After analyzing consumer reviews, government data and industry insights, the four companies that stood out are Identity Guard, IdentityForce, Experian and LifeLock. In this guide, we will discuss how identity theft protection services work and their benefits. We’ll also provide tips to help you determine which identity theft protection services to buy, evaluate the best companies in the industry and answer frequently asked questions. With this approach, you will have enough information to find the best identity theft protection for your circumstances.
- Understand various credit and identity monitoring services
- Evaluate identity recovery services
- Know the difference between fraud alerts and credit freezes
Tips for a Wise Buyer
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) at least 8,190 data breaches have occurred between Jan. 1, 2005 and Dec. 20, 2017, exposing nearly 1.06 billion records of personal and financial data. The identity theft protection services market generates approximately $3 billion in annual revenues in the United States, according to industry market research firm IBISWorld. Navigating this market can be difficult, particularly for those who are searching for identity theft protection services for the first time.
Not all identity theft protection services are created equal. If you choose the wrong protection plan, you risk purchasing services you don’t need or spending too much to protect your personal information. The following three tips will help you select the right identity theft protection services provider.
Determine which type of monitoring services you need
Differentiate credit and identity monitoring services
There are two types of monitoring services: credit and identity. Credit monitoring services track your credit report activity from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and notify you about credit report activity. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that many companies offer credit monitoring services to customers free of charge after a data breach. Still, it is ideal to have this protection in place before this crime occurs. Identity monitoring services track personally identifiable information (PII) such as your driver’s license number, email address and Social Security number. These services check public records and other databases to see if they contain new or inaccurate information about you, with varied results depending on the databases used.
Identity theft protection services providers often offer both credit and identity monitoring services, but some only monitor credit data or certain types of PII. Be sure to find out which types of personal information an identity theft protection services provider monitors before making your final decision.
Evaluate identity recovery services
Identity recovery services help with restoring stolen financial and personal records. These services frequently are paired with credit or identity monitoring services and limit the amount of work you’ll have to do to recover your identity.
Plan for identity recovery
Identity recovery services provide convenient access to case managers or trained counselors to guide you through the process of regaining control of your identity. Many recovery services offer assistance with writing letters to creditors or debt collectors. The services may enable you to put a hold on your credit report to prevent a criminal from using it to open a new bank account or credit card and some also provide access to legal representation when dealing with creditors or other institutions.
Know the difference between fraud alerts and credit freezes
Distinguish fraud alerts and credit freezes
Any of the three credit bureaus will issue fraud alerts when suspicious activity is detected. These alerts frequently cause a bank or credit union to reconsider accepting credit requests in your name, but fraud alerts won’t necessarily stop a creditor from approving a credit request like a credit freeze will.
Credit freezes stop any company from accessing your credit without your approval. Once a credit freeze is in place, you’ll need to contact each of the three credit bureaus to remove the hold on your records.
Example identity theft protection costs
Here are some reference identify theft protection prices:
*Reimbursement and Expense Compensation, each with limits of up to $1 million for Ultimate Plus, up to $100,000 for Advantage and up to $25,000 for Standard. And up to $1 million for coverage for lawyers and experts if needed, for all plans. Benefits provided by Master Policy issued by United Specialty Insurance Company (State National Insurance Company, Inc. for NY State members). Policy terms, conditions and exclusions at: LifeLock.com/legal.
Our search for the Best Identity Theft Protection Companies
1. We searched through an extensive list of identity theft protection services providers
2. We evaluated these companies based on our expert-guided buying criteria: value, customer satisfaction and customer support
3. We provided you with the best identity theft protection services providers
Searching for the right identity theft protection services company may be tricky, particularly for someone who is evaluating his or her options for the first time.
Our search began with 10 of the most subscribed-to identity theft protection services companies and concluded with four recommendations. Our assessment included the following steps:
- We evaluated the identity theft protection services marketplace.
To narrow our search, we examined the top identity theft protection services companies based on client and expert reviews. We removed companies rating three or fewer stars from consideration.
- We assessed the top identity theft protection services companies based on industry ratings and awards.
We wanted to find the top identity theft protection services companies in terms of value, customer satisfaction, and customer support. To accomplish our goal, we examined identity theft protection services ratings from Consumer Reports, Javelin Strategy & Research, and other prominent independent research firms. We also evaluated identity theft protection services companies based on awards for value, customer satisfaction, and customer support.
- We shopped for identity theft protection services and followed our own advice.
We focused on finding identity theft protection services providers based on our wise buyer standards. We evaluated the different types of identity theft protection services provided by each company, the costs associated with these services and other relevant criteria.
If a company failed to provide both monitoring and recovery services, we removed it from consideration. Also, if a company did not include online tools or resources to teach consumers about identity theft, we excluded it from our search.
Identity Theft Protection Company Reviews
After our evaluation, we chose the four best identity theft protection services providers: Identity Guard, IdentityForce, Experian and LifeLock. Each of these companies delivers superior identity theft protection services.
Since 2005, LifeLock has been a leading provider of identity theft protection services. LifeLock LifeLock uses innovative monitoring technology to help proactively safeguard your credit and finances.
LifeLock offers a quick registration process that makes it easy to sign up for the service. Three plans, Standard, Advantage and Ultimate Plus, range in cost from $9.99 to $29.99 per month, however, promotional pricing is often available at a lower cost. All LifeLock plans include a wide variety of features such as 24/7 member support and lost wallet protection in the event your wallet is stolen or goes missing, from $25,000 to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement plus applicable sales tax. LifeLock will request removal of your name from many pre-approved credit card mailing lists.
Today, LifeLock boasts more than 5 million members who rely on the service to help protect their identity against against a broad range of threats. LifeLock also earned a spot on the 2016 Online Trust Honor Roll, and to date, has received nearly 10,000 4.5-star reviews from members.
Read our comprehensive LifeLock review
Best Customer Satisfaction
IdentityForce is committed to protecting your identity by taking a holistic approach to identity and credit protection This includes combining state-of-the-art technology, diligent product development and testing and top-notch customer service to support its clients.
Two Identity Force identity theft protection services are available: UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit. UltraSecure tracks your personal information 24/7, notifies you if your personal information is at risk and is backed with $1 million in identity theft insurance. Comparatively, UltraSecure+Credit offers the same benefits as UltraSecure, plus three-bureau credit monitoring, a credit score simulator and other features. IdentityForce also provides ChildWatch for protection against child identity theft.
IdentityForce is a proven player in the identity theft protection services market with a 100% recovery success rate in stolen identity-related events, 98% member retention rate and 95% member satisfaction rating. IdentityForce boasts an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been named an Identity Protection Leader by Javelin Strategy and Research.
Read our comprehensive IdentityForce review.
Identity Guard Review
Best Customer Support
Identity Guard possesses more than two decades of identity protection services experience. Three levels of plans cost from $19.99 to $24.99 per month, billed monthly. Using patented IBM Watson artificial intelligence technology, Identity Guard monitors social media and research reports to make suggestions about what information you share online. Identity Guard helps you identify the personal information you wish to hide and removes this information from the web.
A step up from Identity Guard with Watson is Identity Guard Total Protection, which offers quarterly reports from all three credit bureaus, 24/7 monitoring and alerts. Identity Guard Platinum also is available, adding monthly credit scores and reports. In terms of customer support, Identity Guard is unmatched. The company boasts best-in-class 100% U.S.-based customer support and provides its security experts with extensive identity theft case training. Identity Guard has already helped more than 47 million customers protect their personal information and has been awarded the Online Trust Alliance Honor Roll annually since 2012.
Read our comprehensive Identity Guard Review.
Additional Identity Theft Protection Companies
EverSafe developed its identity theft protection technology with seniors in mind. Its software works with guardians, powers of attorney, trusts and caregivers to help monitor individuals identity. Identity theft protection plans range in price from $7.49 to $22.99 per month. Read our full EverSafe review for more details.
Additional Identity Theft Resources
Readers of this guide also found these articles helpful.
Stopping identity theft before it happens is the best course of action. Read about how to prevent identity theft.
People can try to steal your identity through scams. Make sure you’re aware of these top five identity theft scams and learn how to avoid them.
With 80 percent of people in the United States having at least one social media profile, here’s what you should know about identity theft and social media use.
Frequently Asked Questions about Identity Theft Protection
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a crime in which one individual assumes another’s identity to complete unauthorized transactions.
Are identity theft and identity fraud the same thing?
Yes. The U.S. Department of Justice defines both identity theft and identity fraud as “terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way [involving] fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”
How does identity theft happen?
Cybercriminals use high-tech methods to access corporate or government databases to steal lists of customer information. Identity thieves sometimes sift through trash bins to obtain victims’ personal information.
What are the chances I could have my identity stolen?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received approximately 3.1 million identity theft and fraud complaints in 2016, and Javelin reported the identity fraud incidence rate rose 16% between 2015 and 2016. These statistics show identity theft affects millions of people and is becoming more prevalent.
Why do I need identity theft protection?
A Pew Research Center study of 1,040 U.S. adults revealed 64% of Americans had experienced a major data breach which could lead to identity theft, so protecting yourself is crucial. Although identity theft protection services won’t stop criminals from trying to obtain your personal information, the services can slow them down. For example, monitoring services track credit information or PII, so you are immediately notified if a criminal attempts to use your personal information.
Identity recovery services also are available to speed up the recovery process if your identity is stolen. The highlight of these services is identity theft support experts who know how to efficiently retrieve your stolen identity.
Will identity theft protection services prevent my identity from being stolen?
Unfortunately, no. There is no surefire solution to stop identity theft altogether. The best solution to limit the risk of identity theft is a combination of identity theft protection services and taking care to safeguard your personal information. Change passwords frequently, using different passwords for each account you use. Passwords should include numbers and special characters like #, !, @. Not sharing personal information such as your birth year or address on social media helps as well.
If I use identity theft protection services and my identity is stolen, what happens next?
Find out what guarantees the identity theft protection services providers you are considering offer. The provider should help you manage and resolve your case if your identity is stolen.
Bottom Line: Identity theft protection services help you safeguard your identity and address identity theft faster than ever before.
No one is immune to identity theft. Criminals want your personal information and will do almost anything to obtain it. Fortunately, identity theft protection services help reduce the risk of having your data exposed, assist you with the recovery of a stolen identity and most service plans include insurance to replace lost funds.
The best three identity theft protection services companies we recommended stand out for different reasons while meeting our selection criteria. We came to our conclusions after reviewing market research and expert analysis, resulting in recommendations designed to help you choose the ideal identity theft protection services based on your individual needs.