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 2021.
Our Top Picks for the Best Identity Theft Protection
- Identity Guard – Best for Fast Alerts
- ReliaShield – Best Family Plans
- LifeLock – Best Features
- IDShield – Best for Restoration
- IdentityIQ – Best Value
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
Identity Guard uses artificial intelligence to identify possible fraud earlier and send notifications faster. Their scanning platform is powered by IBM Watson, a supercomputer which 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 |
$7.50 with annual subscription
|$14.99 per month |
$12.50 with annual subscription
|Total||$19.99 per month |
$16.67 with annual subscription
|$19.99 a year, $23.99/mo|
|Ultra||$29.99 per month |
$25 with annual subscription
|$26.67 a year, $31.99/mo|
- 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
Scammers have increasingly been using children's Social Security numbers and information to open new lines of credit or accounts. This makes a solid and affordable family plan all the more important.
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.
ReliaShield’s Elite plan features a comprehensive list of services, including change of address, data breach updates, wallet protection, court records monitoring, social media monitoring, and bank and credit card account mobile app alerts.
ReliaShield offers plans in three tiers for individuals and families: Essential, Prime, and Elite.
|Individual Plan||Family Plan|
|Essential||$7.99 per month, $87.99 billed annually||$14.99 per month, $164.99 billed annually|
|Prime||$14.99 per month, $164.99 billed annually||$24.99 per month, $274.89 billed annually|
|Elite||$21.99 per month, $241.89 billed annually||$34.99 per month, $384.89 billed annually|
- 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
LifeLock offers three plans for individuals and families: Standard, Advantage and Ultimate Plus. All plans include Social Security number monitoring, credit alerts from at least one bureau, USPS address change verification, dark web monitoring and data breach notifications. The company also provides discounts during the first year of service and when you pay annually.
The Ultimate Plus plan costs around $30 and includes three-bureau credit monitoring. It also monitors investment account numbers for changes and alerts you to any payday lender transactions that use your personal information.
All plans include Norton 360, cybersecurity software that includes antivirus and malware protection for five devices or more, parental controls, cloud backup for Windows computers and a password manager.
|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)|
- 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
IDShield stands out for its affordability (its three-bureau monitoring plan starts at less than $20 per month) and for its use of licensed private investigators that are ready to 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.
IDShield offers two plans available for individuals and families, the One Bureau or Three Bureau. Both include a 30-day free trial.
|Individual Plan||Family Plan|
|1 Bureau||$13.95 monthly||$26.95 monthly|
|3 Bureau||$17.95 monthly||$32.95 monthly|
- 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
All of IdentityIQ 's service plans — Secure, Secure Plus, Secure Pro, and Secure Max — include credit monitoring and tracking.
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 the three bureaus, credit score alerts and a credit score simulator for around $30 per month.
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.
|Secure Plus||$9.99/month ($8.49/month with annual plan)|
|Secure Pro||$19.99 monthly ($16.99/month with annual plan)|
|Secure Max||$29.99 monthly (25.49/month with annual plan)|
- 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
IdentityForce offers comprehensive ID theft monitoring at a reasonable price. Its top plan, the UltraSecure+Credit, costs $23.95 per month and includes features that similarly priced services simply don’t.
To start, it includes credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus. It also includes a credit score simulator which you can use to evaluate how certain financial decisions— for example, paying up a loan or closing a credit card account — might impact your score. In addition to helping with credit issues, IdentityForce monitors court and public record, sex-offender registries, social media and the dark web.
Most ID theft protection services feature a mobile app. However, the Identity Force app goes a few steps further, providing security features which 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.
All annual subscriptions include two free months.
|Individual Plan||Family Plan|
|Ultra Secure||$9.99/mo & $99.90/yr||$24.90/mo & $249.00/yr|
|Ultra Secure + Credit||$19.99/mo & $199.90/yr||$35.90/mo & $359.00/yr|
Other Companies We Considered
- Monthly credit reports and scores from all three bureaus
- Credit monitoring
- Public and dark web scanning
- Up to $1 million in compensation if your identity is stolen
- Doesn't offer family plans
- No social media monitoring
- Child Credit Lock to protect your minor against credit fraud
- Social media monitoring included with all plans
- Credit report monitoring
- High-risk transactions and public records monitoring
- No credit report or score with base plan
- Family plan only allows up to four children
- 30-days 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
Identity Theft Protection Guide
Identity theft protection services can help monitor your personal and financial information across the internet and notify 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.
Types of identity theft scams
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. To avoid falling for a phishing scam, make sure to check out the sender's full email address (it will not correspond to the website they're claiming to be emailing from), and check the message for typos and other grammatical errors.
With formjacking, hackers insert malicious code into legitimate website forms. The code is well hidden and can copy your billing information or login credentials without arousing suspicion.
To reduce your risk, make sure the websites you visit are secure — starting by checking that their address begins with “https'' and that it features a small lock. (Note, however, that this isn’t fool-proof as sophisticated hackers can include these safety measures in formjacked websites.)
Physical document theft
Online identity theft has increased exponentially in the digital age, but physical document theft is still very common. Don’t carry your SSN card, passport and other important documents in your wallet, purse or car unless necessary. Also, make sure to shred documents that contain personal information, such as bank statements and utility bills, before disposing of them.
A data breach — that is, when someone gains access to your devices or a business’ database without authorization — can let cyber criminals steal names, dates of birth, home and email addresses, passwords, credit card, driver’s license or Social Security numbers.
Unfortunately, not all data breaches can be avoided, of course, as the safety of the information you share with businesses largely depends on that particular company’s protection measures.
There are, however, some things you can do to reduce your data breach risk. For example, avoid using common passwords and reusing them across your accounts. Enabling two-step authentication also helps by notifying you of any attempts to log into your accounts.
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.
These are some of the most common features provided:
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.
(If you’ve already been the victim of identity theft, and there is inaccurate information in your credit history as a result, 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 in 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.
(Do note that 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 compensation is meant to cover out-of-pocket expenses such as legal fees or lost wages related to recovering your identity. Do bear in mind, however, that identity theft insurance won’t reimburse you for any stolen money or financial loss.
Is identity theft protection worth it?
Keeping track of your personal information is becoming increasingly difficult. In 2020 alone, the FTC received nearly 1.4 million reports of identity theft, twice as many as in 2019. And as the number of online accounts you own grows, the greater the risk of identity theft.
You can protect yourself from ID theft by practicing basic security measures such as using strong passwords, getting a password manager, keeping an eye out for phishing scams and regularly checking your bank accounts and credit report. However, if you have an overwhelming amount of online and financial accounts, an identity theft protection service can offer some peace of mind.
Identity theft protection services do the heavy lifting for you by scanning databases, websites and the dark web, looking for possible exposure of your personal information. They can spot instances when your data might be used fraudulently. For example, a company tracks your Social Security number and notifies you whenever it's used to open new credit accounts or if it's found on criminal records.
Some credit repair services will also assist you in the process of recovering your ID, and insure you against losses arising from ID theft and related fraud.
Steps you can take to protect your identity
Here are some recommendations to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Don’t carry your Social Security card in your purse, wallet or car unless absolutely necessary.
- 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.
- Check your monthly credit card bills and bank statements for unauthorized charges.
- Request copies of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com and keep an eye out for new accounts or loan applications you don’t recognize.
- Remember you can ask credit bureaus to issue a credit freeze, which prevents new accounts from being opened in your name until you lift the freeze.
- 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.
- Create strong passwords by avoiding sequential letters and numbers like “1234” or “abcd.” Opt, instead, for random sequences and include punctuation marks.
- 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. Password manager softwares generates strong passwords for you and stores them in an encrypted format.
- Enable two-step factor authentication: This gives you an extra layer of protection in addition to your login credentials.
- Protect all your connected devices by installing antivirus software on both your computers and smartphones.
- 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.
- Shred receipts, account statements, expired credit and debit cards before disposing of them.
- 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.
Reporting Identity Theft
If you’ve been the victim of an identity theft attempt, make sure to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov or call 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 email@example.com. Text messages can be forwarded to SPAM (7726).
Remember to report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
How We Chose the Best Identity Theft Protection
Here's what we looked for when choosing the best identity theft protection 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 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.