The Top Five Best Identity Theft Protection Services

identity theft reviewIn 2016, identity thieves stole more than $15 billion from 13.1 million people1 with an average loss of $3,5002 per instance of identity theft. Identity protection services provide monitoring tools to catch identity theft early, as well as reimbursement policies to help you recoup your loses. This article will examine the top five identity protection services and help you determine which company is the best choice for you.

The top five identity protection services

These are our choices for the best companies, ranked from first to fifth.

Our ranking#1#2#3#4#5
Companylifelock logoidentity guard reviewequifax logoidentity force logoallclear id logo
Visit website
Plan price range$9.99 to $29.99/mo$8.99/mo to $24.99/mo$16.95 to $19.95/mo$17.95 to $23.95/mo$14.95/mo
Identity theft insurance maximum$1 million$1 million$1 million$1 million$1 million
Lost wallet assistance
Credit reports
Phone alerts
SSN monitoring
Credit card monitoring
Our ranking #1
Company
lifelock logo
Visit website
Plan price range
$9.99 to $29.99/mo
Identity theft insurance maximum
$1 million
Lost wallet assistance
Credit reports
Phone alerts
SSN monitoring
Credit card monitoring
Our ranking #2
Company
identity guard review
Visit website
Plan price range
$8.99/mo to $24.99/mo
Identity theft insurance maximum
$1 million
Lost wallet assistance
Credit reports
Phone alerts
SSN monitoring
Credit card monitoring
Our ranking #3
Company
equifax logo
Visit website
Plan price range
$16.95 to $19.95/mo
Identity theft insurance maximum
$1 million
Lost wallet assistance
Credit reports
Phone alerts
SSN monitoring
Credit card monitoring
Our ranking #4
Company
identity force logo
Visit website
Plan price range
$17.95 to $23.95/mo
Identity theft insurance maximum
$1 million
Lost wallet assistance
Credit reports
Phone alerts
SSN monitoring
Credit card monitoring
Our ranking #5
Company
allclear id logo
Visit website
Plan price range
$14.95/mo
Identity theft insurance maximum
$1 million
Lost wallet assistance
Credit reports
Phone alerts
SSN monitoring
Credit card monitoring

The benefits of identity protection services

Identity protection services monitor your accounts and look for signs that your identity has been stolen. Despite what it sounds like, identity protection services cannot stop someone from stealing your identity, but they can determine that theft has occurred and alert you before too much damage is done. They can also help you restore your name and credit after the fact.

#1 LifeLock Review

lifelock logo
LifeLock has the most affordable options of any of the five identity theft protection companies listed, but it also has the most expensive options. It’s the best choice for the customer on a budget—after all, limited protections are better than none at all, and LifeLock’s standard plan has many of the major features we look for in an identity theft protection service.

LifeLock earns the number-one spot on this list because of the power of its threat detection. The company claims to scan more than one trillion points of data per day, including black market websites and locations in the dark web.

Pros

  • Excellent customer service
  • No penalties for canceling early
  • Early warnings when fraudulent activity is detected

Cons

  • Lack of monitoring on some companies
  • Potential difficulty when canceling over the phone

Monitoring plans

LifeLock offers three services levels: Standard, Advantage, and Ultimate Plus. LifeLock monitors different areas for fraudulent activity and will email, text, or call customers at the first sign of such activity. Once the customer confirms the activity is fraudulent, LifeLock’s teams begin working to lock down the account and recover whatever has been lost. The company even offers a special plan just for children, called LifeLock Junior, that notifies you if your child’s Social Security number has been used. However, this is only available as a companion plan for any of the adult plans.

LifeLock Standard

LifeLock Standard is the basic plan. Starting at $9.99 a month, this plan offers a solid set of basic services.

  • LifeLock Identity Alert system
  • Lost wallet protection
  • Address change verification
  • Black market website surveillance
  • LifeLock privacy monitor
  • Reduced preapproved credit card offers
  • Live support
  • Identity restoration support
  • Up to $1 million service guarantee
  • Up to $25,000 stolen fund replacement in case of identity theft

LifeLock Advantage

Starting at $19.99 per month, LifeLock Advantage provides all the protections of LifeLock Standard and more advanced monitoring options with a higher stolen fund replacement amount.

  • Fictitious identity monitoring
  • Court records scanning
  • Data breach notifications
  • Credit card activity alerts
  • Checking and saving account activity alerts
  • Online annual credit report
  • Online annual credit score
  • $100,000 stolen fund replacement

LifeLock Ultimate Plus

LifeLock Ultimate Plus is the most advanced and most powerful option available to LifeLock customers. At $29.99 per month, it provides all the protections of LifeLock Standard and Advantage, plus additional reporting.

  • Checking and saving application alerts
  • Investment account activity alerts
  • Credit inquiry alerts
  • Online annual tri-bureau credit reports and credit scores
  • Monthly credit score tracking
  • File sharing network searches
  • Sex offender registry reports
  • Priority live member service support

#2 Identity Guard® Review

identity guard review
Identity Guard® provides credit monitoring and dark web monitoring, as well as up to $1 million in loss protection. It also provides a suite of apps that work alongside its monitoring plan to help protect your identity, such as an anti-phishing app, a safe browsing extension, and others. Identity Guard earns its second-place status because its most basic plan covers all the must-haves, and because its has partnered with IBM’s Watson® to provide a high-tech option. While the suite of features isn’t as comprehensive as LifeLock’s, the intelligent nature of the protection makes Identity Guard a force to be reckoned with.

Pros

  • Mobile app
  • Quarterly credit reports
  • Anti-keylogging software

Cons

  • No fraud alerts
  • No ability to freeze credit
  • Discrepancies in information regarding credit reports

Monitoring plans

Identity Guard provides three identity theft protection plans: Essentials, Total Protection, and Platinum. All three plans monitor your Social Security number, scan the dark web for instances of your personal info, and provide ID verification and account takeover alerts.

Essentials

The Essentials plan provides the fewest features, but doesn’t lack any of the absolute necessities we look for in a monitoring plan.

  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Lost wallet protection
  • A US-based dedicated case manager
  • Up to $1 million in reimbursement for stolen funds

The Essentials plans is $8.99 per month after a 30-day free period. This plan doesn’t provide access to credit reports or your credit score, unlike the other two plans, but it does include all our must-haves.

Total Protection

The Total Protection plan is the most popular option for Identity Guard customers. It provides the most comprehensive protection for the best price.

  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • 3-bureau credit monitoring
  • Quarterly 3-bureau credit reports
  • Quarterly 3-bureau credit scores
  • Lost wallet protection
  • A US-based dedicated case manager
  • Up to $1 million in reimbursement for stolen funds

Total Protection is $19.99 per month after a 30-day free period. You can also add additional family plans for $5 more per month. In addition to monitoring the basic channels, the Total Protection plan also monitors public records for mentions of your information and provides antivirus software and an anti-phishing app. The Total Protection plan also gives you access to your credit reports from all three agencies.

Platinum

The Platinum plan is almost identical to the Total Protection plan aside from the frequency you receive 3-bureau credit reports and scores. Rather than receiving these quarterly, you receive these monthly. Unless you have a specific reason that requires you to receive frequent reports, the Total Protection option is a better value.

Additional options

In addition to their three monitoring plans, Identity Guard also has something called Privacy Now. When you sign up for Privacy Now, you’re presented with a series of questions. While answering these questions is optional, we recommend you do so. Your answers help Identity Guard determine where you’re most vulnerable to identity theft and provide extra protection in those areas.

Privacy Now uses IBM Watson technology, which is an artificially intelligent computing technology that scans the internet for news stories on potential threats. When a threat is found that applies to you, Privacy Now sends a threat alert with step-by-step instructions on what you can do to safeguard yourself. When your threat queue builds up, your app will change colors according to your current risk. If you take the time to eliminate those threats, the risk level will drop.

Privacy Now

Privacy Now is a pretty comprehensive option. At $19.99 per month, Privacy Now remains affordable—about the price of a cup of coffee per week.

  • Personalized privacy protection
  • Early detection and personalized alerts
  • Comprehensive risk assessment
  • Privacy Now with Watson
  • Credit monitoring
  • Dark web monitoring
  • $1 million stolen fund replacement
  • Suite of protection apps that work in conjunction with Privacy Now

#3 Equifax Review

equifax logo
Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting institutions, along with TransUnion and Experian. Equifax has two identity theft protection options to choose from aside from its three credit monitoring services.

Equifax’s range of monitoring services, huge amount of identity theft insurance, and easy access to your credit report are powerful tools. Equifax also has customer service representatives available at all hours of the day—even if your identity is stolen in the middle of the night, you can respond as soon as you discover it.

If you lose your wallet, Equifax helps you to cancel all of your credit cards and get new ones. The internet-scanning feature allows you to enter your Social Security number, up to five bank account numbers, six debit and credit card numbers, medical ID numbers, passport numbers, and more. It then searches the internet for any mention of these, alerting you when one is found.

Despite being one of the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax ranks third on our list. Its monitoring plans are powerful, but they don’t quite stack up to those of LifeLock or Identity Guard.

Pros

  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Established reputation and top credit reporting agency

Cons

  • Difficult cancellation process
  • Several-day delays when monitoring TransUnion and Experian

Monitoring plans

ID Patrol and Patrol Premier both alert you to any changes in your credit scores from the three major agencies and allow you to see your score annually, but only Premier grants you unlimited access to your Equifax score. That means you can check it anytime you want (a great benefit for anyone trying to build their credit score back up).

One of the best features is the ability to lock your Equifax credit report. If you suspect your identity has been stolen, you can lock the Equifax credit report so that no third parties can view it. Even though a third party would still have access to your TransUnion and Experian reports, the lack of the Equifax report would slow the process down and buy you time to recover your identity.

ID Patrol

ID Patrol is Equifax’s basic identity theft protection plan. Starting at $16.95 per month, ID Patrol provides customers with a suite of features.

  • Lost wallet assistance
  • Internet scanning
  • Automatic fraud alerts
  • $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Tri-bureau credit reports and credit file monitoring
  • Text alerts
  • Credit report lock

ID Patrol Premier

ID Patrol Premier is the more powerful version of ID Patrol. Starting at $19.95 per month, it provides similar services with several additions.

  • Lost wallet assistance
  • Internet scanning
  • Automatic fraud alerts
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Tri-bureau credit file monitoring
  • Tri-bureau credit scores and reports
  • Unlimited access to Equifax credit score
  • Text alerts
  • Credit report lock
  • Credit score monitoring
  • Financial alerts

#4 IdentityForce Review

identity force logo
In addition to credit reports, IdentityForce monitors a wide range of potential threats, including sex offender registries, payday loans, court records, and more. You’re alerted anytime someone requests a copy of your credit report, whether it is an auto dealer or a mortgage company. IdentityForce also monitors online marketplaces for the trading and/or selling of your personal information. For instance, if your credit card information is stolen in a retail store hack, IdentityForce will look for its appearance online.

The most interesting service IdentityForce offers is DeleteNow, which monitors your personal information on the internet and allows you to delete anything that violates your privacy or is inaccurate. Even outside of identity protection, this is useful for keeping your private life private. Once you’ve deleted the information, DeleteNow scans for new mentions of it on a quarterly basis. IdentityForce also makes it easy to stop junk mail from coming to your home with its junk mail opt-out service.

IdentityForce offers a ChildWatch service that monitors for your children’s names online. ChildWatch is the same service IdentityForce provides adults, but with an emphasis on children. Should your identity (or your child’s) identity be stolen, IdentityForce offers up to $1 million in identity theft protection insurance. IdentityForce’s DeleteNow service, junk mail opt-out, and suite of monitoring services earn it a spot on this list.

Pros

  • Easy online presence management with DeleteNow
  • Junk mail control options
  • 14-day free trial
  • ChildWatch option

Cons

  • Numerous complaints about customer service
  • No mobile app
  • Occasional false positives on fraud

Monitoring plans

IdentityForce offers two protection options, either on a month-to-month plan or a year-long contract.

UltraSecure

Starting at $17.95 per month, UltraSecure is the basic package IdentityForce offers. If you sign up for a year, you’ll get two months for free for a total expense of $179.50. UltraSecure provides several basic protections.

  • Credit report monitoring and alerts
  • Bank and credit card activity monitoring and alerts
  • 24/7 managed restoration services
  • DeleteNow
  • Medical ID fraud protection
  • Lost wallet assistance

UltraSecure+Credit

UltraSecure+Credit starts at $23.95 per month, but like UltraSecure, you can pay $239.50 for a year and get two months free. UltraSecure+Credit includes all of the services that UltraSecure offers, with some additions.

  • Tri-bureau credit reports
  • Tri-bureau credit scores
  • Monthly score tracker
  • Credit score simulator

#5 AllClear ID Review

allclear id logo
AllClear ID is one of the most affordable choices on this list and is a fantastic option for someone who needs identity protection services but lacks the budget for more expensive companies. It starts at $14.95 per month with a 30-day free trial.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Immediate customer support if needed
  • Up to $1 million in insurance coverage

Cons

  • Limited functionality
  • Fewer options

Monitoring plan

AllClear ID’s services are more limited than some of the higher-end companies on this list, but that means you’re not paying for extra features when all you want is identity theft protection.

One of the most convenient features AllClear ID offers is the immediate connection to an identity theft investigator. If the company detects a problem, you receive a phone alert with a voice key to verify that it’s actually from AllClear ID. Pressing the asterisk key will immediately connect you to someone who can help you investigate the problem. If you discover that your identity has been stolen, an identity repair specialist can help you reclaim your identity and prevent further damage.

AllClear ID offers up to $1 million in identity theft insurance coverage, as well as a comprehensive list of resources on its website. AllClear ID also offers a service called ChildScan that monitors for the unauthorized use of your child’s Social Security number. AllClear ID offers the following services.

  • Identity theft monitoring
  • Phone alerts
  • Immediate support
  • Lost wallet protection
  • ChildScan monitoring
  • Up to $1 million identity theft coverage

While we don’t fully recommend AllClear ID to everyone because of its limits, it’s a solid choice for those on a tighter budget. AllClear ID does only a few things, but it does them well, earning it the fifth and final spot on this list.

Why identity theft works

identity theft affidavitIdentity theft happens so frequently because thieves know they can get away with it. How often do you check your bank account? If you’re like most people, not often enough—and unless you scour through each transaction, you aren’t likely to notice any strange activity, especially if the thieves keep it below $10. A 2014 report from CNN Money states that identity fraud hits a new victim every two seconds.3 That’s 43,200 victims per day. In fact, I recently had a credit card number stolen. I would not have known something was wrong if not for a text notification of a charge that I didn’t make.

When deciding between identity theft protection options, you should keep a few key traits in mind. First, make sure the company monitors the use of your personal information including your name, Social Security number, address, and credit inquiries. There’s a secondary bonus to monitoring credit inquiries, too: some companies will run your credit without your knowledge or permission, and an identity theft protection company can help catch that.

Other services an identity theft protection company can offer are notifications when money is withdrawn from your bank account, when your Social Security number is used to file a tax return, and even when your name is used to create a social media account. Combining these services ensures that your identity, whether in person or on the internet, is used by only you.

Protect your identity

Identity theft can happen in seemingly unlikely places. Even secure websites can be hacked—that’s apparent from the numerous hacks of big-name companies in the past several years. Even if you don’t feel the need for high-level services, a lower-cost option is useful if only for the sake of getting a head start on recovery after your identity is stolen. Take a look at the companies on this list and the services they offer and decide which one is right for you.