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Published: Jan 30, 2024 44 min read

Our team of writers and editors have been researching identity theft protection services since 2017. They have spent hundreds of hours learning about these services — and the companies that offer them — by reaching out to experts and gathering information from authoritative sources.

We conducted an analysis of 23 identity theft protection companies that took into account 16 distinct criteria, such as threat alerts, identity restoration packages, credit security services and cybersecurity tools. Based on this research, we picked out the seven best services, including Aura, LifeLock, IdentityGuard and ID Shield.

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Money’s Main Takeaways:

  • Identity theft is a growing issue in America. According to the FTC, cases of identity theft had already surpassed 560,000 in the first half of 2023 and were expected to exceed 1 million by the end of the year — higher than any pre-pandemic year on record
  • 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
  • Credit services, such as three-bureau monitoring and credit score simulators or trackers, often show up only in more expensive identity theft protection plans
  • Aura, IdentityForce and LifeLock offer the most comprehensive protection across all the companies we reviewed

Why Trust Us?

Our editors and writers evaluate identity theft protection services independently, ensuring our content is precise and guided by editorial integrity. Read our full methodology to learn more.

  • Reviewed 23 identity theft protection companies
  • Based on more than 15 data points
  • 200+ hours of research

The best identity theft protection services can provide the help you need if your data is compromised. These services monitor your personal information, credit files and the web, alerting you to any suspicious or fraudulent activity.

Identity theft protection services can also contact credit bureaus, banks and creditors on your behalf and assist you in restoring your identity, if necessary.

Read on to learn more about identity theft protection and our picks for the best ID theft protection services of February 2024.

Our Top Picks for the Best Identity Theft Protection

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Best Identity Theft Protection Reviews

Pros
  • Real-time credit inquiry alerts from each of the three major bureaus
  • VPN, antivirus software and password manager on all plans
  • 24/7 US-based case managers and customer support
  • 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
Cons
  • Cybersecurity features vary across operating systems
  • Basic plan is more expensive than its competitors

Why we chose it: Aura ranks as our best identity theft protection for multiple devices because it offers comprehensive account monitoring features and several online security tools for a large number of devices.

Aura’s plans are best suited for consumers who own a lot of tech and are looking for the most affordable way to get ID theft protection and cybersecurity software on all of them. The Individual plan covers up to ten devices, while the Couple and Family plans cover 20 and 50 devices, respectively.

Aura is an excellent identity theft protection service overall: its plans all boast a number of tools to protect your identity and finances, such as a variety of monitoring types and comprehensive credit services. The plans also include malware protection, a VPN, antivirus software and a password manager to keep you safe online.

Moreover, Aura is a great deal for families, as its Family plan comes with parental controls on mobile devices to keep your children safe by blocking and filtering content, limiting screen time, and tracking internet usage and history.

HIGHLIGHTS
Plan Costs
Starting at $12 per month
Trial period
14 days
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million per adult for eligible losses and fees
Family Plan Available
Yes

Paid Monthly

Paid Annually

Individual

$15/mo

$12/mo (billed as $144)

Couple

$29/mo

$22/mo (billed as $264)

Family

$50/mo

$37/mo (billed as $444)

Learn more by reading our full Aura review.

See plans on Aura's Secure Website >>

Pros
  • 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
  • Three-bureau credit monitoring and monthly credit score on mid-tier plan
Cons
  • Credit reports only available with the most expensive plan
  • No credit monitoring on entry-level value plan

Why we chose it: Identity Guard stands out as the best identity theft protection for fast alerts because of the promptness of its notifications and its use of artificial intelligence to detect threats preemptively.

Identity Guard is an excellent service for seniors, past ID theft victims and other groups whose identity is more likely to be stolen. The protection service’s most noteworthy feature is its scanning platform, which is powered by IBM Watson, an AI supercomputer that can analyze and learn fraud patterns to warn consumers if they are at high risk of identity theft.

The company’s use of AI technology is what allows it to send alerts at record speeds. According to Power Consulting’s 2019 Review of Speed and Coverage Study, Identity Guard customers receive alerts within four minutes of a threat being identified, on average. The same study points out that the company also sends more alerts than industry competitors.

HIGHLIGHTS
Plan Costs
Starting at $6.67 per month
Trial period
No free trial; 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million for eligible losses and fees
Family Plan Available
Yes

Individual Plan

Family Plan

Value

$8.99/mo or $6.67/mo billed annually ($80)

$14.99/mo or $10.00/mo billed annually ($120)

Total

$19.99/mo or $11.99/mo billed annually ($143.88)

$29.99/mo or $17.99/mo billed annually ($215.88)

Ultra

$29.99/mo or $17.99/mo billed annually ($215.88)
$39.99/mo or $23.99/mo billed annually ($287.88)

Learn more by reading our full Identity Guard review.

See plans on Identity Guard's Secure Website >>

Pros
  • Bundle with Norton device protection, cloud storage and VPN services
  • 60-day money-back guarantee (with annual membership)
  • 24/7 live customer service support
  • Simple, user-friendly interface
Cons
  • Credit monitoring service and reports limited to one bureau on most plans
  • Plan rates increases after the first year

Why we chose it: LifeLock is our identity theft protection with the best features because of the extensive cybersecurity software included in its plans.

LifeLock by Norton is at its best when bundled with Norton 360, a cybersecurity suite that provides multiple layers of protection against existing and emerging cyber threats. Norton360 includes antivirus and malware protection, parental controls, a password manager and a VPN for five or more devices, depending on your plan.

LifeLock’s basic plan is not as feature-packed compared to other identity theft services. However, its higher-tier plans include several services that are not commonly found in id theft protection packages, such as social media monitoring, payday loan monitoring and bank account takeover alerts.

Altogether, Lifelock is the identity theft protection of choice for those who are looking to stay as safe as possible online — just watch out for the service’s rate hike at the end of your first year.

HIGHLIGHTS
Plan Costs
Starting at $8.33 per month
Trial period
No free trial; 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million each for lawyers and experts, personal expense compensation and stolen funds reimbursement
Family Plan Available
Yes

Paid Monthly

Paid Annually

Standard

$11.99/mo

$8.33/mo 1st year, ($99.99 upfront, renews at $124.99/yr)
Ultimate Plus

$34.99/mo

$22.67/mo 1st year, ($271.99 upfront, renews at $339.99/yr)
Ultimate Plus (2 Adults)

$69.99/mo

$45.33/mo 1st year, ($543.99 upfront, renews at $679.99/yr)

Learn more by reading our full LifeLock review.

See plans on LifeLock's Secure Website >>

Pros
  • Anti-phishing and keylogging software, and a fake network detector
  • Unique add-on designed to combat child identity theft
  • Junk mail opt-out and social media monitoring
  • Three-bureau monitoring, reports and scores under one credit plan
Cons
  • Much more expensive than its competitors
  • Credit monitoring not included in base plan

Why we chose it: IdentityForce is our best identity theft protection for comprehensive protection because its starting plan includes an extensive selection of monitoring types, alerts and cybersecurity tools.

IdentityForce has two identity theft protection packages to choose from — UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit — and neither is particularly inexpensive (unless you find a discount). However, what the plans lack in affordability they more than make up for in features and services.

The company’s Ultrasecure plan includes nearly everything IdentityForce has to offer, including a number of advanced features, such as sex offender registries monitoring, investment account alerts and medical ID fraud prevention services, that you’d only see on more expensive packages.

Meanwhile, the UltraSecure+Credit plan includes credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus and a credit score simulator that you can use to evaluate how certain financial decisions might impact your score.

IdentityForce is also a good choice if you’re looking for child identity theft protection or a comprehensive bundle of credit services. The ChildWatch add-on features ongoing identity monitoring, SSN monitoring and an award-winning social media monitoring suite.

HIGHLIGHTS
Plan Costs
Starting at $17.95 per month
Trial period
30 days
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages reimbursement
Family Plan Available
Yes

Individual Plan

Ultra Secura

$17.95 monthly or $179.50 annually

Ultra Secure + Credit

$23.95 monthly or $239.50 annually

Learn more by reading our full IdentityForce review.

See plans on IdentityForce's Secure Website >>

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

Why we chose it: ReliaShield is our pick as the best identity theft protection for family plans because it offers the greatest value for families due to its comprehensive and highly affordable group packages.

ReliaShield family plans cover two adults and start at $14.99 per month, whereas pricing for comparable family identity monitoring plans usually starts at $25 per month. In addition to their competitive pricing, all plans feature five types of monitoring, data breach updates, 24/7 customer and recovery services, as well as wallet protection.

All plans also cover children under 18 years for no extra charge, making it ideal for households with several minors. The company also monitors neighborhood predators and social media, which are important types of protection for families. However, these features are not included on the Essential plan.

ReliaShield offers credit report reminders on its starting individual and family plans, but you’ll only find the real credit protection services on its mid and high-tier plans. These services include single or three-bureau credit monitoring, a monthly credit score tracker and credit card application notifications.

HIGHLIGHTS
Plan Costs
Starting at $7.99 per month
Trial period
No free trial available; pro-rated refund for unused membership months
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million stolen funds and expenses reimbursement
Family Plan Available
Yes

Individual Plan

Family Plan

Essential

$7.99 monthly or $87.99 annually

$14.99 monthly or $164.89 annually

Prime

$14.99 monthly or $164.99 annually

$24.99 monthly or $274.89 annually

Elite

$21.99 monthly or $241.89 annually

$34.99 monthly or $384.89 annually

Learn more by reading our full ReliaShield review.

See plans on ReliaShield's Secure Website >>

Pros
  • Three-bureau credit monitoring and scores on most plans
  • Monitors utilities, cell phones and credit applications 
  • US-Based ID restoration service
  • Low-cost plan for small budgets
Cons
  • Limited identity monitoring services compared to competitors
  • No money-back guarantee or free trial period

Why we chose it: IdentityIQ is our best identity theft protection for credit monitoring because its wide variety of credit-related services is the most complete and available across most of its four plan tiers.

IdentityIQ is most practical for consumers whose main concern is their credit security, safety and health. Although the company’s identity monitoring doesn’t stand out, its plans all feature credit monitoring services and tracking in addition to essential identity theft monitoring. High tier plans also feature single or three-bureau monitoring, a credit score simulator and score change alerts.

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

HIGHLIGHTS
Plan Costs
Starting at $5.94 per month
Trial period
No free trial
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement
Family Plan Available
No

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.

See plans on IdentityIQ's Secure Website >>

Pros
  • Access to in-house licensed private investigators
  • Unlimited consulting and restoration services
  • Scan your social media for unwanted images and posts
  • Monthly credit score tracker 
Cons
  • No detailed credit reports provided
  • No discounts on annual plans

Why we chose it: IDShield ranks as our best identity theft protection for restoration because of its combination of licensed private investigators and affordable three-bureau monitoring.

IDShield is an easy pick as the go-to service for identity restoration due to its use of professional investigators, who will step in to track down the source(s) of fraud.

The company offers a one-bureau monitoring plan and a three-bureau monitoring plan for individuals and families alike. If you subscribe to a family plan, a different investigator is assigned to each family member who may be a victim of fraud.

IDShield is no slouch when it comes to monitoring, either. Its plans offer monitoring of your financial accounts, personal information, court records and social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where it will flag problematic posts or comments.

All of IDShield’s plans include dark web surveillance, credit score tracking for one year and credit reporting disputes, However, none of its plans provide detailed credit reports.

HIGHLIGHTS
Plan Costs
Starting at $14.95 per month
Trial period
No free trial; 30-day money-back guarantee
Three-bureau credit monitoring
Yes
ID theft insurance
Up to $1 million in coverage for lawyers and experts and other unrecovered costs
Family Plan Available
Yes

Individual Plan

Family Plan

1 Bureau

$14.95/mo

$29.95/mo

2 Bureau

$19.95/mo

$34.95/mo

Learn more by reading our full IDShield review.

See plans on IDShield's Secure Website >>

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Other identity theft protection services we considered

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.

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 company has also decided to offer identity theft protection services and tools to consumers. Its most noteworthy features — malware protection, a VPN and a password manager — are mainly geared toward keeping users safe while interacting online.

Why it didn’t make the cut: Despite its affordability and robust selection of features, McAfee’s lack of credit-related services just barely kept the company out of our top list.

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

See plans on McAfee's Secure Website >>

IDX Identity Protection

Pros
  • Streamlined user interface
  • Can choose between only identity or privacy protection
Cons
  • Expensive relative to the number of features it offers
  • Limited customer support hours

IDX identity protection offers a comprehensive range of identity and privacy protection services, with a standout feature being its intuitive user interface on both desktop and mobile devices.

One highlight of the service is IDX credit monitoring, which offers real-time tracking of credit activity and quick alerts for suspicious changes. The company keeps an eye on your personal information online and informs users of any unauthorized credit inquiries or new accounts opened.

Why it didn’t make the cut: Although IDX identity protection offers a solid variety of features to protect you online, there are more comprehensive, less expensive identity protection services out there.

Learn more by reading our full IDX Identity Protection review.

See plans on IDX's Secure Website >>

Zander Insurance

Pros
  • 24/7/365 customer and recovery services
  • Computer security tools included in premium plan
  • Affordable individual and family plans
Cons
  • Limited credit reporting and no three-bureau credit monitoring service
  • No social media monitoring
  • No mobile app alerts

Zander Insurance is by far one of the most affordable identity theft protection services out there, with a starting plan of just $6.75 per month for individuals and $12.90 per month for families.

Why it didn’t make the cut: Zander’s low rates come at a cost: The service is stripped down to the basics and lacks the extensive credit monitoring services that many other identity theft protection plans include.

Learn more by reading our full Zander Insurance review.

See plans on Zander Insurance's Secure Website >>

Experian IdentityWorks

Pros
  • 30-day free trial
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Three-bureau credit monitoring and FICO® score alerts and simulator
Cons
  • Fraud insurance with base plan only covers up to $500,000

Backed by one of the largest credit bureaus in the world, Experian IdentityWorks offers affordable and robust plans, which are supplemented by a 30-day free trial, making it easy to recommend for most consumers.

Why it didn’t make the cut: IdentityWorks lacks many features, and its record of bad customer reviews kept it out of our top picks.

Learn more by reading our full Experian IdentityWorks review.

See plans on Experian's Secure Website >>

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.

Why it didn’t make the cut: ID Watchdog offers strong comprehensive protection, but didn’t stand out from similar products. Although we can recommend the service, we’d suggest picking a service that more directly addresses your specific needs.

Learn more by reading our full ID Watchdog review.

See plans on ID Watchdog's Secure Website >>

PrivacyGuard Total Protection

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Three-bureau daily credit monitoring is expensive
  • Doesn't offer family plans
  • No social media monitoring

PrivacyGuard is unique in that it offers identity and credit monitoring services independent of each other. Both its identity protection and credit security plans cover all the bases of their respective fields, meaning that consumers interested in only one type of service can avoid paying for the other.

Why it didn’t make the cut: PrivacyGuard’s mixed service is quite expensive. Though it does offer some unique features not seen elsewhere, the price can be prohibitive to those looking for a comprehensive ID theft protection service.

Learn more by reading our full PrivacyGuard Total Protection review.

See plans on PrivacyGuard's Secure Website >>

Fifth Third Identity Alert

Pros
  • Free for Fifth Third Bank customers
  • Extensive monitoring services
Cons
  • Only available for Fifth Third Bank customers
  • Lack of transparency on company website
  • Lackluster identity restoration package

Fifth Third Identity Alert is a product of Fifth Third Bank, one of the largest consumer banks in the Midwest. Existing Fifth Third Bank customers get access to Identity Alert for free and are granted a discount on the service’s premium plan, which offers comprehensive monitoring, a credit information hotline and a dedicated resolution team.

Why it didn’t make the cut: For those who aren’t customers of Fifth Bank, there are stronger alternatives that can better target your ID theft concerns. The company’s website also lacks in-depth information on the plan’s features and prices.

See plans on Fifth Third Identity Alert's Secure Website >>

AAA Identity Theft Protection

Pros
  • Base tier is free for AAA members
  • Paid tiers are comprehensive and affordable
  • Fraud resolution and lost wallet assistance on all plans
Cons
  • Exclusive for members of the AAA
  • Few features in the base tier

AAA Identity Theft Protection is offered by the American Automobile Association in collaboration with Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus. The service’s base plan is free for AAA members and comes with a few essential features, but the real gems are the two paid plans.

The AAA’s Deluxe and Platinum plans offer a wide range of monitoring services, real-time alerts and a generous identity restoration package at a more affordable price than similar ID theft protection services.

Why it didn’t make the cut: Although the base plan is free for AAA members, you have to be a member in the first place to sign up for any of its ID theft protection plans. The company’s base plan also lacks many important features.

See plans on AAA's Secure Website >>

Identity Theft Protection Guide

Identity theft is more common than ever: In 2022 alone, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received fraud reports from 2.4 million consumers and nearly 1.1 million reports of identity theft.

Identity theft protection services help monitor your personal and financial information across the internet and notify you when they detect suspicious activity, such as applications for several new accounts or the accessing your accounts from unknown devices. However, they can’t prevent your information from being stolen and misused in the first place.

To protect yourself from identity theft and improve your cybersecurity game, it’s important to know how to identify and avoid potential scams.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when an individual steals your personal identifiable information (PII) and uses it to commit a crime. This may involve opening accounts in your name, applying for credit, filing taxes or seeking medical services using your personal information. Identity theft protection services are specifically designed to identify instances of identity theft and alert you in a timely manner.

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 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.

Formjacking

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.

Data breaches

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 SSNs.

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.

AI fraud

Identity thieves can leverage AI technology to amplify online scams, carrying them out at a greater pace and with increased precision. For example, they could automate credential stuffing attacks, where attackers use stolen information from one account to gain unauthorized access to another, and to generate highly personalized and convincing phishing emails.

AI tools could also be used to commit fraud via financial extortion. By generating highly convincing deepfake videos and AI voice cloning, fraudsters may impersonate individuals or manipulate evidence to deceive people into giving up their information. Sophisticated fraud detection technology may be necessary in the future to combat this.

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. For example, after amassing bits and pieces of digital and/or physical information, identity thieves can impersonate your child to open bank accounts and apply for lines of credit or loans.

Child identity theft often goes unnoticed until years later when the affected individual tries to obtain a job, car insurance or a new credit card. Although the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) helps protect the privacy of children, their information can still find its way online, and thus end up vulnerable to a data breach.

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 type of fraud, known as medical identity theft, 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.

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 for signs of possible fraud and identity theft. ID theft protection companies that offer this service monitor your report from one or all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — depending on the plan you choose.

If the protection service finds any suspicious activity in your credit file, they notify you via email, text or phone so you can verify this information. Although this is something you can do on your own, credit monitoring services offer a faster, hands-off way of keeping tabs on your credit in exchange for a monthly or annual fee.

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).

Identity monitoring

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 with Social Security monitoring will notify you if your number 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 dispute your credit report. However, hiring a company to do so can save you some time and effort.

Fraud insurance

Identity theft services on our list offer fraud protection via 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. Keep in mind that identity theft insurance won’t reimburse you for any stolen money or financial loss.

Cybersecurity Software

Many ID theft protection services now include additional tools designed to protect yourself online, such as VPNs, antivirus software and password managers. How useful these are will vary depending on your personal Internet use.

For example, you may need a VPN if you work in a sensitive field where your online actions must be kept private from internet service providers.

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 your identity from theft and fraud:

  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Avoid carrying around your Social Security card. Leave your Social Security card at home unless it’s 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 seems legitimate.
  • Protect your physical information. Shred receipts, account statements and expired credit and debit cards before disposing 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), or have somebody pick it up on a regular basis.

Where and how can identity thieves access your personal information?

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.

Cybercriminals can also phish for information with fake emails or text messages, obtain your information through unsecured websites or public Wi-Fi and steal electronic records exposed due to a data breach.

What is the dark web?

The dark web refers to a group of websites that are not indexed by search engines like Google or Bing and cannot be accessed by regular browsers. While it’s not illegal to access this part of the web, it’s sometimes used for illegal activities, such as buying and selling stolen personal information. It’s important to know what to do if your information is found on the dark web.

Dark web monitoring is a service that focuses on this specific part of the World Wide Web. Companies that provide ID theft protection offer this service to scan dark web sites where personal information is traded or sold, and notify clients if any of their identifiable information is found there.

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.

  • First, 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.
  • Then, 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.
  • Lastly, 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

In addition to how this type of service works, you’re likely wondering how much identity theft protection costs. 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.

  • Analyze your situation. Have you handed out this information to a family member or close friend that may have used it accidentally?
  • Change 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.
  • 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 is well underway. By familiarizing yourself with the common warning signs, you may be able to prevent it from causing significant damage to your finances or credit. These warning signs include:

  • Unexpected changes to your credit score. Your credit score could experience gradual or sudden dips depending on how an identity thief uses your information.
  • 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.
  • New credit cards or lines of credits you did not apply for. Identity thieves can also use your personal data to apply for credit facilities. According to the Federal Trade Commission's 2022 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, credit card fraud was the most common type of ID theft in 2022.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What to do if your phone has been hacked

Cybercriminals can gain access to your phone in a number of ways, many of them remote. For example, they can impersonate people or agencies via text message (known as SMS phishing or “smishing”), set up malicious apps, create phony public Wi-Fi networks. Many of their methods rely on malicious software that can force access to a vulnerable mobile device.

If you’re wondering how to know if your phone is hacked, the easiest way to check is by calling its Media Access Control (MAC) address, a unique 12-digit number that is assigned to each individual phone at the manufacturing stage. Signs that your phone has been hacked include unusual battery drain, unexpected pop-ups, slow performance and excessive data usage.

What to do if your email has been compromised

Email is one of the most widespread methods of communication nowadays, and it’s frequently used to send important documents and information. This makes your email account a prime target for bad actors looking to sniff out valuable data.

To know if your email has been compromised, keep an eye out for emails in your Sent folder that you didn’t send, unknown IP addresses in your activity log and password reset email requests. Another sign of a compromised email account is if you are unable to access your account or if your friends and family ask about strange emails sent to them from your account.

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. 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.

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:

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.

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.

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 is IdentityForce if you're looking for the most comprehensive service plan. LifeLock by Norton is also one of the best ID theft protection services due to its outstanding number of features. However, if you're looking for the best identity theft protection for families, you'll be better off with Aura since it covers up to 50 devices.

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

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 protection 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 7 Best Identity Theft Protection Services of February 2024