||Licensed private investigators help restore your identity|
|Protect My ID (Experian)||$9.99+/mo (free 30-day trial for new customers)||Includes all-clear surveillance alerts, all three credit bureaus monitored under Premium plan, monitoring takes 48 hours to begin after signup|
|ID Watchdog||$14.95+/mo||Monitors National Provider IDs (NPI) for healthcare professionals, credit report and score from up to all three bureaus|
|IdentityForce||$17.95+/mo||Credit score tracker/simulator, mobile app available, junk mail opt-out|
|IdentityGuard w/Watson||$8.99+/mo||Monthly credit score, anti-phishing mobile app, safe browsing extension, social insight report|
Like any other product or service, choosing between Family Data Safe or one of their many competitors typically comes down to a) what you want to pay, and b) what you expect in return for your money.
For example, the options above have an average monthly starting price of about $16.20 (which drops to roughly $13.23 if National Credit Report is excluded). As such, CompleteID, LifeLock, IDShield, Protect My ID, and IdentityGuard fall well below this mark while still offering many of the same coverage must-haves.
At the other end of the spectrum, with a price of nearly $40 per month, National Credit Report is 400% more expensive than many of its lower-priced competitors in the table above. But, they also offer monitoring and reporting from all three credit bureaus, if this is near the top of your must-haves list.
ProtectMyID’s prices were somewhat higher than the average, but they also offered a lengthy 30-day free trial for new customers, if you’re looking for the maximum amount of time before having to make a financial commitment.
Family Data Safe’s plan also fell somewhere near the middle from a price perspective, but they also provided Medicare and Medicaid number monitoring, in addition to their unique DSP Detective.
These relatively modest differences in coverage aside, CNET’s David Gerwitz emphasizes that there can be “vastly different terms and conditions” between credit and ID fraud monitoring services, so you’ll want to “take the time to read all of their fine print before you sign up for another monthly or yearly fee.”
Pro tip: Keep in mind these companies aren’t immune from ID fraud themselves. Trusted ID (Equifax) was subjected to a 2017 data breach that exposed more than 2.4 million U.S. customers.
Bottom Line: Should You Sign Up for a Family Data Safe Membership?
When it comes down to it, choosing a credit and ID fraud monitoring service isn’t rocket science, and will largely come down to which ones speak to your needs, preferences, and budget.
And from this perspective, the Family Data Safe Gold plan seems to offer all of the same fundamental coverage as their competitors, at a middle-of-the-road price. The company behind the coverage also comes with a highly positive online customer reputation.
As consumers ourselves, though, we’re always looking for the best deal. And because the Ultimate plan from Data Secure Plus is the same price as the Gold plan from Family Data Safe (even though they’re the same company), you might get more bang for your buck from the former.
» Read next: What Americans Think About Identity Theft