Best Overall Value
IdentityForce is the #1 rated identity theft protection provider for businesses and consumers alike and was just acquired by EZShield. This means you now have the benefit of two identity theft service powerhouses with the most secure capabilities and rapid restoration services available. IdentityForce has been in business for 40 years, has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, and is highly respected in the identity theft services industry, as well as with their customers.
IdentityForce offers two identity theft protection plans that range from $17.99/mo. or $179.90/yr. to $23.99/mo. or $239.90/yr. plus a ChildWatch plan you can add on. Additionally, when paying annually, you will receive a discount off the monthly rate.
IdentityForce offers a wide variety of services that include credit report monitoring, advanced fraud monitoring, change of address monitoring, court record monitoring, dark web monitoring, payday loan monitoring, sex offender monitoring, and social media identity monitoring. They also have helpful alert services such as bank and credit card activity alerts, a social security number tracker, change of address alert, court record alert, fraud alert reminders, identity threat alerts, payday loan alerts, fraud alerts, and sex offender alerts, depending on which package you choose. Additionally, they offer credit score monitoring and a wide variety of privacy tools, not to mention a million dollar (amount varies depending on your plan) identity theft insurance package that includes fully managed restoration services and a stolen funds replacement policy. Read our full review of IdentityForce here.
LifeLock has been in business since 2005 and is a leader in the identity protection services industry. They have more than 4.4 million members, offer a full suite of identity protection services, have an award-winning restoration team, and an up to one million dollar protection package that includes a stolen funds reimbursement feature.
LifeLock offers three different identity theft protection plans ranging from $9.99/mo. to $19.99/mo. plus applicable sales tax. They also have a LifeLock Junior that you can add-on to your plan for $5.99/mo. or $65.99 annually.
LifeLock offers a variety of identity theft protection services such as up to a million dollar protection package, stolen funds reimbursements, personal expense compensation, coverage for lawyers and experts, a U.S. based restoration team, social security number and credit alerts, lost wallet protection, USPS address change verification, dark web monitoring, and credit bureau monitoring.
They also offer bank and credit card activity alerts, alerts on crimes that are committed in your name, data breach notifications, fictitious identity monitoring, up to three annual credit reports, monthly credit score tracking from one bureau, 401(k) and investment activity alerts, bank account takeover and new account alerts, file-sharing network searches, sex offender registry reports, and priority live member support, depending on which package you choose. Read our full review of LifeLock here.
Identity Guard was founded by Intersections Inc. in 1996 and has proactively transformed their business model to make sure their customers are effectively covered for the most recent identity theft trends. This is apparent with their introduction of Identity Guard with Watson which is the world’s most recognizable artificial intelligence program. Additionally, Identity Guard’s services have also been recognized in the Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll by the Online Trust Alliance for six consecutive years for implementing the best practices in data security and privacy.
Identity Guard offers three individual plans that range from $8.99/mo. to $24.99/mo. and three family plans that range from $14.99/mo. to $34.99/mo. The family plans cover every member of your household for the same monthly price; however, there are no individual child plan options available.
Identity Guard has a wide variety of services, some of which other identity theft protection companies don’t offer. They offer IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence, $1 million in insurance with stolen funds reimbursement, U.S. based dedicated case managers, risk management score, an online identity dashboard, and a mobile application. They also have a wide variety of alerts which include dark web detection, high-risk transactions, monthly credit score, 3-credit bureau change notifications, bank account takeovers, requests to open checking or savings accounts in your name, your child’s information found on the dark web, and if a potential cyberbullying threat is found on social media. Additionally, they offer an anti-phishing mobile app, safe browsing extension, and a social insight report.
What Is the IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence Feature?
The IBM Watson AI feature monitors, processes, and analyzes billions of pieces of personal information and will alert you if it detects any potential threats to your identity. Read our full review of Identity Guard here.
ID Watchdog uses proprietary technology to search billions of data points so it can detect any potential threats and alert you of any changes in your personal identity profiles. ID Watchdog has been in business for 13 years and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Additionally, they have been recognized by the Consumer Federation of America as one of the most valuable identity theft protection services available.
ID Watchdog offers two identity theft protection plans that range from $14.95/mo. to $19.95/mo. They don’t specifically advertise any child plans; however, you might be able to have one customized if you contact them about it specifically. Additionally, they offer varying reduced rates if you pay for your service annually versus monthly.
ID Watchdog has a variety of protection and monitoring services such as basic identity monitoring, social security number monitoring, change of address, non-credit monitoring (pay-day loans, rent-to-own, utilities, etc.), public records, high-risk transactions, internet black market and hacker forums, and cyber monitoring of other sources that buy, sell, trade, and distribute your personal information. They also offer a 100% resolution guarantee and have Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialists (CITRMS) who will work with you to restore your identity if it’s ever stolen. And, if you opt for the upper tier plan, ID Watchdog will monitor all three credit bureau reports versus one as is the case with the lower tier plan. Read our full review of ID Watchdog here.
Zander Insurance has been in business for 91 years and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They have a 96% customer satisfaction rating and are endorsed by Dave Ramsey, Rachel Cruze, and recommended by Forbes. And, they offer some of the least expensive identity theft protection plans in the industry, not to mention that their family plan includes free coverage for your kids. Additionally, Zander Identity Theft has a 100% recovery success rate.
Zander Insurance offers two identity theft protection plans that range from $6.75/mo. or $75/yr. to $12.90/mo. or $145/yr. with the latter amount being the discounted rate if you pay annually versus monthly. And, their family plan includes coverage for every one of your children under the age of 18 at no additional cost.
This company doesn’t offer credit report monitoring; however, they do offer a wide variety of other types of identity theft monitoring such as financial fraud, medical ID theft, tax fraud, criminal ID theft, social security fraud, child ID theft, benefits and employment fraud, and title fraud. So as you can see, Zander Insurance is well worth the price even without the credit report monitoring which is easy to do yourself.
Zander Insurance will also email you identity theft and change alerts if anything is detected. Additionally, their services also include unlimited recovery, a $1 million stolen funds and reimbursement, including any funds that are stolen from your bank account. And, Zander also boasts a 100% recovery success rate. Read our full review of Zander here.
Do the features in any given identity theft protection service really matter?
YES! Features do matter, they matter a lot! You never want to find out you have been a victim of identity theft, then find out that your plan doesn’t cover your specific scenario. Or worse, doesn’t have the coverage or the expertise needed to help you recover from an identity theft incident.
Always look for the features you need for your particular situation when searching for the best identity theft service. For example, if you don’t have kids, then you don’t need to look for services that include identity theft protection for kids. Or, if your funds are limited, buy an identity theft protection service that only offers limited services rather than skipping it altogether. Some coverage is better than no coverage at all and you can always upgrade or change services later when your financial situation improves.
Common features in the identity theft protection industry. These features vary from company to company, but these are the most common.
Every person and every family will have varying needs when it comes to identity theft protection coverage. Therefore, you should take some time to learn the different facets of identity theft so you are better able to select a plan that covers all your specific individual needs.
Should I have social security number monitoring?
Yes, everyone, including your kids’, should have social security number monitoring because your social security number is required for just about everything such as the doctor’s office, credit applications, employment applications, insurance applications—everything; therefore, it is more likely to be stolen because it’s everywhere and not everyone who collects your social security number for business purposes protects it properly.
What are the options to protect my credit and finances?
There are several ways to protect your credit and finances. You can monitor your credit reports and FICO score yourself or pay a service to do it for you, preferably both. You should also shred all documents with your personal information on it, regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for irregularities, never give out any personal financial information or numbers, use computer protection software, make sure your Wi-Fi is properly encrypted, never access your bank account or use your credit cards while using public Wi-Fi, file your tax returns as soon as you receive them so no one can file sooner than you and steal your refund.
Am I comfortable with the ongoing costs of identity theft protection?
To answer this question, you have to ask yourself what are the ongoing costs of identity theft protection going to cost me? Then ask yourself what will it cost you if you don’t have identity theft protection and your identity is stolen? EXACTLY! If you don’t have identity theft protection and your identity is stolen, you might not be able to get everything handled properly if at all. An identity theft protection service, even the most basic of services have a team of experts who know exactly what to do to help you recover from this event and many of them also have a stolen funds reimbursement feature. If you don’t have identity theft protection, will you be able to afford to lose all your money along with your personal information—perhaps for years to come? There’s your answer.
Do I need identity theft insurance coverage?
Yes, you do! Identity theft insurance coverage could be the only thing that helps you survive—literally— through this event. If your identity is stolen, will you know how to fix it yourself? And what if all your money is stolen, including your savings, what would you do for money? Most identity theft protection services provide you with stolen funds reimbursement and some even give you emergency cash to help you get by temporarily if all your money has been drained from your bank accounts.
Should I consider monthly credit score reporting?
Yes, you should consider monthly credit score reporting. Why? Because keeping an eye on your credit score is just another way to protect yourself from identity theft getting too far. If you see your credit score go up or down significantly in any given timeframe, this could be an indication that your personal information has probably been compromised. Early detection will help you prevent the event from going any further because once detected, you can put a freeze on your credit reports, contact your financial institutions and retailers asking them to stop all further transactions and close your account if necessary, etc.
Do I need a family plan?
Whether or not you need a family plan will depend on if you have a family or if the protection is just for yourself. Some identity theft protection services will offer you a discounted rate if you enroll your kids and/or spouse in their services at the same time. However, with that being said, if you have kids, you definitely need a family plan because identity theft doesn’t just happen to adults. In fact, criminals love to use a child’s identity because they know it will probably be several years before the crime is detected. This is because young children don’t apply for credit, etc. which is when most identity theft incidents are found.
Are social media accounts monitored as well?
Some identity theft protection companies monitor social media accounts and some don’t; therefore, if that’s something you want, you’ll need to look for that feature when deciding on which company to choose. Social media pages are a prime target for identity thieves because they contain a wealth of personal information about you that will help them use your identity. For example, your maiden name, where you were born, your kids and pets’ names, etc. Additionally, some identity theft protection companies also offer cyberbullying monitoring which often happens on social media websites so that’s another important feature to look for especially if you have kids.
Is my identity monitored for on the Black Market and Dark Web?
Most identity theft protection companies these days do monitor the Black Market and Dark Web for your personal information. However, not all of them do so it’s best to confirm that the company you choose does, in fact, offer that service before you sign-up.
What happens if I have identity theft protection and my identity is stolen?
If you have identity theft protection and your personal information is stolen and/or used fraudulently, contact your identity theft protection company immediately. Most of them have 24/7 support and recovery services available to you, as well as some type of identity theft insurance, stolen funds replacement, and some of them even offer emergency cash for your immediate expenses.
Here is a list of common identity theft protections and how they work to protect you.
Social security number monitoring uses technology to search public information, the dark web, and commonly used places to see if your general identity is being used or sold. It will also look for address change verifications and other places where your social security number is needed to fraudulently use your identity.
Financial monitoring uses technology to search public information, 401ks, bank transactions, payday loans, investments, and other commonly used places to detect if your personal information is being used, bought, or sold.
Criminal monitoring uses technology to search public information, court records, sex offender registration, and other commonly used places to see if your name or personal information has been used in a crime or for other criminal purposes such as using your identity to avoid incarceration, etc.
Credit monitoring uses technology to detect changes in the three major credit bureaus, as well as changes, up or down, in your credit score. Some companies offer monitoring of one, two, or all three credit bureaus. It will usually depend on the protection package you have selected.
Dark web monitoring, also known as cyber monitoring, uses technology to continually scour the dark web, hacker forums, and fraudulent websites where stolen personal information is bought and sold.
Social media monitoring uses technology to scour social media websites, hacker forums, and the dark web to see if the information on those pages has been scraped, then bought, sold, or is being fraudulently used. Once scraped, that information is commonly used to set up fraudulent social media pages with the intent of being used for criminal purposes.
You should be mindful about the information you post on your social media pages. Criminals frequently use social media pages to gather personal information about you so they can use your identity.
For example, how many of you post your maiden name, where you work(ed), where you were born, talk about your pets, kids, or favorite foods, etc. on your social media pages? Think about the two-factor authentication questions a bank or financial institution uses to verify that you are really you when you log in. So if you post that type of information on your social media pages, most of the answers to those questions can be easily found there. That’s why you should avoid posting any personal information that could make it easy for a criminal to find and use to steal your identity and your money.
About the above information on which identity theft protection features that matter most to you:
If your personal information is detected in any one or more of the above-mentioned circumstances, your identity theft protection company will notify you and advise you as to what you need to do to avoid any further damage. They will then put you in touch with one of their restoration experts who will help fix any damage that was done to help get your name and credit cleared and restored.
The last thing you need every month is another bill…right? But what if that bill could keep you from the nightmare of losing your identity (or your kids identity), potentially losing a bunch of money, not being able to buy a home (or anything else), and years, if not a lifetime, of criminal proceedings and financial struggle…would you be willing to pay that bill? You decide!