The Best Identity Theft Protection Services
How We Found the Best Identity Theft Protection Services
18 companies evaluated
1 forensic accountant consulted
3 top picks
The Best Identity Theft Protection Services
Identity theft protection is a service offered to help cover damages related to a stolen identity. The best identity theft protection services utilize technology to help safeguard personal information and monitor private and public records, then offer assistance in resolving any breaches — meaning reimbursement limits to help with lost wages and the option for power of attorney when you need to take your case to court.
To be clear, identity theft prevention services don’t exist — there’s no way to actually prevent your identity from being stolen. What the best identity theft protection services can do, though, is ceaselessly monitor your credit and accounts to alert you as soon as suspicious behavior arises. From there, the best credit monitoring service will assist you every step of the way in reclaiming your identity. We signed up for as many accounts as we could and read their fine print to see which services could best help you monitor and reclaim your identity.
The 3 Best Identity Theft Protection Services
The Best Identity Theft Protection Services: Summed Up
How We Chose the Best Identity Theft Protection Services
Credit reports from all three bureaus
Credit reports are crucial to your financial reputation — they’re what lenders use to decide whether to offer you a loan, they affect mortgage rates and car purchasing, and they even determine whether your internet provider requires an application fee. They’re also how many people first learn they’ve been scammed.
Each of the "big three" credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) uses a slightly different method to compile data for its credit reports, so it's important to keep an eye on all three. Details that show up in one agency's report (a bogus account, debt collection, or legal judgment) might not show up in another. The best identity theft protection services offer continuous, “real time” monitoring of all three credit bureaus, thus giving you the best odds of early fraud detection.
Services that monitor how your personal info is being used online
Not all types of fraud appear on your credit reports. If someone has access to your Social Security or driver’s license numbers, your bank details, or your medical insurance ID, they can steal from your existing accounts by masquerading as you — meaning there will be nothing to report to the bureaus. (A payday loan, for example, requires no credit check and will only appear on your credit reports after it goes to collection.) The best identity theft protection services go beyond credit reports, scanning online databases for your personal info and alerting you of active risk. We required that companies monitor each of the following categories:
- Court records
- Payday loan sites
- “Black market” sites where thieves buy and sell identifying details
- The National Change of Address Database
Alerts via text, email, phone call
If your credit or identity monitoring service spots something fishy, how does it let you know? We eliminated providers that didn't offer email notifications, text notifications, and 24/7 phone availability. If we received an alert and had questions about what it meant, we would want to know that we could quickly get ahold of a customer service rep to explain the issue and walk us through next steps. Credit protection services are only as good as their ability to communicate and act.
Legal support toward reclaiming your identity
In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission estimated that the average identity theft victim spent more than 200 hours across 18 months resolving their issues with credit-reporting agencies. Any identity theft protection service can contact creditors, employers, and law enforcement agencies on your behalf. This requires temporary power of attorney.
“The true cost of identity theft isn’t in paying back what’s been stolen, but in clearing your name.”
There are still several things you'll have to do on your own, including dealing with the IRS or Social Security Administration. But identity theft protection companies that take on power of attorney save you from having to make every phone call, write every letter, and send every email yourself.
Why we chose it
Great protection, great price
For identity theft protection that covers all of the essentials at an affordable price, we recommend IdentityForce’s UltraSecure+Credit plan. 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. In the case of suspicious activity, it’ll help you take action after alerted. IdentityForce will complete paperwork, make calls, and handle every detail to restore your identity. For the scope of the company’s monitoring and restoration services, $20 per month is a bargain.
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 a clean, easy-to-use dashboard. We never had to do much hunting to find what we needed.
Affordable family options
Another standout feature: the company’s affordable family options. Child protection is $3 per month per kid, one of the cheapest of all our finalists. If you’re willing to pay for a full year upfront, you can also sign up for annual membership at $180 and get two months free. And if you have a larger family, IdentityForce does offer family-specific plans — however, you have to speak to an agent for details and registration.
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.
Why we chose it
Recovering from the financial losses of identity theft can be a major ordeal, which is why we appreciated the high reimbursement limits offered by myFICO. Neither of our other top picks offer myFICO's $1 million in reimbursement. This covers wages lost, travel expenses, or document replacement costs. That’s a lot of money myFICO puts forward to help you put your life back together.
Additional access to credit monitoring
MyFICO does not currently sell identity theft protection by itself. Rather, you can opt for one of the company’s credit monitoring plans (Advanced and Premier) and have access to both identity theft monitoring and credit monitoring. If you’re in the market for both identity theft protection and credit score monitoring, then myFICO might be a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
Points to consider
A little pricey
Of the two plans that come with identity theft protection, even the cheaper Advanced plan is more expensive than the lower-tier plans offered by competitors. While that high cost may be worth it if you're looking for high reimbursement limits, IdentityForce's UltraSecure+Credit plan is a cheaper way to get identity theft protection and credit score tracking.
Why we chose it
EverSafe boasts a 30% discount when you sign up additional family members for identity theft protection. Not only does this help protect the identities of your loved ones, but it can also save you money in the long run.
EverSafe features more protection plans than IdentityForce and myFICO. Currently, there are three plans to choose from: the bare-bones Essentials plan, which comes with darknet, bank, and credit card monitoring; EverSafe Plus, which adds credit monitoring, identity theft monitoring, and fraud remediation support; and the higher-end Gold plan, which has more robust credit monitoring and investment account monitoring.
We were impressed with EverSafe’s affordability. The Gold plan offers a lot in the way of identity theft monitoring and is cheaper than myFICO's lower-tier Advanced plan. Furthermore, EverSafe’s Gold plan is about the same price as IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit plan. While the former might feature more perks, it’s missing that 30% family member discount exclusive to EverSafe — so if you're looking to extend protection to loved ones, EverSafe might cut you the best deal.
Points to consider
Lackluster site experience
One of our major gripes with EverSafe is with the site itself. While it’s easy enough to find plans, pricings, and features, we would have appreciated more in the way of educational resources and explanations about these protections. In contrast, each feature listed under IdentityForce’s plans has a link for more information on what the feature entails.
Guide to Identity Theft Protection Services
How to protect your identity
Understand that protection services can't monitor everything
There are some types of personal information that identity theft protection services are prohibited from monitoring. They 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. And because those are fairly common avenues for identity theft, we highly recommend you 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% 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 — or you might get treated for something you don’t have.
A little vigilance goes a long way. Anytime 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 health care 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. This goes for receiving bills for care or doctor visits that you didn’t experience, too.
Consider other ways to protect yourself from identity theft
- Utilize free account services with your bank or credit card issuer. Most banks offer free transaction-monitoring tools that notify you whenever an account withdrawal exceeds an established limit. 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 preapproved 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 that the information is accurate.
Identity Theft Protection Services FAQ
Our Other Financial Service Reviews
We’ve been exploring money topics since day one, sifting through providers and services with the help of expert opinion, data collection, and deep research. Along the way, we’ve found standout companies that can protect your money and grow your financial opportunities. Check out our top picks in the reviews below.