We usually think of identity theft being an individual problem, but oftentimes, multiple victims are targeted by fraudsters. You and your partner are uniquely connected in the eyes of both the law and financial institutions, meaning that if one of your identities are compromised, you’ll both end up feeling the repercussions.
That’s why it pays to seek out protections that’ll cover you both in the event something terrible happens. As such, we’ve broken down two of the best identity theft protection services for couples.
Identity Guard has been protecting people’s identities for more than 20 years, and over those two decades they’ve made a name for themselves as one of the best in the business. Their recent partnership with IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence platform has made their protections even more dynamic and responsive to the ever-evolving threat of identity theft. Before we explore Identity Guard in-depth, though, let’s take a quick look at their pros and cons.
Identity Guard is one of our favorite services for couples for a variety of reasons. First of all, they do an outstanding job with what we consider to be the core services of identity theft protection like dark web, financial account, and credit score monitoring, they also offer some unique protections for couples that aren’t often seen like home title protection and retirement account monitoring.
These two items alone make it worth the price of admission, in our opinion. Can you imagine what would happen if you woke up one day to find your retirement accounts drained or your credit scores had plummeted from an unpaid home equity loan taken out in your partner’s name?
Did You Know: Although it’s rare, it’s possible for identity thieves to actually steal your home. With enough persistence and the right information, a fraudster can actually convince a bank to transfer the title to them. Then they will either sell the home outright or take out loans against it using your equity as collateral.
Another reason we love Identity Guard is for their proactive philosophy on identity theft. A lot of services on the market today are mostly reactive — meaning they will alert you once something suspicious has taken place. Identity Guard, on the other hand, uses cutting-edge technologies to keep you and your partner one step ahead of the criminals and prevents you from becoming victims.
To learn more about this service, you can check out our in-depth review of Identity Guard. We’ve also written up a comprehensive breakdown of Identity Guard’s protection plans to give you and your partner a better idea of which tier of service would be right for you.
IdentityForce is a solid service that was founded over 40 years ago by a brother-sister team of security experts. It’s well designed, intuitive, powerful, and packs a punch where it counts. Before we get too far into the breakdown, though, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons you’ll be interested in as a couple looking for identity protection.
Again — IdentityForce does a commendable job with the aforementioned core protections. They keep an eye on your credit scores, your bank accounts, and scan the dark web to make sure your information isn’t popping up where it shouldn’t. Similar to Identity Guard, though, IdentityForce also takes their protections a significant step further for couples, albeit in a different direction.
When we reviewed IdentityForce, we found them to be far more focused on the financial side of things. Not only do they offer triple-bureau credit monitoring with their premier plans, but they also offer a detailed credit score simulator that will help couples increase their scores or recover from financial hardship. You’ll get to see exactly what will happen should you, say, reduce your credit card debt by 30 percent or file for bankruptcy (here’s a hint — do everything you can to not file for bankruptcy.)
Add to that a robust “resources” section that can help you better understand mortgage qualifications, refinancing, auto leasing, and debt consolidation, among other things. This is all really helpful stuff for couples looking to take their finances to the next level.
Did You Know: A lot of people think identity theft only occurs in digital spaces, but that’s simply not true. There are “old school” identity thieves who love rifling through mailboxes and trash bins for discarded personal information. Thankfully, IdentityForce offers solicitation reduction, too. This helps prevent your sensitive information from making its way into the world.
Spend a lot of time on social networks? Identity Force has you covered there as well. They offer some of the most powerful social media monitoring on the market today, scanning your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts for inappropriate activity, malware and phishing attempts, impersonation, and account hacking activity.
Finally, IdentityForce recently added their white-glove restoration services to the whole family, making recovery and remediation from identity theft available for any family member in the primary account holder’s household, including parents, siblings, children, and spouses. Great news if you’re looking for comprehensive coverage in one place.
Like many services on the market, IdentityForce offers different packages at different price points. Check out our IdentityForce services and pricing guide to learn what would work for your partnership and your budget.
So that about does it for our recommendations for the best identity theft protections for couples. Now that we’ve answered the question of “how should we protect ourselves,” we want to address the “why?”
Like Identity Guard and IdentityForce, NortonLifeLock is essentially the gold standard for the identity theft protection industry today. Not only do they offer the core protections of dark web monitoring, triple-bureau credit alerts, and financial account scanning, they offer a robust suite of proactive protections that will prevent fraudsters from ever gaining access to your sensitive data in the first place. But before we delve into what NortonLifeLock brings to the table, let’s take a quick look at their pros and cons.
One of the first things we noticed when we reviewed NortonLifeLock was their impressive list of features. From powerful credit and financial account monitoring to comprehensive identity safeguards to robust cybersecurity protections, NortonLifeLock takes a 360-degree approach to protecting the identity of you and your partner.
Honestly, that last piece is one of the things we liked most about NortonLifeLock. Their suite of cybersecurity protections is like nothing we’ve ever seen in this industry. With their top tier of service, they offer antivirus software, safe-browsing plug-ins, cloud storage, encrypted password vaults, and even access to your own virtual private network. Instead of alerting you if your information shows up where it shouldn’t, NortonLifeLock prevents it from getting there in the first place.
Did You Know: A virtual private network — or VPN — works by routing your internet traffic through a private server to obscure your IP address. If that sounds like a bunch of techno-jargon, think of it this way: Instead of taking surface roads to get on the highway, you’re using your own private tunnel.
Why is this good for couples you ask? Because these protections are offered on unlimited devices across your network. That means your desktop will be protected in the same way your partner’s tablet will be. While NortonLifeLock’s cybersecurity protections aren’t a silver bullet, they certainly go a long way in preventing you and your partner’s information from falling into the wrong hands.
A quick note on NortonLifeLock, though. Since they offer so many services, they’ve broken everything up into multiple protection tiers. To get a better understanding of which does what, check out our NortonLifeLock pricing plans and protections guide.
Everyone can benefit from identity theft protection in some form or fashion, but married couples are a special case. For starters, your legal status is different from a couple who dates but doesn’t live together, or even one who lives together outside of marriage. Meaning that if one of your identities becomes compromised, there are important considerations that need to be made.
Marriage includes a ton of benefits and legal protections, but it also means that, in many cases, your finances are intermingled. For example, if one of you runs up a lot of credit card debt — whether it’s legitimate or not — you can both be held responsible for paying it off. While the laws vary from state to state, it’s best to assume you’re acting as a unit financially.
Think of it this way — identity theft protection is like a burglar alarm for married couples. If a thief breaks in through your bedroom window and the alarm sounds, the alarm isn’t just for whoever happens to be sitting on the bed watching TV. It’s for everyone in the house.
But… what if the person breaking in is your partner? Let’s discuss that next.
Pro Tip: Remember, no two services are the same. Head over to our ID theft buyer’s guide to learn all about the different features and benefits of identity theft protection plans.
Alright — so now we need to talk about something a little uncomfortable. Not everyone who steals your identity is going to be a cloaked figure lurking around the shadowy underbelly of the internet purchasing your bank account numbers with bitcoins. Sometimes it’s someone you know and love.
Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s your spouse.
Think about it. Your financial lives are likely already intertwined, and they likely have immediate access to your most sensitive information like your driver’s license number, your date of birth, and your social security number — if they don’t already know it off the tops of their heads. Should things go south, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they’ll use that information to engage in fraud.
And spousal identity theft is famously hard to prove and recover from. Police may be reluctant to act as they might view the fraud as a disagreement that needs to be worked out domestically, and the burden of proof is sometimes insurmountable to demonstrate that a partner created accounts or racked up bills without your consent. But by deploying identity theft protection services like those detailed above, the risk of spousal identity theft can be mitigated, and everything can be kept above board.
So that sums up ID theft protection for couples. Now, if you haven’t found your match, head over to our top-rated identity theft protection services for more options to protect your good name.
The dark web is getting darker by the day. Dark Web Monitoring is a feature for couples looking to keep their names, credit, and finances in good standing. This service continually searches the dark web — where criminals buy, sell, and trade your sensitive information — and alerts you if necessary. Keep you and your loved one safe with dark web monitoring.
Imagine you or your spouse’s good name surfacing in the news with an arrest warrant attached to it. This nightmare of a situation happens all the time. Criminals — or even close family and friends — might give your information at the time of their arrest. So this feature alerts couples if their name appears in court records for any reason.
Couples have no way of knowing if their personal info becomes compromised on social media. That is, unless they have Social Media Monitoring. This service alerts you and/or your spouse if your name has been hijacked and used for nefarious purposes. For instance, it’s not rare that someone finds their name attached to hate speech or propaganda.
SSN Monitoring is a great feature for couples. It monitors your social security number — your very identity! — and sends an alert if suspicious activity occurs. This has never been so important, as the moment your spouse falls victim to fraud, so too do you. After all, if you are married, you are the same person in the eyes of the state.
Get the peace of mind you deserve with identity theft insurance. Let’s face it, there’s simply no way of eliminating every threat against your name, credit, and bank account. That’s why couples are looking for an identity theft solution that covers financial losses. Some packages will cover upwards of $1 million in expenses incurred.
Identity theft is a stressful fiasco to navigate as a couple. It’s mentally and emotionally draining. Not to worry — Identity Restoration is a fantastic feature offered by many identity theft protection services. In the event your identity is stolen, you and your spouse can sit with a team of specialists who walk you through the restoration process.
What’s worse than having your identity stolen? Having your identity stolen by a sex offender. That’s right, sex offenders sometimes use other people’s personal info to rent a home, secure a job, etc. Couples can ensure they’re covered with sex offender registration. If a predator tries to use your identity, rest assured you’ll be notified.
Couples are unwittingly at risk of bank account takeover. Takeover happens when a fraudster gets their hands on sensitive login info. This might be your mother’s maiden name, the first instrument you played (Tuba?), or the password itself. Once logged in, they can change account details, and even drain the account. This feature protects couples against account takeover.
Payday loan outfits are notorious for issuing high-interest loans that border on predatory. So when a fraudster strolls in to get a loan in you or your spouse’s name, they just might walk out with money that you’re expected to repay. Ouch! Payday loan monitoring searches for fraud in your name and immediately alerts you of red flags.
Derek Prall is a VPN and cybersecurity expert with more than seven years of experience in the industry. He has spent thousands of hours researching identity theft protection, VPNs, and other ways to keep safe online. To date, Derek has written nearly 100 comprehensive resources for SafeHome.org. As a professional journalist, he has contributed to reputable publications such as TD Magazine, New Jersey Herald, and many others. Learn more about Derek here