Identity theft protection services can provide the help you need if your data has been compromised. These services monitor your personal information, credit files and the web, alerting you to any suspicious or fraudulent activity. They can also contact credit bureaus, banks and creditors on your behalf and assist you in restoring your identity if it becomes necessary.
Read on to learn more about the best identity theft protection services of January 2022.
Our Top Picks for the Best Identity Theft Protection
- Identity Guard – Best for Fast Alerts
- LifeLock – Best Features
- ReliaShield – Best Family Plans
- IdentityIQ – Best for Credit Monitoring Services
- IdentityForce – Best for Comprehensive Protection
- IDShield – Best for Restoration
Best Identity Theft Protection Reviews
- Uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify identity threats
- US-based case managers available to assist with ID recovery
- Risk Management Score measures your identity fraud risk
- Android and iOS mobile app
- Credit reports only available with the most expensive plan
- Prices not readily available on website
Why We Chose It: We chose Identity Guard as the best identity theft protection for fast alerts because of the promptness of its notifications and use of AI to detect threats.
Identity Guard uses artificial intelligence to identify possible fraud earlier and send notifications faster. Their scanning platform is powered by IBM Watson, a supercomputer that can analyze and learn fraud patterns to warn consumers if they are at high risk of identity theft.
Identity Guard’s most comprehensive plan costs $25 per month with an annual subscription. It includes dark web and social media scanning, credit reports and alerts from the three main credit bureaus and a monthly credit score report based on your TransUnion and Experian credit history. It also includes monitoring of your sex offender registries, home title and retirement and investment accounts — features most competitors offer only with higher-priced plans.
|Individual Plan||Family Plan|
|Value||$8.99 per month or $90 ($7.50/mo) with annual subscription||$14.99 per month or $179.88 ($12.50/mo) with annual subscription|
|Total||$19.99 per month or $200.04 ($16.67/mo) with annual subscription||$23.99 per month or $239.88 ($19.99/mo) with annual subscription|
|Ultra||$29.99 per month or $300 ($25/mo) with annual subscription||$31.99 per month or $320.04 ($26.67/mo) with annual subscription|
- 24/7 live customer service support
- Stolen or lost wallet protection
- Social Security Number alerts
- All plans include coverage of up to $1 million for legal fees
- 60-day money-back guarantee with annual membership
- ID Theft Insurance coverage amount depends on the plan
Why We Chose It: We chose LifeLock as the best identity theft protection for features because of the additional cybersecurity tools included in its plans.
LifeLock offers three identity theft protection plans for individuals and families: Standard, Advantage and Ultimate Plus. All plans include Norton 360, a cybersecurity suite that is designed to provide multiple layers of protection against existing emerging cyber threats in a single software package. It includes antivirus and malware protection for five devices or more, parental controls, cloud backup for Windows computers, and a password manager, among other software products.
LifeLock plans also include Social Security number monitoring, credit alerts from at least one bureau, USPS address change verification, dark web monitoring and data breach notifications. The Ultimate Plus plan also features three-bureau credit monitoring and monitors investment account numbers for changes. LifeLock alerts you to any payday loan transactions that use your personal information
|Paid Monthly||Paid Annually (save 15%)|
|Select||$9.99/mo 1st year (Renews at $14.99/mo)||$8.29/mo 1st year, (99.48 upfront, renews at $124.99/yr)|
|Advantage||$19.99/mo 1st year (Renews at $24.99/mo)||$15.99/mo 1st year, (191.88 upfront, renews at $249.99/yr)|
|Ultimate Plus||$29.99/mo 1st year (Renews at $34.99/mo)||$24.99/mo 1st year, ($299.88 upfront, renews at $349.99/yr)|
- Data breach alerts
- Personal information and dark web monitoring
- 24/7 customer service and recovery assistance
- Family plans cover all children under 18
- Essential Plan doesn't include credit monitoring
Why We Chose It: We chose ReliaShield as the best identity theft protection for family plans because of its comprehensive and highly affordable plans for families with several minors.
ReliaShield offers plans in three tiers for individuals and families: Essential, Prime, and Elite. All plans feature competitive pricing and a comprehensive list of services that includes five types of monitoring, data breach updates, 24/7 customer and recovery services, wallet protection, and free credit report reminders. The Elite plan adds additional monitoring services, a monthly credit score tracker, and several notification services.
While pricing for family identity monitoring plans usually starts at $25, ReliaShield family plans start at $14.99 per month and cover two adults and up to 10 children under the age of 18.
Whichever plan you choose, both adults and children get the same benefits, including monitoring sensitive and financial information, social media accounts, court and public records, data breaches, and neighborhood predator alerts.
|Individual Plan||Family Plan|
|Essential||$7.99 per month or $87.99 yearly||$14.99 per month or $164.99 yearly|
|Prime||$14.99 per month or $164.99 yearly||$24.99 per month or $274.89 yearly|
|Elite||$21.99 per month or $241.89 yearly||$34.99 per month or $384.89 yearly|
- Credit history monitoring and scores from the three bureaus
- Monitors utilities, cell phones and credit applications
- US-Based ID restoration service
- Lost wallet assistance
- Secure plan doesn't include credit score tracking
- Family members only included in the Secure Max plan
Why We Chose It: We chose IdentityIQ as the best identity theft protection for credit monitoring because of its variety of credit-related services, including 3-bureau monitoring, credit tracking, and a credit score simulator.
All of IdentityIQ's service plans — Secure, Secure Plus, Secure Pro, and Secure Max — include credit monitoring and tracking. Their plans also include dark web monitoring, Social Security number alerts, checking account reports, lost wallet assistance and up to $1 million to cover stolen funds, legal fees and lost wages.
Its most affordable option (the Secure Plan) costs less than $10 a month and offers daily credit monitoring and alerts from one credit agency. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Secure Max plan, which offers monthly credit reports and scores from all three bureaus, credit score alerts and a credit score simulator for around $30 per month.
|Secure||$8.99 per month ($107.88 paid annually)|
|Secure Plus||$11.99/month ($143.88 paid annually)|
|Secure Pro||$21.99 monthly ($263.88 paid annually)|
|Secure Max||$29.99 monthly ($395.88 paid annually)|
- Plans include anti-phishing and keylogging software
- Payday loan applications alerts
- Premium plan includes VPN and malware protection for mobile devices
- Basic plan features junk mail opt-out and social media monitoring
- Higher priced family plans than its competitors
- Fewer plan options
Why We Chose It: We chose IdentityForce as the best identity theft protection for comprehensive protection because it offers reasonably-priced packages that include basic and advanced features.
Neither of IdentityForce’s two ID theft protection plans is particularly affordable, but they do include features that similarly priced services don’t. Its top plan, the UltraSecure+Credit at $23.95/month, includes credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus and features a credit score simulator that you can use to evaluate how certain financial decisions might impact your score.
Most ID theft protection services feature a mobile app. However, the Identity Force app goes a few steps further, providing security features that protect your mobile devices from malicious apps, spyware and unsecured Wi-Fi connections. It also includes a VPN service and detects “spoof” networks, that is, false networks created by scammers to trick you into connecting and hacking your device.
Further, aside from helping with credit issues, IdentityForce also monitors court and public records, sex-offender registries, social media and the dark web.
|Individual Plan||Family Plan|
|Ultra Secure||$9.99 per month or $99.90 yearly||$24.90 per month or $249.00 yearly|
|Ultra Secure + Credit||$19.99 per month or $199.90 yearly||$35.90 per month or $359.00 yearly|
All annual subscriptions include two free months.
- Access to in-house licensed private investigators
- Unlimited consulting and restoration services
- Scan your social media for unwanted images and posts
- 24/7 access to emergency customer support
- Monthly credit score tracker
- Support for credit report disputes
- No detailed credit reports provided
Why We Chose It: We chose IDShield as the best identity theft protection for restoration because of its use of licensed private investigators and affordable three-bureau monitoring plans.
IDShield has two plans available for individuals and families, the One Bureau and Three Bureau. Both include a 30-day free trial and the services of private investigators that step in if you're a victim of ID theft. If you subscribe to a family plan, a different investigator is assigned to each family member who may be a victim of fraud.
Plans include dark web surveillance, credit score tracking for one year, credit reporting disputes, along with monitoring of financial accounts, personal information and court records.
The company also monitors social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and flags problematic posts or comments. However, do note that none of its plans provide detailed credit reports.
|Individual Plan||Family Plan|
|1 Bureau||$14.95 monthly||$29.95 monthly|
|3 Bureau||$19.95 monthly||$34.95 monthly|
Other types of identity theft
The following companies are worth mentioning but didn’t make the cut due to factors such as a lack of essential monitoring, scant information on their websites, limited plan availability, and poor mobile functionality.
- Extensive dark web monitoring — over 600,000 dark websites
- Parental controls with family plan
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Lack of information on monitoring services
- Only yearly plans available
- Integrated suite of security tools (VPN, password manager, antivirus)
- Intuitive app that is easy to set up and provides fast alerts
- 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
- Expensive plans relative to its competitors
- Basic plan only protects a single device
- 24/7/365 customer and recovery services
- Computer security tools included in premium plan
- Affordable individual and family plans
- Limited credit reporting
- No social media monitoring
- No mobile app alerts
- 30-day free trial
- Dark web monitoring
- FICO score alerts and simulator
- Three-bureau credit monitoring
- Fraud insurance with basic plan only covers up to $500,000
- Child Credit Lock to protect your minor against credit fraud
- Social media monitoring included with all plans
- High-risk transactions and public records monitoring
- No credit report or score with base plan
- Family plan only allows up to four children
- Monthly credit reports and scores from all three bureaus
- Up to $1 million in compensation if your identity is stolen
- Public and dark web scanning
- Doesn't offer family plans
- No social media monitoring
Identity Theft Protection Guide
Identity theft protection services offer help in monitoring your personal and financial information across the internet and notifying you whenever it might’ve been used fraudulently by someone else. However, these services only detect suspicious activity. They can’t prevent your information from being stolen and misused in the first place.
How does identity theft protection work?
Identity theft protection services work on an alert-based system. They monitor the web for signs of your personal information where it shouldn’t be — the dark web, social media, court or arrest records, payday loan applications — and send you a notification via one or more channels if they find anything suspicious. Many ID theft protection services also feature credit monitoring and computer security tools and may cover some of the costs resulting from identity fraud.
Types of identity theft scams
Identity theft comes in many forms, and not all of them consist of a malicious hacker on the other side of the screen waiting for you to write your password.
Identity thieves can trick you into sharing private information by using emails or text messages that look like they’re from legitimate companies, such as banks, online stores, social media sites or streaming services. These so-called phishing messages usually urge you to click a link and take immediate action regarding a blocked account or outdated payment information, for example. They may also ask you to download attachments that infect your device.
With formjacking, hackers insert malicious code into legitimate website forms, with the aim of copying your billing information or login credentials without arousing suspicion.
Make sure the websites you visit are secure by checking that their address begins with “https'' and features a small lock. Note that this isn’t fool-proof, as sophisticated hackers can include these safety measures in formjacked websites.
Physical document theft
Don’t carry your Social Security card, passport and other important documents in your wallet, purse or car unless necessary. Make sure to shred documents that contain personal information, such as bank statements and utility bills, before disposing of them.
A data breach is when someone gains access to your devices or a business’ database without authorization. With a data breach, cybercriminals can steal names, dates of birth, home and email addresses, passwords, credit cards, driver’s licenses or even SSN.
Not all data breaches can be avoided, but there are some things you can do to reduce your data breach risk, namely using distinct passwords for different accounts and enabling two-step authentication when possible.
Other kinds of identity theft
Synthetic identity theft
Cybercriminals might create new identities by combining real personal information with fake data. For example, they may use a real Social Security number and a false name to apply for a loan.
Child identity theft
Scammers can steal a child’s personal information and use it to open bank accounts, credit cards, or apply for loans, for example. Most of the time, this goes unnoticed until years later when the affected individual tries to obtain a job, car insurance or a new credit card.
Medical identity theft
Your information could also be used to obtain health insurance or to submit false claims to Medicare and other insurers. This type of fraud may also involve a scammer using your health insurance to visit a doctor or get a prescription. There have even been cases where the scammer's and the victim's health records are mixed up, leading to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment.
Tax identity theft
A scammer that gets access to your Social Security number can use it to file a fraudulent tax return and collect the refund before you do. Most people become aware of this type of theft when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flags their tax return as a duplicate.
Types of identity theft protection services
Identity theft protection companies help you monitor your private information across the internet and spot scams early on.
The most common features of identity protection services are:
Credit report monitoring
ID theft protection services monitor your credit report from one or all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — depending on the service plan you choose. They alert you to any changes in your personal and financial information such as a new home address or loan application, and so can help you detect fraud before it impacts your credit report.
Some credit repair services will assist you in the process of recovering your ID, and insure you against losses arising from ID theft and related fraud. (If you’ve already been the victim of identity theft, and there is inaccurate information in your credit history, make sure to check out our guide to the best credit repair companies).
ID theft protection services monitor websites, the dark web, databases and criminal or public records for signs that your personal information is being shared or used by fraudsters. They usually track your Social Security number, driver’s license, passport, home address, email, phone number and bank accounts.
For example, an ID theft protection company will notify you if your Social Security is used to file a suspicious tax refund or if your email address and password were exposed in a data breach and are now available on the dark web.
Identity recovery services
If your identity is compromised, good ID theft protection companies will provide professional assistance to help you recover your identity and secure your accounts. These restoration services include contacting government agencies, requesting a credit freeze, and helping you write letters to creditors and debt collectors.
You can also submit a credit report dispute yourself. However, hiring a company to do so can save you some time and effort.
Identity theft services in our list offer fraud insurance coverage ranging from $20,000 to $1 million. This is especially useful for seniors at risk of identity theft, who are often the target of identity fraud. This compensation is meant to cover out-of-pocket expenses such as legal fees or lost wages related to recovering your identity. Bear in mind that identity theft insurance won’t reimburse you for any stolen money or financial loss.
Many ID theft protection services now include additional tools designed to protect your personal information online, such as VPNs, antivirus software and password managers. How useful these are will vary depending on your personal Internet use. For example, you need a VPN if you work in a sensitive field where your online actions must be kept private from internet service providers.
How to prevent identity theft
Here are some recommendations if you want to know how to protect your identity from theft and fraud:
1. Make good use of passwords
Create strong passwords by avoiding sequential letters and numbers like “1234” or “abcd.” Instead, use random sequences that include punctuation marks and letters in both lowercase and uppercase.
More importantly, don’t reuse passwords — if a reused password is exposed in a data breach, hackers would get access to all of the accounts with the same login credentials. Consider getting a password manager, which generates strong passwords for you and stores them in an encrypted format, if you’re having issues remembering your passwords.
2. Carefully manage your personal information
Don’t carry your Social Security card in your purse, wallet or car unless it’s absolutely necessary. Also, don’t share personal details like SSNs, bank account numbers, driver’s license, and birth dates through text messages, email or social media.
Remember that government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Social Security Agency (SSA), will never call, text or email requesting personal information or threatening legal action against you.
3. Keep tabs on your credit and bills
Request copies of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com and keep an eye out for new accounts or loan applications you don’t recognize. Make sure to check your monthly credit card bills and bank statements for unauthorized charges as well.
You can also request fraud alerts from your credit bureaus, so that banks and other financial institutions contact you and verify your information before approving new accounts. You can even ask the bureaus to issue a credit freeze, which prevents new accounts from being opened in your name until you lift the freeze.
4. Safeguard your information and devices
Protect your Internet-connected devices by installing antivirus software and enabling two-step factor authentication when available, which gives your accounts an extra layer of protection.
Additionally, protect yourself from phishing attempts — when you receive an email asking for personal information or requesting you click on a link, check for spelling and grammatical errors, and hover over the sender’s name to reveal the full email address.
As for protecting your physical information, shred receipts, account statements, expired credit and debit cards before disposing of them. Don’t forget to collect your mail every day: If you're going on vacation, make sure to place a hold on your mail (you can do this online at USPS.com), or have somebody pick it up on a regular basis.
How to choose an identity theft protection service
Choosing the right identity theft protection service comes down to three key elements: alerts, monitoring, and restoration. First determine the number of people and devices you want covered and the types of monitoring you’ll need: Some can make do with just basic monitoring and alerts, while others may be looking for specialized services, such as social media and investment monitoring. Your ID theft protection should also include a robust restoration package — stolen funds reimbursement, personal expense compensation, coverage for lawyers, etc. — in the event your identity is used fraudulently.
How to report identity theft
Reporting identity theft starts by filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov or calling 1-877-438-4338. Once you fill out the FTC report, you may also file a police report, especially if you have an idea of who may be behind the crime. To prevent damage to your credit, contact your bank, credit card issuer and the credit bureaus to notify them of the situation.
When it comes to phishing emails, you can forward them to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org. Text messages can be forwarded to SPAM (7726). Remember to report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Latest News on Identity Theft Protection
With hackers and identity thieves as rampant as ever, freezing credit is an essential tool to prevent identity fraud and other related crimes. However, an alarming number of consumers still have not used this tool to prevent identity theft. Read Money’s article on a recent survey published by the Identity Theft Resource Center to learn more about credit freezes.
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have also been the target of identity thieves as of late. In November alone, at least $500,000 worth of cryptocurrency was likely lost to a crypto phishing Google scam. Read on to learn how this phishing scam used lookalike websites and abused Google’s system to steal people’s crypto.
There are several measures you can take to verify if someone has stolen your identity. The first thing you should do is check your credit card statements and bank account warning signs, such as unauthorized transactions and new accounts under your name.
You should also request a credit report if your credit score is behaving strangely or if you're unable to prequalify for a loan or apply for a credit card when you normally would.
There may be no fail-safe way of preventing identity theft, but there are things you can do to make it harder for thieves to steal your identity. For example, you can request a credit fraud alert, safeguard your Social Security number, use strong passwords, and check your credit report regularly.
An identity theft protection service can also safeguard you from unauthorized access and use of your personal information. You may also find that your homeowners insurance policy may include an identity theft protection rider.
Identity thieves can access your personal information in a number of ways: some physical, some digital. They may dig through mail or trash in search of credit card or bank statements, fill out a change-of-address form to forward your mail to them, and steal your wallet or its contents.
They can also phish for information with fake emails or text messages, obtain your information through unsecured web sites or public Wi-Fi, and steal electronic records exposed due to a data breach.
How We Chose the Best Identity Theft Protection
We evaluated each provider’s monitoring services, additional tools and features, reimbursement policies, and customer service in order to establish which companies offered the best identity theft protection services. We determined that, in order for a company to be considered the best, they needed to offer the following services:
- Comprehensive identity theft monitoring: We preferred services that offer daily credit checks, dark web surveillance, and bank and credit account monitoring.
- Alerts: The best identity theft protection services are those that send you real-time alerts via email and SMS text messaging when breaches are detected. All the companies we chose have iOS and Android mobile apps to make communication easier.
- Identity Restoration: The best identity theft protection services have experts who guide you through the identity restoration process, contact financial institutions and government agencies on your behalf and include fraud insurance, which can reimburse you for legal fees.