Identity theft is an ever-growing danger, that much is clear. With vulnerabilities in software and hardware, along with large-scale breaches at companies or websites where an avalanche of personal data might be spilled, there are multiple avenues which cybercriminals can exploit to potentially obtain various details of individuals.
These details can then be leveraged to steal an identity and commit some kind of financial fraud, such a as taking out a loan or credit card in your name.
How big a problem is this these days? In the US, identity theft more than doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year, and in the UK, a 2021 report from CIFAS (the fraud prevention service) showed that identity fraud was up 11% in the first half of the year, with half a million instances occurring in the previous three years.
Thankfully, there are ways you can fight back against the cybercriminals who engage in this type of fraudulent activity. Some security companies offer services to help protect users from having their identity stolen, or to swiftly remedy the situation if the worst happens, one of them being Norton, with its Identity Advisor Plus which we’ll look at in detail here.
What is Norton Identity Advisor Plus?
Provided by Norton - one of today's best antivirus providers - and available to people in the UK, Identity Advisor Plus aims to defend its subscribers against identity theft and its consequences. It does this by keeping a watchful eye out for any of your personal details that might appear online, warning you if anything pops up, as well as monitoring your social media accounts for potentially suspicious activity.
The service also gives users access to a support specialist, an expert on the other end of the phone who’ll provide direct help in terms of taking action if your details appear to have been compromised. We’ll look in-depth at all the features of Norton Identity Advisor Plus a little later in this article.
As to the cost of the service, it’s an annual subscription, and one which is heavily discounted for the first year, to allow you to try out the product at a minimal cost in that initial term. The fee for the first year is £29.99, which works out at £2.50 per month.
Norton Identity Advisor Plus: what features does it have?
Dedicated Identity Restoration Specialist
The most important part of this identity theft protection service is that Norton gives you a Dedicated Identity Restoration Specialist - an expert in the field to help if you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
That specialist will open a case for you, and walk you through the exact steps you need to take and, if the identity theft becomes a confirmed reality, they’ll inform you on what to do next. Norton promises this step-by-step support throughout the whole process until your issues are resolved.
Dark Web Monitoring
The dark web is the online realm where criminals or bad actors of one sort or another hang out, and personal details can often be spilled here via data breaches, or perhaps even sold (to later be exploited). Identity Advisor Plus monitors the dark web and its various shady avenues and private forums for any sign of your personal info appearing, and sends an alert if anything is found. It can watch for your email being leaked, or credit cards, phone numbers and various other financial-related details, or even gamer tags.
This could be the fastest way you’ll learn about an impending identity theft attempt, and forewarned is most definitely forearmed.
Social Media Monitoring
Norton Identity Advisor Plus will also monitor your social media accounts, or at least supported ones. Those are: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. However, with Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, you just get account takeover protection, which notifies you of any suspect activity happening with your account (or unexpected changes in the account settings). For Twitter and YouTube, the monitoring system also flags any links it thinks may be dodgy in your feeds, plus there are alerts for phishing attempts and other scams. (Note that there is no monitoring of any chats or direct messages, just the core feed).
What devices can I use Norton Identity Advisor Plus with?
Identity Advisor Plus can be used on any device that the subscriber owns. There are mobile apps for the service to give you access on smartphones, both iOS and Android. The only requirement is that you’ll need to be running iOS 10.3 or better, or Android 4.4 or later.
On a computer, you simply need to fire up a web browser to access the Identity Advisor Plus online portal. Supported browsers are as follows:
- Chrome 73 or later
- Edge 41.1 or later
- Firefox 66 or later
- Internet Explorer 11 or later
- Safari 11.1 or later
How good is Norton Identity Advisor Plus?
Norton Identity Advisor Plus has some impressive ID theft prevention aspects, and while it might boast a relatively limited feature set compared to some of the sprawling security products out there, the functions present are nicely implemented.
The Social Media Monitoring is a useful line of defence that could help save you from scammers (don’t forget a good antivirus in the mix, too). But useful warnings about social engineering and dodgy links aside, no matter how careful or well-advised you are, it’s possible to fall prey to having your personal details leaked online through absolutely no fault of your own – due to a data breach where a company you have an account with gets hacked.
That’s where the Dark Web Monitoring comes in, and it’s not just a simple feature that scours common resources around data breaches – like the ‘Have I Been Pwned’ site – but a full commercial service which has some considerable depth in terms of where it looks, and what it looks for (a whole host of personal info, not just the basics like your email).
The best part about Identity Advisor Plus, though, is that if you realise that you have (or might have) become a victim of ID theft, it can be quite bewildering as to what to do – and perhaps a rapidly panic-filled experience for the less tech-savvy out there. If you’re a relative computing novice, the ability to pick up the phone and talk to one of Norton’s experts, who will serve as a dedicated case manager guiding you through the remediation process – well, that could be invaluable.
With the initial term of subscription coming in fairly cheaply – at an effective £2.50 monthly over a year – Norton’s service could well be worth a whirl when you compare that fairly modest outlay to the inconvenience or indeed financial pain that identity theft could lead to.