Identity fraud and theft have been around far longer than the internet, but online data breaches are a particularly serious risk for both individuals and businesses. Fortunately, identity theft protection services have responded by providing robust online security measures and effectively responding to potential threats.
Cases of identity theft now affect millions every year, and it’s clear that people can no longer ignore the threat of having their identity stolen. With the right information, attackers can fraudulently withdraw money, take out loans, make purchases, and more.
Identity theft protection services typically give users the tools they need to identify threats while monitoring for unusual activity. Of course, specific features and settings vary widely from one platform to another. For example, some services provide credit scoring for extra security—for an additional charge.
If you’re concerned about identity theft or fraud, this article will help you find the right tool for your safety and peace of mind. While the ideal tool for you or your business depends on your unique needs, you can’t go wrong with any of these reliable platforms.
Best identity theft protection—at a glance
2. Norton LifeLock
3. Experian IdentityWorks
4. ADT Identity Protection
5. Complete ID
Based in Massachusetts, IdentityForce is a popular identity theft protection provider with tools for businesses, individuals, and even government agencies. It has basic features, including access to credit reports, along with more advanced options. You can view your account online or through the mobile app, available for both iOS and Android.
The IdentityForce monitoring network checks for a variety of red flags including credit report searches, new addresses or accounts, or your personal information appearing in sex offender registers, court records, or the dark web. You’ll receive an immediate notification via both email and SMS following any suspicious activity.
Along with these core features, IdentityForce has a wide range of tools that go beyond some competitors. Its anti-keylogging and anti-phishing software prevents other types of attacks, and social media monitoring is available for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Google+.
IdentityForce starts at $17.95 per month for basic identity protection and $1 million in insurance coverage. For $23.95 per month, you’ll get these features as well as access to credit monitoring, reports, and scores.
Like IdentityForce, Norton LifeLock is a reliable service for anyone who wants identity theft monitoring and response. It checks credit applications, loan applications, criminal and court records, change-of-address requests with USPS, and large volumes of data across thousands of websites.
The Norton LifeLock mobile app keeps you updated with the latest information and ensures that you won’t miss any potential threats. You’ll have the opportunity to verify unexpected changes, and the platform’s support team will investigate any unauthorized activity.
While identity theft protection guards against a variety of attacks, it can’t completely remove the risk of having your identity compromised. In contrast to some other platforms that merely monitor activity and alert you when something goes wrong, Norton LifeLock will help you recover your identity after an attack. Users are covered for as much as $1 million in expenses and other losses related to identity fraud.
Naturally, these tools come at a price. The top-tier Ultimate Plus subscription comes in at $25.99 per month, which is significantly higher than some competitors. That said, Norton LifeLock is a truly comprehensive platform—the Norton team will handle everything from monitoring to helping you avoid identity theft and minimize the impact of a successful attack.
On the other hand, if you don’t need the full range of features available with Ultimate Plus, you can also subscribe to Norton LifeLock Standard for just $9.99 per month. This subscription is limited to basic features like credit and social security alerts, but it still provides decent.
Experian is one of the largest American credit reporting bureaus, along with TransUnion and Equifax. IdentityWorks is the Experian identity theft protection service and provides decent tools for cyber security, including credit scores and reports, real-time alerts, and dark web monitoring.
The service is surprisingly affordable, starting at just $9.99 for an IdentityWorks Plus subscription when billed annually for one user. You can get the same coverage for a second adult and as many as 10 children for just twice the price of the single-user plan.
One of the main benefits of IdentityWorks compared to other services is that it simplifies the provided information for less experienced users. For example, Experian uses a sample credit report to demonstrate the exact contents that are accessible to paid subscribers.
Similarly, the IdentityWorks website uses a simple design that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for but doesn’t necessarily detract from its power or flexibility. Payment histories and other key pieces of information are also conveniently accessible from the website.
While IdentityWorks Plus should be sufficient for most users, the Premium plan does have a variety of additional features. There is a wider range of data sources, including financial accounts, court records, and social media. Users also receive identity validation alerts. The single-user subscription is currently available for $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year.
Most people associate ADT with home security alarms, but the company’s identity theft protection is also quite reliable. ADT Identity Protection provides everything that you need to secure your identity while charging less than many other services.
The platform has basic features such as credit checks, credit score monitoring, and identity checks on passports and driver licenses. It also monitors other sources, including court records, addresses, medical insurance, phone numbers, and email addresses.
For your peace of mind, ADT provides a full $1 million in expense reimbursement in case your identity is compromised. In other words, you’ll receive full compensation if your identity is stolen, as long as the attack results in less than $1 million in costs.
ADT Identity Protection starts at just $9.99 per month, and you won’t need to commit to any long-term contracts. While you can always add home security if needed, ADT won’t push you to sign up, and the services are completely separate.
Complete ID is a powerful and affordable identity protection platform from Costco. While it doesn’t quite stand up to the most comprehensive services in terms of features, it still has sufficient protection for most users.
The service focuses on three main strategies for maximum security: identity protection, credit monitoring, and identity restoration. Like many competitors, it tracks your information across numerous sources, including credit reports and the dark web, while monitoring the use of your social security number and other sensitive data.
Complete ID doesn’t go too far beyond what’s available with other platforms, but it is one of the most affordable ways to keep your identity safe. Executive Costco members can open a subscription for as little as $8.99 per month. Complete ID is available at $13.99 per month for Gold Star and Business members.
Of course, you have to pay separately for the Costco membership, so it’s only affordable in this sense if you are already a member or are planning to join. Executive memberships, for example, cost $120 per year, effectively adding an extra $10 per month to the cost of your Complete ID subscription. Executive members do get other rewards, including 2 percent back on purchases, so the Complete ID discount is just one of many membership benefits.
Families can also add children to their Complete ID subscriptions, starting at just $2.99/month for up to five children. While children typically don’t have credit cards or other financial accounts, their social security numbers are still extremely valuable. If nothing else, it’s worth a few extra dollars per month to ensure that your entire family stays secure.
All things considered, Compete ID is roughly in line with IdentityForce and many other basic identity theft protection services. It’s not nearly as comprehensive as Norton LifeLock, for example, but it’s also substantially cheaper. Similarly, its interface isn’t on the same level as more modern alternatives, but these are relatively small points compared to the opportunity to save on identity theft protection.
How does identity theft protection work?
Every identity theft protection provider is different, but they typically provide many of the same services. Protection is generally available for a monthly subscription rather than a lifetime license, so you will only have coverage for as long as you continue to pay the monthly fee. That said, some companies offer significant discounts in exchange for a full year’s commitment.
Identity theft protection services act as watchdogs by looking for your personal information in a variety of databases. Their comprehensive search tools are part of an excellent first-line defense against identity theft and identity fraud, especially when these threats are virtually impossible for most individual users to track on their own.
For example, attackers often use stolen identities to apply for loans or credit cards. Without constant monitoring, you would have no way of recognizing the threat unless you checked your annual free credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies. Reliable identity theft protection will alert you to suspicious activity, determine whether it was authorized, and help you take the necessary steps to secure your identity.
Unfortunately, identity theft protection services vary widely in everything from monitoring enough databases to providing immediate notifications. Customer reviews and feedback are usually the best way to determine whether a brand is legitimate. Check Trustpilot or the Better Business Bureau for more information about specific platforms.
However, even signing up for identity theft protection isn’t enough on its own. Taking a few simple steps yourself can significantly improve your security online. Shredding documents, for example, will prevent them from reaching the wrong people, while using reliable antivirus software will protect your computer from malware and other threats.
Furthermore, it’s critical to respond as quickly as possible in cases of identity theft. Norton LifeLock and similar platforms provide identity recovery in addition to basic monitoring. Some other services will merely alert you to the threat and then provide advice regarding potential next steps.
With that in mind, it’s clear that online safety requires a dependable identity theft protection service and a personal commitment to your own security. The tips in this article will help you keep your information safe and effectively respond to credible threats against your identity.