Best Identity Theft Protection Services
- IdentityGuard — Best Overall Coverage
- IdentityForce — Best Overall Monitoring
- IdentityIQ — Best Credit Monitoring
- LifeLock — Best Money-Back Guarantee
- ID Watchdog — Best Monitoring for Healthcare Professionals
- EverSafe — Best Monitoring for Seniors
- ADT Identity Protection — Longest Industry Experience
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of personal information, including Social Security numbers, credit cards, health insurance, and other personal records. Once your personal information is exposed, thieves may take on your identity to open accounts in your name, get a passport, file a false tax return, and more.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the Federal Trade Commission received 3.2 million fraud and identity theft reports in 2019, totaling $1.9 billion in money lost. While you can’t completely stop identity theft, you can use DIY or professional credit protection, monitoring, and identity theft security to shut down thieves before they cause damage.
What Is Identity Theft Protection?
Professional identity theft and credit protection services use a combination of technology and professionals to regularly scan databases and websites to detect unusual or suspicious activity. If fraudulent activity is detected, you’re immediately alerted via a mobile alert, email or text message. And if you fall victim to identity theft, most providers will offer recovery assistance to secure your information from further harm.
Most providers offer individual and family plans between $86 and $240 per year, depending on the features selected and the number of people monitored. You’ll usually receive a discount amounting to lower than monthly pricing if you choose to pay the annual price upfront.
There are two types of services offered: credit monitoring and identity theft recovery. Credit monitoring services look for unusual activity in your credit file that may indicate your financial information is being used fraudulently.
Signs you may be a victim of identity theft include:
- Fraudulent credit card changes
- Bogus loan applications
- Social Security number for sale on the dark web
On the other hand, identity recovery services assist in financial and reputational recovery, including:
- Freezing credit
- Correcting credit reports
- Filing police reports
- Closing accounts opened in your name.
It should be noted that identity theft protection services don’t prevent your identity from being compromised. Instead, it provides you with constant monitoring to immediately alert you to suspicious activity. Instant alerts allow you to quickly take action to reduce the amount of damage identity theft can cause if it goes undetected.
Credit monitoring involves professionals keeping track of your credit score for any changes. With identity theft protection services, you can choose single-bureau or tri-bureau credit monitoring. Both services look for any changes involving your credit, such as applications for credit cards or loans. If you’d rather self-monitor your credit, you can get a free report from each of the three major bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Identity Theft Monitoring
Identity theft monitoring slightly differs from credit monitoring by focusing on the fraudulent use of your personal information. With identity theft monitoring — also called fraud protection services — professionals look for suspicious activity using your name, address, social security number, and additional information. There are also other types of identity monitoring, including dark web, change of address, public records, and social media monitoring. If your personal information is stolen or compromised, you can get assistance with recovery.
What Is Identity Theft Recovery?
Identity theft recovery involves counselors or case managers working with you to prevent further damage. Generally, some providers offer dedicated assistance for your case. These professionals help you to complete paperwork, contact creditors and work through the dispute process.
Compare the Best Identity Theft Protection Services
- ID theft insurance
- Credit monitoring
- Bank account monitoring
- Identity theft monitoring
- Dark Web monitoring
- Recovery assistance
Check out some of the key differences in the best identity protection options in the comparison table below. This will help decode the identity theft protection reviews that follow.
ADT Identity Theft Protection
Starting monthly fees
Credit score simulator
Social media monitoring
|7 days||Varies||7 days||30 days||None||30 days||None|
Best Identity Theft Protection Providers
- Best Overall Coverage
Identity Guard ReviewStarting at$6.67/mo
Identity Guard uses IBM® Watson™ Artificial Intelligence to detect identity threats with predictive analytics. During setup, you can create a Watchlist for Identity Guard to monitor your email address, credit, accounts, and phone numbers. If identity theft occurs, the company also provides recovery assistance.
Identity Guard displays all of your personal information on an easy-to-use dashboard and delivers instant alerts about activity that could be the earliest indication of identity theft or fraud. The company is trusted by more than 47 million customers, backed by over 20 years of experience, and keeps its prices affordable. With plans starting at $6.67/mo., Identity Guard is one of the top recommended identity theft companies.
- Family plans offered
- IBM intelligent tracking
- Affordable pricing
- Limited recovery services
IdentityForce offers 24/7 identity protection support and real-time alerts if IdentityForce’s Certified Protection Experts detect suspicious activity. The team will keep a close eye on your information, including the selling of your personal data and credit.
If your data is compromised, you’ll receive instant mobile alerts, and experts will handle recovery on your behalf. You’ll also be covered by an identity theft protection policy of up to $1 million. IdentityForce offers free trials for families and businesses with plans starting as low as $17.95/mo.
- 2 months of free service on annual plans
- Mobile Device Protection
- Investment Account Alerts
- Family Plans Available
- Must upgrade plan to monitor both credit reports and scores
- No retroactive identity recovery support
- Best Credit Monitoring
IdentityIQBBB ratingA+Starting at$6.99/mo
Founded in 2010, IdentityIQ helps individuals protect their personal information through a variety of identity theft solutions. IdentityIQ offers four theft protection solution plans at affordable price-points, so you only pay for exactly what you need. IdentityIQ offers up to $1 million in coverage and credit monitoring for the lowest-tiered plan, so you can feel confident that you’re protected by clear protocols and a financial safety net if your identity is ever stolen. Company experts will also work with you through recovery and restoration.
- Tri-bureau credit monitoring
- Protection for family members
- Up to $1 million in coverage
- Social media monitoring not available
- No trial period for online registration
- Best Money-Back Guarantee
LifeLock ReviewStarting at$8.29/mo
LifeLock is an industry leader committed to protecting your identity. The company partners with Norton Security to keep a close watch on your information and devices. With LifeLock, experts will monitor your Social Security Number, devices and bank accounts. They’re also able to track any crimes in your name and monitor credit reports from all three credit bureaus.
LifeLock’s identity theft technology is designed to scan your account transactions every second to spot any suspicious activity quickly. LifeLock offers a Million Dollar Protection™ Package™, covering up to $1 million in stolen funds and attorney fees. Plans for LifeLock coverage start as low as $8.29/mo.
- 401k and investing alerts
- Offers family plan
- Easy to navigate the portal
- Not all transactions are monitored
- No educational tools or support
- Top package is expensive
- Best Monitoring for Healthcare Professionals
ID WatchdogStarting at$14.95/mo
ID Watchdog offers credit monitoring across all three credit bureaus and identity monitoring that regularly checks public records to spot unfamiliar changes and transactions. This identity theft protection company keeps your data safe with Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialists who handle monitoring and identity restoration if you fall victim to identity theft.
The ID Watchdog plan offers $1 million in reimbursement and guaranteed payment for recovery if identity theft occurs. ID Watchdog also provides recovery assistance for non-customers who face identity theft and fraud.
- Affordable plans
- Offers family protection
- All plans include credit monitoring
- Vague limit and benefit details
- Website lacks family plan pricing
- No credit reports or scores
DIY Identity Theft Monitoring
You can also self-monitor your credit files — even if you don’t have the same technology as professional services. Most self-monitoring identity options range from free of charge to a very low monthly service fee. If you choose to monitor your identity on your own or with a service that doesn’t offer recovery assistance, IdentityTheft.gov provides help with recovery plans, letters and forms should you ever need it.
There are a few ways to self-monitor your credit files:
- Check your credit reports at all three credit bureaus. You get one free credit report per year from each credit reporting agency. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for more information.
- Regularly review your bank and credit card account summaries and statements for any unauthorized transactions or changes.
- Freeze your credit report to prevent new accounts from being opened without your permission. You’ll need to place a freeze on your credit for all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This service is now free to all U.S. residents.
Remember, identity theft protection services don’t prevent your identity from being compromised. The services provide constant monitoring and immediate alerts to any suspicious activity. That way, you can take action quickly and minimize the damage that may have occurred otherwise.
Professional Identity Theft Monitoring vs. DIY Identity Theft Monitoring
Not sure if you should choose a professional service for monitoring your personal information? We break down some of the pros and cons for professional and DIY identity monitoring below.
Professional Identity Monitoring
- 24/7 surveillance of your personal information
- Notifications and alerts of any changes
- Giving a service access to your personal information
- Paying for services that you may be able to handle yourself
DIY Identity Monitoring
- Not spending funds on routine checks you can perform
- Not having to give another company access to your personal information
- May not catch certain suspicious activity, like red flags on the darknet or your credit report
- May not catch suspicious activity related to a child or spouse
Identity Theft Protection FAQs
You should consider identity theft protection if you’re worried about your personal information being stolen. Identity theft protection services can’t entirely prevent identity theft, but they can detect it quickly, minimizing the financial toll. If you’ve misplaced your social security card or have been a victim of Identity theft, strongly consider a professional monitoring and recovery service.
Without a professional or DIY identity theft protection service, it’s nearly impossible to monitor every website or area where your personal data could be compromised. However, the Federal Trade Commission offers a few common signs to watch out for:
- Unauthorized and unexplainable transactions from your accounts.
- Notices from debt collectors about an unfamiliar debt owed.
- Bills from providers that you didn’t receive service for, such as medical bills.
- Multiple tax returns filed on your behalf.
- A data breach letter from a company you have an account with.
During a data breach, hackers release unauthorized personal information on behalf of a company. Data breaches can lead to identity theft when hackers use your personal information without your permission to access bank accounts, take out loans or other risky behavior.
If you fall victim to identity theft, there are a few immediate steps to take before creating a recovery plan. IdentityTheft.gov recommends immediately alerting the FTC, filing a report with your local police department, and notifying the company included in the theft. For example, if you’re billed for a medical service you didn’t receive, inform the medical provider immediately.