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The Best Identity Theft Protection Services

Proactive identity protection doesn’t exist: There’s no way to actually prevent your identity from being stolen. What the best identity theft protection services can do is ceaselessly monitor your credit and personal info, then exercise power of attorney to help restore your identity in the event it’s stolen. We signed up for a bunch of accounts and read their fine print to see which services perform best.

The 3 Best Identity Theft Protection Services

Best Value: IdentityForce

Best Price for Robust Monitoring
IdentityForce
IdentityForce
All the essential features of a strong identity protection plan at an unbeatable rate.
Pros
Great protection, great price
Useful dashboard
Affordable family options
Cons
Minimal app capabilities
No services for pre-existing theft

Why we chose it

Great protection, great price

For protection that covers all of the essentials at an affordable price, we recommend Identity Force’s UltraSecure+Credit plan. If you’re looking for more affordable Lifelock alternatives, Identity Force delivers on a comparative dime. The company offers power of attorney and credit monitoring from all three major credit bureaus, plus personal information monitoring with mobile and email alerts. If a new bank account is opened in your name or if a payday loan is taken out, you’ll hear about it. For the scope of the company’s monitoring and restoration services, $20 a month is a bargain.

Useful dashboard

Upon log-in, features that most users will need regularly — including your recent alerts, your credit score, and links to other accounts in your family plan — are displayed prominently on clean, easy-to-use the dashboard. We never had to do much hunting to find what we needed.

Identity Force Dashboard

Affordable family options

Another standout feature: The company’s affordable family options. Child protection is $3/month per kid, the cheapest of all our finalists. (If you’re comparing IdentityForce vs. LifeLock, it’s about half the monthly price.) And while there’s no discount for other adults, if you’re willing to pay for a full year up-front, you can sign up for annual membership at $200 and get two months free.

Points to consider

Minimal app capabilities

IdentityForce's app isn't very feature-rich: It essentially serves as a pager to let you know if you need to contact the company. You can use the app to see whether you've received an alert, but you'll need to log onto the website to view details, and you’ll need to call customer service or use the live chat feature on IdentityForce's website to actually resolve any fraudulent activity.

Resolving pre-existing theft costs extra

IdentityForce covers ID theft that happens while you’re a subscriber. But if you’re dealing with fallout from issues that you encountered prior to registering, you'll be on your own. IdentityForce won’t swoop in to take the paperwork off your hands unless they were the ones to discover the problem. If you’re dealing with pre-existing identity theft, you may want to check out ID Watchdog instead.

Best Mobile App: LifeLock

Best for Alerts and Notifications
LifeLock
LifeLock
Feel in the know and in control with the next-level communication abilities of this established pick.
Pros
Exceptional app
Extensive notifications
Cons
Resolving pre-existing theft costs extra

Why we chose it

Exceptional app

LifeLock's mobile app is the sleekest and most functional of all our top picks (with a website portal that’s similarly intuitive). If you conduct most of your business on your phone, LifeLock is the only one of our finalists that allows you to start resolving pending issues directly through the app — no need to make a phone call or wait until you’re back at your computer.

Extensive notifications

LifeLock provides notifications for a handful of scenarios not monitored by our other top picks, including notifications about third-party data breaches and actionable alerts about crimes committed in your name. These features aren’t essential, but they do provide an extra level of reassurance. You can also choose to receive notifications via phone call, so a live rep can explain a given alert’s significance.

LifeLock Hub

Points to consider

Resolving pre-existing theft costs extra

LifeLock's most basic plans offers comprehensive help if you become a victim of identity theft after signing up for their service. But if you need assistance navigating pre-existing theft, you’ll have to pay extra.

Best for Retroactive Protection: ID Watchdog

Best for Retroactive Protection
ID Watchdog
ID Watchdog
If you’re here because you have already found something suspicious, ID Watchdog is your best bet. They go to bat for you on existing problems.
Pros
Rehabilitation for pre-existing theft
Cons
Unappealing website

Why we chose it

Rehabilitation for pre-existing theft

At $20 per month, ID Watchdog’s Platinum Plan offers the alerts and notifications of our other top picks, including credit score and bank account monitoring. But it adds on a truly stand-out feature: retroactive protection services. It’s the only company that will help you deal with theft that occurred before you were a subscriber. This means you can find a bogus item on one of your credit reports, or discover a warrant out for your arrest, then enroll in ID Watchdog — and it will still work on your behalf to remove these charges.

Restoration for pre-existing theft does carry fees in addition to membership cost. You'll pay $80 per financial record error, $180 per civil court record error, and $280 per criminal court record error. But other services only offer assistance for theft occurring during your membership.

Points to consider

Unappealing website

ID Watchdog’s website is clunky and not intuitive to navigate. The outdated layout and font makes it difficult to find the information you need. Its mobile app isn’t much better, with limited capabilities that require you to call a customer service representative to resolve pending issues. But even if it’s not beautiful, the service package is the best we found, and its 24/7 phone line picked up quickly almost every time we called.

ID Watchdog Monitor Checklist

How to Protect Your Identity

Understand that protection services can't monitor everything

Services are prohibited from monitoring some types of personal information.
Commercial identity theft protection services can monitor your credit reports, public records, and some websites, but privacy laws bar them from accessing your medical benefit statements, as well as any tax info or Social Security benefits paid in your name. It’s up to you to keep track of these details by requesting records from these agencies yourself.

Tax-related identity theft, in which a thief claims your tax refund before you do, is also disturbingly prevalent. In 2015, it accounted for nearly 49 percent of all reported identity thefts. And because government offices also do not recognize power of attorney to resolve disputes, the most an outside company can do for you in this situation is give you the right forms to fill out.

Be vigilant about medical ID theft

Medical identity theft can exhaust your insurance benefits and pose health threats: When someone else obtains care in your name, your files may be updated to reflect their diagnosis and treatments. This means that if you show up at the hospital in an emergency situation, you might not get the care you need.

A little vigilance goes long way. Any time you receive medical treatment, you should get an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement or Medicare Summary. Read these line by line and pay special attention to the services provided, the name of the healthcare provider, the date of the service, and your personal information. Errors like a misspelled name or incorrect procedure date can be warning signs of medical identity theft. Report errors like these to your health plan; you’ll find the customer service number on the statement. The bottom line: If anything on your medical statements or notices doesn’t make sense, investigate it.

Be aware of other ways to protect yourself

Utilize free account services with your bank or credit card issuer

Most banks offer free transaction-monitoring tools that will notify you whenever an account withdrawal exceeds a limit set by you. An increasing number of credit card companies also bundle credit scores and monitoring with their standard service. Both are free ways for you to stay up-to-date on important financial data.

Opt-out of prescreened offers

Unsolicited mail from credit card and insurance companies is more than just annoying; it can actually be dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands, since it contains your full name, address, and the promise of approval for credit. OptOutPrescreen.com lets you remove your info from the list that credit bureaus give to banks and insurance companies, so they’ll stop sending you pre-approved offers. You can always check your credit and available offers at a free credit-monitoring website.

Make a habit of reviewing your medical and insurance statements

Because of health information privacy laws, identity theft protection services can’t monitor your medical statements. Read bills, collection notices, and any other medical statements to ensure the information is accurate.

ID Theft Protection FAQ

How can I correct a mistake in my medical records?
  • Request copies of your medical records. You may have to pay, but medical professionals have to oblige. If they don’t, file a Privacy or Security of Health Information complaint.
  • Account for disclosures. Also ask for an “accounting of disclosures”, a list of when, where, why, and to whom your information has ever been released.
  • Request corrections. If you find any errors, write the health care provider explicitly describing them. Keep copies of everything.
What does ID Theft Insurance cover?

Most services offer up to million-dollar insurance policies, but it’s good to note this protection is secondary, and can only be applied to certain costs. First off, it’s not intended to cover actual lost funds. Because of the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), you are not legally responsible for paying fraudulent debt.

  • Maximum credit card liability — $50
  • Maximum check or debit liability — $500 (as long as you report theft within 60 days)

What theft insurance can cover are legal fees, lost wages, and the expenses associated with spending time getting your life back: travel and childcare. Note that each element of coverage has its own limit, that costs must be accrued within a set timeframe, and that the aggregate limit usually reflects how much you pay per month: The more expensive your plan, the bigger the insurance payout.

Can I DIY my identity theft protection?

The protection offered by ID theft services is really just monitoring and restitution. You can take steps on your own — it just requires a little more legwork.

  • Visit IdentityTheft.gov — it’s the federal government’s free restitution website.
  • Request your free annual report from each of the three credit bureaus.
  • Place a free 90-day fraud alert on your credit file. This directs lenders to verify your identity before opening accounts in your name.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, lock your credit reports with a credit freeze. This costs $5–10, and prevents anyone from viewing your files. (It’ll cose about the same if you need to unfreeze your credit to apply for loans or credit cards.) Minniti calls a credit freeze “the most effective method out there for stopping new account fraud.”

Compare the Best Identity Theft Protection Services

IdentityForce
LifeLock
ID Watchdog
The Best
Value
Mobile App
Retroactive Protection
Recommended plan
UltraSecure+Credit
Ultimate Plus
Platinum
3-bureau credit monitoring
Family plans
Mobile app

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