Child identity theft is a growing problem in the U.S. In fact, according to CyLab, children are 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to protect your child’s identity just like you would your own. There are a variety of great identity theft protection services for children and many of them are available as add-ons to an adult policy and others can be purchased individually. So let’s talk about the best identity theft protection services for children in 2019.
1. Identity Guard
Identity Guard is a Delaware corporation that has been offering identity theft protection since 1996 and during that time they have protected more than 47 million customers throughout the U.S. They have partnered with some of the biggest names in the financial industry and have helped resolve more than 140 thousand cases of stolen identities and fraud. Additionally, they have been recognized in the Online Trust and Honor Roll for the last six consecutive years for implementing the best practices in data security and privacy. Identity Guard goes beyond the basic identity theft protection services. They also offer protection services for their customers’ financial and personal information, computer, privacy, and more
- Family plan covers all adults and children living in the same household
- Dark web monitoring
- One million insurance w/stolen funds reimbursement
- Internet protection included
- IBM Watson (artificial intelligence)
- Social security number monitoring
- Social insight report and cyberbullying alerts (depending on your plan)
- Child plans can only be purchased under family plan (not separately)
- Credit reports only offered with upper tier package
Identity Guard offers three family plans that cover all adults and children who live in the same household. The Family Value plan is $14.99/mo., the Family Total plan is $29.99/mo., and the Family Premier plan is $34.99/mo.
All the following features are included depending on which plan you choose. Identity Guard offers IBM Watson (AI), up to $1 million insurance w/stolen funds reimbursement, U.S.-based dedicated case managers, your risk management score, an online identity dashboard, and a mobile app. You will also receive alerts for dark web exposure, possible threats detected by Watson AI, your monthly credit score, 3-bureau credit changes, bank takeovers, request to open a checking or savings account in your name, 3-bureau credit reports, your child’s information on the dark web, and potential social media cyberbullying. Identity Guard also provides you with protection tools such as an anti-phishing mobile app, safe browsing extension, and a social insight report.
LifeLock is one of the most recognized identity theft protection services in the industry and has been since 2005. They offer Norton internet security along with their other services, and they have thousands of 4.5-Star user reviews. LifeLock uses proprietary technology to scan hundreds of millions of data points to monitor for possible threats to your (and your child’s) identity. And, they offer a million dollar protection package. Additionally, they were named in the 2016 Online Trust Honor Roll while being recognized for their excellence in customer protection and data security, among other things.
- Up to $1 million protection package
- Norton Internet Security included at no charge
- Proprietary technology for hundreds of millions of data points
- Lawyers and experts provided when needed
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Comes with a mobile app
- Dark web and privacy monitoring
- Live member support only available on upper tier package
- Additional family member coverage must be purchased separately which drives up the cost
- LifeLock Junior only available with adult membership
- Not accredited with the Better Business Bureau
LifeLock offers three protection plans and a LifeLock Junior plan for children. Each person is required to purchase a separate protection plan and the LifeLock Junior is only available with an adult protection plan. The plans include a Standard plan for $9.99/mo. plus tax, an Advantage plan for $19.99/mo. plus tax, an Ultimate Plus plan for $29.99/mo., and a LifeLock Junior plan (child plan) for $5.99/mo. or $65.99/yr.
The LifeLock plans come with up to a $1 million protection package, stolen funds reimbursement, personal expense compensation, coverage for lawyers and other identity theft protection experts, U.S.-based identity restoration experts, 24/7 live member support, reduced pre-approved credit card offers, lost wallet protection, reduced personal information exposure, the LifeLock Identity Alert system, scans for personal information for service and credit applications, dark web monitoring, USPS address change verifications, fake personal information related to your identity, scans for criminal arrest and court booking records, large-scale data breaches, cash withdrawals/transfers/large purchases from your credit/checking/savings accounts, and new bank account applications.
They also monitor your personal information for takeover or new names added to your bank accounts, investment/401(k) activity, and scan for your personal information on file-sharing networks. This is especially important because children frequently share music, pictures, and many other files. LifeLock Junior actively searches those networks for your child’s personal information. You will also receive an annual credit report and score, and credit monitoring for one to three bureaus.
All of the above is offered and the cost will depend on which protection plan you choose.
IdentityForce has been in business for more than 40 years and is highly respected in the industry. Additionally, IdentityForce has recently been acquired by EZShield, and they offer two identity theft protection plans with family plan options available.
They also offer an award-winning Social Media Identity Monitoring Suite, which is particularly important when you are talking about identity theft protection services for children in 2019. Criminals frequently use social media websites to target and befriend young users so they can get to know them, which makes it easier for them to steal your child’s personal information. This is because it gives them easy access to the security question answers.
- Available as an add-on to an adult service
- ChildWatch offered for free to businesses that provide IdentityForce as an employee benefit
- Suspicious activity alerts
- Identity monitoring
- SSN tracker (different name, address, etc. associated with child’s SSN)
- Award-winning Social Media Identity Monitoring Suite
- Fully-managed restoration and recovery services
- $1 million in identity theft protection insurance
- Free trial period has to be manually canceled (it’s not automatic)
- Services are slightly more expensive than others (but you get more services)
IdentityForce offers two protection packages and a ChildWatch option that can be added on to either of the following adult packages. The UltraSecure option is $17.99/mo. or $179.90/yr. and the UltraSecure+Credit option is $23.99/mo. or $239.90/yr.
IdentityForce has in recent years been named best-in-class by Javelin Strategy & Research outranking many other providers. Additionally, IdentityForce has some on the most comprehensive coverage in the industry. They offer credit monitoring, advanced fraud monitoring, court records monitoring, dark web monitoring, payday loan monitoring, sex offender monitoring, social media monitoring, medical ID fraud protection, two-factor authentication, up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, and fully-managed restoration. They also offer a variety of alerts such as a social security tracker, identity threat alerts, fraud alert reminders, and more if you subscribe to the upper tier plan which you can then add-on the ChildWatch option.
Why Are Children Often the Targets of Identity Theft?
When people think of identity theft, they usually associate it with adults and their social security numbers, credit card data, and other personal online database information. That all makes sense because adults are the ones with credit and other online information that can be used to steal their money and perform other fraudulent acts…right? Well, yes and no. Yes in that adults are the ones that use their credit and generally kids, especially young kids, don’t.
So why would a hacker be so interested in a child’s personal information if there’s nothing built on it? Yep. It looks like you just answered your own question without knowing it.
A child’s identity is actually preferred by hackers over an adult’s identity. Why?
Because while a child might have a social security number, they probably don’t have much of anything else. This in itself makes a child the perfect victim. When a hacker steals a child’s personal information, it’s easier for them to use it because it has never been used for financial purposes and there is not much identifying information on it other than a name. It’s basically a blank canvas ready to be used, without suspicion, for fraudulent purposes such as adding a false name, address, etc. to that social security number. Once they set that up, a thief can open credit cards, retail accounts, buy vehicles and other large purchases—pretty much anything and everything they want to do. And, since a child probably won’t be using their credit for their own purposes for many years, that gives the thief a big window of opportunity in which to perform a wide variety of crimes with it before the fraudulent activity is discovered.
That’s why it’s so important for parents to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to protecting their child’s identity just as much, if not more so than their own.
How Hackers Find and Steal a Child’s Personal Information?
Unfortunately, a child’s personal information is stored on many online databases, even if you didn’t put it there. For example, school databases, medical offices, clubs/extracurricular activities, etc. And even though many of these institutions don’t have to use a child’s social security number, they frequently do. Additionally, many kids (and adults) post personal information on their social media pages, which makes it even easier for a hacker to steal it.
Features of Identity Theft Services for Minors
Here are some of the most common identity theft services for minors:
Social security number monitoring is performed using artificial intelligence and other technology to search the internet and online databases to see if a social security number is being used and/or bought and sold. Social security monitoring also checks the USPS for address change verifications and other places where social security numbers are commonly used fraudulently.
Black Market Surveillance
Black market surveillance searches commonly known criminal websites, forums, chat rooms, internet databases, and newly created websites (once identified) for the illegal selling and/or trading of someone's personal information. This would include your social security number, driver's license number, and email address. Criminals will sometimes steal and sell your personal information on an underground website rather than use it themselves for fraudulent activities.
Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring uses artificial intelligence and other technology to search social media websites, the dark web, hacker forums, etc. to see if your personal information has been scraped then used, bought, and/or sold for criminal purposes.
Dark Web Monitoring
Dark web monitoring is also known as cyber monitoring and it's a service offered by identity theft protection services to monitor your personal information to see if it's being used, bought, and/or sold on the dark web. If activity is discovered, your identity theft protection service will send you an alert so you can take immediate action.
Identity Theft Insurance Coverage
Identity theft insurance coverage works just like any other type of insurance. Identity theft insurance covers the costs related to an identity theft incident. It will reimburse an identity theft victim for the money that was spent to reinstate their financial identity and repair their credit report(s). This could be anything from utility bills, legal costs, etc.
Identity restoration is similar to identity theft insurance except that it's not insurance. It's the actual restoration services and assistance needed to recover from an identity theft incident. For example, working with creditors, etc. So identity theft insurance coverage helps cover the costs associated with identity theft, whereas identity restoration helps restore and clear your name and other personal information after an identity theft incident.
Lost Wallet Protection
Lost wallet protection is a service that will help you cancel and replace your driver's license, social security card, credit cards, etc. if they are ever lost or stolen. This is important because many people don't keep records of these items, so they don't have the information needed to report them lost or stolen, or to obtain new ones.
Credit File Detection
Credit file detection is a service offered by identity theft protection companies. This service monitors significant changes to your credit file. If any changes have been detected, you will be sent an alert. This is important because it will enable you to catch and possibly stop fraudulent activity before it happens or at least before it gets too far out of control. And if the action is fraudulent, you can then notify your identity theft protection service for help with how you should proceed, etc.
File Sharing Network Searches
File sharing network searches are another service offered by identity theft protection companies. File sharing is the practice of distributing or giving access to digital media such as in the case of a computer program, music, audio, pictures, video, documents, etc. on a public or private network that has various levels of access privilege.