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By: and
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Updated by:
Published: May 01, 2024 27 min read

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Company Highlight
TOP PARTNER
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🔥  Hot Deal: Up to 68% off

  • All plans include Anti-Virus, VPN, and Password Manager solutions
  • Up to $5 million in insurance coverage
  • Access to 24/7, U.S.-based customer support
  • 3-bureau credit monitoring
  • Featuring id theft protection, credit monitoring & more
  • Digital security products to manage your info
  • Starting at $9/mo per month (annual plan)

 

Our Partner

🔥 Up to 52% Off Your First Year with LifeLock

  • Up to $3 million ID theft coverage with LifeLock Ultimate Plus Plan
  • 401(k) & Investment Account Alerts
  • 3-Bureau Credit & SSN Monitoring 
  • Credit Reports for Each Adult
  • Add Device Security & VPN
Our Partner

$1 million identity theft insurance with all plans

  • Powered by IBM®️ Watson™️ Artificial Intelligence 
  • Comprehensive 3-bureau monitoring system
  • Over 47 million consumers protected over 20+ years
  • US-based customer service center
  • Identity Guard Ultra adds 401K, home title, change of address monitoring, and more
Our Partner

Comprehensive low-cost Identity Protection, starting at $7.99

  • $1 million stolen funds insurance across all products
  • Credit report reminders
  • 24x7, 365 US-based support & restoration
Our Partner

40% off- all plans

  • Over 40 years of experience in the field
  • $1 million identity theft insurance & recovery
  • 3 bureau credit monitoring
  • Bank and credit card activity alerts
  • Advanced fraud monitoring
  • VPN through mobile app
  • Dedicated resolution specialist in the event of an identity theft incident
Our Partner
  • Part of the Surshark One package
  • Protects against data leaks from emails, IDs and credit cards
  • Works in conjunction with Surfshark's VPN, antivirus and private search engine
  • Majority of positive feedback from customer reviews
  • Costs as low as $3.19 a month
Our Partner
  • Protect your data from being sold on the open market
  • Covers hundreds of data brokers
  • Plans starting at $6.49 per month with an annual plan
  • See results within one month
  • Weekly progress reports

 

Money’s Main Takeaways:

  • Aura, IdentityForce and LifeLock offer the most comprehensive protection across all the companies we reviewed
  • Credit services, such as three-bureau monitoring and credit score simulators or trackers, often show up only in more expensive identity theft protection plans
  • An identity theft protection service can’t prevent criminals from stealing your information, but it can alert you to their activities and if your data has been exposed online
  • Identity theft is a growing issue in the U.S. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 1 million cases of identity theft were reported in 2023 — higher than any pre-pandemic year on record.

Why Trust Us?

Since 2017, our team of writers and editors has spent more than 200 hours researching identity theft protection services and the companies that offer them. We reached out to experts and gathered information from authoritative sources to accurately and fairly assess the companies we considered featuring on our list.

In total, we reviewed 22 identity theft protection services based on an analysis of 16 key data points, including threat alerts, identity restoration packages, credit security services and cybersecurity tools.

Read our full methodology to learn more.

Our Top Picks for the Best Identity Theft Protection

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Best Identity Theft Protection Reviews


Pros
  • All-in-one plan with extensive identity and credit monitoring services
  • VPN, antivirus, password manager and more for up to 50 devices
  • 24/7 US-based case managers and customer support
  • 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
Cons
  • No social media monitoring
  • Expensive family plan
  • Lack of plan flexibility
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $12 per month
Trial period
14 days; 60 days on annual plans purchased through its websites or via its customer support team
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on all plans
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million per adult for eligible losses and fees
Family plan available
Yes, for up to five adults and unlimited children

Why we chose it:

Aura covers all the bases with one of the most complete digital protection plans that provides online and device security tools, identity theft protection and financial fraud protection.

Unlike most of its competitors, who feature a scaling plan model, Aura has just a single plan for individuals, couples and families. This plan comes with everything the company has to offer, including a wide variety of monitoring types — even three-bureau credit monitoring — credit reports and scores, several cybersecurity tools and a robust restoration package.

Aura is also a strong option for large households. Its family plan lets users download security software on up to 50 devices, and features more tools to monitor and protect your child’s information, such as parental controls and cyberbullying alerts. However, it's worth noting that the plan is quite expensive at $45/mo, and Aura offers no cheaper alternative for families.

Paid Monthly

Paid Annually

Individual

$15/mo

$12/mo (billed as $144)

Couple

$29/mo

$22/mo (billed as $264)

Family

$50/mo

$32/mo (billed as $384)

Learn more by reading our full Aura review.


Pros
  • Numerous security tools for desktop and mobile devices with Norton 360
  • Well-established, reputable brand in the ID theft protection space
  • 60-day money-back guarantee with annual membership
  • 24/7 live customer service support
Cons
  • No security tools on individual plans without bundling with Norton 360
  • Plan rates become markedly expensive after the first year
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $7.50 per month
Trial period
30 days; 60 days on annual plans
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on the Ultimate Plus plan
ID theft insurance
Up to $1-3 million each for lawyers and experts, personal expense compensation and stolen funds reimbursement
Family plan available
Yes, for two adults and up to five children

Why we chose it:

When bundled with Norton 360, LifeLock offers the most robust suite of cybersecurity tools among the identity theft protection services we considered.

By itself, LifeLock is a mostly complete service. Its name is ubiquitous in the identity theft protection space and it’s backed by Norton, one of the most trusted brands in the cybersecurity industry. Lifelock also comes with a variety of valuable monitoring types and a fairly good restoration package. However, the service truly shines when bundled with the Norton 360 security suite.

All individual and family LifeLock plans with Norton 360 come with the following for five or more devices (depending on the plan): a VPN, an ad-blocker, a password manager, device security, parental controls, cloud backup for Windows, and more. Altogether, this provides multiple layers of protection against existing and emerging cyber threats for a couple extra dollars per month.

Individual Plans

Paid Monthly

Paid Annually

Standard

$11.99/mo for the 1st year

$7.50/mo for the 1st year, ($89.99 upfront, renews at $124.99/yr)

Ultimate Plus

$34.99/mo for the 1st year

$19.99/mo for the 1st year, ($239.88 upfront, renews at $339.99/yr)

Ultimate Plus
(2 Adults)

$69.99/mo for the 1st year

$32.99/mo for the 1st year, ($395.88 upfront, renews at $679.99/yr)

Family Plans

Paid Monthly

Paid Annually

Select

$38.99/mo for the 1st year
$18.99/mo for the 1st year, ($227.88 upfront, renews at $389.99/yr)

Advantage

$59.99/mo for the 1st year
$30.99/mo for the 1st year, ($371.88 upfront, renews at $599.99/yr)

Ultimate Plus

$81.99/mo for the 1st year
$40.99/mo for the 1st year, ($491.88 upfront, renews at $819.99/yr)

Learn more by reading our full LifeLock review.


Pros
  • Best-in-class internet and dark web monitoring
  • Unlimited advice from recovery experts
  • 100% identity recovery guarantee
  • SSN monitoring and reports
Cons
  • Almost no cybersecurity tools on the Identity plan
  • Customer support isn’t available 24/7
  • No regular money-back guarantee
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $8.96 per month
Trial period
No free trial
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on the IDX Complete plan
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million per adult for eligible losses and fees
Family Plan Available
Yes, for two adults and up to five minors

Why we chose it:

Of IDX’s three plans, IDX Identity stands out for its singular focus on protecting personal identifiable information online and offers the best value when solely considering identity monitoring, alerts and recovery.

IDX uses a surveillance engine called CyberScan that searches for compromised personal information on websites, blogs, bulletin boards, Internal Relay Chat channels and more. If your data is detected on a criminal platform, it will immediately trigger an alert. The service also sends an alert if it finds any new names or aliases associated with your Social Security number (SSN).

On the recovery front, customers have access to support from a US-based team of experts with extensive training who are FCRA and HIPAA-certified. Victims of identity theft will also have a recovery specialist assigned to them by IDX until their identity is returned to its pre-theft status. Unfortunately, this support is not available around the clock, which may cause some concern.

Individual Plan

Family Plan

Identity

$9.95/mo or $8.96/mo billed annually ($107.52)

$19.95/mo or $17.96/mo billed annually ($215.52)

Privacy

$12.95/mo or $11.66/mo billed annually ($139.92)

$25.95/mo or $23.36/mo billed annually ($280.32)

Complete

$32.90/mo or $29.61/mo billed annually ($355.32)

$64.99/mo or $58.49/mo billed annually ($701.88)

Learn more by reading our full IDX Identity Protection review.


Pros
  • Daily scans of over 600,000 web pages to detect stolen information
  • Real-time alerts if anyone applies for credit in your name
  • Lock and unlock your Experian credit file anytime
  • Free plan with basic monitoring and alerts
Cons
  • Only one, expensive paid plan for individuals and families
  • Lacks cybersecurity tools and services
  • No identity ID insurance on free plan
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $0, or $24.99 per month for a paid plan
Trial period
Seven days
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on paid plans
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance in lost wages, elder care, spousal care and child care and initial legal consultation
Family plan available
Yes, for two adults and up to ten children

Why we chose it:

Experian IdentityWorks boasts extensive financial protection services, including 3-bureau credit monitoring, daily FICO® scores and easy credit file locking.

Backed by one of the three major credit reporting agencies, it’s no surprise that Experian IdentityWorks offers a wide range of credit services alongside its advanced identity monitoring. The price of its single paid plan eclipses that of regular ID theft protection plans, but it remains very competitive compared to those that also offer credit protection and reports.

On top of credit monitoring and alerts, Experian IdentityWorks customers can also access credit reports and FICO® scores from all three credit bureaus on a quarterly basis. Managing your Experian file specifically is a lot easier, as well, with daily scores and easy locking of your credit file on the bureau’s website and mobile app.

Monthly Price

Basic

n/a

Premium

$24.99/mo

Family

$34.99/mo

Learn more by reading our full Experian IdentityWorks review.


Pros
  • Risk Management Score measures your identity fraud risk
  • Three-bureau, home title and accounts monitoring
  • 24/7/365 US-based fraud support agents
Cons
  • Lackluster monitoring on entry-level Value plan
  • Limited cybersecurity tools
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $7.50 per month
Trial period
60 days on annual plans
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on Total and Ultra plans
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million for eligible losses and fees
Family plan available
Yes, for two adults and unlimited children

Why we chose it:

Identity Guard comes with a simple dashboard, safe browsing tools and risk assessment reports — all valuable features for seniors, who are at higher risk of becoming victims of identity theft.

According to the FTC, seniors are more trusting, have more savings and home equity built up, and are less likely to monitor their credit and financial accounts. This makes them a more lucrative target for identity thieves. Identity Guard offers monitoring tailored to combat these vulnerabilities, including home title, USPS address change and 401k account monitoring.

Unfortunately, many of these features are locked behind the company’s more expensive plans. Seniors who aren’t able to afford them can nonetheless opt for Identity Guard’s Value plan. Although barebones in comparison to the Total and Ultra plans, it still offers high-risk transaction alerts, dark web monitoring and browsing tools to keep your data secure online.

Individual Plan

Family Plan

Value

$8.99/mo or $7.50/mo billed annually ($90)

$14.99/mo or $12.50/mo billed annually ($150)

Total

$19.99/mo or $16.67/mo billed annually ($200.04)

$29.99/mo or $25/mo billed annually ($300)

Ultra

$29.99/mo or $25/mo billed annually ($300)

$39.99/mo or $33.33/mo billed annually ($399.96)

Learn more by reading our full Identity Guard review.


Pros
  • Monitor Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, and Instagram
  • $2 million identity theft insurance on UltraSecure+Credit plan
  • Child credit activity monitoring on both family plans
  • Online PC Protection and VPN for mobile
Cons
  • Expensive — $19.90/mo for its most affordable plan
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $19.90 per month
Trial period
30 days
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on Ultra Secure+Credit plan
ID theft insurance
Up to $2 million out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages reimbursement
Family plan available
Yes, for two adults and unlimited children (up to ten for credit activity monitoring)

Why we chose it:

IdentityForce's reasonably-priced family plans come with a number of features directed at protecting the personal information and credit profile of children.

Like seniors, children are also at higher risk of falling prey to identity theft. Because people under 18 typically don’t have credit reports, they are often a blank slate for fraudsters. IdentityForce’s family plans come with credit activity monitoring for up to ten children and, in the event of suspicious activity, will send alerts and messages directly to the parent(s)’ dashboard.

Children who are already active on social media or forums are even more vulnerable to having their information stolen. To that end, IdentityForce comes with dark web, social media and sex offender monitoring. Its plans also feature cybersecurity tools, including a VPN, anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software, a personal information vault and a password manager.

Individual Plan

Family Plan

UltraSecure

$19.90 monthly or $199.90 annually

$24.90 monthly or $249.90 annually

UltraSecure+Credit

$34.90 monthly or $349.90 annually

$39.90 monthly or $399.90 annually

Learn more by reading our full IdentityForce review.


Pros
  • Up to $3 million reimbursement for unrecovered costs
  • Access to in-house licensed private investigators
  • 24/7 support inquiries and emergency assistance
  • Scans and cleans up your social media profiles
Cons
  • Individual plans only cover three devices
  • Expensive plans across the board
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $14.95 per month
Trial period
30 days
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on the 3 Bureau plan
ID theft insurance
Up to $3 million in coverage for lawyers and experts and other unrecovered costs
Family plan available
Yes, for two adults and unlimited children

Why we chose it:

IDShield boasts the most thorough identity restoration process on our list in addition to extensive monitoring services and a robust suite of cybersecurity tools.

Identity recovery can be as important as monitoring and alerts, depending on your situation and the likelihood that your identity ends up stolen. IDShield excels in several areas, but identity restoration is a major highlight of the service, partly due to its combination of licensed private investigators and one of the best identity theft insurance policies, with a high $3 million cap.

IDShield is no slouch when it comes to monitoring, either. Its plans come with comprehensive identity and financial protection, which include alerts for activity associated with your personal information, financial and social media accounts, credit and more. IDShield also provides cybersecurity tools, such as a VPN, password manager and malware blocker on all of its plans.

Individual Plan

Family Plan

1 Bureau

$14.95/mo

$29.95/mo

3 Bureau

$19.95/mo

$34.95/mo

Learn more by reading our full IDShield review.


Pros
  • Four plans to choose from, including a low-cost option
  • Reports monthly utility payments to major credit bureaus
  • Alerts when your TransUnion score changes by 10+ points
  • Global dark web monitoring in more than 25 languages
Cons
  • No social media or investment account monitoring
  • No money-back guarantee or free plan
  • Customer support isn’t available 24/7
HIGHLIGHTS
Plan costs
Starting at $5.94 per month
Trial period
No free trial
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes, on the Secure Pro and Secure Max plans
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement
Family plan available
No, only a $25K insurance policy to cover family members on the Secure Max plan

Why we chose it:

IdentityIQ offers four plans for individuals — the largest number on our list — which scale in features and price reasonably, starting as low as $6.99/mo and going up to $29.99/mo.

IdentityIQ is a robust identity theft protection service overall, with comprehensive monitoring and alerts, strong cybersecurity tools in partnership with Bitdefender®, and $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement. However, its biggest highlight is the flexibility it presents to customers. Thanks to its variety of plans, customers can pick one that targets the specific issues they are facing.

Consumers on a tight budget may also appreciate IdentityIQ’s wider range of plan options. The company’s basic plan is only $6.99 per month ($5.94 per month with annual payments) and still includes daily credit alerts from one credit agency in addition to dark web and Social Security monitoring, lost wallet assistance and up to $1 million to cover stolen funds.

Paid Monthly

Paid Annually

Secure

$6.99/mo

$5.94/mo (billed as $71.30)

Secure Plus

$9.99/mo

$8.50/mo (billed as $101.90)

Secure Pro

$19.99/mo

$16.99/mo (billed as $203.90)

Secure Max

$29.99/mo

$25.50/mo (billed as $305.90)

Learn more by reading our full IdentityIQ review.


Plans start at…

Trial Period

Three-bureau monitoring

ID Theft Insurance

Family Plan(s)

Aura

$12/mo

14, 60 days*

On all plans

Up to $1 million (per adult)

X

IDX Identity

$8.96/mo

On IDX Complete

Up to $1 million

X

Experian Identityworks

$24.99/mo

Seven days

On paid plans

Up to $1 million

X

Identity Guard

$7.50/mo

60 days*

On Total and Ultra

Up to $1 million

X

IdentityForce

$19.90/mo

30 days

On Ultra Secure+Credit

Up to $1-2 million

X

IDShield

$14.95/mo

30 days

On 3-bureau plan

Up to $3 million

X

LifeLock

$7.50/mo

60 days*

On Ultimate Plus

Up to $1-3 million

X

IdentityIQ

$5.94/mo

On Secure Pro and Secure Max

Up to $1 million

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Other identity theft protection services we considered

The following companies are worth mentioning even if they did not make our top list. Some of them are well-known and competent, but don’t stand out in any particular area. Others offer robust protection plans, but have limited plan availability or lack information about their features.


ReliaShield

Pros
  • Family plans cover all children under 18
  • Dark web and neighborhood predator monitoring
  • 24/7 customer service and unlimited recovery assistance
  • Data breach alerts
Cons
  • Three-bureau credit monitoring only available on most expensive plan
  • Base plan doesn't include credit security services

ReliaShield plans cost less on average for what they bring than those of competitors. For example, its family plans cover two adults and start at $14.99 per month, whereas comparable plans usually start at $25 per month. In addition to competitive pricing, all its plans feature five types of monitoring, data breach updates and 24/7 US-based customer and recovery services.

Why it didn’t make the cut: ReliaShield is a competent identity theft protection service, but lacks the standout features of the companies in our top list. Moreover, the company doesn’t offer device security tools, which have become a staple offering in the industry.

Learn more by reading our full ReliaShield review.


McAfee Identity Theft Protection Standard

Pros
  • Extensive dark web monitoring — over 600,000 dark websites
  • Parental controls with family plan
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons
  • Lack of information on credit monitoring services
  • Only yearly plans available

McAfee is a well-known brand in the cybersecurity space, and it’s no surprise that the greatest asset of its identity theft protection plans are online and device security tools. These include a social media privacy tool, an online account cleanup tool, a VPN, malware protection and an antivirus. This is on top of the company’s extensive identity monitoring and alerts.

Why it didn’t make the cut: McAfee lost out to LifeLock when it came to the overall value of their identity theft protection plans relative to the number and quality of the security software they offer. We also felt that the lack of monthly payment options held McAfee back from a top placement.

Learn more by reading our full McAfee Identity Theft Protection review.


ID Watchdog

Pros
  • One-bureau monitoring on base plan, three-bureau on premium plan
  • Child Credit Lock for credit fraud protection
  • Social media monitoring included with all plans
  • High-risk transactions and public records monitoring
Cons
  • No credit report monitoring or score with base plan
  • Family plan only allows up to four children

ID Watchdog checks all of the boxes when it comes to the essentials of identity theft protection. It comes with a robust toolset for combating identity theft, educational information for users and an affordable top-tier plan. The service is also a worthwhile option for families with no more than four children, thanks to a child credit lock and child credit and social accounts monitoring.

Why it didn’t make the cut: Although ID Watchdog offers overall strong identity protection, it didn’t stand out from similar products. Its plans are also quite expensive when compared to those of competitors with similar coverage.

Learn more by reading our full ID Watchdog review.


Identity Theft Protection Guide

A quick look at the Fraud and ID Theft Maps of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that of 2023’s 1,036,906 reports of identity theft, 416,812 were related to credit card fraud, while 260,734 were classified as “Other Identity Theft.”

Identity theft protection services help monitor your personal and financial information across the internet and notify you when they detect suspicious activity. However, they can’t prevent your information from being stolen and misused in the first place.

To protect yourself online, it’s important to know how to identify and avoid potential scams.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal identifiable information (PII) for personal gain. This can be done in several ways, physically or digitally. What often follows is known as identity fraud, which is when a thief uses your stolen information to commit a crime, such as opening accounts, applying for credit, filing taxes or seeking medical services in your name.


How does identity theft happen?

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.

 

  • Phishing: Identity thieves can trick you into sharing private information or downloading attachments that infect your device by using emails or text messages that look like they’re from legitimate companies, such as banks, online stores and social media sites.
  • Formjacking: By inserting malicious code into legitimate website forms, hackers can copy your billing information or login credentials without arousing suspicion.
  • Physical document theft: Thieves that get their hands on your personal information can use it for all sorts of nefarious purposes, such as to commit Social Security identity theft.
  • Data breaches: Cybercriminals that gain unauthorized access to a business’s database may steal names, dates of birth, home and email addresses, passwords, credit cards, driver’s licenses or even SSNs.
  • AI fraud: AI technology is able to amplify online scams, for example, by automating credential stuffing attacks and generating highly personalized (and convincing) phishing emails. It could also facilitate fraud through the use of deepfake videos and AI voice cloning.

Other kinds of identity theft

Some methods for stealing a person’s identity consist of exploiting specific types of documents, such as medical, investment, and tax documents. A thief could also compile several pieces of information to create a fake version of you.

  • 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 wrongfully obtain services and benefits, or to commit fraud. This often 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 be used to obtain a health insurance policy or to submit false claims to Medicare and other insurers. This may also involve a scammer using your health insurance to visit a doctor or get a prescription.
  • 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.

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 popping up where it shouldn’t be — like the dark web, social media, court or arrest records, or 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 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: Credit monitoring works by regularly reviewing your credit report from one or all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — for signs of possible fraud and identity theft. If any suspicious activity turns up in your credit file, you will be notified via email, text or phone so you can verify this information.

(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).

  • Identity monitoring: Identity protection services monitor websites, databases and public records for signs that your personal information is being shared or used by fraudsters. They may track your Social Security number, driver’s license, passport, home address, email, phone number and bank accounts (e.g. checking and savings accounts).
  • Identity recovery services: Restoration services provide professional assistance to help you recover your identity and secure your accounts. This includes contacting government agencies, requesting a credit freeze and helping you write letters to creditors and debt collectors.

Although you can dispute your credit report on your own, hiring a company to do so can save you time and effort.

  • Identity theft insurance: Also called identity fraud insurance, this covers stolen funds and out-of-pocket expenses related to recovering your identity such as legal fees or lost wages. Coverage often ranges from $20,000 to $1 million, but can go as high as $5 million in some cases.
  • VPN services: A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and its online destination. This limits how much of your data ends up online and how vulnerable you are to malicious third parties, especially on public wi-fi networks.
  • Antivirus software: Antiviruses search your device’s system files, documents, programs and applications to detect and remove malicious software (e.g. viruses, trojans, adware) that may be tracking you or stealing your information.

If you want to know more about VPNs and antivirus software, or would like to pick one out yourself, take a look at our best VPN services and best antivirus software pages.


How to prevent identity theft

Here are some recommendations if you want to know how to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud:

1. Create strong passwords: Avoid sequential letters and numbers like “1234” or “abcd.” Instead, use random sequences that include punctuation marks and letters in both lowercase and uppercase.

2. Don’t reuse passwords: If a reused password is exposed in a data breach, hackers can get access to all of the accounts with the same login credentials. Consider getting a password manager if you’re having issues remembering your passwords. (For more on this type of software, visit our list of the best password managers.)

3. Request copies of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com: 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.

4. Request fraud alerts from your credit bureaus: This way, banks and other financial institutions can contact you to verify your information before approving new accounts. If you know how to freeze your credit, you can do so to prevent new accounts from being opened in your name until the freeze is lifted.

5. Protect your Internet-connected devices: You can do this by installing an antivirus software and enabling two-step factor authentication when available, which gives your accounts an extra layer of protection.

6. Watch out for phishing attempts: When you receive an email asking for personal information or requesting you click on a link, check for spelling and grammatical errors. You can hover over the sender’s name to reveal the full email address and ensure it is legitimate.

7. Avoid carrying around your Social Security card: Don’t take your Social Security card with you unless absolutely necessary. You also don’t want to share personal details like SSNs, bank account numbers and your driver’s license via text message, email or social media.

8. Protect your physical information: Shred receipts, account statements and expired credit and debit cards before throwing them out. 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.

9. Reduce the data you leave online: Your digital footprint — the trail of data you intentionally or unintentionally leave online — may constitute a security threat if hackers or thieves are able to access your personal information. To limit this, delete unwanted accounts, ask data brokers to take down your information and avoid internet cookies.


Why is it important to have identity theft protection?

Identity theft protection is becoming increasingly important as criminals find new ways to steal people's information. Because there is no one type of identity theft, protection services need to be multifaceted and provide comprehensive protection features that can intercept as many kinds of scams as possible.

Freezing your credit and doing your own monitoring is certainly possible — and less expensive — but paying for identity theft protection may be the best solution for those who are unable to do so due to a lack of time or knowledge.


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.

1. Look at the alerts that each ID theft protection service will send you if it suspects your identity has been stolen. Review if you need alerts for more niche cases and on how many devices you want to install the software.

2. Consider the types of monitoring you need. Some people just want essential monitoring, while others may be looking for specialized services, such as social media and investment monitoring.

3. Single out each company’s identity restoration package. It should include features such as stolen funds reimbursement, personal expense compensation, and coverage for lawyers in the event your identity is used fraudulently.

Cost of identity theft protection

On average, identity theft protection costs around $10 to $30 per month for an individual plan. ID theft protection for families is usually more expensive, but you can find family plans starting as low as $15 per month.

If you’re debating whether to pay for one of these services, consider how expensive an identity theft lawyer can be in comparison. Identity theft lawyers cost around $368 per hour, which is the hourly rate for attorneys with 11 to 15 years of experience, according to the 2018 Edition of The Survey of Law Firm Economics.

Consumers at greater risk of having their identity stolen should weigh the cost of preventative measures against that of reactive measures, like hiring a lawyer to help restore your identity.

Is identity theft protection worth it?

You can protect yourself from ID theft by practicing basic security measures, but an identity protection service can offer some peace of mind — even more so if you have an overwhelming amount of online and financial accounts.

ID protection services do the heavy lifting for you by looking for possible exposure of your personal information and spotting instances when your data might have been used fraudulently. This makes ID theft protection especially worthwhile for individuals who don't actively monitor their own credit.


What to do if you suspect identity theft?

If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, there are several steps you should take immediately.

1. Analyze your situation. Have you handed out this information to a family member or close friend that may have used it accidentally?

2. Update your password and login details. This is especially important if you use the same password and/or login information for more than one account, and if said account(s) could have been compromised due to a data breach.

3. Review your credit report. You should be looking for signs of fraud, such as new lines of credit that you did not open yourself.

Common warning signs of identity theft

Identity theft often goes undetected until it’s well underway. By familiarizing yourself with the common warning signs, you may be able to prevent it from causing significant damage to your personal finances or credit. These warning signs include:

1. Unexpected changes to your credit score. Your credit score could experience gradual or sudden dips depending on how an identity thief uses your information.

2. Unfamiliar purchases or transactions in your bank statements. Identity thieves may use your information to purchase goods, upgrade services on existing accounts or open new accounts in your name.

3. New credit cards or lines of credits you did not apply for. Identity thieves often use stolen personal data to apply for credit products. The FTC’s Fraud and ID Theft Maps shows that of 2023’s 1,036,906 reports of identity theft, 416,812 were related to credit cards.

4. Errors on your credit report, tax return or Social Security statement. Not all errors on these documents are the result of identity theft. However, a large number of errors and suspicious information could be a sign of potential fraud.

5. Missing bills or emails. By using a change-of-address scam, identity thieves can reroute your bills or statements. Emails can also be rerouted to another address if a thief gains access to your account settings.

How to check if someone is using my identity

You can take several measures to verify if someone has stolen your identity. You should first 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 cannot prequalify for a loan or apply for a credit card when you usually could.


How to report identity theft

To report identity theft, you should start 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. The documents you’ll need for this include:

  • A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, which helps with recovering your identity and shows businesses that someone stole your identity
  • A government-issued photo ID, such as your driver’s license or passport
  • Your physical address and proof thereof, such as a mortgage statement or utility bill
  • Proof of identity theft (unfamiliar bills, recurrent credit checks, notices from the IRS, etc.)

Consumers can also report identity theft in Mandarin, Tagalog, Vietnamese, French, Arabic, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, Polish and many other languages. To do so, call the FTC between 9am-5pm Eastern at (877) 438-4338 and choose the option for your preferred language.

When it comes to phishing emails, you can forward them to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at reportphishing@apwg.org. Text messages can be forwarded to SPAM (7726). Remember to report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

You can also take up phishing and other types of cyber crime with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3. The IC3 is America’s central hub for reporting cyber crime, which is run by the FBI, the lead federal agency for investigating crimes of this nature.

To prevent damage to your credit, you should also contact your bank and credit card issuer, and place a fraud alert at one of the three following credit bureaus:


Latest News on Identity Theft Protection

  • Mortgage fraud is now on many people’s radars due to the trial of former Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Homebuyers are often the perpetrators of this crime, but mortgage borrowers can also be on its receiving end.
  • Americans now permanently have the right to ask for a free credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies every week. Although it might be tempting to do so, experts are recommending that consumers pull their report on a monthly — not weekly — basis to avoid unnecessary stress.
  • As concerns about having your identity stolen surge, so does people’s interest in leaving a smaller digital footprint. Everyone who uses the internet has this “footprint” — a trail of data you intentionally or unintentionally leave online. This may constitute a security threat if hackers or thieves are able to access your personal information.
  • There's been talk of criminals using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) readers to steal your credit card information, which is the reason why interest in RFID blocking wallets has increased. Nonetheless, some experts say these products are overhyped because the risk of this happening is so low.
  • Identity theft victim statistics from last year reaffirm that previous victims of identity theft, higher income individuals and the older people are more prone to theft than other groups. They also suggest women might be at a higher risk, though that might have to do with them being more likely than men to report identity theft.
  • Can background checks reveal identity theft? Yes, as it turns out. But their use might be limited to specific types of id theft, such as when the stolen information is connected to court and employment records.
  • Job scams have been increasing according to data from the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network. Reported cases of “business and job opportunity” fraud, which include phony job offers and upfront payments for fake job training or equipment, nearly tripled from 2019 to 2023.

ID Theft Protection FAQs

How should you respond to the theft of your identity?

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The first thing you should do if your identity is stolen is to notify the company or agency that issued your stolen credentials. You should then put a freeze or fraud alert on your credit and report the theft to the FTC.

Lastly, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. During this process, you'll want to ask for copies of your credit reports for evaluation, clean up your personal accounts and inspect your bank and credit card statements.

Do police investigate identity theft?

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Many credit report agencies and creditors encourage consumers to notify the authorities if they believe their identity has been stolen. While doing so is an essential step in the process, the reality is that the police rarely investigate identity theft due to the nature of this type of crime.

Filing a report with the authorities supports your case as a victim in the long run, but you should keep your expectations low when it comes to the police taking matters into their own hands.

What is credit monitoring?

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Credit monitoring is when a company or individual tracks someone's credit history in order to detect any suspicious activity or changes. These changes could be reflected on a credit report. Credit monitoring is a staple service of many identity theft protection services.

What is the best identity theft protection?

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We found that the best identity theft protection service is Aura if you’re looking for the most comprehensive service plan. LifeLock by Norton is also one of the best identity theft protection services due to its outstanding number of security tools. If you’re looking for the best identity theft protection for families, some of the best options are IdentityForce, IDShield and Aura.

Why is it important to have identity theft protection?

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Having your identity stolen can cost you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, destroy your credit and ruin your financial reputation. Identity theft protection isn’t a foolproof solution, but it can safeguard your information and offers valuable tools to protect you online. This allows users to intervene and even recover their identity before the worst can happen.

How We Chose the Best Identity Theft Protection Service

The best identity theft protection service should offer a comprehensive variety of identity and credit monitoring services across its plans, provide a robust identity restoration package and come with additional cybersecurity tools.

We evaluated each provider’s monitoring and alerts services, reimbursement policies, customer service and cybersecurity software to establish which companies offered the best identity theft protection services.

Monitoring and Alerts

We favored services that track a wide range of items — home titles, the dark web, payday loans, court records, etc. — while highlighting those with unique types of monitoring. The best identity theft monitoring services send you real-time alerts via email and SMS text messaging. To that end, the companies we chose all have iOS and Android mobile apps.

Identity Restoration

Identity theft protection packages should always include some level of fraud insurance, which can reimburse you for any legal fees incurred during the identity restoration process. Ideally, they will also have experts who can guide you through the process and contact financial institutions and government agencies on your behalf.

Cybersecurity Tools

Cybersecurity software is one of the most powerful tools to avoid having your identity stolen. The digital age has made VPNs, password managers, malware detectors and antivirus indispensable tools in the fight against ID theft. We favored services that include these software solutions across most of their plans.

Summary of Money’s 8 Best Identity Theft Protection Services of May 2024