Best Identity Theft Protection Services iMore 2020
Identity theft is a big, costly problem that affects between 15 million and 60 million Americans annually. Identity theft protection services help keep an eye on black markets, criminal records, credit reports, and other areas and report back to you if your physical or digital identity is compromised. After years of evaluating ID theft services, I can confidently recommend IdentityForce as the best solution for most people with enough eyes on several corners to ensure your identity isn't being used or sold.
- Best Overall: IdentityForce
- Best Value: Identity Guard
- Good for Families: ID Watchdog
- ID Monitoring w/ Antivirus: LifeLock
- Best for Credit Monitoring: ID Freeze by myFICO
Best Overall: IdentityForce
IdentityForce watches so many places to keep a close eye on your identity. This includes court recordings and sex offender registries to make sure your identity isn't being used as an alias. It also checks medical records in case someone used your identity to seek medical attention and have you foot the bill. IdentityForce also looks for thieves using your identity to take out payday loans, open credit cards, or simply change your address on existing bank and credit card accounts.
It is essential to monitor your digital identity, too. IdentityForce watches your email addresses, usernames, and passwords, and lets you know if any have been compromised. This service enables you to update passwords to your accounts and prevent hackers from using your information to send spam messages or trolling. IdentityForce will also let you know if your social media accounts have been cloned.
IdentityForce has programs to monitor your children's identity, too, and for business owners, employee solutions. You can try IdentityForce free for two weeks and up to 30 days, depending on the package you choose, to see if it's something you will benefit from.
IdentityForce has two programs. The first only monitors your identity while the second also monitors your credit. Both packages come with recovery assistance and a $1 million insurance to help restore your identity if stolen. IdentityForce will help contact credit reporting agencies, the IRS, and creditors. However, there are some agencies that ill not speak to third parties and only with your directly. IdentityForce will give you a script to follow with all the information you need to ensure your requests are legal and followed.
- Medical and criminal report monitoring
- Tax identity theft monitoring
- Monitors children's identities
- $1 million recovery insurance
- Credit monitoring costs more
Watching your physical and digital identities closely
IdentityForce looks in more places compared to other services to help keep everything about you private and secure.
Best Value: Identity Guard
Identity Guard assigns a case manager dedicated to you and your family. You receive a risk management score that tells you how secure your identity is and if there is anything you can do, like reduce automatic credit inquiries, unsubscribe to junk mail, or change email passwords, to protect yourself better. Identity Guard has a mobile app to make it easier for you to receive alerts if something needs your attention.
This ID protection program monitors the dark web for both personal and digital identity information being sold or used. It also helps identify and warn you about phishing schemes designed to trick you into providing sensitive information. The Identity Guard browser extension helps block these threats in both email messages and websites.
The basic subscription package of Identity Guard doesn't cost too much and gives you good base protections, but you are locked into a yearly subscription. Identity Guard's other packages add a few more perks. Its middle-tiered subscription will monitor bank accounts for possible takeovers and any requests to open additional accounts in your name. You also get a monthly credit score update. However, credit monitoring is only available with the highest-priced subscription. But even this is much less, cost-wise, compared to other ID monitoring services.
Identity Guard does have recovery assistance if your identity is compromised while it's monitoring your information, along with a $1 million insurance policy to help with the efforts. There are some parts of the recovery that you must do yourself, like contacting the IRS, but Identity Guard will help you fill out the necessary forms and gather information to share with some agencies.
- Good value
- Recovery assistance
- Phishing scheme filters
- Add-on cost for credit monitoring
- Costs more for bank monitoring
Good prices solution
Identity Guard's basic package doesn't cost too much and includes a good number of features to start monitoring your identity.
Good for Families: ID Watchdog
ID Watchdog has both individual and family protections included with its main subscription packages. These include monitoring the dark web for any member's social security number, birth date, or full name being used or sold. This is especially important for children who haven't established credit history and may not discover a breach until they become an adult. This service also looks at sex offender registries and other public records to look for thieves using your identity as aliases.
Other features of this service include monitoring the post office for a change of address requests and making sure it was you who submitted them. It also monitors social media networks for anyone who has hacked or cloned your pages. When there is any suspicious activity, ID Dog will alert you. You can set up custom alerts for what you need immediately and those that can wait for a weekly or monthly report. ID Watchdog has a mobile app to make it easier to receive notices.
If your financial or credit information is ever compromised, ID Watchdog will help freeze your credit, so your score and report aren't affected. This service will also help you reduce junk mail and unsolicited credit inquiries. And if you ever lose your purse or wallet, ID Watchdog will help you track it down and contact banks, credit card companies, and credit bureaus to shut down or change accounts before a thief can use your cards and information.
ID Watchdog doesn't look at medical records for anyone, possibly using your health insurance or your name to get medical assistance and stick you with the bill. Also, its credit monitoring is only through two credit bureaus - TransUnion and Equifax.
- Monitors children's social security numbers
- Help for lost wallet
- Reduces junk mail
- Customized alerts
- Doesn't monitor for medical fraud
- Only monitors two credit bureaus
Good for Families
Individual and family monitoring
ID Watchdog will look after children's identities along with your own to protect your family from ID theft.
ID Monitoring w/ Antivirus: LifeLock
LifeLock has been my personal choice for identity theft because of how much it monitors, its guarantee on its services, and how secure it keeps customer information. If your identity is stolen, LifeLock will work to help you restore it by contacting credit bureaus, creditors and help you contact the IRS and financial institutions with the correct forms. And with a LifeLock subscription, you also get a subscription to Norton antivirus to cover both identity and malware protection.
This id monitoring service looks for thieves using your identity to open bank accounts and credit cards or take out payday loans under your name. It checks medical records and tracks your social security and personal information to make sure no one is changing your address and reaping the rewards of your tax return. LifeLock also checks criminal records to see if anyone has used your name as an alias.
Because you get a subscription to Norton 360 antivirus program, LifeLock is much more effective at spotting and stopping phishing scams that are often designed to look like legitimate offers but are really ways to trick you into providing personal and financial information. LifeLock is also really good at tracking your online identity, including email addresses and usernames. Online identity thieves use this information to open fake accounts on social media or tap into email accounts to send out spam messages.
LifeLock has three different packages available. Most only monitor one credit bureau for any suspicious activity. You can have all three monitored, but this comes with its highest subscription packages, and it comes with a hefty price tag.
- Physical and digital identity monitoring
- Includes antivirus software
- Blocks phishing schemes
- Recovery assistance
- Expensive for three credit bureau monitoring
- Not available separately from Norton
ID Monitoring w/ Antivirus
Stop identity thieves and malware
LifeLock includes Norton antivirus to stop malware and help with detecting phishing schemes and monitor digital identities.
Best for Credit Monitoring: ID Freeze by myFICO
An essential part of keeping on top of identity thieves is monitoring your credit reports from the three top credit bureaus. Changes such as a newly opened bank account, credit card application, and personal loads are added monthly to your reports and affect your overall credit score, also known as a FICO score. MyFICO has a service, ID Freeze, that looks for suspicious activity on your credit reports and will freeze it if there are any changes. Even its basic subscription monitoring for new mortgages and auto loans that can be costly to you if someone opens them in your name.
Your reports from ID Freeze show you graphs of the dips and rises in your credit score along with information for why it changed. You can also get helpful hints for how to improve your credit score, including healthy income to debt ratios and when it is okay to open a new bank account.
ID Freeze updates it reports every month or every other month depending on the package you choose. Its basic subscription-only monitoring one credit bureau, but its other programs monitor all three. These higher-priced subscriptions also include identity monitoring, but not as closely watched as other identity theft monitoring services. And it isn't quick or consistent with reporting changes or issues with either your credit or identity.
If your credit is frozen because of fraudulent activity, ID Freeze will help you restore it. However, because this is a limited identity theft service, it doesn't have the same level of assistance as other companies, like LifeLock or IdentityForce.
- Monitoring credit reports
- Alerts of FICO score changes
- Notifies of new loans or opened accounts
- Help with improving credit report
- Identity theft monitoring costs extra
- Not as helpful with ID recovery
- Inconsistent with reporting and alerts
Best for Credit Monitoring
Extra eyes for your credit
ID Freeze by myFICO is a helpful tool in tracking changes to your FICO score and credit reports. ID monitoring is available.
IdentityForce is the best identity theft monitoring service, though it is quite expensive compared to other monitoring services. But you get in-depth tracking of your personal information, including watching medical records, criminal registries, and tackling tax fraud. IdentityForce alerts you if a new financial account is opened in your name, or a loan is taken out using your identity. It keeps tabs on your digital identity, too, in case your social media accounts or email are compromised.
For families, IdentityForce will monitor your children's identities, too. This is useful and important since kids are the easiest target for identity thieves. There are also business packages for employers to offer this service as a benefit to their employees.
If your identity is stolen, IdentityForce has a $1 million insurance policy that covers the cost of recovering your ID, and this includes helping you freeze accounts and reporting to credit bureaus. While you have to contact the IRS on your own, IdentityForce will walk you through what information needs to be given and help you fill out forms properly and promptly.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Nicole Johnston writes for multiple Future Publishing brands, including iMore, covering primarily internet security and privacy programs. She has over 13 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sector, including seven years of testing and reviewing consumer products and five evaluating antivirus software, parental controls, VPNs, and identity theft services.
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