1. Identity Guard
Identity Guard is our top-rated service for a reason. Their proactive approach to identity theft protection with a healthy prioritization of credit score and report monitoring makes it one of the most powerful preventative tools on the market today. But before we get into the breakdown of their services, let’s take a quick look at Identity Guard’s pros and cons.
- Comprehensive Financial Account Monitoring
- Triple-Bureau Credit Monitoring
- Triple-Bureau Annual Credit Reports
- Data Breach Monitoring
- Investment and Retirement Account Protections
- Dark Web Monitoring
- AI-Powered Smart Protections
- A Little Pricey
- Mobile App Could Use Work
- Credit Monitoring Not Offered on All Service Tiers
One of the first things we noticed when we reviewed Identity Guard is the proactive posture they take in protecting your identity. Powered by IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence platform, Identity Guard’s services are literally growing smarter every day. This is critically important as the identity theft threat landscape is constantly evolving.
Their list of features — particularly when it comes to financial protections and security — is comprehensive. Not only will your credit reports and scores be monitored, your accounts will be too. Checking and savings, investment and retirement, Identity Guard will keep an eye on all of ‘em. They’re also going to use their powerful dark web scanning technology to monitor nefarious marketplaces and message boards in the dank underbelly of the internet to make sure your personal information isn’t showing up where it shouldn’t.
Did You Know: Your information can show up on the dark web for many reasons. Sometimes a hacker actively steals your personal data. Sometimes a data breach at a company you’ve done business with puts you at risk. Either way, if your information does show up on the digital black market, you want to make sure you know about it, and that you take appropriate action.
Another element we really like about Identity Guard is that they’ll help you set up security freezes with the three major credit bureaus as well as Innovis — a lesser-known monitoring agency. This is extremely helpful since it will prevent fraudsters from accessing your credit files to take out loans or establish new lines of credit in your name. Note — Identity Guard doesn’t actually set up the freeze for you, they’ll just help guide you through the process.
The company offers several tiers of service, so while you’re comparison shopping we recommend you take a look at our breakdown of Identity Guard’s pricing and services.
NortonLifeLock is one of our favorite services on the market today for its cybersecurity protections alone. While they aren’t the only identity theft protection service to offer this sort of functionality, they certainly offer the longest list of features. Add to that powerful financial account scanning, credit report and score monitoring, and personally identifying information alerts, you’ve got some of the best, most well-rounded protections available. Before we get going, though, let’s take a look at NortonLifeLock’s pros and cons.
- Triple-Bureau Credit Monitoring
- Password Vault
- VPN Access
- VantageScore 3.0 Tracker
- Credit Lock Functionality
- Account Takeover Alerts
- Annual Triple-Bureau Credit Reports
- Steep Price Tag
- Some Functions are Windows-Only
- Somewhat Disorganized Platform
When we reviewed NortonLifeLock, we were blown away by their prioritization of your cybersecurity. They offer everything from traditional antivirus software to encrypted password vaults to virtual private network access. With these protections in place, NortonLifeLock is all but guaranteeing that your data won’t get into the wrong hands.
But if it somehow does, NortonLifeLock still has you covered. They’re keeping an eye on all three credit monitoring bureaus, and giving you access to your full credit reports once a year to make sure there aren’t any discrepancies. They’re also constantly scanning your financial accounts and balances for unusual activity, so if someone’s managed to break in, you’ll know about it immediately. And if, despite all these protections, a fraudster still manages to steal from you, NortonLifeLock will reimburse you up to $1 million. Talk about peace of mind.
Did You Know: It’s important to keep a close watch on your credit reports, even if it seems like a chore. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in five American adults has an error on one or more of their files that could negatively impact their credit score.
Drilling down into NortonLifeLock’s credit-specific functionality for a minute, we wanted to point out a function that we really love — their one-click credit lock. With this, you’ll be able to toggle access to your TransUnion credit file on and off with the click of your mouse, making it virtually impossible for bad actors to establish credit or take out loans in your name. This is a powerful tool in the fight against identity thieves.
They offer a broad array of services packages and pricing plans, so be sure to check out our guide to NortonLifeLock costs and packages to find the plan that’s right for you.
3. IdentityForce – Best Family Credit Protection
IdentityForce is another powerful identity theft protection service that prioritizes credit monitoring while offering robust protections against all sorts of fraud. Their core functionality is rock-solid, and they offer a few cybersecurity bonuses to boot. Before we unpack their services, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons punch list.
- Triple-Bureau Credit Monitoring
- Customizable Plans for Individuals and Families
- Credit Score Tracker
- Triple-Bureau Credit Reports
- Fraud Assistance
- Dark Web Monitoring
- Financial Tools and Resources
- Underwhelming App
- Set Up Can be Convoluted
- Alerts are Sometimes Confusing
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating — this is an absolute workhorse of a service. When we tested the service for our IdentityForce review, we found strong protections against a variety of attack vectors that are sure to thwart even the most enterprising identity thief. What we really like, though, is their focus on your finances and on your credit.
You’re of course going to find triple-bureau credit monitoring and reports, but where IdentityForce really shines is with its bonus features. Their credit score simulator, for instance, is one of the most detailed we’ve seen, and will help you get a better understanding of what will happen to your score if you should, say, pay down the balances of your credit cards or file for chapter 11 bankruptcy. It’s a helpful function to have for anyone looking to repair or rebuild their credit.
Did You Know: There are different types of bankruptcy, but they will all negatively impact your credit score for years — some up to a decade. Bankruptcy is really the nuclear option, and should only be used in the most dire of circumstances.
IdentityForce also offers a detailed credit score tracker, so you can take the strategies you’ve developed in the score simulator and see how they impact your numbers over time. Again, a really helpful tool for anyone looking to improve their scores while protecting their identity.
Finally, IdentityForce offers a whole host of financial resources and educational materials. While they’re protecting your identity from fraudsters, you can shore up your knowledge on a variety of topics from how mortgages work to shopping around for an auto loan. It’s these types of bonuses that really make IdentityForce stand out.
Like most protection products on our list, they offer different service packages at different price points. Be sure to check out our breakdown of IdentityForce plans and pricing to make sure you get the best protection bang for your buck.
4. Experian – Best Credit Score Reporting
When you’re looking for identity theft with great credit monitoring, sometimes it’s best to go straight to the source. Since IdentityWorks is brought to you by Experian, you know your credit is going to be covered from all angles. Let’s check out the pros and cons before we get into Experian IdentityWorks’ services.
- Backed by Experian Credit Bureau
- Triple-Bureau Credit Monitoring
- Experian Credit Boost
- Clear Focus on Credit Monitoring and Protection
- One-Touch Experian Credit Lock
- Financial Planning Resources
- Excellent Mobile App
- Some Features are Flawed
- Ads Present
- Outdated Platform Design
Like we said, since we’re dealing with Experian, you know the credit monitoring is going to be on point. When we reviewed Experian IdentityWorks, we were pleased to find not only a great core set of services, but some great credit-related add ons as well. We really appreciated their one-touch Experian credit file lock, their FICO score simulator, and their detailed triple-bureau credit monitoring and reporting.
Another neat feature they offer is Experian Boost, which allows you to tether your utility and phone bills to your Experian credit report. If you have a history of paying these on time, you’re likely to see a 10 to 15 point increase in your score automatically. Not too bad!
Did You Know: It’s perfectly normal to see some variation in your credit scores from bureau to bureau. Each agency uses similar data points to calculate your score, but their methodologies vary slightly.
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to identity theft protection, so make sure you check out our guide to Experian IdentityWorks pricing and services to make sure you’re selecting the package that’s right for your specific situation.
5. PrivacyGuard – Best Customer Service
PrivacyGuard isn’t as well-known as some of the others on our list, but don’t count them out. When we wrote our in-depth PrivacyGuard review, we found they offered extremely robust credit monitoring and reporting as well as a full suite of identity theft protections that give some of the bigger names a run for their money. Let’s have a quick look at PrivacyGuard’s pros and cons.
- Monthly Access to Triple-Bureau Credit Reports
- Detailed Credit Resources
- Highly Organized Credit Reports
- Triple Bureau Credit Tracking
- Financial Account Monitoring
- Daily Triple-Bureau Credit Monitoring
- Dark Web Monitoring
- A Little Expensive
- Lower Tiers of Service Offer Few Protections
- No Social Media Monitoring
What they’re lacking in name recognition, PrivacyGuard more than makes up for in functionality. While some of the more well known services only offer triple-bureau credit reports once a year, PrivacyGuard grants you access once a month. That’s unique in this space and well worth your consideration if you’re the type that really wants to stay on top of things.
They also offer a highly detailed triple-bureau credit score tracker so you can see how each of your scores is performing over time in comparison to one another. Again — this is a function we rarely see, but one we’re excited about.
They do offer quite a few different options for people interested in protecting their identity, so make sure you check out our guide to PrivacyGuard’s service packages before you make your selection.
As you can see, credit monitoring is an extremely important aspect of any identity theft protection strategy. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on your reports and scores to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of you.
Features of Identity Theft Protection Plans with Credit Monitoring
The following are the most common features of identity theft protection services that include credit protection:
Bank Account Takeovers
Account fraud and credit theft go hand-in-hand. And bank account takeover is a serious matter — one that must be combated with a serious solution. The fraudster’s aim is to hack into your account and drain your net worth. So many ID theft services with credit monitoring offer this anti-takeover feature that keeps criminals out of your accounts.
Pay Day Loan Monitoring
Identity theft services with credit monitoring sometimes offer Payday Loan Monitoring. This feature searches for your name across high-interest loan companies. In the event your name is detected, it’s flagged and you will receive an automatic alert. Taking out loans in someone else’s name is a typical tactic for criminals. Stay safe with Payday loan monitoring.
Credit Report Monitoring
Most services that offer credit monitoring also offer credit report monitoring. With this feature, your credit reports from the three main bureaus are under constant monitoring. If there’s even a hint of suspicious or unusual activity — or any inquiries or changes to your credit whatsoever — you’ll be immediately notified. That’s good news. After all, credit is king.
Credit Score Reporting
Love it or hate it, your credit score is how lenders and others judge your trustworthiness. That’s why Credit Score Reporting is a feature to look for in ID theft protection services with credit monitoring. If your score suddenly spikes sky-high, or drops into oblivion, you’ll be notified right away. An unexpected change is a tell-tale sign of identity theft.
Identity Theft Insurance Coverage
Signing on with just any service with credit monitoring doesn’t mean you’re 100% safe. Fraud still happens. So the smart move is to get covered with identity theft insurance. Some companies put their money where their mouth is with an impressive $1 million policy. This feature could help to bail you out of attorney fees, stolen funds, you name it.
401k and Investment Activity Alerts
You saved your whole life. You do not want your savings wiped out in one ruthless act of fraud. To avoid this, find an ID theft protection service that offers credit monitoring and 401k and investment activity alerts. This suite of features monitors your accounts for suspicious activity and sends automatic alerts if foul play is detected.
Bank and Credit Card Activity Alerts
Take total control of your finances and safeguard against fraud with Bank and Credit Card Activity Alerts. A critical feature to say the least, these alerts are triggered when a bank withdrawal, transfer, charge — or really any activity — deviates from your pre-configured settings or dollar amounts. In other words, that’s no dough for cyber foes.
Loan Application Monitoring
Identity theft protection companies are stacking their services with Loan Application Monitoring — a brilliant feature that alerts you when a loan application is submitted in your name. Yes, this happens all the time, and it gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘loan shark.’ Get this tech-forward feature that constantly monitors your credit reports for suspect loan activity.
Another important identity theft protection feature, similar to credit monitoring, is SSN Monitoring. Your social security number is the key to your identity. So you must protect this key with a robust monitoring service that scans millions (sometimes billions!) of data points looking for your SSN. If it’s found being used by anyone but you, you’ll be alerted immediately.