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You may be doing everything in the book to reduce the risk of identity theft. Each account has a different password with various numbers and special symbols you change frequently. Your birthdays are wrong on all your social media accounts. You even refuse to connect to your local café’s WiFi because it’s not a secure network. Even with these precautions, you’re still vulnerable to identity theft.
Best Identity Theft Protection Services
IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit: Best coverageIDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan: Most well-roundedAura All-In-One: Best for familiesIdentity Guard: Most flexibility PrivacyGuard Identity Protection: Best for basic coverageComplete ID: Best deal
Identity Protection Company Reviews
You can deploy additional security measures, namely identity theft protection services. Here’s our list of the best identity theft protection services and what you can expect from each.
IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit – Product Name Only
Cost: IdentityForce Ultra Secure+Credit – Fees Display
IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit – Editorial Name Only is a product of TransUnion, but the +Credit plan also covers Experian and Equifax. It offers broad monitoring capability, including social media accounts, mobile device scanning, and dark web data analysis. It can also alert you of suspicious activity in your banking and investment accounts, in addition to credit-related fraud alerts.
On top of the standard security tools mentioned above, IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit – Editorial Name Only features an online vault for storing sensitive digital documents and medical ID fraud protection to ensure nobody else is using your medical benefits illicitly. IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit – Editorial Name Only also offers an entry-level plan with most of the same features apart from credit monitoring, which is a good fit for anyone who already has that base covered.
While standard pricing is $29.95 a month, you can rummage around online for IdentityForce discounts. In the past, we’ve found lower prices by Googling “IdentityForce discount.”
You can find our IdentityForce review here.
IDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan – Product Name Only
Cost: IDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan – Fees Display
IDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan – Editorial Name Only offers comparable protection to IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit – Editorial Name Only at a lower price if you’re paying monthly. You’ll get all the essentials like three-bureau credit monitoring, alerts, and various cybersecurity and device protection tools. The few features IDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan – Editorial Name Only lacks (like junk mail removal) aren’t essential, so going without them is a reasonable tradeoff if cost is a priority.
One negative of IDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan – Editorial Name Only is that it tends to get lower marks for its interface; if that deters you from using the security features, then whatever you save in monthly fees is nullified. IDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan – Editorial Name Only is a well-rounded plan, but you should test it out with the 30-day free trial.
You can find our IDShield review here.
Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Product Name Only
Cost: Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Fees Display
Aura provides fewer monitoring services than IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit – Editorial Name Only and IDShield 3 Bureau Individual Plan – Editorial Name Only — it doesn’t include social media, for example. It still offers well-rounded protection with monitoring of all three credit bureaus and the standard security tools, as well as email aliases to reduce spam and exposure to data breaches.
Aura – All-In-One ID Theft Protection – Editorial Name Only shines brightest with its couple and family plans, which provide the same protections for additional members (children or adults) at a heavily discounted cost per person. Aura’s family plan also offers parental controls for mobile devices.
You can find our full Aura review here.
Identity Guard – Product Name Only
Cost: Identity Guard – Fees Display
Owned by Aura, Identity Guard – Editorial Name Only has three core plans: Value, Total, and Ultra. With a family version for each of these tiers, Identity Guard has six plans overall. Even without the annual discounts applied, Identity Guard’s Value plan is the cheapest service on this list. Its more expensive plans are still competitively priced compared to other services on this list, though you’ll get a much better deal if you commit to an annual plan.
One thing to note is that Identity Guard reserves its White Glove fraud resolution service for its Ultra plan, significantly reducing the utility of the Value and Total plans.
You can find our full Identity Guard review here.
PrivacyGuard Identity Protection – Product Name Only
Cost: PrivacyGuard Identity Protection – Fees Display
PrivacyGuard Identity Protection – Editorial Name Only has some gaps in its identity theft protection. Notably, its credit monitoring feature is a completely separate plan from its identity theft coverage unless you purchase the most expensive bundle. However, we’re just recommending the identity protection service alone, as you can fill its credit monitoring gap using other tools that are available for free.
PrivacyGuard Identity Protection – Editorial Name Only provides many services that are harder to replicate without paying, like dark web scanning and public records monitoring at lower prices than its competitors. You’ll also get tools to secure your browser and keyboard. PrivacyGuard also provides bank account and credit card monitoring, which are surprisingly scarce features among identity protection services.
You can find our full PrivacyGuard review here.
Complete ID – Product Name Only
Cost: Complete ID – Fees Display
Complete ID is exclusively available to Costco members, and like many deals at Costco, the price is hard to beat. Every plan offers monitoring from all three credit bureaus, digital privacy tools like a password manager and VPN, and restoration services with 24/7 support.
Like Aura, Complete ID’s monitoring services are less extensive than IdentityForce and IDShield, but the essentials are covered. Couple and family plans come at an even lower cost per person; for example, the two-adult plan is $15.99 monthly (less than individual plans from most other services). If you’re already a Costco member looking for identity theft protection, give Complete ID a look.
Identity Theft Protection Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is identity theft protection worth it?
Having some degree of identity theft protection is prudent, but you don’t have to pay for it. Many features offered by identity theft protection services are free, such as credit monitoring, fraud alerts for credit card and bank accounts, and security tools like password management. However, identity theft protection services that offer recovery services can be well worth the money if your identity is stolen.
What is identity theft protection?
Identity theft protection shields your identity from bad actors trying to use it for financial gain, be it a line of credit or insurance fraud. The average loss suffered by identity theft victims is on the order of $1,000, but losses can be far more severe and are difficult to recoup in any amount. An identity thief armed with your personal and financial data could divert payments intended for you, which is why it’s essential to reduce the risk of identity theft.
Best identity theft protection for seniors
All the identity protection services above will apply to all demographics. That said, it might be worth your time to look into LifeLock, which offers a sizable discount to AARP members for their first year. You can find our LifeLock review here.
What is the best online identity protection service?
The best identity theft protection service is IdentityForce’s UltraSecure+Credit plan, which offers cybersecurity protection, identity monitoring, and credit resolution experts. While it’s the most comprehensive identity protection service, IdentityForce is also the most expensive service on this list.
What Should I Look For in an Identity Theft Protection Service?
The best identity theft protection service is the one that meets your needs at a price you can afford. For example, if your identity has been stolen before, you’re more likely to be targeted again. You may need to arm yourself more heavily than you would otherwise with features like dark web monitoring, public records monitoring, and identity theft recovery.
On the other hand, if you’re concerned about your children, consider looking for identity protection that offers features for children. Most identity theft protection services in our guide provide features specifically for children, like Aura’s hate speech monitoring or IdentityForce’s Childwatch, which includes social media monitoring and Child Credit Activity Monitoring.
Even if you can’t find a perfect plan that aligns with your needs, some protection is better than none. Most services also offer a free trial, so you can test them before buying. Look for a service with security tools you’ll actually use. You may even choose a service for superficial reasons (like a layout or color scheme you prefer). If one service inspires you to be more proactive about protecting your information, that’s a selling point.
What is the Average Cost of Identity Theft Protection?
The monthly cost of the identity protection services on this list ranges from $9 to $29.95 for their individual plans, though you can find services with prices outside this range on either end. Some of these services will offer family plans at a discounted rate.
Note: The median cost for fraud in 2022 was $650, up from $500 in 2021, according to reports from the FTC.
Protecting your identity and other sensitive personal information is like protecting your home against fire. Most houses have fire prevention measures baked into their design, including fire-resistant materials, landscaping precautions, and fire hydrant access. You should have early detection and alert systems like smoke, heat, or flame detectors and suppression systems like fire extinguishers and sprinklers. Hopefully, you observe basic fire safety protocols like storing flammable materials properly and not leaving open flames unattended. Finally, you should have fire insurance to protect yourself financially.
None of those measures guarantees your house won’t catch fire, but collectively, they mitigate the risk and extent of fire damage. Similarly, identity theft protection doesn’t guarantee your personal information will remain secure, but it reduces the likelihood you’ll experience the worst outcomes of having your identity stolen.
Like fire protection, identity theft protection isn’t a single measure but an array of complementary measures designed to safeguard your personal information.
Types of Identity Theft Protection
Standard features offered by identity theft protection companies generally fit into one of the following three categories:
Monitoring and alerts — Given how quickly identity thieves put stolen data to ill use, early detection and warning are critical to minimizing damage. Identity theft detection companies monitor your personal information for suspicious activity and notify you when something is amiss. What you get varies among companies and plans but usually includes monitoring of credit reports, social security numbers, property and court records, and more.Security tools — While security measures aren’t foolproof, your data is less vulnerable with some of the features that identity theft protection services offer. This includes tools like antivirus and malware protection, a virtual private network (VPN) for safe browsing, and password management.Recovery — When your personal information has been compromised, identity theft protection can help you limit further damage by freezing your credit and exposed accounts. It can also help you recover your identity and cover related expenses, though it’s unlikely to reimburse direct losses resulting from fraud.
Identity Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring
One identity protection feature to prioritize is reporting from all three major credit bureaus; many entry-level plans only monitor one bureau, leaving room for suspicious activity to slip through unnoticed. You should also look for a service that gets audited regularly by independent security experts and deletes your information when you cancel your subscription (rather than holding onto it indefinitely).
Note: Some credit card issuers offer identity theft protection programs, including free options and more in-depth services that charge a monthly fee.
Identity Theft in the US
In 2022, the Federal Trade Commission logged over 1.1 million reports of identity theft, 300,000 fewer reports than in 2021. The reported number marks the first downward trend in reported identity theft cases since 2017. That figure only includes what gets reported — the true number of identity theft cases is likely much higher,
How to Report Identity Theft
If you suspect your identity has been stolen, your first action should be to freeze your credit reports to prevent the thief from applying for credit in your name. It’s free and won’t damage your credit. You can always unfreeze your reports later when the dust settles.
Your next steps to reporting identity theft depend on the nature of the identity theft and any fraud that may have already occurred:
File an identity theft report: IdentityTheft.gov is a Federal Trade Commission program that will help you create a recovery plan and generate an identity theft report that you can use later as documentation. You can file a report over the phone at 877-438-4338, though you won’t receive that identity theft report.Report the fraud to involved companies: Notify any banks, credit card issuers, or other companies involved in your identity theft case. The sooner you do this, the better. If you don’t report within a certain timeframe, you could be liable for any debts incurred.Notify the credit bureaus: Call at least one of the main credit bureaus to let them know your identity has been stolen. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit bureaus to notify the others, and you’ll receive a 90-day initial fraud alert, which means creditors have to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of anyone applying for credit under your name. Later, with an identity theft report, you can extend the fraud alert to seven years.Contact law enforcement: Depending on the situation, you may want to file a police report, especially if you know who stole your identity. Some creditors may also require you to file a report with law enforcement.
If your Social Security number has been compromised, and you continue to have issues with identity theft, you may be eligible to get a new Social Security number. However, the requirements for a new Social Security number are fairly high. You need to have been repeatedly targeted by identity thieves or in situations of harassment, abuse, or life endangerment. You’ll need to contact your local Social Security office and arrange an in-person appointment.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
While an identity protection service will make it harder for hackers and identity thieves to use your identity, Eva Velasquez, founder and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, says that “hiring a service does not mean you can or should abdicate all responsibility for good identity and cyber hygiene.” She says that many financial organizations may refuse to reimburse victims if they determine the victims didn’t take sufficient care of their credentials and accounts.
Because identity theft is often a crime of opportunity, taking steps to reduce the risk of identity theft can go a long way toward preventing it entirely. You can do a lot to protect your personal information by practicing good data hygiene and staying vigilant about how your information is used and distributed. Simple steps like using strong passwords and antivirus software, securing your mail, and regularly reviewing account statements for suspicious activity will help you prevent and detect identity theft.
You can also look into various products beyond identity theft protection to prevent identity theft. You ask the credit bureaus to freeze your credit or place a fraud alert on your credit reports, preventing identity thieves from borrowing money using your credit. These are free services offered by credit bureaus.
Those practices, combined with well-rounded identity theft protection, will significantly reduce the risk of having your personal information compromised.
Why You Should Trust Us: Our Expert Panel For The Best Identity Theft Protection Services
We interviewed identity theft experts to inform our picks for the best identity protection services. These answers have been edited for concision. Here’s what they had to say:
Is identity theft protection worth it?
Eva Velasquez, CEO and president of the Identity Theft Resource Center:
Paid identity protection services can have value for individuals and families that have the financial means to pay for the services. These services can take some of the leg work out of monitoring your identity and the recovery process should an identity crime occur. I often use the analogy of hiring a pet groomer or grooming my dog myself. I can bathe and groom my dog for “free,” but I do have to consider the cost of the shampoo, tools, water, and my time versus hiring someone to do it for me. Both are legitimate ways to meet the need but depend on my personal preference.
Before you purchase, make sure that you don’t already have this benefit available to you. Some homeowners or renters insurance plans have riders that provide this coverage. Some employers offer these services as an employee benefit for free or at a discount. Some membership organizations you already belong to may also offer this as a benefit at a reduced cost.
Jeanne Kelly, credit coach and founder of The Kelly Group:
Absolutely. It is crucial to recognize that even if you are cautious about sharing your personal information, it is still stored in various databases, such as those of financial institutions, schools, and medical offices. Therefore, having identity theft protection ensures that you are promptly alerted in case of any issues and provides professional assistance in restoring your identity.
Paul Kim, associate editor of credit scores at Personal Finance Insider:
Identity protection can be a nice thing to have for peace of mind. However, most people don’t need to spring for the fanciest, most expensive plan out there. Some of the cheaper plans, plus a little vigilance on your part, will often do the trick.
How do I determine the level of identity protection I need?
Ask yourself the following questions: How many people do I intend to cover? What are the ages of the individuals needing services? Do they have access to, and can they make effective use of digital platforms? How digitally engaged are they? Make sure you purchase coverage that meets your individual needs.
For example, if you purchase a family plan with features including cyberbullying monitoring, is that something you currently need? Are your children of an age that they are engaged online, and this feature is helpful? If you have plans available through an employee benefits program or insurance policy, ask your benefits administrator or insurance broker for assistance in determining the level of coverage that is most suitable for you.
Conduct thorough research to understand the available options. It is not sufficient to rely solely on receiving alerts. It is essential to find an identity theft protection service that not only notifies you but also offers robust support in resolving identity theft issues. Think of it as having an alarm system that also sends help when triggered. Look for services that provide the expertise of private investigators to assist you throughout the identity restoration process.
When shopping for identity protection, you should think about how much of a risk identity theft poses. Obviously, everyone can be targeted, but some people are at higher risk. Certain states have higher rates of identity theft than others. Additionally, people who were victims of identity theft are more likely to be targeted than those who have never had their identities stolen.
What are the most important identity theft protection features?
Transparency. This is an individual choice. The important features are going to vary based on the individual. However, a service that is transparent about what it covers and what it does not is key. Make sure you read all the information to understand what is covered, how the service is provided, and the limitations of the service, if any. Read the terms of any insurance plans carefully and ensure you understand what losses are actually covered and what your duty of care or other obligations are to seek reimbursement for losses.
One crucial feature is the ability to grant power of attorney or authorization for someone else to handle the intricate process of restoring your identity. Dealing with identity theft can be incredibly time-consuming, often requiring hundreds of hours. By having experts handle the work on your behalf, you can save valuable time and ensure that the restoration process is handled effectively. It is crucial to proactively obtain identity theft protection before any issues arise.
Two features I look out for are dark web monitoring and court records monitoring because it’s difficult to replicate these yourself. If you’re looking for basic identity protection that may not offer every type of monitoring, ensure that the service will at least monitor the dark web and court records.
What makes an identity theft protection service good?
In addition to my response above, also read consumer reviews and look at third-party accreditation sites such as the Better Business Bureau. Reading reviews will allow you to determine if there is a pattern of behavior that demonstrates poor customer experience. While no company is going to be perfect, seeing how they resolve customer complaints and issues will be useful in making your determination to do business with them.
A good identity theft protection service should monitor multiple aspects of your identity, including your social security number, driver’s license, passport ID, medical card, social media accounts, and address changes with the postal service. Remember, identity theft encompasses more than just credit-related fraud. For instance, if someone gains access to your medical ID or driver’s license number, they can exploit it to receive medical services or cash checks under your identity. Therefore, ensure that the service you choose monitors these essential areas. Additionally, in the event of an identity theft incident, make sure the service provides comprehensive support for identity restoration.
The identity protection services I pay particular attention to will offer solutions for the before, during, and after of identity theft. So, it’ll offer features that protect your identity before any theft occurs, like cybersecurity measures and VPNs. The identity protection service will also provide identity monitoring to alert you when identity theft occurs. Lastly, a good identity protection service will have restoration experts who will guide you through the process of recovering your identity. Ideally, they’ll do most of the work for you.
Why You Should Trust Us: How We Chose The Best Identity Theft Protection Services
Most identity theft protection services are very similar in both structure and service. They follow a tiered pricing system, with the more expensive tiers offering better protection. Our ratings look at the services provided compared to the cost. Along the way, we make note of must-have features, like dark web protection, and in-house experts that will help you recover from identity theft. We also make a note of unique features that a service may provide, like credit score simulators or social media monitoring.
For example, IdentityForce costs more than twice the cheapest option on this list but includes additional cybersecurity features like its digital vault for sensitive documents. Meanwhile, PrivacyGuard has bank account and credit card monitoring, which are both features that are surprisingly hard to find among identity theft protection services.
Note: While credit monitoring is a cornerstone of identity theft protection, we’ve deprioritized it because some of the best credit monitoring services are free.
We also look at the quality of the company’s customer service. We look at their Better Business Bureau ratings to see what customers have to say and how responsive a company is to its customers. We also consider family discounts, annual discounts, return policies, and free trials.
You can find our full methodology on how we rate identity theft protection services here.