Best Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft isn’t a new concept, but it’s prominent now more than ever. With so much information shared on social media — not to mention the online shopping revolution — more personal information is stored in the cloud than ever before. Although the internet has brought new risks to identity theft, it has also brought new ways to protect against it. 

In this guide to the best identity theft protection, we’re going to highlight the services that keep you safe from scams, fraud and any other criminal unpleasantness. Along the way, we’ll also talk about how identity theft protection keeps you safe, how that relates to cybercrime and what you can do on your own to decrease your risk. 

As you’ll shortly see, we rate IdentityForce higher than any other service. Although it’s not the cheapest option, it’s easily the best. In addition to a full-featured monitoring service, IdentityForce offers extensive learning resources. It also has a two-week free trial, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot.

The Best Identity Theft Protection

Choosing the de facto best identity theft protection is tricky, as the “ideal” service for you is subjective and depends on your needs. Because of that, we’ve split our guide into five sections — features, pricing, ease of use, protection and support — each offering three recommendations, followed by some general information about identity theft and protection. 

That said, if you’re looking for the best overall identity theft protection, IdentityForce is worth a look. It’s been around next to forever, and during that time it has grown into a robust and thorough identity theft protection service.

Features: Best Identity Theft Tools

Choosing the de facto best identity theft protection is tricky, as the “ideal” service for you is subjective and depends on your needs. Because of that, we’ve split our guide into five sections — features, pricing, ease of use, protection and support — each offering three recommendations, followed by some general information about identity theft and protection. 

That said, if you’re looking for the best overall identity theft protection, IdentityForce is worth a look. It’s been around next to forever, and during that time it has grown into a robust and thorough identity theft protection service.

IdentityForce

IdentityForce goes beyond monitoring with a slew of social and browser protection features. In addition to monitoring your social security number and bank account information, IdentityForce can also keep an eye on your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram accounts for any fraudulent activity. 

identityforce-slider5

IdentityForce also provides phishing and keylogging protection on your browser. Although not on the level of a full antivirus, such as Bitdefender (read our Bitdefender Antivirus review), it’s better to have these tools than to not. 

Phishing protection will shield you from malicious emails, while anti-keylogging software will ensure whatever you’re typing isn’t being sent to an attacker. 

Furthermore, IdentityForce includes multiple learning resources, including sample credit dispute letters, an extensive glossary of financial terms and a loan comparison calculator. You can learn more about those in our IdentityForce review

Identity Guard

The core of Identity Guard is IBM’s “Watson” artificial intelligence, which it deploys for scanning. We’ll talk more about it in the “protection” round below, but it’s worth noting here, too. It relates to protection, but Watson is a feature not seen with other identity theft protection services, cementing Identity Guard above the competition. 

Additionally, Identity Guard offers a series of browser privacy tools. Although it doesn’t include a VPN — read our best VPN guide for that — the Safe Browsing extension can keep your browser safe. It blocks ads and flash requests, forces HTTPS on websites and monitors for phishing URLs. 

Additionally, the Safe Browsing extension opens up a whole new browser dashboard where you can manage your privacy settings for various social media accounts. 

As you can see in our Facebook privacy guide, managing these settings on your own isn’t difficult, but having a single spot for them shouldn’t be undersold. You can learn more about the privacy features in our Identity Guard review

EverSafe

EverSafe earns a spot in our features round because it offers a unique twist on the identity theft model. Instead of offering solely individual support, EverSafe specializes in family and senior protection. If you’re looking to protect multiple people or need to purchase protection on behalf of someone else, EverSafe is for you.

Although the first member of a family plan will need to pay the full price, each additional member will receive a 30-percent discount. So the $14.99 “plus” plan would cost $46.47 per month for a family of four. Furthermore, every account is located in a single dashboard, so you can monitor your entire family without jumping around. 

For seniors, EverSafe allows you to specify advocates who will be able to access your account on your behalf. Because identity theft often targets seniors who may be unfamiliar with online-based protection, the ability to assign advocates is huge. You can learn more about that in our EverSafe review.

Starts from $ 1795 per month

Pricing: Most Affordable Identity Theft Protection

Pricing is important with any subscription-style service, but especially with identity theft protection. The truth is that the more expensive the service is, the higher chance you’ll cancel it. The goal is that your identity is never stolen, so in this section, we’re looking for the most affordable identity theft protection. 

ADT Identity Theft Protection

ADT offers the cheapest identity theft protection service we’ve encountered. It doesn’t fuss around with multiple tiers or differing features. There’s a single plan that costs $9.99 per month. That plan includes everything, meaning you get $1,000,000 in coverage, dark web monitoring and ADT fraud resolution.

ADT Identity Theft Protection
  • Dark web monitoring, ADT fraud resolution, $1,000,000 in coverage, Credit tracking and monitoring

Like EverSafe, you can add up to five members to a plan, though the price doesn’t change based on the number of users you have. Each member runs that same $10 per month, but considering how inexpensive that is, it hardly matters. 

The low price is appealing, but ADT’s no-nonsense approach carries it into some unfavorable areas. There aren’t any discounts for longer durations, and there isn’t a firm refund policy. You pay $10 per month — every month — until you decide to cancel. You can learn more about that in our ADT Identity Theft Protection review.

ID Watchdog

ID Watchdog has some usability issues, but these are easy to overlook because the price is so good. The base plan is only $15 per month, offering $1,000,000 in coverage, customizable alerts, managed identity theft resolution and dark web monitoring. There’s also a $20 per month plan that adds a tri-bureau credit report. 

ID Watchdog Plus
  • Dark web monitoring, Customizable alerts, Credit monitoring, Managed restoration
ID Watchdog Platinum
  • All of the features of “Plus”, Tri-bureau credit scores & reports

The prices in the table above are for monthly plans. However, ID Watchdog also offers an annual billing cycle that, like IdentityForce, gives you two months of service for free. That said, it’s knocked down a peg in this round because there’s no trial period and the refund policy is flimsy. You can read about that in our ID Watchdog review.

IdentityForce

IdentityForce isn’t the cheapest service out there, though it’s far from the most expensive. It’s pricier than ADT and ID Watchdog, but the features justify spending a few extra dollars per month. The basic plan, UltraSecure, comes will full coverage, including $1,000,000 in insurance, lost wallet assistance and dark web monitoring. 

UltraSecure
  • $1,000,000 in coverage, Lost wallet assistance, Dark web monitoring, Bank activity alerts
UltraSecure+Credit
  • $1,000,000 in coverage, All of the features of UltraSecure, Tri-bureau credit monitoring, Credit score simulator

Up the range, UltraSecure+Credit is mostly the same, though it includes tri-bureau credit monitoring for an extra $6 per month. No matter which plan you choose, you can pay monthly or annually. 

Going for the annual plan means you’ll get two months of service for free, which will spread the cost of 10 months across 12. Additionally, the first two weeks are free, so you can try out IdentityForce without losing any money.

Starts from $ 1795 per month

Ease of Use: Best Identity Theft Protection Service

Understanding what’s what is important if your identity is stolen. It’s a scary moment, so an easily digestible interface that starts the restoration process is paramount. In this section, we’re looking for the best identity theft protection service that keeps everything easy to understand, even in the event of a catastrophe.

Identity Guard

From the home page to your dashboard, Identity Guard makes protecting your identity simple. The website is cleanly laid out, with nearly all buttons directing you toward the checkout page. Once you sign up, setting up your account is simple; Identity Guard asks for some basic information before dumping you in the dashboard. 

Once in the dashboard, you can view your new alerts, see which accounts Identity Guard is monitoring and check if any of your information has surfaced on the dark web. There’s also a “risk management” tab, where you can view your risk score. Identity Guard generates this score based on a series of questions that you answer after you land in the dashboard for the first time. 

The questions relate to your habits, such as what stores you shop at and what industry you work in. With that information, Identity Guard is not only able to provide a risk score, but also able to train Watson on your habits. Because of that, Identity Guard can identity any abnormal behavior. 

EverSafe

It should come as little surprise that EverSafe is easy to use, as it’s an identity theft protection service focused on seniors. EverSafe top-loads the process, meaning you’re entering your information as you sign up. That makes it so you’re already protected when you get to the account dashboard. 

EverSafe is the opposite of Identity Guard and IdentityForce when it comes to the dashboard. The UI is clean, offering only basic information about what’s being monitored. Outside of your alerts, you can change your notification settings and approve or reject accounts that EverSafe has found on your credit report.

Although EverSafe doesn’t offer the functionality of Identity Guard and IdentityForce, its no-nonsense approach will be appealing for some users. 

IdentityForce

IdentityForce has some issues when it comes to choosing a plan. The lineup is simple enough, but there are too many options on the main website, which makes finding the checkout page confusing. 

That said, once you sign up for an account, IdentityForce is a dream. After checking out, you’ll be asked to enter all of your personal information so IdentityForce can begin protecting you right away. 

On the dashboard, you can quickly see which elements IdentityForce is scanning and any alerts you may have. There’s also a “resources” tab where you can find the glossary and calculators for auto leases, mortgages and credit cards.

The brilliance of IdentityForce comes in its ability to segment information. The dashboard is user-friendly and useful, allowing you to quickly see pertinent information while it also provides a treasure trove of learning resources.

Starts from $ 1795 per month

Protection: Best Identity Theft Coverage

The next three services provide the best identity theft coverage. That means they offer a combination of good insurance, plenty of learning resources and a sophisticated monitoring system to keep you protected. 

IdentityForce

We gave IdentityForce a 98-percent rating in our review, which is the highest protection score we’ve given to an identity theft protection service. The basic coverage is sound, with IdentityForce monitoring your social security number, bank account information and social media accounts. However, the scope of that monitoring is huge. 

IdentityForce watches court records, payday loan services, sex offender lists and the USPS Change of Address database for any of your information. Additionally, you can view your medical ID in the dashboard to ensure that you’re the only one using your health insurance. 

Even with that protection, the resources stand out most. IdentityForce provides a resource for everything, from resolving automotive disputes to opting out of spam mail. Furthermore, all of those resources are in a single spot. 

While other identity theft protection services wait to see if something will happen, IdentityForce provides proactive tools so there’s a smaller chance in the first place.

Identity Guard

As mentioned, Identity Guard is powered by IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence. Although it may seem like marketing nonsense, Watson is seriously impressive. It’s been used in multiple fields, most notably medicine, where it’s implemented to determine cancer treatment routes. Furthermore, Watson isn’t just monitoring; it’s learning. 

Unlike other tools, Watson can monitor your behavior and use that profile to identify fraudulent activity. As an artificial intelligence, it learns based on the information you input, so it catches information that may fall through the cracks with other services. 

In addition to Watson, Identity Guard also offers a dedicated case manager for your account and notifies you if any relevant data breaches occur. 

Instead of operating on a single plane, Identity Guard offers a multi-layered approach that vastly decreases the likelihood of your identity being stolen. It’s easy to monitor how well you’re protected, too, with your risk management score. 

ID Watchdog

In our review, ID Watchdog received a near-perfect score for its protection. Although the dashboard takes a while to update, you can quickly see what information is being scanned and any alerts after an hour or two. 

In addition to the standard monitoring suite, ID Watchdog also checks your social media accounts, but more than that, it watches for specific activity. 

Your social media accounts are scanned in 14 categories, ranging from alcohol and drug content to racism. You can set the severity for each of those categories, too. For instance, if you’re, say, a bartender and post about alcohol a lot, you can tell ID Watchdog to not alert you when content related to alcohol is posted on your social media.

Like Identity Guard, ID Watchdog combines all of its monitoring into an exposure report. The exposure report relates mostly to social media, letting you know if there’s any information you’re sharing that could put you at risk. It’s not as encompassing as Identity Guard’s risk management score, but it’s still nice to have.

Starts from $ 1795 per month

Support: Best Identity Theft Help

Support and protection are closely related when it comes to identity theft protection. You’ll usually be reaching out to support if anything goes wrong. Because of that, around-the-clock phone support is essential, as is some sort of live chat functionality.

IdentityForce

Given how robust the learning resources are that IdentityForce offers, it should come as little surprise that its support is excellent. The knowledgebase mixes education and support by answering questions about the service and allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of how to protect your identity.

As is true for any good identity theft protection service, IdentityForce provides around-the-clock phone support if you have any issues. Support reps can answer basic questions, but they’re mainly there to help in the event you get an alert that you can’t resolve on your own. If you have a less pressing issue, you can send IdentityForce an email, too.

LifeLock

LifeLock hasn’t received any nods in this guide because it’s overpriced and lacking features. That said, the support is excellent. If you’re unaware, Norton owns LifeLock (read our Norton Security review). Because LifeLock is tied to an antivirus giant, it can take advantage of the robust support system that Norton already has in place.

The knowledgebase is cleanly laid out, there’s a forum where you can ask questions and support reps are available on the phone 24/7. Support is also available in multiple languages. When looking through LifeLock’s social media, we found responses in English, Spanish and even Japanese. 

Speaking of social media, LifeLock answers questions through Twitter and Facebook. Although most identity theft protection services have social media, LifeLock is one of the few that actually responds to user posts. You can read more about that in our LifeLock review.

myFICO

myFICO isn’t really an identity theft protection service. Rather, it’s a full-featured credit monitoring service. Although that bodes poorly for protection, myFICO is in a league of its own when it comes to support. It’s very much an educational tool, and the support mirrors that. myFICO offers multiple resources for learning more about credit and finances. 

Should you encounter any issues, you can reach out through email or phone. However, emails require a two-business-day lead time and phone support is only available during business hours. Thankfully, you can get answers 24/7 through myFICO’s forums.

Although not a suitable replacement for direct support, the forums are very active. Looking through the recent posts, nearly all threads had responses within minutes. You can read more about the forums and the support system in our myFICO review

Starts from $ 1795 per month

Is Identity Theft Protection Worth It?

This is a tough question to answer, as it could be a yes or a no depending on your circumstances. Just so we’re clear, an identity theft protection service doesn’t do anything you can’t do on your own. Outside of providing insurance, you can monitor everything a protection service can. 

That said, doing so will take multiple hours of work each day. Although it’s easy to check your credit here and there, surfing the dark web and pulling the USPS Change of Address database each day isn’t easy. Unless you can harness an AI to do it for you, monitoring each area that an identity theft protection service does isn’t feasible. 

You don’t need identity theft protection, but it’s not a bad idea to have it. Like purchasing insurance, identity theft is a numbers game, so the more you can stack the deck in your favor, the less prone you’ll be to having your identity stolen.

Types of Identity Theft

Although we’ve used “identity theft” as a broad term throughout this guide, there are specific types you should be aware of. Most people are familiar with at least a few types of identity theft, but there are some forms you may never have heard of. 

Account Identity Theft

Account identity theft is the most common form of identity theft. It’s when a criminal gains access to existing accounts you have, be that social media, banks or otherwise. Additionally, this form of identity theft covers criminals opening new accounts in your name. 

Thankfully, it’s easy to spot account identity theft, especially if you monitor your credit and online accounts. Although an identity theft protection service helps with securing your social security number, bank account information and more, account identity theft is usually the result of weak passwords. 

To combat that issue, make sure you use a long, randomly generated password for each account you have. You can generate and store passwords using one of our best password manager picks, such as Dashlane (read our Dashlane review). 

Employment Identity Theft

Employment identity theft is used when a criminal can’t get a job, usually as a result of a criminal record. They’ll use your social security number and personal information to apply for a job in your name. Although they’ll collect the paycheck in your name, you’ll be the one on the hook for paying the income tax each year. 

Tax Identity Theft

Tax identity theft is when a criminal files taxes in your name, receiving whatever tax return is on the table. If you’ve filed your taxes in the U.S. and the IRS has rejected them, it’s possible that someone has already filed them in your name.

Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft is when an attacker receives care using your health insurance. In addition to messing with your medical records, medical identity theft could severely impact your credit. If the bills go unpaid, you’ll be liable for the expenses. Depending on how the attacker used your information, it’s possible that you could go unaware of the bills until they’re in collections. 

Criminal Identity Theft

Finally, criminal identity theft is when someone uses your information for a crime they committed. This usually manifests itself through fake IDs, such as when someone could, say, get a speeding ticket and give the police officer a fake ID with your information. 

How to Report Identity Theft

Reporting identity theft will change based on where you live. Assuming you live in the U.S., reporting isn’t difficult. The website identitytheft.gov provides a simple, three-step process for reporting identity theft. Although that’s the first step you should take in reporting identity theft, it isn’t the last. 

Additionally, you can call the Federal Trade Commission at the Identity Theft Hotline (877-438-4338). There, an agent will help calm your nerves and put together a recovery plan. It’s also a good idea to call the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — to place a fraud alert on your credit record. 

After that, it’s a matter of waiting and hoping the damage isn’t too severe. It’s unlikely a criminal can cause too much trouble if you have an identity theft protection service, though, as you’ll be able to implement these actions immediately after the service detects an issue.

Identity Theft Insurance and Identity Theft Prevention

Most of the above services provide identity theft insurance and prevention. However, it’s important to know the difference between the two. Identity theft insurance covers you in the event your identity is stolen. Any money that’s taken or any out-of-pocket expenses toward restoring your identity are usually covered under the policy. 

Identity theft prevention, on the other hand, attempts to stop that from happening in the first place. Through a series of monitoring services, identity theft prevention keeps you in the loop about where your information is and how it’s being used.

Although the monitoring comes from one of our above picks, you can take part in identity theft prevention, too. There are countless ways to protect yourself, some of which include cross-shredding any important documents, keeping your social media private and installing an antivirus program (read our best antivirus software guide).

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of identity theft protection options, though we don’t recommend some of the more popular ones, such as LifeLock. Based on our research and experience, the two best options are Identity Guard and IdentityForce. Both offer extensive protection and plenty of features, to boot. Although not as inexpensive as, say, ADT, the extra cost is worth it. 

If you’re purchasing for a family or on behalf of a senior, EverSafe is a good option, too. Likewise, we like ID Watchdog’s price

What identity theft protection are you going with? Why did you choose it? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading. 

Starts from $ 1795 per month
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