A powerful security suite fends off malware infestations and protects your devices in a variety of ways, but not every threat to security and privacy happens on your local device—you can maintain the best security suite in the world and still fall victim to identity theft because someone else slipped up, resulting in a data breach. Recognizing this, many security companies have begun offering subscriptions that include both traditional device-level security and defenses against identity theft. Avast One Platinum is the latest of these, and it covers all the bases, including personal attention from what the company calls a Dedicated Resolution Specialist in the event you suffer identity theft.
Our current Editors’ Choice for security with identity theft is Norton 360 With LifeLock. It’s available at three levels, each tier going up in price, the number of suite and VPN licenses, and the depth of identity theft coverage. It can be expensive, especially if you aim to protect family members and not just one individual, but LifeLock is the OG of identity protection.
Avast Platinum Is US-Only, for Now
The Avast One product line was initially released in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. However, the Platinum version, reviewed here, is available strictly in the US for the moment. All of Avast’s existing products remain available for download or purchase, including the Avast Premium Security suite. While Premium Security costs less than Avast One, it also gives you less. With the old suite, quite a few features, most notably the VPN, require a separate payment, whereas Avast One is an all-inclusive app. The Avast One product line is the wave of the future.
In late 2022, Avast completed a merger with Norton, forming a new company called Gen Digital. Gen also owns AVG and Avira, but so far, all the brands continue to exist independently. Avast and AVG do use the same antivirus engine, though, and have done so since long before the merger.
What Goes Into Avast One Platinum?
Avast One Platinum bundles three disparate components: the security suite, the identity protection service, and a 24/7 all-devices tech help service. The local security suite is Avast One Family edition plus Family Sharing. While you retain overall control of the account, you can invite up to five family members to create accounts and make use of all security features. Your family can install Avast protection on up to 30 devices running Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS.
Identity Protection isn’t local to any device. You access it online through your Avast account. As a standalone, Avast Secure Identity lists for $99.99.
The third component is effectively invisible. It consists of a phone number that you can find in your online dashboard. Dialing that number connects you to a 24/7 tech support hotline for any tech problems; I’ll discuss the details below. The full-year “on retainer” Avast Premium Tech Support costs $204.99 as a standalone service.
What Does Avast One Platinum Cost?
You pay $249.99 per year for an Avast One Platinum subscription. That’s rather more than the average security suite. However, if you purchased Avast One Family, Identity Protection, and Premium Tech Support separately you’d be paying $444.97—nearly twice as much.
It’s more logical to compare this software with others that combine device security and identity protection. Norton 360 with LifeLock Select costs $149.99, but that only gets you five suite licenses and five VPN licenses. To approach Avast’s 30 license deal, you’d have to buy the Ultimate Plus edition, which gives unlimited licenses for $349.99 per year.
Though it’s called Premium, the entry-level edition of McAfee+ doesn’t include identity protection. For that, you must upgrade to at least the Advanced level, which runs $199.99 per year. That does get you unlimited licenses to protect your Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and ChromeOS devices. Bitdefender Ultimate Security costs $179.99 per year for 10 device licenses and basic identity protection; its $239.99 Ultimate Plus edition adds identity protection enhancements. It’s worth noting that Bitdefender and Avast both partner with TransUnion subsidiary Sontiq for identity protection, and their identity services are nearly (but not quite) identical.
There’s one important point about all the comparative prices I’ve mentioned so far. Regardless of how many device licenses you get, identity monitoring and protection is just for one individual. With Avast, you get identity protection for yourself and for each of up to five family members. The promised $2 million for recovery does get spread over the entire family, but really, that’s not likely to be a problem.
Protecting a single individual with Aura costs $144 per year, while $444 per year gets protection for five people. That higher figure also offers local protection for 50 devices. Bracketing Avast’s six-license deal, IDX Complete charges $701.88 to protect seven—two adults and five children. That’s just short of twice the price for an individual IDX Complete license.
Norton’s pricing can be confusing. You can choose from three protection tiers, Select, Advantage, and Ultimate Plus. And you can protect an individual, a family (you plus a partner), or a family with kids (the two of you plus five kids). That’s nine possible combinations, topping out at $799.99 per year for Ultimate Plus and family plus kids.
If you want identity theft protection for more than just yourself, Avast One Platinum is a good deal. Looking just at price per individual covered, only IDShield does better. If you’re a TV family needing identity theft protection for your gaggle of kids, IDShield will do that job for $359.40 per year, with no limit on the number of kids.
Read Me First
Avast One Platinum contains the Family edition of Avast One as one of its components. It doesn’t merely have the same features. As far as device-level protection goes, it’s the same program. That being the case, you should read my review of Avast One before proceeding. No need to rehash the same information.
Very briefly, Avast One is a cross-platform security suite that covers (in decreasing order of features) Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It includes an average VPN on all platforms as well as a variety of privacy and performance features. It’s a decent suite, but it doesn’t come up to the standards of the best competitors.
How Does Avast One Platinum Protect Your Identity?
To get started with Identity Protection, you log into your Avast account online and find the link that says “Go to identity dashboard.” From there you dive right into supplying your contact information, reviewing the terms of service, and completing your registration. One of the registration pages explains that tracking is handled by “Sontiq, a TransUnion company,” and goes on to assure you that your data “is protected by the highest industry standards and regulations.”
Once you’re done with registration, the identity protection dashboard opens, but you can’t use it right away. You must first go through a simple verification with TransUnion. Specifically, you supply your SSN and enter a code texted to your phone. By this point, Avast is already monitoring the dark web for the personal information you’ve entered.
Let’s Get Started With Identity Theft Protection
In a panel titled Let’s Get Started, Avast lists five tasks: Create Your Profile; Add Your Additional Information; Add Your Social Media Accounts; Check Out Your Password Manager; and Lost Wallet Assistance. Create Your Profile is something you’ve already done, as indicated by a green check. By finishing that step you’ve completed 20% of your initial tasks.
The Additional Information mentioned in the next item consists of your driver’s license, passport, medical insurance account, and mother’s maiden name. Fill that in and you’re 40% finished.
Next, you connect Avast with your social media accounts—specifically Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Avast monitors these accounts for posts (by you or others) that could be dangerous or inappropriate. That’s another 20% completed. You’re on a roll!
I was a bit surprised to find password management as an option. Bitdefender Ultimate Security also uses Sontiq for identity theft protection, but it has a separate password manager. It turns out that what Avast offers is simply secure storage for any passwords you choose to record. It doesn’t capture and replay passwords, and it certainly doesn’t offer any advanced features.
The password component does include a random password generator, and its default settings are strong. Out of the box, it creates 30-character passwords using all four character types. Just by checking it out, you reach 80% in the let’s-get-started competition.
To reach 100%, your final step is to record information for lost wallet assistance. Just pull out your real-world wallet and record the details for everything it contains. Or record just a few items and do the rest when you have time.
You can record one or more of these item types:
Medical ID card
Social security card
Customer rewards card
This isn’t the same as recording personal and financial items for dark web tracking. Here you’re filling in all the little details that would be important if you lost your wallet—things like the card issuer’s website and the customer service phone number. Sorry, there’s no connection between this list and items for dark web monitoring, so you have to enter some items twice. In any case, starting on your lost wallet protection finishes the list of initial tasks.
Navigating the Dashboard
Now that you’re at 100%, you can hide the panel of startup actions, leaving the Dashboard as a quick overview of your identity protection. The five most recent alerts appear at the top, with an option to view more. A stats panel shows you when Bitdefender last checked your Identity, Credit, and Social media, with quick links for more details. Summaries of your credit score and BreachIQ score round out the Dashboard’s overview. I’ll explain BreachIQ below.
A prominent panel at the top right invites you to call on a dedicated resolution specialist in the event that you suffer identity theft. The panel below takes you to the lost wallet page, where you can add more wallet items or reference the data you already saved to deal with a real-world lost wallet.
A three-line menu at the top left opens to reveal an intriguing collection of items: dashboard, identity vault, breachIQ, alerts, credit, transactions, resources, and support. This is almost identical to what users of Bitdefender Ultimate Security see, except that the Transactions item appears only for those who ponied up the extra cash for Bitdefender’s Plus tier.
Identity Vault and Alerts
You’ve already worked with the Identity Vault page while setting up your account. You can return here anytime to edit or expand your recorded identity data. On the Monitored Info page, you can record one apiece of the following:
Date of birth
Mother’s maiden name
Social Security number
Most identity protection services record just one of these items. That makes sense—you’ve only got one birthdate, and your mother only has one maiden name. Even so, McAfee lets you track two driver’s licenses, and Norton monitors up to five physical addresses. You probably already took care of these during setup.
You’ll find more categories of data grouped in sections such as Additional Information and Financial Accounts. The more completely you fill in data for monitoring, the better chance Avast has of detecting when your personal information has been exposed in a breach. Any one of these can be helpful:
Medical insurance ID
You can enter five passports and 10 of each other type.
The Identity Vault also serves to securely store scanned images of passports and other important documents. Click its Secure Storage tab, then upload up to 100MB of data.
As soon as you record your personal data, Avast starts scanning dark web sources and known breaches. If it finds trouble, it displays a notification and adds an entry on the Alerts page. As with other identity monitoring products, I found that many of these alerts referenced breaches from years ago, breaches I had already dealt with. Also, as with others, quite a few did not provide any specific website where I could change my password, referring instead to opaque names like “Combo List 3.2B” and “12billion special for xss.is (rezout).7z.”
The detail page for each alert includes advice on what to do, along with a button to Archive the alert when you’ve handled the problem. Some alerts come with an Open Case button that connects you to a resolution specialist. When a known breach is involved, you may see a Breach Risk Rating such as “3 Low Risk (3 of 10).”
As with any similar breach reporting service, you should go through all the alerts that turn up at the start. Take any necessary action and then archive the item. Once you’ve emptied the old, stale alerts from the list, you can count on anything new being important.
Mixed in with the personal information options in the Identity Vault you’ll find the option to link Avast with your social media accounts. Doing so gives it full access to the account, but it only uses that access to monitor for dangerous or inappropriate posts. I tried my best to trigger warnings. I posted online that my SSN is not 111-11-1111. I referenced some of George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on TV. I made a few posts like “I’d kill for a cup of coffee.” All I managed was a reprimand from Facebook. I’m pleased that this feature doesn’t seem as hair-trigger as many, but I would have expected it to flag the SSN-related post.
The monitoring system alerts you any time your information surfaces on the dark web. BreachIQ is more focused, listing known data breaches that included your personal information. This page has four tabs: My Breach Exposures, Risk Rating Summary, Action Plan, and Search Breaches.
The breach exposures list proved to be quite a bit smaller and more manageable than the full list of alerts. For each breach, it lists the date, a breach risk rating, and up to two exposed data types—you can click a link to view any additional data types that were exposed.
On the risk summary page, Avast reveals your risk score, from 1 (no risk) to 100 (maximum risk), along with factors that went into the rating. Bad rating? Fear not—the Action Plan page offers clues to improve it.
The action plan page lists more than a dozen specific actions that you must take yourself, mostly outside of Avast. You’ve already accomplished one by setting up dark web scanning. A handful of items marked as Top Priority include setting up credit report monitoring, enabling fraud alerts, and turning on two-factor authentication for your online banking. Clearly, the details vary by bank or credit union, but you really should do this right away.
Many of the remaining items are similar actions, things like filing your taxes ASAP and requesting a PIN from the IRS. Check these off as you accomplish them. There are also more nebulous items such as advice to beware of social engineering. If you feel that you’re correctly wary of social engineering, go ahead and check that one off.
Avast’s monitoring and BreachIQ system should notify you of any breaches that exposed your data. The Search Breaches page lets you search for information on any breached company, whether or not your data turned up in the breach. I don’t see a lot of value here.
Alerts and Cases
The Identity Protection Dashboard showcases your five latest alerts, but for a more comprehensive view, check the Alerts page. Opening any listed item gets you the same detailed view that you can see in the Dashboard. I did find it annoying that opening a detail and closing it again always scrolls back to the top of the list. The easiest way to avoid this behavior is to work through the alerts, dealing with each problem and immediately archiving it.
As noted, some alerts are serious enough that they come with a button to open a case with a Resolution Specialist. A separate page tracks those open cases.
You’ll also see alerts if you share too much personal information on social media, or post something Avast considers inappropriate. In either case, the warning comes well after the post itself, so it’s usually too little, too late. As noted, the social media monitor seems less prone to false positives than many.
IDShield uses two kinds of social monitoring, one for data exposure on social media and a separate Reputation Management system for flagging inappropriate posts. It’s good that they’re separate, because Reputation Management proved wildly unreliable in testing, for example, identifying photos of garden plants as weapons. IDX Complete handles things more like Avast, though it flagged more messages based on keywords without considering their context.
Protecting your personal data is important—protecting your credit even more so. To get started on credit protection, open the dashboard’s menu and select Credit. The resulting page has four tabs, Credit Score, Credit Report, Credit Simulator, and Freeze My Credit.
Click Credit Report to view the endless details of your credit reports. There’s a lot of data, so you may want to print it out for reference. Avast updates your credit reports just once a year. Note that you can get your annual reports from all three credit agencies for free(Opens in a new window), with no involvement by Avast.
The Credit Score page lists your scores with the three major credit bureaus, updated once per month. When you’ve been using the product for a while, you’ll be able to view changes over time in the Credit Score Tracker graph. Aura also checks your credit score once a month and includes the ability to freeze your Experian credit with a click (you must freeze the other two manually). With the Credit Freeze page in Avast, freezing credit is a DIY operation, though the service does provide links.
For comparison, Norton doesn’t offer monthly credit checks at the basic Select level—you get that at the Advantage level, which costs an additional $100 per year. And if you want credit checks from all three bureaus, you need the top tier, Ultimate, costing another $100 per year
If your credit score is low, you surely want to improve it. If you have a high score, you want to keep it high. With Avast’s Credit Simulator, you can preview how almost 20 financial events could affect your score. These include, among other things, adding a new credit card, paying off all your cards, taking out an auto loan, and declaring bankruptcy. Of course, the estimated new score isn’t guaranteed, but you can learn a lot by experimenting in the simulator.
Tracking Unusual Transactions
I mentioned above that Bitdefender also partners with Sontiq for identity protection, so its features line up very closely with Avast’s. One significant difference is the transaction tracking system. With Bitdefender, you only get this protection if you upgrade your subscription to the Ultimate Plus level, which costs $60 more per year. Avast gives you transaction tracking out of the box.
To get started, click Transactions in the left-rail menu, click Financial Accounts, and click Add Account. Next, you select your financial institution and supply your online login credentials for that site. The site may require additional verification such as a code texted to your phone. Once the account has been registered, you can click Set Alert Preferences to continue setup.
By default, Avast alerts you if a purchase, withdrawal, transfer, or uncategorized transaction takes place that’s over $300. In each case, you can change the trigger amount or set it to only monitor specific accounts. You can also view all your recent transactions right inside the Avast online dashboard.
Aura, IDShield, and Norton also offer some form of transaction alerts, each in its way. Aura doesn’t track transaction types but lets you set the alert threshold by category: bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments. Norton watches for various anomalous events, including charges that don’t fit your normal pattern and increased charges in recurring payments. IDShield offers a collection of very specific triggers including High Credit Account Balance, Large Credit Card Purchase, Large Account Withdrawals, Low Account Balance, Net Worth Change (percentage), and Portfolio Value Change (percentage).
Resources for Identity and Credit Protection
Working down the items on the left-rail menu, Resources comes after Transactions. This page is loaded with useful tools and information, divided into Education, Breaches & Scams, Calculators, Forms, and handling of Junk Mail & Calls.
Would you like to bulk up your knowledge of credit and identity protection? On the Education tab, are links to articles, webinars, and infographics on related topics. There’s also a glossary of cybercrime and security terms. The Breaches & Scams page carries on the educational theme. Here you’ll find links to articles about scams and breaches in general, as well as news of the latest.
The Calculators tab presents a variety of financial calculators. You can get a quick comparison of two loans, for example, or compare credit card deals. If you’re considering refinancing your mortgage, a simple calculator lets you see how much you’d benefit. And all these calculators are hosted by Avast partner Sontiq; they aren’t just links to resources on other websites.
Dig into the Forms page for a collection of letter templates ranging from a general complaint letter to one for resolving a credit dispute. It also offers resources such as consumer action handbooks, consumer contacts for major corporations, and contacts for federal, state, and local consumer protection offices.
Junk mail and unwanted phone calls don’t in themselves threaten your privacy and identity, but they’re annoying and might cause you to miss important communications. The Junk Mail & Calls page contains a collection of links to external sites where you can do things like remove yourself from direct marketing lists, opt out of preapproved credit offers, and reject specific direct mailings.
Dedicated Resolution Specialist
In the description above, you may have noticed there’s an emphasis on detection, not prevention. Even if you hew to privacy best practices, you can’t prevent misuse of your personal information. If the worst happens, though, Avast makes getting help easy. It may be as easy as clicking the Open case button in an alert. There’s a simple report form on the Support page that you can fill out and submit. Or just pick up the phone and talk directly to a dedicated identity theft resolution specialist, any time day or night.
Most services in this field promise to spend up to $1 million to remediate an identity theft event. At the Ultimate Plus tier, Bitdefender raises that to $2 million, and Norton allots three separate $1 million funds. With Avast, the promised amount is $2 million, though that’s spread across the entire account, you, and up to five family members. The reimbursement offering comes with some restrictions. For example, if you lose your job due to identity theft, it covers lost wages, but at no more than $1,500 per week, for up to eight weeks. The insurance allots a maximum of $1,000 to eldercare and childcare. And so on.
As always, I can’t test this service’s ability to help with recovery from identity theft. I can report that it’s very easy to open a case.
Premium Tech Support
If your antivirus doesn’t work right, you expect to get tech support, whether by email, phone, or even live chat. The same is true of any respectable app or program. But you wouldn’t contact Intuit to support your Photoshop installation, right? It would be silly to call Avast to fix a problem with Windows, right? Well, it might not be so silly after all.
Your Avast One Platinum subscription comes with the equivalent of Avast Premium Tech Support, at the full-powered Total Care level. This puts Avast’s support experts on retainer 24/7. Any time day or night, if you have a tech problem you can call and get support. If necessary, the support agent can remote-control your device to diagnose or fix a problem.
Avast’s agents can help with any Avast-related problems, including full cleanup of malware infestations. But they’ll also help with software and hardware installation, email configuration, and setting up your network. You can ask for help using the browser, or tips for using the software. If it’s a tech problem, give them a call.
With such an open-ended support offering, I wondered if subscribers ever pushed the boundaries. My Avast contact offered this story. “We had someone ask tech support to help set up a toaster. It was a basic toaster. The tech just told her to plug it in and it won’t steal her data.” That’s good advice!
As a standalone service, Avast Premium Tech Support proclaims a limit of three devices. I’m not sure how that’s enforced, but my Avast contact clarified that premium support in Avast One Platinum covers all your family members and up to 30 devices. Avast Premium Tech Support by itself costs $204.99 per year, over 80% of Avast One Platinum’s list price, so getting it with the suite is quite a deal.
Vast Security and ID Protection
The product most like Avast One Platinum is Bitdefender Ultimate Security. Their identity theft services are almost identical, not surprising given that both partner with Sontiq for those services. You have to upgrade to Bitdefender Ultimate Security Plus to get full identity protection, but even that top tier costs less than Avast’s list price. Avast provides identity monitoring for six individuals to Bitdefender’s one and includes 30 device licenses to Bitdefender’s 10, however. Bitdefender’s device-level security, Bitdefender Total Protection, is an Editors’ Choice security suite. But while Bitdefender offers a premium support service like Avast’s, it doesn’t bundle that service. The choice depends on your priorities.
Of course, you could also choose to leave them both in the dust and go directly to Norton 360 with LifeLock Select. Like Bitdefender, it combines an Editors’ Choice security suite with identity theft remediation. But Norton’s identity features, especially at the Ultimate Plus tier, are unparalleled. It’s our Editors’ Choice for security suites with identity protection.
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