Best Identity Theft Protection Services
Identity theft protection companies provide services that help you monitor your financial accounts and personal information. By monitoring activity involving your sensitive information, you’ll be able to catch fraudulent transactions before a criminal causes damage to your finances. Identity theft protection companies help consumers spot abnormal activity with their credit cards, bank accounts, social security information and more to repair and resolve issues regarding identity theft.
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
|LifeLock||Read 2286 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 239 Reviews
Choose from 3 monitoring options for $9.95–$19.95 a month, with text/email alerts and identity theft coverage up to $50,000. A free membership option with minimal perks and a smartphone app are also available.
Read 71 Reviews
Get individual identity theft plans from $12.99-$19.99/month, or a family plan starting at $24.90. All plans have identity recovery help and $1 million ID theft insurance. Try free for 14 days.
Read 22 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 29 Reviews
Choose individual identity theft protection plans from $8.99–$19.99/month or a family plan for $14.99–$34.99/month. Get email and text alerts with ID verification and monitoring, plus $1 million identity theft insurance.
|IDShield||Read 6 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 7 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 23 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.
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 reviews
Choose from three main packages starting at $9.99 per month. All plans include Norton Security for up to five devices and 24/7 customer support. Optional packages for seniors and children also available.
Three plan choices for either individuals or families starting at $8.99. 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.
Two plan options available with identity theft protection only or with identity theft plus credit monitoring included. Child identity theft protection is available as an add-on option. Includes 24/7 customer service.
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.
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.