Find the Best Identity Theft Protection Services
Facts about identity theft
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the action of obtaining personal, private or financial information through criminal means. Identity fraud occurs when someone uses your information without authorization, typically for financial gain. If a person is convicted for an identity theft crime they will likely spend significant time in jail or prison and pay substantial fines.
What is identity theft protection?
Identity theft protection companies provide identity and/or credit monitoring services. To determine if your personal information has been compromised, identity theft protection services monitor databases that collect various types of information and check for inaccuracies. Some identity protection services also offer recovery insurance.
How does identity theft protection work?
Identity theft protection companies monitor more than just credit; they monitor your credit cards, bank accounts, Social Security information and other sensitive material. The company will alert you if your personal information is used in a way that’s incongruous with your typical credit report activity. For example, they’ll notify you if someone uses your Social Security number to apply for a loan.
The best identity protection companies use preventative strategies such as reducing their customers’ public exposure and monitoring black market websites for their customers’ information. They also offer recovery assistance.
- Identity theft prevention services: Preventative services help you avoid having your identity stolen. These services include alerting clients to potential fraud on credit reports, removing a client’s name from any pre-screened credit card lists and removing clients from mailing lists to minimize the chance of identity problems.
- Identity theft recovery assistance: If your identity is stolen, you’ll need assistance fixing the damage. Solving an identity theft problem is a tedious endeavor, and a company with a dedicated resolution service can decrease the time it takes to find the situation. Some identity theft protection programs offer aid to those who need to resolve their situations. Many identity theft protection companies offer personal assistance to help reclaim a client’s identity and repair any damage done to it.
How much does identity theft protection cost?
Identity theft protection services are available for free and for a fee. Services vary among providers, with fees ranging from about $10 per month to several hundred dollars per year. As a general rule, more comprehensive services cost more money.
- Free service: Free identity theft protection companies monitor things like credit reports and financial activities at no cost. However, the protection these companies offer is limited.
- Standard service rates: Most companies charge about $10–$25 per month for basic services. Identity protection in this range usually includes stolen fund replacement, live support, identity restoration, credit monitoring and online monitoring.
- Comprehensive service rates: For comprehensive services, consumers can expect to pay $25–$60 per month. These services include a full suite of features such as increased fund replacement, monthly tracking reports and more.
Is identity theft protection worth it?
Identity protection is worth it if you’re at high risk for identity fraud. If a data breach has made you vulnerable, you could be entitled to free protection services. Identity theft protection is also worth it if you don’t want to monitor your credit cards yourself. Before you decide on a company, ask the service provider what personal information is monitored, and how often.
Compare Top Identity Theft Protection Services
|Identity Guard||Read 44 Reviews|
Choose individual identity theft protection plans from $6.67–$16.67/month or a family plan for $10–$23.33/month. Get email and text alerts with ID verification and monitoring, plus $1 million identity theft insurance.
|Learn More Call Now Toll Free (833) 665-0454|
Read 708 Reviews
Protect your identity with a comprehensive identity theft plan starting at $9.99. All plans offer identity recovery and $1 million ID theft insurance. Sign up and receive a 30-day free trial today.
|Learn More Call Now Toll Free (866) 351-2044|
Read 2,522 Reviews
Get identity theft protection for $9.99–$29.99/month. Reimbursement funds up to $1 million. Highest service option includes recovery assistance and tri-bureau credit monitoring. Annual payment plans available.
Read 856 Reviews
Norton AntiVirus is a virus-protection program developed by Symantec. It offers an array of security services for computer protection and also provides consumers with educational resources on how to stay safe online.
|IDShield||Read 20 Reviews|
Choose from two plans for $9.95–$19.95 a month. Includes phone app, 24/7 emergency support with a private investigator and $5 million service guarantee. Protect up to 10 people for less than $20 a month.
Read 35 Reviews
Choose plans for $16.99–$29.99/month, including identity recovery help and $1 million service guarantee. Family plans include seniors and kids.
Read 12 Reviews
Offers monitoring and identity repair services. Get identity theft protection for $14.95/month. Pay an additional $4.95/month to add on kids. Receive email and text alerts and $1 million in identity theft insurance.
Read 32 Reviews
Identity theft protection for $9.99–$19.99/month. Get email and text alerts sent to your phone 24/7 and $1 million identity theft insurance. CreditLock allows you to lock and unlock your credit file at your convenience.
Choose from three ID theft protection and monitoring plans starting at $14.99/month for individuals and $17.99/month for families. $1 million ID theft insurance, lost wallet services and Light Watch dark web search available.
|ID Watchdog||Read Author Review|
Get protection with identity theft monitoring and restoration packages for $14.95–$19.95/month. Comes with email and text alerts, and kids can be added to plans. Up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.
About fraud protection services
A person's identity is composed of a range of factors, including credit use, financial history, medical history and more. Identity theft protection companies offer monitoring services that watch over these different components of a person's identity to ensure it hasn't been altered or stolen.
- Credit monitoring: Credit monitoring services track a person's credit profile to ensure that there is no suspicious activity.
- SSN monitoring: Some identity theft protection companies monitor the usage of a person's Social Security number and notify the clients if anybody else attempts to use their numbers.
- Comprehensive monitoring: The best identity theft protection companies offer comprehensive monitoring for many aspects of a person's identity, including their credit, SSN, finances, medical history and more.
- Identity theft repair: Customers who need help recovering from identity theft usually turn to identity theft repair companies. These companies specialize in helping people reclaim their identities and fix problems that have been caused by identity theft.
- Full-service identity theft protection: Full-service identity theft companies can offer monitoring, identity repair, insurance services and more to their customers.
Identity protection reports
Identity theft protection companies offer customers a variety of reports. These reports give consumers firsthand knowledge of their financial situations and identity history.
- Individual bureau credit reports: Identity theft protection companies can offer customers credit reports from one specific credit bureau so they can see their credit score, individual credit accounts and credit usage over time.
- Comprehensive credit reports: If an identity theft protection company offers customers comprehensive credit reports, it can show them full reports from all three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, in addition to a wide variety of financial information.
- Online scan reports: Some identity theft protection companies review a number of online resources to monitor their client’s exposure. They will then compile any notable information into reports for their clients.
Identity theft insurance options
Identity theft protection companies will often ensure a person's identity. This insurance compensates clients in the event their identity is stolen.
- Lost wallet protection: Lost wallet protection cancels and replaces stolen credit or debit cards and sometimes includes reimbursement for stolen cash.
- Reimbursement limit: Consumers should make sure they are aware of any limitations on their insurance reimbursements. Some companies may only pay filing fees or insure lost wages only up to a fixed amount.
- Full identity theft insurance: Companies that offer full identity theft insurance will reimburse customers for the entire cost of repairing their identity.
Types of identity theft
Financial identity theft
Your financial information can be stolen in many ways. Directly, thieves can gain access to your bank account numbers or debit card information, then drain your accounts or make fraudulent purchases. Indirectly, using your Social Security number, thieves can open credit cards or take out loans, potentially ruining your credit score.
A thief might utilize your trash to get your Social Security number from a sensitive document and then open a new account with that information. Sometimes thieves working in restaurants will write down your credit or debit card number and use it to make online purchases.
Most vulnerable: Everyone, but especially people who do not secure their financial and personal information. If you’re unfamiliar with online shopping technology, you are particularly at risk, as this is a common way for a criminal to get your financial information.
Insurance identity theft
Insurance identity theft is when someone uses your insurance information to file a fraudulent claim. This can be a medical claim, but most commonly this occurs with home or auto insurance.
The thief may obtain your information and use it to file a claim of damage on your home, but have the payment re-routed to a different bank account. Or, they might actually have damage of their own, but they don’t want the liability attached to their policy.
Most vulnerable: People who just survived a natural disaster. After a major hurricane, wildfire or earthquake, the risk of insurance identity theft increases, because adjusters are bombarded with claims, and they may be too distracted to double check your information is going to the right place.
Medical identity theft
A thief can use your information to get medical care, including having surgery, seeing a doctor or getting prescriptions they otherwise would not be able to afford. Medical identity theft can also apply to medical insurance identity theft, as the two often go hand in hand.
A savvy thief might even impersonate a doctor to get access to your information. Then, using your Social Security number or other information, they can make an appointment in your name, and the charges will be reflected on your accounts and records.
Most vulnerable: People who see several doctors, especially the elderly, and people who do not have a good understanding of the medical industry.
Criminal identity theft
This occurs when someone uses your identity in lieu of their own after they have committed a crime. You can get saddled with their court dates, hearings and record, while the real criminal avoids their consequences.
When someone is stopped by a law enforcement officer, they might try to pass off your information as their own to avoid arrest. If they are successful, you could wind up with criminal charges on your record or a warrant for your arrest, even though you haven’t done anything wrong.
Most vulnerable: Someone who has lost their identification.
Driver’s license identity theft
Driver’s license identity theft occurs when someone else takes possession of your driver’s license, either by stealing it or by finding it when it is lost, and uses it. This can lead to points on a driving record, a criminal record and other frustrating issues.
Often, this type of theft results in the license being sold, either to a minor looking to buy alcohol or to a person who needs an ID to work. Thieves might also use the license in traffic stops to avoid a DUI or reckless driving, for example.
Most vulnerable: Someone who has had their wallet or purse stolen.
Synthetic identity theft
Synthetic identity theft typically occurs when a criminal combines real information with fake or stolen information. By combining your Social Security number with another name or address, a criminal can craft an entirely new identity that is difficult for law enforcement—and you—to track.
Social Security numbers are often compromised in data breaches, and sometimes criminals comb through trash for unshredded documents with sensitive information to exploit. A criminal could open new bank accounts, file taxes and even receive medical care with your Social Security number. They can also use the new identity when committing crimes, which makes them harder to trace.
Most vulnerable: Anyone with a Social Security number. Someone whose information was compromised in a data breach.
Child identity theft
The fastest growing type of identity theft, child identity theft happens when thieves target the sensitive information of children. It’s popular because it takes longer for someone to notice the theft of a child’s identity than an adult’s identity.
Someone close to the child, even a family member, doctor or teacher, might take or lose a child’s information, or a parent might put the information at risk in the same way they put their own. A thief can take the Social Security number and name and then create an entire credit history from scratch.
Most vulnerable: Children and adolescents, especially those in low-income communities.
Identity theft protection FAQ
- What is identity theft protection insurance?
- Identity theft protection insurance is a plan that covers the costs associated with recovering your identity and credit after you experience fraud. These costs include:
- Legal fees
- Lost wages
- Mailing documents
- Notary charges
- Do banks offer identity theft protection?
- Many banks offer identity theft protection services that include credit monitoring. A premium bank account might even provide enrollment in identity theft protection at little to no extra cost. However, these identity theft protection services do not necessarily include insurance that covers the costs of recovering your identity.
- How do I monitor my credit report for identity theft?
- You can access your credit reports from Transunion, Experian and Equifax for free once per year, but you should also consider credit monitoring. Credit monitoring services and identity theft protection services offer instant alerts and protection against suspicious activity. These programs are available from banks, credit card companies and credit bureaus.
- What should you do if you are a victim of identity theft?
- If you’re the victim of identity theft:
- Contact your bank and credit card companies to lock your accounts.
- Check your credit report to see how much damage has been done.
- Place an initial 90-day or one-year fraud alert on your credit report. This requires any new creditors to make sure the person requesting credit is, in fact, you.
- If you file a police report or FTC identity theft report, consider placing an extended seven-year fraud alert on your credit.
- Consider freezing your credit with all three credit bureaus.
- Document everything you can as proof that you’re not responsible for any fraudulent activity.
- How can I find out if someone is using my identity?
- There are several ways to find out if someone is using your identity:
- Check your credit report to make sure it only shows accounts you opened. If there are any accounts you don’t recognize, someone has likely stolen your identity.
- Review your bank and credit card statements regularly for suspicious charges and withdrawals.
- If you start getting bills, notifications or account correspondence from creditors or providers you do not have accounts with, someone may be using your identity.
- Should I report identity theft to police?
- In most cases, you can report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission instead of the police. If you decide to report to the police, the FTC recommends filing an identity theft report first and including it with your police report.
- How long does it take to recover from identity theft?
- The time it takes to recover from identity theft varies depending on how long the fraud went undetected and what types of fraud occurred. While credit card accounts might take a few months to correct, medical treatments obtained through identity theft could take years to remove from your records.
However, the process can go faster if you have identity theft protection services in place and get help from the Federal Trade Commission or law enforcement.
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Identity theft protection reviews
Choose from three main packages starting at $9.99 per month, plus applicable fees. Dark Web Monitoring and 24/7 Live Member Support. Optional packages for children also available.
- Plan options with monitoring: Offers Standard, Advantage and Ultimate Plus Plans that all include credit monitoring.
- 60-day money-back guarantee: LifeLock allows you to try out their service and offers a 60-day money-back guarantee for annual memberships.
- Mobile App included: Receive alerts and essential information on the go with the included LifeLock app.
- Million Dollar Protection™ Package: If you become a victim of identity theft, LifeLock helps protect you with their Million Dollar Protection™ Package. This includes reimbursement for stolen funds and coverage for personal expenses, each with limits of up to $25,000, $100,000 or $1 million depending on your plan, and coverage for lawyers and experts if needed up to $1 million, to help resolve your case.
Three plan choices for either individuals or families starting at $6.67. Exclusive system that utilizes an artificial intelligence scanning system created by IBM. Secure online tools included.
A monitoring and identity theft protection service available from Equifax that offers two individual plans (starting at $16.99) or a family plan ($19.99). Each includes 3-bureau credit monitoring and fraud, financial and suspicious activity alerts.
Comprehensive, award-winning identity theft protection offering two plan options to monitor, alert and assist in recovery in the event of an identity theft event. Both plans offer 24/7 customer service and $1 million in identity theft insurance.
- Choose what’s most important to you: IdentityForce’s two plan options, UltraSecure, starting at $12.99 per month, and UltraSecure Plus Credit, starting at $19.99 per month, allow you to choose whether or not you want credit monitoring or identity theft protection only. You can also pay annually. IdentityForce also offers Family Plans which includes 2 adults and unlimited children under the age of 26.
- Add-on child coverage: The optional ChildWatch option included social security tracking and IdentityForce’s full Social Media Monitoring Suite.
- App and personal computer security: The IdentityForce mobile app and secure anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software help keep your information safe.
- Social media monitoring: All plan options include monitoring of social media accounts for inappropriate activity or threatening posts.
- Theft insurance and recovery: Recovery team and up to $1 million in insurance against out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages.
Complete plan that offers identity theft detection, protection and resolution in one package. Optional child ID theft protection available. Plan includes credit monitoring, suspicious internet alerts and monthly surveillance alerts if no potential threats are uncovered.
Identity theft protection and recovery service provider with two plan options starting at $14.95. Both plans include traditional as well as non-traditional credit monitoring, high-risk transaction alerts and black market monitoring.
- Identity and credit monitoring: Both the ID Watchdog Plus plan and the Platinum plan include a variety of features, including both advanced identity and credit monitoring.
- Secure online account and threat notifications: Access your ID Watchdog account safely online and get email and SMS text message alerts and updates. 24/7 customer service also included.
- National Provider Identifier Alerts: For those in the healthcare field, ID Watchdog offers monitors Provider ID’s (NPI’s) for an added layer of fraud protection.
- Guaranteed restoration guaranteed: Plans come with a 100 percent guarantee that ID Watchdog’s resolution team will fully clear fraudulent records and restore your identity if theft occurs.
Company-sponsored program with three service levels provided only through companies and businesses who pay for and provide them to their customers. Business solutions to help respond to data breaches are also available.
Comprehensive individual or family plans that includes identity theft and credit monitoring, threat alerts, privacy monitoring and unlimited consultations for prevention and restoration. 24/7 support is included.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.