It’s very important to have identity theft protection. Such protection can safeguard details such as your social security number, bank information, and other important data from being stolen by nefarious sources. After all, in 2016 alone, there were more than 15 million U.S. identity fraud cases and that number has grown steadily each year since. It’s a fast-growing form of crime that can affect anyone.
That’s why it’s vital that you have the best identity theft protection service. For one thing, it can keep you safe from a data breach and ID theft — something that can happen simply when a website you regularly use suffers an attack. For another, an inferior service can put your information at risk. For instance, Equifax, one of the big three credit monitoring agencies, suffered five major data breaches in 2017 and did very little to help customers affected by the issues, leaving many of them out of pocket through no fault of their own.
It’s important to use a service that is reliable and detects any issues as soon as possible, much like how good anti-virus software catches a problem before it actually becomes an issue.
We’ve researched dozens of options, read through many customer reviews and ratings, all in a bid to find the best identity theft protection for every situation. For a premium solution, we believe thatis the best out there thanks to being simple to use and well priced. There are other great options too like , for those users on a budget, or for when you want a free solution.
Those aren’t the only choices though. Here’s a look at our picks of what we believe are the best, no matter what your situation or budget, as well as a look at key information you need to consider before taking the plunge.
Why we picked LifeLock
- Starts at $9 per month
- Family plan available for an extra $66 per year
- Extra services like a VPN available
- Up to $1M compensation offered depending on plan
- Instant alerts sent to phone, text, email, or mobile app
Now part of Symantec (best known for its Norton anti-virus software), LifeLock is a solid all-rounder for those that want the best identity theft protection. Its Standard protection is inexpensive at around $9 per month while offering identity and social security number alerts, along with credit monitoring with one bureau. Upgrade further and you gain a VPN service, additional security, and more alerts. Compensation also expands with up to $1M possible on the Ultimate Plus membership which works out at $26 per month for the first year. Such flexibility makes it a very appealing service, ensuring you only pay for what you need.
Why we picked IdentityForce
- Starts at $15 per month
- Extensive monitoring features
- Identity theft insurance fo up to $1M
- Bank and credit card activity alerts
- VPN service
IdentityForce packs a lot of monitoring for a service that starts at only $15 per month. For that price, it keeps an eye out for fraud monitoring, change of address, whether any court records have your details on them, payday loan checks, and even if any people listed on the sex offenders registry move nearby. There’s even social media identity monitoring too in case anyone tries to impersonate you there. Bundled in as well are activity alerts for your bank and credit cards, investment account alerts, and other useful heads-up on anything nefarious going down. A VPN sweetens the deal even further.
Why we picked McAfee Identity Theft Protection
- Extensive credit monitoring as well as cyber monitoring
- Starts at $8 per month with the first month costing $1
- Upgraded services offer annual credit report
- 24/7 365 days a year support
- Lost wallet advice
Another name that’s more familiar in the anti-virus world than identity theft protection, McAfee Identity Theft Protection is a good bet for those wanting a hands-off experience. Starting out at only $1 for the first month, the service scans online black markets such as the Dark Web in case any of your information has been exposed, along with even tracking social media posts for anything that could affect your reputation. It also monitors social security numbers, credit reports, and change of addresses too. Upgrade to Identity Theft Protection Plus or the Premium package, and you get even more for your money including an annual credit report and criminal record monitoring.
Why we picked PrivacyGuard
- Starts at $15 per month — no free trial
- Credit monitoring as well as cyber monitoring
- Monthly triple-bureau credit score tracking on premium package
- Credit score simulator
- Secure keyboard option on premium package
PrivacyGuard isn’t the cheapest of options and you even need to pay $1 for a 14-day trial but it offers what you need for the price. The Credit Protection service at $15 per month provides monthly triple-bureau credit score tracking along with 24/7 credit monitoring. Upgrade to the Total Protection plan and you gain public and dark web scanning, and monitoring of your social security number, driver’s license, and passport. Perhaps best of all, you also get access to a secure browser and keyboard, potentially stopping any issues before they even emerge. A credit score simulator is a useful bonus too if you’re applying for new credit cards and other financial products.
- Powered by IBM’s Watson Artificial Intelligence
- Starts from $7 per month
- Attractive online dashboard
- $1M compensation no matter what plan you have
- Up to three-bureau credit report checking
With A.I.-based protection courtesy of IBM Watson, Identity Guard is keen to stress that it offers advanced threat recognition each step of the way. It certainly seems confident offering up to $1m insurance on all of its plans, even the most inexpensive option. You get a US-based dedicated case manager along with an attractive and simple to use identity dashboard online to simplify the process. The Dark Web is monitored for your personal information regularly, with the more expensive plan providing three-bureau credit report checking too. It’s an overall well-rounded service with some neat use of technology.
- A.I.-powered platform
- Starts at $7 per month for the first year
- Dark web monitoring on basic plan
- Credit score tracking on more expensive plans
- Up to $1m compensation
Identity Defense uses its A.I.-powered platform to monitor the various threats that your information can be at risk of. Alongside that, its most basic plan provides Dark Web monitoring with the Complete package also bundling in credit score tracking and reporting. It also looks out for any potential bank account takeovers, with the Plus package throwing in three-bureau credit monitoring and address monitoring too. It’s not the most comprehensive of lists but it tackles everything you need most and at a good price too.
- Starts from $10 per month
- Up to $1M compensation on all plans
- Dark Web monitoring as well as credit report monitoring
- Opt-out junk mail feature
- Credit score simulator on Secure Max plan
Identity IQ is a comprehensive service offering Dark Web and internet monitoring across the board, along with up to $1M in compensation for stolen funds. Its basic Secure Plus package provides one-bureau credit report monitoring while the two more premium plans offer up to three-bureau credit report monitoring. In all cases, you get extensive alerts and monitoring, along with useful bonuses like lost wallet assistance, and the ability to opt out of junk mail and join Do Not Call Lists. The Secure Max service also includes a credit score simulator and family protection if a loved one’s ID is stolen besides yours.
Who offers the best identity theft protection?
It’s a tough one to call in terms of the ultimate identity theft protection service. It really depends on you. It’s worth considering your budget and what you need the service to do most, so you know exactly what’s best for you. The services listed above are the best we’ve discovered and researched. Like antivirus software and VPNs, they all come with their own pros and cons which is why it’s important to research.
Which identity theft protection really works?
The thing to remember about identity theft protection is that they don’t actually protect your identity from being stolen. Instead, they protect you from being too badly affected by stolen details. The key is to protect your own information to your best ability but to have a backup via identity theft protection for those times when a company lets you down such as via a significant data breach.
How good is identity theft protection?
Very good, providing you pick the right service. Being informed instantly of an issue gives you plenty of time to stop things from getting worse. Time is everything when it comes to slowing down any potential threats from thieves.
Are identity theft protection services worth it?
Yes. You can survive without it but it’s like using your PC without antivirus software. It’s simply much safer to know that someone else has your back, such as an identity theft protection service.
Do banks offer identity theft protection?
They do to an extent. Your bank will often give you a heads up if there’s a potentially fraudulent transaction on your account or they detect unusual activity. It’s not as extensive as full identity theft protection though as your bank won’t be able to monitor your social security number or your address.
What’s the difference between Identity Theft Protection companies and what your credit card offers?
Your bank and credit card company will typically provide some protection for any stolen money or details, but it never goes as far as what a dedicated Identity Theft Protection company can provide. In the case of such dedicated solutions, they also track any potential changes to your personal details or even if someone is trying to impersonate you online.
Similarly, credit monitoring services go a step further than just checking on one credit card or bank account, but they can only identify changes to your credit record and they don’t always spot large expenditures. That’s why it’s a smart move to sign up for an Identity Theft Protection service that covers credit monitoring, identity tracking, as well as monitoring your individual bank accounts and credit cards.
How do I protect my identity for free?
There are a few key steps you can take to be extra careful. These include checking your financial accounts regularly for errors or suspicious activity, ensuring you use strong passwords at all times so it’s tricky for hackers to access your accounts, and making sure you cancel any credit cards that you no longer use. Shredding and destroying important documents once they’re no longer useful is also a great idea.
What is identity theft protection insurance?
Identity theft protection insurance is typically included in many identity theft protection services. It means you’re reimbursed for any financial losses that are incurred if someone uses your information nefariously. Many companies offer up to $1m but you need to check the terms and conditions. Some may only offer up to $25,000 with different rates applying in New York State.
How do I protect my social security number from identity theft?
Where possible, offer an alternative form of ID when asked. Provide your driver’s license number or your passport. Make sure you know exactly how your number will be used if you do hand it over, and always leave your card at home in a safe place. Shred any documents that contain it and never use it as a password. Also, never hand it out to anyone unless you’re absolutely certain it’s safe and they definitely need it.