The Best Identity Theft Protection Services and Software
Have you discovered suspicious activity on your credit report?
Or maybe you’re worried about the data breaches we often hear about?
Identity theft is a major issue that occurs when someone uses your personal information to pose as you and open credit cards, take out loans, and otherwise wreak havoc on your finances and credit.
All of the identity theft protection services below offer identity monitoring and protection against most types of identity theft.
Here is a quick look at some of the best services out there:
Best Identity Theft Protection Services: First Look
- Best protection overall – LifeLock
- Most efficient for credit monitoring – Identity Guard
- Comes with the best value – IdentityIQ
- Offers a ton of extra features – McAfee
- Ideally suited for bigger families – IdentityForce
- Best for employers – ID Watchdog
- Top choice for Costco members – Complete ID
All these identity theft protection services exist to keep your identity secure and keep you protected even if your personal information is exposed.
Whether you’re just worried about your own identity or want to protect your entire family, choosing the right ID theft protection service can make all the difference!
Check out our top picks:
1. LifeLock – Best Identity Theft Protection Service Overall
- Stolen funds reimbursement
- Alerts for use of your name, Credit, SSN
- 401(k) and investment activity alerts
- Norton 360 antivirus & VPN included
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- 24/7 support
- Prices can increase each year
LifeLock has been around for a long time, and its focus is on providing safety and security features for every aspect of life.
In 2017, Symantec purchased LifeLock, and since then, the company has offered the well-known Norton 360 suite of products in its main packages.
LifeLock offers ongoing protection and monitoring, eliminating the need to ever freeze your credit.
There is a direct connection between computer security and protecting your identity. LifeLock combines its own well-established identity protection services with the also well-established antivirus and digital security products of Norton.
LifeLock also monitors their customer’s bank accounts for suspicious activity and offers up to $1 million in identity theft insurance to cover lawyers and experts on all their service plans.
Moreover, should your identity be compromised, LifeLock’s offers 24/7 customer phone support and their U.S.-based Restoration Department will make sure you receive fair compensation.
Pricing is comparable to most of the other services on this list. But LifeLock’s Family Plan can be a bit on the expensive side. That said, they offer their digital security products at even the lowest tier.
LifeLock is a great fit for customers who do a lot of work or business online is our #1 overall top choice. Plus, it includes a 60-day money-back guarantee for added peace of mind.
What Their Customers Say
Negative reviews on TrustPilot are mostly about administrative issues. Nonetheless, LifeLock has received countless positive reviews on its site praising the speed at which alerts are issued for large or unusual purchases.
2. Identity Guard – Best Identity Protection for Credit Monitoring
- $1 million of identity theft insurance
- US-based customer service
- Best credit monitoring service
- Artificial intelligence for scanning and detection
- Thousands of Trustpilot reviews
- 4.1 overall Trustpilot rating
- No VPN or antivirus
- No credit monitoring on the lowest plan
Identity Guard has been around since 1996 and boasts that they’ve protected more than 47 million customers and resolved over 140,000 cases of identity fraud.
Watson, a key part of their service, is an artificial intelligence designed by IBM that constantly scans the web looking for hits on your personal information.
Anytime it finds it anywhere, it immediately sends an alert with all the information you need to address the issue before you become a victim.
You’ll even get dark web monitoring with all of their plans!
Pricing here is affordable, with their Value plan for only $7.50/month if you pay annually. However, if you want credit monitoring, you’ll have to get at least the Total plan, billed annually at $16.67 per month.
Identity Guard is great for most people but works especially well for those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy.
What Their Customers Say
With over 3,500 reviews on TrustPilot, they hold an impressive overall 4.1 rating.
Identity Guard has received positive feedback across the board on their customer service, the quality of the identity monitoring, investment account monitoring, products, as well as the promptness of resolving identity theft issues.
3. IdentityIQ – Best Value Service With Positive Identity Protection Reviews
- Cheapest plan includes credit monitoring
- Plans ranging from $7/month to $30/month
- Cancellation number on their website
- Monthly credit reports
- Not many reviews
- No family monitoring & resolution
IdentityIQ only has reviews dating back to 2018, so it seems to be a fresh new startup in the identity theft monitoring industry.
Their top ID protection services offer enhanced monitoring and monthly credit reports & scores from all three credit bureaus on their Max plan, which is more than any other provider on this list.
IdentityIQ does not offer a free trial but does have very affordable plans if you want to test out the product before you dive into the more expensive plans.
The one notable gap in IdentityIQ’s offering is that they do not have a plan to monitor multiple social security numbers and alert if there’s activity. Their Max plan does include identity theft insurance coverage if a family member has their identity stolen, but that’s about it.
IdentityIQ has designed its service to appeal to busy, career-oriented individuals and works best for single individuals with no children.
What Their Customers Say
IdentityIQ has a 3.2-star rating on Trustpilot and a 2.3-star rating on the BBB. Many of the negative reviews have to do with issues regarding a $1 trial promotion that IdentityIQ no longer seems to be offering.
4. McAfee Protection – Best ID Protection Service for Extra Features
- Cheaper than the other options
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Robust protection for multiple devices
- Parental controls with Family Plan
- Identity theft monitoring is more of an add-on
- Only offers basic monitoring and recovery tools
McAfee is a well-known name as one of the best antivirus software available today.
Their service now comes with a VPN, antivirus (of course), a wealth of digital security utilities like a password manager, secure and permanent file deletion, encrypted storage, and parental controls.
Of all the offerings on this list, McAfee is the most prepared to stop you from accidentally giving your information away.
On their website, they say that they protect over 500 million devices, and they have been a staple in the antivirus world for a long time.
That said, they’re fairly new as a credit monitoring service and to the ID theft protection industry as a whole. Most people do not even think of McAfee when thinking of identity theft protection companies.
Mcafee will work best as a solution for those who use their devices casually, don’t use their phones as much as their desktop or laptop, and aren’t looking for a highly customized solution.
What Their Customers Say
As mentioned above, the reviews really are just not good. Granted, McAfee charges what others in this space charge per month in a single year. So having a clear sense of what you’re getting with McAfee before you purchase can go a long way in helping you have a positive experience.
5. IdentityForce – Top ID Protection Service for Families
- Lots of features, including Pay-Day Loan Monitoring
- Simple, straightforward pricing
- 4.4 rating on TrustPilot
- Full suite of recovery services
- Dashboard is clunky
- Some features may be difficult or confusing
IdentityForce is another identity theft protection company that has been in the game for a long time.
IdentityForce claims to have a 100% recovery success rate in cases of stolen identity, as well as a 95% customer satisfaction rating and 98% member retention.
IdentityForce has won multiple awards for its service and offers just about every tool or feature you might need to protect your identity.
Pricing for IdentityForce is in 2 steps – UltraSecure and UltraSecure + Credit.
At the moment of this writing, they offer UltraSecure + Credit for less than UltraSecure, at only $15.99/ month for an individual and $31.90/month for a family, which includes unlimited children.
IdentityForce is the best fit for tech-savvy parents with younger children. Still, their customer service and wide feature set make them a good fit for just about anyone looking to protect their identities.
What Their Customers Say
IdentityForce has a great reputation, and their customers seem very happy overall, with their aggregate rating on TrustPilot at a 4.4, with over 700 reviews.
6. ID Watchdog – Best Identity Theft Programs for Employees
- May be offered through your employer
- Comprehensive identity monitoring services
- Offers Solicitation Reduction
- Prices & features on par with the best
- Very few consumer reviews
Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian and Transunion being the other two), is the parent company of ID Watchdog.
While you may be thinking twice about trusting the only reporting agency to report a major data breach with your identity, it should comfort you to know that Equifax acquired ID Watchdog in response to the breach as a way to be proactive about protecting people’s information.
ID Watchdog finds most of its customers through businesses that offer it as a benefit to their employees.
You can purchase the service from Equifax on your own. And their platinum plan is cheaper than comparable plans from other providers.
This business model is likely why there are so few consumer reviews available, and most of the positive feedback likely goes to employers, not to ID Watchdog.
This makes them the best fit for those who can get it through their employer as a benefit. It could work well for others, but the lack of reviews online makes it more of a gamble than the other options.
What Their Customers Say
As mentioned above, it’s really hard to find what their customers are saying, but of the three reviews they have with the Better Business Bureau, two are 1-star, and one is 5-star.
7. Complete ID – Best Identity Theft Protection for Costco Members
- Very affordable
- Robust monitoring & alerts
- Great restoration services included
- Alerts are typically immediate
- Only available to Costco members
- No family plans, although children can be added individually
Complete ID is a bit of a different beast. It’s “a part” of Experian, another of the three credit bureaus, and offers a $14/month plan comparable to what other companies are charging upwards of $20 per month for.
If you’re an Executive member at Costco, it will be even cheaper at only $9 per month.
The Complete ID website has a lot of helpful information about identity theft and how to protect yourself. Still, Experian only offers its paid protection plans to members of Costco, a wholesale shopping chain.
What Their Customers Say
Much like ID Watchdog, reviews are difficult to find online. Complete ID does not have a Facebook page (that we could find), is not on TrustPilot or the BBB website, and doesn’t seem to aggregate reviews anywhere online.
Identity Theft Protection FAQs
There’s more to protecting your identity than just knowing the differences between the service providers.
In this section, we’ll cover the most common questions relating to identity theft protection services.
How Can I Protect Myself From Identity Theft?
Well, first and foremost, you can choose an identity protection service and fully utilize all the tools they offer.
If that’s not an option right now or you want to do even more, here are a few things you can do:
- Freeze your credit: Only unfreeze it when you need it. That will reduce the risk of identity thieves wreaking havoc and opening accounts in your name.
- Check your credit score often: Any of the services above can keep you up-to-date on your score, or you can use a free service like Mint.com.
- Never give your personal info out: Unless you initiated the communication and know the vendor is legitimate.
- Create unique passwords: Using the same password or set of passwords for everything creates a massive security vulnerability.
- Review credit reports: You can pull your report for free a minimum of once per year, and much more often with some of the options above.
- Install antivirus software: Even if you accidentally click on a bad link, having good antivirus software can save your information.
- Wipe electronics before donating or throwing away: If you’re not sure how to do this with your device, there is probably a tutorial on YouTube.
- Close credit cards you’re not using: If you’re not using them, don’t give someone else a chance to exploit that.
How Do Scammers Steal Identities?
There are as many ways to steal an identity. But the most common are various forms of phishing, where they send an email, text, or even call to trick people into giving them their personal information.
Data breaches are another common way that scammers can access passwords, email addresses, and other pieces of information that can be used to steal your identity.
More ambitious scammers can even use public wi-fi networks and USB charging stations to get into your computer and steal your information.
Unfortunately, family and friends are also frequent perpetrators of identity theft, and a majority of identity theft victims say they knew the perpetrator personally.
If your identity is stolen, the first place to start looking is your social circle.
How Do You Decide Which Identity Theft Insurance Service is Best?
Here are few things to consider:
- Pricing: Can it fit comfortably in your monthly budget?
- Specific vulnerabilities: Do you have kids? Retirement accounts? Looking to buy a home soon?
- Technical experience: Would you use a VPN? Can you fix credit issues on your own?
Your answers to the questions above can help point you toward the service that’s most appropriate for you.
Why Is Identity Theft So Hard to Fight?
Identity theft is hard to fight mainly because it comes down to what you say happened against what occurred von paper.
When a thief opens accounts in your name, there is very little to prove that it wasn’t you who did it.
Fraud goes both ways; people can claim identity theft when they actually borrowed the money themselves.
This is why it’s so valuable to have an identity theft protection service such as LifeLock on your side.
It’s no longer up to whatever evidence you can scrounge up to prove your innocence because you have a service keeping tabs on everything that happens in your name and alerting you immediately when something suspicious happens.
Credit bureau monitoring and dark web monitoring are core functions of an identity theft protection service, as is keeping track of your credit report.
How Should You Report Identity Theft?
You can report identity theft directly to the Federal Trade Commission by going to identitytheft.gov.
You’ll also want to immediately notify your identity theft protection service provider (unless they’re the ones who notified you, and follow their instructions on notifying each credit reporting agency & creditor.
You can also report identity theft to your local police if you know who has stolen your identity or you need a police report as evidence for creditors.
Are There Free Protection Options Available?
TransUnion offers a service called TrueIdentity that is worth looking at, and Credit Sesame also offers free identity theft protection and even includes $50,000 theft insurance.
Mint.com is also something you should consider as they will monitor your credit scores and alert you when there’s significant movement, along with a host of family & personal finance tools.
Is Identity Theft Protection Overrated?
The short answer here is ‘no.’ Identity theft protection is much like insurance; if the bad thing you’re insuring against never happens, then you could make the argument that the money spent on buying the insurance was wasted.
We still buy insurance for the most important things in life, and your identity is no different.
Not only that, but the best identity theft protection services above like Identity Guard also provide tools and features that you can use even if your identity is never stolen. These tools actively work to prevent your identity from ever being stolen in the first place.
The biggest drawback to these services is that they all require active participation from you.
There’s only so much they can do without your involvement, and there’s nothing they can do if you aren’t willing to work with them on keeping your identity safe.
Simultaneously, the tools and resources they offer are the best you can get when it comes to identity protection.
Best Identity Theft Protection Companies: The Takeaway
Our top pick for this list is LifeLock. They have great reviews, a clear offering with reasonable pricing, and have an established history that is more positive than negative.
Anytime you’re looking at identity theft protection services, make sure to research the businesses thoroughly and ask every question you can think of before signing up.
Entrusting your identity is no small thing, and you want to make sure that you know exactly what you’re signing up for before you do it.
The news and editorial staffs of the Bay Area News Group had no role in this post’s preparation.