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7 Best Identity Theft Protection Services of August 2022

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The best identity theft protection services can provide the help you need if your data is compromised. These services monitor your personal information, credit files and the web, alerting you to any suspicious or fraudulent activity. Identity theft protection services can also contact credit bureaus, banks and creditors on your behalf and assist you in restoring your identity, if necessary.

Read on to learn more about identity theft protection and our picks for the best ID theft protection services of August 2022.

Our Top Picks for the Best Identity Theft Protection

Aura – Best for Multiple Devices
Identity Guard – Best for Seniors
LifeLock – Best Features
IdentityForce – Best for Comprehensive Protection
ReliaShield – Best Family Plans
IdentityIQ – Best for Credit Monitoring Services
IDShield – Best for Restoration

Best Identity Theft Protection Reviews

Pros

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Credit monitoring and real-time credit inquiry alerts from each of the three major bureaus</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>VPN, antivirus software and password manager on all plans</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>24/7 US-based case managers and customer service</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans</span></li>

Cons

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Cybersecurity features vary across operating systems</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Basic plan is more expensive than its competitors</span></li>

Why we chose it: We chose Aura as the best identity theft protection for multiple devices because it offers comprehensive monitoring and several online security tools for a larger number of devices.

Aura’s plans are best suited for users who own a lot of personal tech and are looking for the most affordable way to get identity theft protection and cybersecurity software on all of them.

The Individual plan covers up to ten devices, a figure that scales to the number of members on all other plans.

The Couples plan protects two members and covers a total of 20 devices.

The Family plan protects five members and can cover up to 50 devices.

Aura is an excellent identity theft protection service overall: its plans all boast a number of tools to protect your identity and finances, such as a variety of monitoring types and comprehensive credit services. The plans also include malware protection, a VPN, antivirus software, and a password manager to keep you safe online.

Moreover, Aura is a great deal for families, as its Family plan comes with parental controls on mobile devices to keep your children safe by blocking and filtering content, limiting screen time, and tracking internet usage and history.

Paid Monthly
Paid Annually

Individual
$15/mo
$12/mo (billed as $144)

Couple
$29/mo
$22/mo (billed as $264)

Family / Group
$50/mo
$37/mo (billed as $444)

Pros

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify identity threats</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>US-based case managers available to assist with ID recovery</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Risk Management Score measures your identity fraud risk</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Three-bureau credit monitoring and monthly credit score on mid-tier plan</span></li>

Cons

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Credit reports only available with the most expensive plan</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>No credit monitoring on entry-level value plan</span></li>

Why we chose it: We chose Identity Guard as the best identity theft protection for fast alerts because of the promptness of its notifications and use of artificial intelligence to detect threats preemptively.

Identity Guard is an excellent service for seniors, children, victims of data breaches, past ID theft victims and other groups whose identity is more likely to be stolen. The protection service’s most outstanding feature is its scanning platform, which is powered by IBM Watson, an AI supercomputer that can analyze and learn fraud patterns to warn consumers if they are at high risk of identity theft.

The company’s use of AI technology is what allows it to send alerts at record speeds. According to Power Consulting’s 2019 Review of Speed and Coverage Study, Identity Guard customers receive alerts within four minutes of a threat being identified, on average. The same study points out that the company also sends more alerts, on average — nearly 15% more than industry competitors —, which keeps customers aware of their situation and consequently better protected.

Individual Plan
Family Plan

Value
$8.99 per month or $90 ($7.50/mo) with annual subscription
$14.99 per month or $179.88 ($12.50/mo) with annual subscription

Total
$19.99 per month or $200.04 ($16.67/mo) with annual subscription
$23.99 per month or $239.88 ($19.99/mo) with annual subscription

Ultra
$29.99 per month or $300 ($25/mo) with annual subscription
$31.99 per month or $320.04 ($26.67/mo) with annual subscription

Pros

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Bundle with Norton device security, cloud storage and VPN services</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>60-day money-back guarantee (with annual membership)</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>24/7 live customer service support</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Simple, user-friendly interface</span></li>

Cons

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Credit monitoring and reports limited to one bureau on most plans</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Plan rates increases after the first year</span></li>

Why we chose it: We chose LifeLock as the best identity theft protection for features because of the extensive cybersecurity software included in its plans.

LifeLock by Norton is at its best when bundled with Norton 360, a cybersecurity suite designed to provide multiple layers of protection against existing and emerging cyber threats in a single software package. Norton360 includes antivirus and malware protection, parental controls, a password manager and a VPN for five or more devices — depending on your plan — as well as a cloud backup for Windows computers.

LifeLock’s basic plan is not as feature-packed compared to other identity theft services. However, its higher-tier plans include several monitoring services that are not commonly found in identity theft protection packages, such as social media monitoring, payday loan monitoring and bank account takeover alerts.

Altogether Lifelock is the identity theft protection of choice for those who are looking to stay as safe as possible online — just watch out for the service’s rate hike at the end of your first year.

Paid Monthly
Paid Annually (save 15%)

Standard
$8.99/mo 1st year (Renews at $11.99/mo)
$7.50/mo 1st year, ($89.99 upfront, renews at $124.99/yr)

Advantage
$17.99/mo 1st year (Renews at $22.99/mo)
$14.99/mo 1st year, ($179.88 upfront, renews at $239.99/yr)

Ultimate Plus
$23.99/mo 1st year (Renews at $34.99/mo)
$19.99/mo 1st year, ($239.88 upfront, renews at $339.99/yr)

Pros

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Anti-phishing and keylogging software, and a fake network detector</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Unique service add-on designed to combat child identity theft</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Base plan features junk mail opt-out and social media monitoring</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>3-bureau monitoring, reports and scores bundled under one credit plan</span></li>

Cons

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Higher-priced family plans than its competitors</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Monitoring not included</span></li>

Why we chose it: We chose IdentityForce as the best identity theft protection for comprehensive protection because its starting plan includes an extensive selection of monitoring types, alerts and cybersecurity tools.

IdentityForce has two identity theft protection packages to choose from, and neither is particularly inexpensive (unless you find a discount). However, what the plans lack in affordability they more than make up for in features and services.

The company’s Ultrasecure plan includes nearly everything IdentityForce has to offer, including a number of advanced features, such as sex offender monitoring, investment account alerts and medical ID fraud protection, that you’d only see on more expensive packages.

Meanwhile, its credit plan includes credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus and a credit score simulator that you can use to evaluate how certain financial decisions might impact your score.

IdentityForce is also a good choice if you’re looking for child identity theft protection or a comprehensive bundle of credit services. Its ChildWatch add-on features ongoing identity monitoring, a smart SSN tracker and an award-winning social media identity monitoring suite.

Individual Plan
Family Plan

Ultra Secure
$9.99 per month or $99.90 yearly
$24.90 per month or $249.00 yearly

Ultra Secure + Credit
$19.99 per month or $199.90 yearly
$35.90 per month or $359.00 yearly

All annual subscriptions include two free months.

Pros

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Family plans cover all children under 18</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Dark web and neighborhood predator monitoring</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>24/7 customer service and unlimited recovery assistance</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Data breach alerts</span></li>

Cons

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Three-bureau credit monitoring only available on most expensive plan</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Base plan doesn’t include credit monitoring</span></li>

Why we chose it: We chose ReliaShield s the best identity theft protection for family plans because it offers the greatest value for families due to its comprehensive and highly affordable group packages.

ReliaShield family plans cover two adults and start at $14.99 per month, whereas pricing for family identity monitoring plans usually starts at $25 per month. In addition to their competitive pricing, all plans feature five types of monitoring, data breach updates, 24/7 customer and recovery services, as well as wallet protection. All plans also cover children under 18 years for no extra charge, making it ideal for households with a large number of minors.

ReliaShield offers credit report reminders on its starting individual and family plans, but you’ll only find the real credit protection services on its mid and high-tier plans. These services include single or three-bureau credit monitoring, a monthly credit score tracker and credit card application notifications. The company also monitors neighborhood predators and social media, which are important types of protection for families. However, these features are not included on the Essential plan.

Individual Plan
Family Plan

Essential
$7.99 per month or $87.99 yearly
$14.99 per month or $164.89 yearly

Prime
$14.99 per month or $164.99 yearly
$24.99 per month or $274.89 yearly

Elite
$21.99 per month or $241.89 yearly
$34.99 per month or $384.89 yearly

Pros

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Three-bureau credit monitoring and scores on most plans</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Monitors utilities, cell phones and credit applications </span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>US-Based ID restoration service</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Low-cost plan for small budgets</span></li>

Cons

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Limited identity monitoring services compared to competitors</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>No money back guarantee or free trial period</span></li>

Why we chose it: We chose IdentityIQ

as the best identity theft protection for credit monitoring because its wide variety of credit-related services is the most complete and available across most of its four plan tiers.

IdentityIQ will be most effective for consumers whose main concern is their credit safety and health. Although the company’s identity monitoring doesn’t stand out, its plans all feature credit monitoring and tracking in addition to essential identity theft monitoring. Higher tier plans also feature single or three-bureau monitoring, a credit score simulator and score change alerts.

Consumers on a tighter budget may appreciate the company’s wider range of plan options. Its Secure plan is only $6.99 per month — $5.94 with annual payment — and still offers daily credit monitoring and alerts from one credit agency along with dark web monitoring, Social Security number alerts, lost wallet assistance and up to $1 million to cover stolen funds.

Paid Monthly
Paid Annually

Secure
$6.99/mo
$5.94/mo (billed as $71.30)

Secure Plus
$9.99/mo
$8.50/mo (billed as $101.90)

Secure Pro
$19.99/mo
$16.99/mo (billed as $203.90)

Secure Max
$29.99/mo
$25.50/mo (billed as $305.90)

Pros

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Access to in-house licensed private investigators</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Unlimited consulting and restoration services</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Scan your social media for unwanted images and posts</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Monthly credit score tracker </span></li>

Cons

<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>No detailed credit reports provided</span></li>
<li style=”font-weight: 400;” aria-level=”1″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>No discounts on annual plans</span></li>
</ul>

Why we chose it: We chose IDShield as the best identity theft protection for restoration because of its combination of licensed private investigators and affordable three-bureau monitoring.

IDShield is an easy pick as the go-to service for identity restoration due to its use of professional investigators, who will step in to track down the source(s) of fraud. The company offers two plans to individuals and families alike: one for three-bureau monitoring and the other for one-bureau monitoring. If you subscribe to a family plan, a different investigator is assigned to each family member who may be a victim of fraud.

All of IDShield’s plans include dark web surveillance, credit score tracking for one year and credit reporting disputes, as well as a court record, financial account and personal information monitoring.​​ The company also monitors social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and flags problematic posts or comments. However, do note that none of its plans provide detailed credit reports.

Individual Plan
Family Plan

1 Bureau
$14.95/mo or $179.40/yr
$29.95/mo or $359.40/yr

3 Bureau
$19.95/mo or $239.40/yr
$34.95/mo or $419.40/yr

Other identity theft protection services we considered

The following companies are worth mentioning but didn’t make the cut due to factors such as a lack of essential monitoring, scant information on their websites, limited plan availability, and poor mobile functionality.

McAfee Identity Theft Protection Standard

McAfee is a well-known brand in the cybersecurity space, and it’s no surprise that the company has also decided to offer identity theft protection services and tools to consumers. Its most noteworthy features — malware protection, a VPN and a password manager — are mainly geared toward keeping users safe while interacting online. While robust, these features are not enough to offset McAfee’s prohibitive cost and lack of credit-related services, which just barely keep the company out of our top list.

Pros

Extensive dark web monitoring — over 600,000 dark websites
Parental controls with family plan
30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

Lack of information on credit monitoring services
Only yearly plans available

Zander Insurance

Zander Insurance is by far one of the most affordable identity theft protection services out there, with a starting plan of just $6.75 per month for individuals and $12.90 per month for families. These low rates come at a cost, though: the service is stripped down to the basics and lacks the credit monitoring services that many other identity theft protection plans include.

Pros

24/7/365 customer and recovery services
Computer security tools included in premium plan
Affordable individual and family plans

Cons

Limited credit reporting and no 3-bureau credit monitoring

No social media monitoring
No mobile app alerts

Experian Identityworks

Backed by one of the largest credit bureaus in the world, Experian Identityworks offers affordable and robust plans, which are supplemented by a 30-day free trial, make it easy to recommend for most consumers. Even so, Identityworks lacks outstanding features, and its shaky record of satisfaction with customer support kept it out of our top picks.

Pros

30-day free trial
Dark web monitoring
3-bureau credit monitoring and FICO(R) score alerts and simulator

Cons

Fraud insurance with base plan only covers up to $500,000

ID Watchdog

ID Watchdog is a useful service that, like several others on this list, checks all of the boxes when it comes to the essentials of identity theft protection. It features a fairly robust toolset for combating identity theft, provides educational information to users and has a top-tier plan that is more affordable than those of many competing companies. ID Watchdog doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but maybe it doesn’t need to — we can certainly recommend it, although we’d suggest picking a service that more directly addresses your needs.

Pros

1-bureau monitoring on base plan, 3-bureau on premium plan

Child Credit Lock to protect your minor against credit fraud

Social media monitoring included with all plans

High-risk transactions and public records monitoring

Cons

No credit report or score with base plan
Family plan only allows up to four children

PrivacyGuard Total Protection

PrivacyGuard is unique in that it offers identity and credit monitoring services independent of each other. Both its identity protection and credit protection plans cover all the bases of their respective fields, meaning that consumers interested in only one type of service can avoid paying for the other. Users interested in a more comprehensive service should note that PrivacyGuard’s mixed service is quite expensive — though it does offer some unique features not seen elsewhere.

Pros

Monthly credit reports and scores from all three bureaus
Up to $1 million in compensation if your identity is stolen
Public and dark web scanning

Cons

3-bureau daily credit monitoring is expensive

Doesn’t offer family plans

No social media monitoring

Identity Theft Protection Guide

Identity theft is more common than ever: in 2021 alone, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly 1.4 million reports of identity theft.

Identity theft protection services help monitor your personal and financial information across the internet and notify you whenever it might’ve been used fraudulently by someone else. However, these services only detect suspicious activity, and they can’t prevent your information from being stolen and misused in the first place.

To protect yourself from identity theft and improve your cybersecurity game, it’s important to know how to identify and avoid potential scams.

How does identity theft protection work?

Identity theft protection services work on an alert-based system. They monitor the web for signs of your personal information where it shouldn’t be — the dark web, social media, court or arrest records, payday loan applications — and send you a notification via one or more channels if they find anything suspicious. Many ID theft protection services also feature credit monitoring and computer security tools and may cover some of the costs resulting from identity fraud.

Types of identity theft scams

Identity theft comes in many forms, and not all of them consist of a malicious hacker on the other side of the screen waiting for you to write your password.

Phishing

Identity thieves can trick you into sharing private information by using emails or text messages that look like they’re from legitimate companies, such as banks, online stores, social media sites or streaming services. These so-called phishing messages usually urge you to click a link and take immediate action regarding a blocked account or outdated payment information, for example. They may also ask you to download attachments that infect your device.

Formjacking

With formjacking, hackers insert malicious code into legitimate website forms, with the aim of copying your billing information or login credentials without arousing suspicion.

Make sure the websites you visit are secure by checking that their address begins with “https” and features a small lock. Note that this isn’t fool-proof, as sophisticated hackers can include these safety measures in formjacked websites.

Physical document theft

Don’t carry your Social Security card, passport and other important documents in your wallet, purse or car unless necessary. Make sure to shred documents that contain personal information, such as bank statements and utility bills, before disposing of them.

Data breaches

A data breach is when someone gains access to your devices or a business’ database without authorization. With a data breach, cybercriminals can steal names, dates of birth, home and email addresses, passwords, credit cards, driver’s licenses or even SSNs.

Not all data breaches can be avoided, but there are some things you can do to reduce your data breach risk, namely using distinct passwords for different accounts and enabling two-step authentication when possible.

Other kinds of identity theft

Some methods for stealing a person’s identity consist of exploiting specific types of documents, such as medical, investment, and tax documents. A thief could also compile several pieces of information to create a fake version of you.

Synthetic identity theft

Cybercriminals might create new identities by combining real personal information with fake data. For example, they may use a real Social Security number and a false name to apply for a loan.

Child identity theft

Scammers can steal a child’s personal information and use it to open bank accounts, credit cards, or apply for loans, for example. Most of the time, this goes unnoticed until years later when the affected individual tries to obtain a job, car insurance or a new credit card.

Medical identity theft

Your information could also be used to obtain health insurance or to submit false claims to Medicare and other insurers. This type of fraud may also involve a scammer using your health insurance to visit a doctor or get a prescription. There have even been cases where the scammer’s and the victim’s health records are mixed up, leading to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment.

Tax identity theft

A scammer that gets access to your Social Security number can use it to file a fraudulent tax return and collect the refund before you do. Most people become aware of this type of theft when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flags their tax return as a duplicate.

Types of identity theft protection services

Identity theft protection companies help you monitor your private information across the internet and spot scams early on.

The most common features of identity protection services are:

Credit report monitoring

ID theft protection services monitor your credit report from one or all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — depending on the service plan you choose. They alert you to any changes in your personal and financial information such as a new home address or loan application, and so can help you detect fraud before it impacts your credit report.

Some credit repair services will assist you in the process of recovering your ID, and insure you against losses arising from ID theft and related fraud. (If you’ve already been the victim of identity theft, and there is inaccurate information in your credit history, make sure to check out our guide to the best credit repair companies).

Identity monitoring

ID theft protection services monitor websites, the dark web, databases and criminal or public records for signs that your personal information is being shared or used by fraudsters. They usually track your Social Security number, driver’s license, passport, home address, email, phone number and bank accounts.

For example, an ID theft protection company will notify you if your Social Security is used to file a suspicious tax refund or if your email address and password were exposed in a data breach and are now available on the dark web.

Identity recovery services

If your identity is compromised, good ID theft protection companies will provide professional assistance to help you recover your identity and secure your accounts. These restoration services include contacting government agencies, requesting a credit freeze, and helping you write letters to creditors and debt collectors.

You can also dispute your credit report. However, hiring a company to do so can save you some time and effort.

Fraud insurance

Identity theft services in our list offer fraud insurance coverage ranging from $20,000 to $1 million. This is especially useful for seniors at risk of identity theft, who are often the target of identity fraud. This compensation is meant to cover out-of-pocket expenses such as legal fees or lost wages related to recovering your identity. Bear in mind that identity theft insurance won’t reimburse you for any stolen money or financial loss.

Cybersecurity Software

Many ID theft protection services now include additional tools designed to protect your personal information online, such as VPNs, antivirus software and password managers. How useful these are will vary depending on your personal Internet use. For example, you may need a VPN if you work in a sensitive field where your online actions must be kept private from internet service providers.

If you want to know more about VPNs and antivirus software, or would like to pick one out yourself, take a look at our best VPN services and best antivirus software pages.

How to prevent identity theft

Here are some recommendations if you want to know how to protect your identity from theft and fraud:

Create strong passwords. Avoid sequential letters and numbers like “1234” or “abcd.” Instead, use random sequences that include punctuation marks and letters in both lowercase and uppercase
Don’t reuse passwords. If a reused password is exposed in a data breach, hackers would get access to all of the accounts with the same login credentials. Consider getting a password manager, which generates strong passwords for you and stores them in an encrypted format, if you’re having issues remembering your passwords. (For more on this type of software, read our article about the best password managers.)
Avoid carrying around your Social Security card. Be it in your purse, wallet or car, don’t bring it with you unless it’s absolutely necessary. Also, don’t share personal details like SSNs, bank account numbers, driver’s license, and birth dates through text messages, email or social media.
Request copies of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. Keep an eye out for new accounts or loan applications you don’t recognize. Make sure to check your monthly credit card bills and bank statements for unauthorized charges, as well.
Request fraud alerts from your credit bureaus. This way, banks and other financial institutions can contact you and verify your information before approving new accounts. If you know how to freeze your credit, you should ask the three national credit bureaus to do so in order to prevent new accounts from being opened in your name until the freeze is lifted.
Protect your Internet-connected devices. You can do this by installing antivirus software and enabling two-step factor authentication when available, which gives your accounts an extra layer of protection.
Watch out for phishing attempts. When you receive an email asking for personal information or requesting you click on a link, check for spelling and grammatical errors, and hover over the sender’s name to reveal the full email address.
Protect your physical information. Shred receipts, account statements and expired credit and debit cards before disposing of them.
Collect your mail every day. If you’re going on vacation, make sure to place a hold on your mail (you can do this online at USPS.com), or have somebody pick it up on a regular basis.

Where could identity theft access your personal information?

Identity thieves can access your personal information in a number of ways: some physical, some digital. They may dig through mail or trash in search of credit card or bank statements, fill out a change-of-address form to forward your mail to them and steal your wallet or its contents.

Cybercriminals can also phish for information with fake emails or text messages, obtain your information through unsecured websites or public Wi-Fi and steal electronic records exposed due to a data breach.

How to choose an identity theft protection service

Choosing the right identity theft protection service comes down to three key elements: alerts, monitoring, and restoration.

First, look at the alerts that each ID theft protection service will send you if it suspects your identity has been stolen. Review if you need alerts for more niche cases and on how many devices you want to install the software.
Then, consider the types of monitoring you need. Some people just want essential monitoring, while others may be looking for specialized services, such as social media and investment monitoring.
Lastly, single out each company’s identity restoration package. It should include features such as stolen funds reimbursement, personal expense compensation, and coverage for lawyers in the event your identity is used fraudulently.

How to report identity theft

Reporting identity theft starts by filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov or calling 1-877-438-4338. Once you fill out the FTC report, you may also file a police report, especially if you have an idea of who may be behind the crime. The documents you’ll need for this include:

A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, which helps with recovering your identity and shows businesses that someone stole your identity

A government-issued photo ID, such as your driver’s license or passport

Your physical address and proof thereof, such as a mortgage statement or utility bill

Proof of identity theft (unfamiliar bills, recurrent credit checks, notices from the IRS, etc.)

To prevent damage to your credit, you should also contact your bank and credit card issuer, and place a fraud alert at one of the three following credit bureaus:

Experian (Experian.com/fraudalert | 1-888-397-3742)
TransUnion (TransUnion.com/fraud | 1-800-680-7289)
Equifax (Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance | 1-888-766-0008)

The credit bureau you notify of the situation must then tell the other two so they are all aware of the ongoing case.

When it comes to phishing emails, you can forward them to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at [email protected] Text messages can be forwarded to SPAM (7726). Remember to report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Latest News on Identity Theft Protection

With hackers and identity thieves as rampant as ever, freezing credit is an essential tool to prevent identity fraud and other related crimes. However, an alarming number of consumers still have not used this tool to prevent identity theft. Read Money’s article on a recent survey published by the Identity Theft Resource Center to learn more about credit freezes.

Crypto scams on social media have become more numerous due to the growth of cryptocurrencies during 2021. According to a recent report from the FTC, about half of all people who reported crypto fraud since last year linked their loss to a scam they encountered on social media. That same report found that Instagram accounted for most fraud cases among all social media platforms identified in crypto fraud reports.

ID Theft Protection FAQ

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when somebody steals your personal information and uses it to commit fraud — whether by opening accounts in your name, applying for credit, filing taxes, or getting medical services, to name just a few.

How should you respond to the theft of your identity?

The first thing you should do if your identity is stolen is to notify the company or agency that issued your stolen credentials. You should then put a freeze or fraud alert on your credit and report the theft to the FTC.

Lastly, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. During this process, you’ll want to ask for copies of your credit reports for evaluation, clean up your personal accounts and inspect your bank and credit card statements.

Do police investigate identity theft?

Many credit report agencies and creditors encourage consumers to notify the authorities if they believe their identity has been stolen. While doing so is an essential step in the process, the reality is that the police rarely investigate identity theft due to the nature of this type of crime.

Filing a report with the authorities supports your case as a victim in the long run, but you should keep your expectations low when it comes to the police taking matters into their own hands.

Is identity theft protection worth it?

You can protect yourself from ID theft by practicing basic security measures, but an identity protection service can offer some peace of mind — even more so if you have an overwhelming amount of online and financial accounts. ID protection services do the heavy lifting for you by looking for possible exposure of your personal information and spotting instances when your data might have been used fraudulently. This makes ID theft protection especially worthwhile for individuals who don’t actively monitor their own credit.

How do I check for identity theft?

You can take several measures to verify if someone has stolen your identity. You should first check your credit card statements and bank account warning signs, such as unauthorized transactions and new accounts under your name.

You should also request a credit report if your credit score is behaving strangely or if you cannot prequalify for a loan or apply for a credit card when you usually could.

How We Chose the Best Identity Theft Protection

The best identity theft protection service should offer more than just the essentials: it should come with a comprehensive variety of identity and credit monitoring services across its plans and provide a robust identity restoration package. Ideally, it should also offer cybersecurity tools that help protect your information online to prevent your data from being stolen in the first place.

We evaluated each provider’s monitoring and alerts services, reimbursement policies, customer service and additional cybersecurity software to establish which companies offered the best identity theft protection services.

Monitoring and Alerts – We favored services that surveil a wide range of items — home titles, the dark web, payday loans, court records, etc. — while giving special mention to those with niche and unique types of monitoring. The best identity theft protection services send you real-time alerts via email and SMS text messaging when breaches are detected. To that end, the companies we chose all have iOS and Android mobile apps to make communication easier.

Identity Restoration – Identity theft protection packages should always include some level of fraud insurance, which can reimburse you for any legal fees incurred during the identity restoration process. Ideally, they will also have experts who can guide you through the process and contact financial institutions and government agencies on your behalf.

Cybersecurity Tools – Although seen merely as extras or embellishments to identity theft protection by some, cybersecurity software is one of the best tools to avoid having your identity stolen nowadays. The digital age has made VPNs, password managers, malware detectors and antivirus indispensable tools in the fight against ID theft, and we favored services that include them across most of their plans.

Summary of Money’s 7 Best Identity Theft Protection of August 2022

Aura – Best for Multiple Devices
Identity Guard – Best for Seniors
LifeLock – Best Features
IdentityForce – Best for Comprehensive Protection
ReliaShield – Best Family Plans
IdentityIQ – Best for Credit Monitoring Services
IDShield – Best for Restoration

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