In today’s digital age, keeping your personal information personal is vital to ensuring that your assets are not put at risk. If your information is compromised, you’re vulnerable to fraud, hacking, and identity theft which can cost countless hours and significant amounts of money to correct or repair.
Fortunately, for those unsure what identity theft protection services are all about and what the top choices are when it comes to securing their private information, we’ve created a list of the best identity theft protection services and a guide to everything you need to know about identity theft.
The 3 Best Identity Theft Protection Services
1. Norton LifeLock: Editor’s Choice - Best Overall Protection
2. Identity Guard: Runner-Up
3. TransUnion: Honorable Mention
How Did We Choose These 3 Companies?
Keeping your personal information safe and secure from potential threats is no joke. That is why we took great care in identifying a robust set of criteria to choose the best identity theft protection companies. The factors we found to be essential include:
- Consumer reports - The first essential factor to take into consideration is, of course, consumer reviews and ratings. These ratings help determine who provides the best identity theft protection based on what real customers across the web think about these services.
- Services offered - The best identity theft protection services will typically have a wide range of services including credit monitoring, checking bank and credit card accounts, monitoring social media and much more for their customers to take advantage of. This means not only monitoring your information but also offering advice on how to improve your security and spot potential threats to you personally or professionally before they even have the opportunity to start.
- Auditing - The best services to prevent identity theft will be audited regularly to ensure that they are keeping up with industry standards and providing the best possible security to their customers.
- Cost - Of course, we all have a budget in mind for services such as these, and the best identity theft protection services will be both affordable and high-quality.
With those essentials in mind, we’ve put together this list of the best possible identity theft services that offer safety, security, and efficient customer service.
Reviews of the 3 Best Identity Theft Protection Service Providers
1. Norton LifeLock: Editor’s Choice - Best Overall Protection
- Best overall security protection
- Easy setup and configuration
- Support across multiple devices and platforms
- Webcam threat monitoring services
- Only one device supported at the basic plan
Why We Chose Norton LifeLock
Norton LifeLock is ranked first for its broad range of identity theft protection services, which makes them the top choice for those looking to keep their information safe and secure at all times. From monitoring social media accounts to checking bank transactions to credit monitoring, you know that Norton LifeLock has got you covered with the most reliable services for identity theft protection.
Along with this, LifeLock also provides 24/7 support to their customers, even offering help over the phone if you have issues configuring your account on your smartphone or tablet. What’s more, they partner with multiple leading banks, retailers, and credit card companies across the country to ensure that you’re protected everywhere you go.
Norton LifeLock’s Identity Theft Protection Packages
Norton LifeLock identity protection packages can be purchased individually or paired with Norton’s well-known antivirus software. If you purchase only LifeLock services, you have three options for packages with supplemental identity theft insurance coverage of $25,000 to $100,000 depending on whether you choose the advantage, select, or ultimate premium LifeLock service.
The more premium packages will feature everything you’d want in a comprehensive identity theft protection service, including but not limited to:
- credit monitoring
- fraud alerts
- parental controls
- identity protection auditing
- multi-device support
- 401k investment monitoring
- device takeovers
The Bottom Line
If you already love using Norton’s antivirus software or are looking for a leader in the industry to provide you with a full suite of comprehensive identity protection services for you and your family’s online activities, then Norton LifeLock could very well be the ideal service.
2. Identity Guard
- Most affordable identity theft protection for individuals and families
- Monthly and yearly credit reporting
- Powerful AI interfaced for real-time monitoring
- Dark web monitoring
- Limited business protection services
- Not as many business partnerships for identity theft protection as Norton LifeLock
Why We Chose Identity Guard
We chose Identity Guard because their service offers a range of the most sought-after identity protection features all at a very budget-friendly price.
Identity Guard’s Identity Theft Protection Packages
Identity Guard’s Value, Total and Ultra packages are neatly laid out side-by-side on their site, making it easy for you to compare plans and choose the best identity theft protection coverage to meet the needs of you or your household. Their three different packages are organized by price and services, with all of them containing the essential aspects of AI-powered identity protection, including but not limited to:
- data breach notifications
- dark web monitoring
- identity theft insurance
- safe browsing tools
Identity Guard’s top tier Ultra package includes additional credit bureau monitoring and up to three reports a year so you can keep track of any suspicious activity reported to the three leading credit bureaus. Additionally, Identity Guard’s very affordable top tier package will include:
- criminal and sex offense monitoring
- cyberbullying monitoring
- social media insight reporting
The Bottom Line
If the higher price tag that comes with some of the more well-known identity theft protection services isn’t for you, Identity Guard is the best secondary option. Their most affordable service covers all of the basic protections people seek to keep their identity and personal information safe and secure, starting at under eight dollars per month.
- Superb credit monitoring across all 3 credit bureaus
- Ability to lock and freeze credit reports
- Free identity protection add-ons including $25k identity theft insurance
- Dedicated to environmentally friendly identity monitoring
- Great for beginners looking to protect their online identity
- Focused on services for individuals, not families
Why We Chose TransUnion
TransUnion only offers one tier of identity protection - through its monitoring of credit reports. Although it does not provide additional services such as the other two sites on this list, TransUnion is one of three major credit bureaus in the USA and having them on your side when it comes to identity protection is nothing to scoff at.
TransUnion’s Identity Theft Protection Services
Since TransUnion’s ultimate value lies in its real-time tracking and monitoring of your credit reports including your history, score, and information, they focus on a three-point system that lets you know when to be alarmed if any of your credit information changes.
- Point 1: Knowing - TransUnion offers unlimited credit score and credit report access. This way, you can always be aware of your credit standing and what is happening to it. Additionally, TransUnion offers email updates from the other two major credit bureaus (Experian and Equifax) to further ensure that you are always up-to-date on your financial security.
- Point 2: Protecting - Protecting your identity starts with protecting your credit reports. TransUnion knows this and their credit monitoring service offers instant email alerts regarding suspicious activity on your credit reports so that you can take immediate preventative action against fake accounts being opened in your name. Additionally, by signing up for TrueIdentity, TransUnion’s totally free identity theft protection service, you can lock or freeze all three of your credit reports (from the 3 credit bureaus) to keep them secure so that no one else can access them without your permission. As a bonus, the free TrueIdentity service comes with $25,000 in identity theft insurance.
- Point 3: Seeing - One of the best benefits of TransUnion’s identity theft protection services is that they offer tools for building and maintaining a good credit report. This includes tools that predict changes to your credit score, educate you on better ways to build your credit, and keep you informed of the best financial opportunities to increase your credit score and create a better financial future.
The Bottom Line
Purchase TransUnion’s identity protection services if your primary interest is monitoring your credit reports for potential identity theft. It’s an excellent way to ensure that no one can access or falsely report on your credit history while impersonating you, and the $25K identity theft insurance that comes with signing up for the free TrueIdentity service is a nice bonus.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is more than someone stealing your name or address to use for nefarious purposes. In the digital age, identity theft encompasses any theft of personal financial or sensitive information leading to the unauthorized use of an individual’s credit, bank accounts, or even medical records.
Types of Identity Theft
Identity theft can happen to a person at any time and often without them knowing until it’s too late. The most common forms of identity theft include:
Financial Identity Theft
When a hacker or thief gets a hold of your bank account information and uses it to withdraw money without permission, this is financial identity theft. Financial identity theft can also include using your credit card or opening a new credit card under your name without you knowing about it. If a thief takes out a loan in your name or uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to work and make a living, this is also financial identity theft.
Financial identity theft can have drastic consequences on your credit score and credit reports making it difficult to rent a home, buy a car, or even get a job. And in a worst-case scenario, a thief can wipe out your entire financial savings potentially leading to the need to file for bankruptcy.
Medical Identity Theft
Healthcare information is highly personal and revealing – it includes personal details about your SSN, name, addresses, insurance information, and medical history. Since this information is used for everything from record-keeping by medical personnel and the government when Medicare or Medicaid is involved, to paying medical bills, criminals can use it to commit all sorts of crimes.
The consequences of having your medical information stolen are just as dire as financial identity theft. For example, if someone steals your Medicare number, they can claim they were you and receive medical care or medication, which you will be charged for later. Even worse, they can change or update your health information making it difficult to receive necessary life-saving medical treatments.
Child Identity Theft
One form of identity theft that is becoming more and more common is child identity theft. This is when someone steals your child’s SSN and uses it to apply for credit. Once the thief receives their first credit card, they can run up massive debts in your child’s name.
This tends to be one of the worst forms of identity theft because decades can go by without noticing, making it difficult to apply for school loans and financial assistance when the child is ready to leave home and start a life of their own.
Synthetic Identity Theft
This type of identity theft involves the use of fake names with factual information stolen from an individual. The purpose of synthetic identity theft is to make it appear as if the identity thief has a job and their credit score is high enough to qualify for a loan or line of credit. In reality, they don’t have either, making it unlikely that an issuer will ever find out about the fraud leaving you on the hook for any potential damages since often it’s a real SSN stolen to collect loans and services fraudulently.
Identity Theft Cases Are Increasing
Even with technological advancements designed to help protect our identities and personal financial information, the truth is that identity theft cases are on the rise despite our best efforts to prevent them.
What was once a rare type of crime has become the top consumer complaint in the United States, with over 47% of American citizens experiencing some form of financial identity theft in 2020 alone. With those statistics predicted to account for a whopping 720 million dollars’ worth of losses in 2021, it is now more important than ever for individuals, families, businesses and organizations to enact measures that secure sensitive and valuable personal information and prevent identity theft.
How is My Personal Information Being Stolen?
While many think they are well protected against identity theft, the fact is that most are more vulnerable to identity theft scams than they think. For most, identity theft doesn’t occur because of some well-thought-out and planned attack by a professional hacker. Instead, it’s taken without the victim even knowing about it because a site or service they used was compromised.
Here are the five most common ways that identity thieves get personal information without trying very hard.
By stealing mail
One of the easiest ways thieves steal your personal information is by stealing mail from your garbage or recycling bin. That is right, the junk mail and advertisements you receive every day and throw out are considered more valuable than gold to identity thieves.
Phishing is when someone sends you an email pretending to be a legitimate business or individual and asks for personal information. For example, someone might pretend they are an employee of your bank and ask for your credit card number and pin code so that they can ‘update’ your account when in actuality, they are a scam artist looking to steal your credit card information. Companies like PayPal and eBay are commonly victims of phishing, with hackers pretending to be them asking for usernames and passwords.
Hacking social networks
Even social media can be used as a means of identity theft. Hackers can use social media to find information about you and your family, discover where you work and go to school, and even get access to your private messages.
When going into a retail establishment such as a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop, one of the first questions most people ask is: What’s the Wi-Fi password? Unfortunately, while it is excellent for businesses to offer complimentary Wi-Fi to customers, these networks are often left exposed to hackers who can access your private information on any public network you log into.
Sometimes your identity can be stolen not because of any one thing you did. Instead, a company or service you used might have been hacked and your personal information stolen from them without their knowledge. Unfortunately, data breaches are extremely common and affect many people’s credit report, credit score and financial accounts without them even knowing about it.
How Identity Theft Protection Services Work
Just because there are many ways for a nefarious character to steal pieces of personal information or your entire identity, doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and do nothing about it. There are several ways you can protect yourself from identity theft as well as ensure that if your information has been compromised, you have the tools to find out quickly and deal with the consequences accordingly.
Identity theft protection services are the best way to ensure that your private information stays just that - private. However, doing so isn’t a one-and-done operation but requires regular subscriptions, checks, and updates to various systems, bureaus, and databases.
Choosing the Best Identity Protection Service
Not every person has the same needs when wanting to protect their identity from theft. For some, important identity protection services should offer credit monitoring for your credit score and credit reports. In contrast, others prefer or need identity theft insurance that will protect them if personal information is stolen.
When thinking about what type of identity protection service will best suit your needs, it is important to consider the following questions:
- What devices do I want to protect?
- What information am I most afraid of being stolen?
- How many people do I want to protect?
- Do I need to be able to cancel accounts when compromised?
- Am I willing to pay extra for credit monitoring and insurance?
- Do I need insurance protection?
- Do I need family protection services such as webcam monitoring, cyberbullying, and social media tracking?
In addition to answering these simple questions, familiarizing yourself with the different types of services and the essential tools to look for will be constructive in narrowing your search for the best identity theft protection service.
Types of Identity Theft Protection Services
There are three main types of identity theft protection services that you need to consider:
Identity Theft Monitoring Services
One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity thieves is through a credit monitoring service. With credit monitoring, credit bureaus allow you to monitor all of your credit accounts, not just your credit report and bank/credit card accounts, but also your apartment rentals, car loans, etc. Quality credit monitoring services will check across all three credit bureaus for changes to your credit reports as well.
By signing up for a good quality credit monitoring service, you can ensure that no one is applying for credit or loans in your name without your consent or knowledge. Furthermore, with credit monitoring services, you will be alerted right away if anything suspicious happens to any of the accounts associated with your name.
Identity Theft Prevention Services
With these services, you will be able to block suspicious charges and unauthorized purchases from your credit cards and bank accounts, as well as ensure that your Social Security number isn’t used without your consent. Identity theft protection companies that offer these services also provide you with the ability to freeze your accounts if any information is leaked online, preventing any extensive damage from occurring.
Identity Theft Insurance
While not everyone can afford to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on identity theft insurance, there are many affordable options available if you research and look for trusted companies with solid track records.
With identity theft insurance, you will be able to ensure that if an identity thief hijacks your credit reports or otherwise gets access to your private data, you will be covered and can quickly resolve the damage done without doing more harm to your current financial standing.
Essential Tools to Have with ID Theft Protection Services
While you are looking for the best identity protection service to suit your needs, it’s important to keep in mind the specific tools you will need to ensure your privacy and identity are being protected at all times.
Safe Browsing Tools
Ensuring that your browser and search history are protected from prying eyes can be one of the most challenging tasks in today’s digital world. Safe browsing tools ensure that nefarious characters can’t steal your identity and create personalized attacks on your online presence.
By utilizing one of these tools, you can ensure that no prying eyes can access your personal accounts, purchases, and browsing history. This is essential if you shop online or password protect any of your files as it ensures that everything stays secure behind a unique code only you know.
Risk Assessment Tools
These types of tools are essential for providing real-time monitoring of new applications, credit checks, and other events that have the potential to jeopardize your identity. By utilizing one of these tools, you can ensure that you never miss a beat when it comes to knowing who has access to your information.
Data Breach Notifications
This service allows you to be alerted as soon as a security breach occurs on any of the servers for the companies, organizations, or social media sites you use or store personal and sensitive information on. This ensures that you can immediately take proactive steps to mitigate and protect your identity from any further damage.
Privacy Protection Tools
A privacy protection tool is one of the most beneficial tools you can use when shopping online or need to keep your account information secure. With these, you will find that your data is far less likely to become compromised, and you can even prevent third parties from making profile changes to your current information.
This ensures that any third party or malicious entity cannot apply for loans, credit cards, or other services in your name without your consent. Therefore, it’s essential that you keep these tools enabled as they will ensure you stay safe at all times, no matter what device you are using.
How Do I Report Identity Theft?
Identity theft protection services are the best way to immediately be informed when suspicious activity is noticed on your financial statements or credit reports. However, they aren’t always a guarantee that identity theft won’t happen. The truth is that identity theft scams are constantly evolving, and even the best identity theft protection service may not be able to keep up with the latest scams and techniques.
If you find that you are a victim of identity theft, with or without the use of identity theft protection services, you should report it immediately, preferably both in-person and using online government tools.
In-person identity theft reporting
Suppose you notice that there has been strange activity on your bank account, credit card, or debit card. In that case, it is recommended to go directly to your financial institution to inform them of the identity theft and perform the necessary actions that will, at the very least, stop the thief from continuing to use your accounts for their financial benefit.
For more substantial claims of financial identity theft, it is also recommended to make a report to your local police precinct. In some cases, this will be needed to recover lost assets and will definitely be needed should you ever want to press charges against the thief who has stolen your information.
Online identity theft reporting
The most reputable agency for reporting and dealing with identity theft in the USA is IdentyTheft.gov. In addition to helping you report identity theft and organize a plan to reclaim your identity, they also provide helpful resources to assist you in resolving the issue.
Consumers worried about ineffective privacy storage from businesses or organizations that they have given their personal information to (i.e., data breaches), can report threats of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is tasked with investigating these potential threats and resolving them.
Frequently Asked Questions About Identity Theft
1. What can I do regularly to ensure no one is using my identity?
To ensure that no one is using your identity, it is highly recommended to regularly review your bank statements and the credit reports from all three major credit bureaus. This will tell you if anyone has been using your personal information. If you do notice irregularities in your bank statements or credit reports, notify your financial institution immediately. This way, they can cancel your bank cards and stop any payments being made from your accounts or accounts associated with your name.
2. Will credit bureaus automatically tell me if there is suspicious activity on my credit reports?
The three main credit reporting bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, do not tell you specifically when there is suspicious activity on your credit report. However, if you notice an account that does not belong to you or a loan that has been taken out in your name, it will be best to inform the credit reporting bureau immediately so they can resolve the issue and add extra security measures to your personal information.
To get automatic updates about activity on your credit report, you will need to subscribe to an identity theft protection service like the ones we’ve recommended in this article.
3. What is the dark web?
The dark web is a section of the internet that is only accessible with a special web browser. It uses highly encrypted connections and requires getting past several barriers to enter. The dark web is an area where criminals meet and exchange information about the top identity theft scams they are using, as well as tips on how to carry them out successfully.
When people are victims of identity theft, it can often be because their personal information was stolen and sold on the dark web.
4. How can I keep my personal information encrypted when browsing online?
The best way to protect and encrypt personal information when using the internet is to use a VPN service. A VPN, or virtual private network, is a service that will encrypt your connections. This means that the information passing between you and the server is unreadable, keeping prying eyes out of what you are doing online.
If you are interested in bundling your identity protection services with a VPN service, consider purchasing one of Norton LifeLock’s Select, Advantage, or Ultimate identity protection service packages.
5. Do antivirus software programs also protect my identity?
The technical answer is no. An antivirus software program is only designed to help protect against threats that aim to steal your identity while using the internet. However, they are not intended to protect your identity from being stolen - only to warn you about potential threats and try to stop them from happening.
Keep Your Identity Safe With Identity Protection Services
Identity theft is a growing issue that needs to be taken seriously to avoid the headaches and financial hardship that comes with identity theft. There are many identity protection services designed to keep your personal information safe. If your data is compromised, these services will provide protections and compensation to ensure that recovering from the theft isn’t too much of a burden.
Check out the three providers of the best identity theft protection services listed in this article by clicking on the website links below each review. These services will ensure that your personal information and identity are protected so that you can live a worry-free life.
While there are many steps you can take to protect your identity and assets from malicious activity, the best way to ensure that your identity stays safe from dark web hackers, credit card hijackers, and other threats is to pay for the best identity theft protection services. Identity theft protection allows consumers to control their personal data by monitoring activity on existing accounts and flagging any suspicious activity that may indicate a breach. Without these vital services, consumers and businesses alike can’t protect the critical personal information that can be used to create new accounts in a consumer’s name, open lines of credit, take over existing accounts, and more.