5 Best Identity Theft Protection Services
Every day the risk of identity theft is constantly on the rise, making it crucial for you to seek reliable protection. Don't let the threat loom over you; take charge of your security and safeguard your personal information with dependable measures.
The FTC reported that identity theft affected approximately 2.8 million United States victims in 2021, losing $5.8 billion to fraud. That averages out to over $2,000 per victim. Of course, some victims lost significantly more than that.
According to the US Justice Department, personal information, such as full names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, and financial data, are prime targets for identity thieves.
Identity theft victims suffer from consequences, including financial losses, damaged credit scores, legal issues, and emotional distress.
We've gathered a comprehensive guide to choosing the top identity theft protection services with adequate identity safeguards.
The Credit Review analyzed leading identity theft protection services in the market today to determine the most suitable options for consumers.
Our assessment considered factors such as monthly cost, plan value, availability of free trials or annual discounts, comprehensive features like credit monitoring, dark web monitoring, identity theft insurance coverage, and additional device protections such as antivirus software and VPNs.
Understanding Identity Theft and Its Consequences
Identity theft is a type of crime where someone steals another person's personal information, such as their name, Social Security number, or financial details, without permission.
Thieves use your information to commit fraud: make purchases, open credit accounts, or even pretend to be you on the phone. It's like someone pretending to be you and doing things that can harm your reputation and financial well-being.
Identity Theft Types
Understanding identity theft types helps you pinpoint risks and take proactive protection measures. Here are some common types of identity theft:
- **Financial Identity Theft: **This theft involves criminals accessing your banking details, credit card information, credit card numbers, and social security numbers. They may use this information to make unauthorized purchases, open fraudulent accounts, or drain your bank accounts, causing significant financial losses.
Medical Identity Theft: In medical identity theft, criminals misuse your personal information, like your health insurance details, to seek medical care or obtain prescription medications in your name. Consequently, your information becomes mixed with the thief's. It can lead to false identity medical records, erroneous billing, and potential health risks.
Child Identity Theft: Children are ideal identity theft targets because of their clean credit histories. Fraudsters may use a child's social security number to open credit accounts or engage in other fraudulent activities, often going undetected for years, severely impacting their financial future.
Criminal Identity Theft: In this form of identity theft, criminals use your identity when arrested or questioned by law enforcement. As a result, you may be wrongfully arrested and deal with the legal consequences of crimes committed by someone else using your identity.
Social Security Identity Theft: A thief may use your Social Security number to secure employment or file false tax returns, resulting in issues with your taxes and social security benefits.
Identity Cloning: Identity cloning involves copying someone's identity entirely, assuming their name, personal information, and even creating fake identification documents to impersonate them in various transactions.
Business Identity Theft: In this type of identity theft, criminals target businesses, assuming their identities to perpetrate fraud or gain access to sensitive information, often leading to severe financial and reputational damage.
Understanding how criminals can harm you or someone you love empowers you to take preventative measures.
Common Identity Theft Methods
You might be aware that thieves may go through your trash, but there are many creative ways criminals try to steal your data. Identity theft can happen in many ways:
Phishing: Scammers send fake emails or messages pretending to be from a legitimate organization, like the IRS, police, bank, or a social media platform, to trick you into sharing your personal information, often by threatening imprisonment or charging you money if you fail to respond.
Data Breaches: Cybercriminals break into databases containing personal information and steal it. Additionally, thieves can steal personal documents like your wallet or mail to obtain your information.
Shoulder-Surfing: Criminals watch you punch in a PIN or listen to you give a credit card number over the phone in public places when you think no one's paying attention.
Account Break-Ins: Thieves count on people using easy-to-guess passwords like names, dates, schools, or teams so they can access your email, online banking, social media, and other sensitive accounts.
Compromised Devices: Criminals may trick you into downloading software like keyloggers, malware, or ransomware. Also, they want to take advantage of you by leaving a device, like a smartphone or a computer, accessible without a password or passcode.
Security experts recommend that you remain cautious and protect your personal information by using strong passwords and two-factor authentication. In addition, be mindful about sharing on social media and regularly monitor your financial accounts for suspicious activity.
Consequences and Impact of Identity Theft on Individuals
The consequences of identity theft can be distressing and impactful. It can harm your credit score, making it harder to get loans or buy things in the future.
Thieves can use your financial information to make purchases or open credit accounts, leaving you with bills and debts you didn't create. Identity theft also causes emotional distress and violates your privacy.
Criminals who file fraudulent tax returns or for unemployment benefits under your name can also bring law enforcement knocking on your door.
You could spend months or years resolving the issues identity theft causes, like disputing fraudulent charges, restoring your credit, and clearing your name. Therefore, the more you can do to avoid identity theft before it happens, the more time and effort it will save you.
How Does Identity Theft Protection Work?
Identity theft protection services search for any signs that bad actors are using your personal information. Among other things, ID theft protection companies may alert you if they notice that your information is:
- Detected on the dark web
- Used to apply for a credit card or bank account
- Used to apply for a payday loan
- Used at a cash-checking service
- Found on new social media accounts
- Named on a court or arrest record
- Listed on a sex offender registry
- Showing that you've changed addresses
- Related to large transactions occurring in your bank or investments accounts
Identity theft protection services use advanced technology to watch over your credit card, email, and other sensitive data for any signs of trouble. If they detect anything suspicious, they'll immediately inform you through alerts.
If they detect someone trying to steal your identity, these services can freeze your credit and set up alerts to prevent thieves from doing further damage. Some services also include insurance to reimburse the money you lose due to identity theft.
Identity theft protection services offer peace of mind with added protection against cyber criminals.
Identity Theft Service Features
Comprehensive identity theft protection services focus on helping you identify and address problems quickly that can negatively affect your financial well-being. Look for programs that include:
Credit Monitoring and Fraud Alerts: Real-time monitoring notifies you of new accounts, inquiries, or changes in your credit so you can address them immediately.
Identity Monitoring: Continuously scans the internet for your personal information.
Identity Theft Insurance: Reimburses you for financial losses and expenses like fraudulent charges, stolen bank funds, legal fees, recovery expenses, and credit restoration services.
Dark Web Monitoring: Crawls the hidden corners of the internet to detect if criminals are illicitly trading or selling your information and alert you to potential threats and vulnerabilities.
Fraud Resolution and Assistance: provide guidance and support to reclaim your stolen identity and reduce financial damage caused by fraudulent activities.
Privacy and Data Protection: Security software companies take measures to secure and safeguard your personal information that prevents unauthorized access to your data.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Identity Theft Services
Numerous options can make choosing the best identity theft service seem overwhelming. Here are some elements of identity theft services you should consider.
Service Provider Reputation and Track Record: Read customer reviews and ratings from reputable sources to learn about real users' experiences so you can make an informed decision about the service's effectiveness and credibility.
User-Friendly Interface: Opt for a service with an easy-to-use and intuitive interface. A user-friendly platform will make it simpler for you to access your monitoring reports and manage your account effectively.
Trial Period: Using the trial period helps you assess the program's experience before committing.
Range of Features and Protection Offered: Ensure the service includes all your desired features. You might be a "just the basics" user or want all the premium features like password managers, VPN access, and antivirus software.
Customer Support and Assistance: Companies are only as good as their support teams, so try to contact them with a non-urgent question to determine how quickly and effectively they respond.
Cost and Value for Money: Compare the service's cost with its features and protection. Look for plans that provide the level of protection you need at a reasonable price.
Exclusions: Review the service's exclusions to inform you what it cannot do for you. Ensure you also understand the limits of the insurance reimbursement, protection, and exclusions of the policies.
Why Identity Theft Protection Is Important
Identity theft protection is crucial due to the increasing prevalence of identity theft and the associated risks. The financial implications of falling victim to identity theft can be significant, resulting in potential losses of hundreds to thousands of dollars. Moreover, identity theft can affect victims emotionally and psychologically, causing stress and anxiety.
The consequences of identity theft can be long-lasting, affecting both personal and professional aspects of life. Resolving identity theft issues can be challenging, given the complexities of legal and regulatory procedures. However, identity theft protection proactively mitigates risks and minimizes the damage these incidents cause.
Feeling secure and having peace of mind is essential in an increasingly digital world. Identity theft protection services offer a crucial layer of defense against cyber threats, helping individuals stay safe and confident online. Real-life examples and case studies emphasize the necessity of such protection, illustrating identity theft's devastating impact on individuals and underscoring the importance of preventive measures to safeguard personal information.
Who Should Use Identity Theft Protection Services?
Identity theft affects millions of people yearly, but specific groups are more susceptible than others. Individuals who can benefit the most from these services are people who:
- Travel frequently and use public Wi-Fi networks.
- Have a significant online presence.
- Previously experienced identity theft incidents.
- Are high-profile entities like celebrities or politicians?
- Worry about protecting their children's identities.
- Are less likely to monitor their credit reports like seniors and college students.
- Seek peace of mind.
- Value their privacy and personal security.
Businesses and organizations that handle customer data, employee information, or sensitive financial and client data.
Additional Steps to Protect Against Identity Theft
In addition to employing identity theft protection services to safeguard personal information, you can take several extra steps to shield your personal information against identity theft.
Secure Password Management: Use strong, unique passwords for each online account and a reliable password manager to track them.
Two-Factor Authentication and Biometric Protection: Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible, and utilize biometric features like fingerprint or facial recognition for an added layer of security.
Secure Internet Browsing and Online Behavior: Don't download files from unverified sources, click suspicious links, and ensure HTTPS encryption on visited websites.
Regularly Update and Patch Software: Keep your operating system, applications, and antivirus software up-to-date to safeguard against known vulnerabilities.
Educate Yourself About Common Identity Theft Techniques: Stay informed about identity theft risks and common tactics thieves use so you can recognize and avoid potential threats.
Use VPN Service: Use a trusted VPN on public Wi-Fi to encrypt your data and shield it from eavesdroppers.
Remaining proactive in protecting sensitive data helps you stay secure and reduce the risk of falling victim to this pervasive and damaging crime.
As a cautious person, I remain vigilant about protecting my personal information. Fortunately, my family taught me early on to be suspicious of anyone asking about my data, like my social security number. However, a close friend became a victim of identity theft, which made me realize the importance of taking additional measures to safeguard myself.
I enrolled in an identity theft protection service, and it was a decision that brought me immense peace of mind. A few months after signing up, I received an alert about a suspicious attempt to open a credit account in my name.
Thanks to the swift notification, I took action immediately and prevented further damage.
The service's expert guidance during the resolution process was invaluable, helping me dispute the fraudulent activity and restore my credit to its previous state. This personal experience reinforced my belief in the efficacy of identity theft services. I am grateful for their added protection in today's ever-evolving information landscape.
Scams and identity theft will never go away. Criminals will always try to steal money and information from people instead of earning an honest living.
Their techniques continually evolve to take advantage of every new technology and communication method to reach you.
Identity theft protection services provide a proactive defense and valuable peace of mind. By utilizing strong security practices, staying informed about potential risks, and considering reputable identity theft protection services, you can take control of your digital safety and minimize the risk of falling victim to this pervasive and damaging crime.
When considering identity theft protection services, look for features such as credit monitoring, dark web scanning, and identity restoration support. Additionally, prioritize reputable providers with reliable customer support and transparent pricing.
Taking proactive measures is essential to protect yourself from identity theft. Implement extra security practices, stay informed about thieves' common tactics, and consider enrolling in identity theft protection services for enhanced defense.
We recommend prioritizing your protection by adopting purposeful security habits. Then, explore reputable identity theft protection services that align with your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can an identity theft protection company help secure my identity?
Identity theft protection companies employ techniques like dark web monitoring and artificial intelligence to perform sophisticated credit monitoring.
What is the average cost of identity theft protection?
A basic identity theft protection service plan typically starts between $15 and $25 per month. Your cost will depend on which provider you select, the protection level, and payment frequency. You can save money by shopping around, opting for an annual payment plan, asking about discounts, and utilizing free trials.
Are ID theft services worth it?
Identity theft services are ideal if you are concerned about protecting your information and want additional protection. If you already have a habit of checking your credit, being suspicious of online content and strangers, and not sharing personal information online, you may not need it.
However, suppose you share pictures of yourself, your family, birthdate, hometown, address, employment history, and similar information online. In that case, criminals can easily assemble a fake profile that steals your identity. In addition, if you have minor children or other vulnerable family members, the extra eyes watching for their identity theft can take one worry off your mind.
Finally, assess your needs and compare available services to determine if they align with your requirements and budget.
What is the best alternative to LifeLock?
Aura Identity Guard is the ideal alternative to LifeLock: prices are affordable, starting at $6.67 per month; it provides identity theft insurance up to $1 million, provides the industry's fastest credit monitoring alerts, and has nearly 30 years of experience protecting people's identities.
Who protects against identity theft?
Protect yourself from identity theft with proactive steps like using secure passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and being cautious with personal information online.
Additionally, identity theft protection services offered by reputable companies can provide an added layer of defense, offering continuous monitoring, real-time alerts, and expert assistance in case of identity theft incidents.
What is the most common type of identity theft?
According to a 2022 FTC press release, the most common types of identity theft are:
Imposter Scams: Fraudsters pose as someone else, such as a government official, a charity representative, or a company representative, to trick you into giving away your personal information or money.
Online Shopping Scams: Fraudulent websites or sellers who deceive shoppers by offering fake products, taking payments without delivering the goods, or misusing personal information for illegal purposes.
Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries: Scammers deceive you by falsely claiming you have won a prize, sweepstakes, or lottery and then asking for payment or personal information to claim the non-existent reward.
Investment-Related Scams: Criminals lure you into fake or fraudulent investment opportunities, promising high returns and low risks.
Business and Job Opportunities: Scammers offer fake job opportunities or business ventures, often requiring upfront fees or personal information, with no intention of providing legitimate employment or opportunities.
What’s the best identity theft protection for seniors?
The best identity theft protection for seniors should include comprehensive monitoring of personal information, credit reports, and financial accounts.
Additionally, services with easy-to-use interfaces, excellent customer support, and specialized assistance for elderly individuals may be more suitable for seniors.
What’s the most common type of identity theft?
Financial identity theft is the prevalent type of identity theft. Thieves gain access to your credit card numbers, bank accounts, or Social Security numbers, using them to commit fraudulent transactions or open new accounts in your name.
This form of identity theft can lead to significant financial losses and cause long-lasting damage to your credit file. Staying vigilant and protecting your personal information is crucial in reducing the risk of falling victim to this prevalent and damaging crime.