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We use a lot of different criteria when we rank products.
We believe that our ranking is a little bit different from other websites. Why? It is posted by industry experts only! We discuss very carefully what product to add and in what order.
Of course, each product or service that we list has some pros and cons, so we kindly invite you to read our full reviews for more information.
Some of the products and services that appear on Elite Personal Finance are affiliated third-parties. This means it is possible that we receive compensation from some of them. However, this does not affect the honesty; we base all our reviews on 100% facts, verified customer feedback, and user-reported experiences. For more information on that, read our advertisement disclosure.
Here is how we rank products and services:
Part 1 – Determining The Legitimacy of an Identity Theft Company
The first thing we had to do was decide how we would evaluate other companies. As a business ourselves, we understand how important it is not to represent other entities improperly. This became clear from day one as we started covering all the different identity theft protection companies that are around. We could have promoted the cheapest, or even the most popular, but we dug further to recommend the companies that would leave our users most satisfied.
What is Their Better Business Bureau Ranking?
We take into consideration whether a company is certified with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), when they became BBB-certified, and how their rating has held up since. At the same time, we look for customer reviews on business BBB pages (yes, they allow user-based reviews!) as this usually gives the “dirty details” about any scam or fraud.
However, the BBB information about a business is not enough. Sometimes we will review a company that’s BBB-listed under a different name, yet the business behind them remains vague. If we realize there is a separate business that is tied into the main company’s ownership, we will reference the reputation of the other BBB pages also.
What we truly believe: If you are going to write something and publish it on the Internet, make sure you take ALL the facts and then add from there. ‘Telling people what they want to hear’ is just not good enough.
What else do we evaluate?
What is Their Website History?
You can learn a lot about a company by checking what their online authority was in the past. Archive.org gives us a chance to do this — this tool lets you view archived versions of websites even many years after they get saved. Therefore, even if a company appeared on the Web in 2003, we can see how they have progressed over time. This is particularly important for filtering out the businesses that try to re-invent themselves all the time.
We can dig even further by investigating the domain behind the website — many tiny details can be found through the domain’s Whois information page. We take these pieces of data as connecting dots to see and make the big picture — to show the business is transparent, if it is.
What are Their Affiliated Ventures?
If you ‘feel’ that you can trust the company, chances are that they have other reputable entities. It is also possible that they have other products or platforms that have turned into scams in recent years. This is especially common in the online money-making sites, where things can go from ‘great to worse’ in seconds. We can use their corporate site, check their backlinks, run through sites like Wikipedia, TechCrunch, etc., and see how all the dots connect behind the scenes.
Once we find a scam, we will loudly label it as such. If it is a product or site that we are receiving a financial compensation from, we will drop affiliation with them immediately and publish a warning to our users. We believe that things need to be truly transparent — if any of our authors knows information that could make you safer or wealthier, we have a responsibility to share that information with you.
We want you to feel entitled to the truth. We are natural truth-seekers!
Part 2 – Determining The Value of Identity Theft Protection Services
Deciding whether a product or service is worth the investment requires figuring out two things. First, you must establish whether the company behind the product or service is reputable. If you have no doubts about their trustworthiness, then you have to evaluate the product or service to decide whether it is right for you. But when we create these reviews, we expect you to assume that we will alert you if there are any weak points about the company behind the product or service we are promoting.
What goes into deciding the true value of a product or service comes down to what type of product or service we are reviewing at the time. We analyze only the best within the respective market to see what makes everyone love them so much. Then, we consider all the essential features that should be included and confirm whether the top considerations include them. In the end, we usually manage to find at least two or three products or services that are worth your consideration. The rest get filtered out for one reason or another. If there is an equal product that costs less or is less well-known, we will still promote it to the top!
Our review content is very well-researched. We only scratched the surface of what goes into researching a company; after you add a product or service, there is a lot more that goes into it. And these extensive efforts come for a reason – any website developer could find a list of offers to promote, but few go the extra mile and give people 100% insight on what they are examining. We always strive to do that, because there is endless information on the Web about products and services that make them easy to review honestly.
When scouring the Internet for information, we take into consideration details found on many places.
Which Identity Theft Reviews Carry Weight in Our Eyes
- Major retailer sites, through the form of user reviews and comments.
- Major review websites, such as TomsHardware.com, which are known for their expert takes.
- Niche forums, by using Google search functions like, “inurl:forum” + #product-name to see what real people are saying.
- Social media sites — their public groups, users’ publicly shared statuses and tweets, ect.
- Reddit — you would be surprised how much inside insight you can get there!
That being said, our product and service reviews are written by industry experts. They already have a breadth of knowledge on the products and services they are evaluating and this makes it a lot easier to determine their worthiness for our readers. This also gives us the chance to give true insider tips, which could save you a lot of money in some scenarios.
For example, everyone talks about how useless identity theft protection is — and to an extent, we agree but there is never a mention of what these services can do better than you by yourself. If you have ever tried setting up all different kinds of alerts and monitoring, you will quickly realize you don’t have the skills or know-how to make it happen. There are too many unique features found in identity theft prevention plans. Yet, we always advise our users to implement a security freeze if they still aren’t okay with paying for identity protection.
Part 3 – How We Compare Identity Theft Protection Features
You will find that the identity theft protection plans we review look very similar. That is because there is not much that makes these plans different. However, there are some features that are a bit outside of the norm too. We recommend that all our readers get familiar with what each of these features really means. Far too often you will find an identity theft protection review that mentions the same feature terms without providing much details on them. We make sure there is no confusion and that you know EXACTLY what you are investing in ahead of time.
To give you a better idea, here is a look at many identity theft prevention features that a user might want:
- 24/7 identity restoration services
- $1 million identity theft insurance
- Bank account monitoring
- Bank account takeover alerts
- Court records scanning
- Data breach notifications
- Fictitious identity monitoring
- File sharing network monitoring
- Fraud alert placement
- Lost / stolen wallet assistance
- Stolen fund replacement
- Credit inquiry alerts
- Monthly credit score tracking
- Tri-bureau credit reports and scores
Part 4 – What Credit Report and Score Sites Do We Recommend?
When it comes to affiliating with credit report products and services, things get a little fuzzy.
We are big believers in taking advantage of the annual credit report — which you can do online, through AnnualCreditReport.com — because this is a free, government-authorized credit report that you are entitled to once a year. Further, we regularly advise our readers to space out their free credit report request so that they get a report from one of the three bureaus every four months.
But we understand if that is not enough access to your credit report — and even more, we get the fact that you would like your credit score to go with it. In that case, there are some credit report products and services that we recommend from time to time.
You can see what we promote here:
Each is unique in its own right. It is really hard to find the perfect credit report and score site. The two are not always paired together; when you find a comprehensive offering, there is also no guarantee that it runs on a regular basis. Even in the list of companies that we reviewed, you won’t find any that offers monthly FICO scores and full credit reports without charging full price.
Is There Anything You Want to Know?
We are all about full disclosure. Whether you have a question for our authors, our management staff, or you just want to say ‘thanks’, you can head over to our ask our experts page. Our contributors are always on hand, ready and willing to help. So feel free to submit your questions or concerns that way. If there is something we have failed to disclose, ask so that we can become even more transparent for all of you!