Written by René Bennett – 8 min read – Edited By David Schepp
With the pandemic-fueled expansion of online activity, U.S. consumers also face an increased risk of cybercrimes. In fact, there was a 17 percent increase in data breaches in 2021 from the previous year. The good news is that the technology to prevent cybercrime also continues to grow. With identity theft-protection services, you can easily protect your personal information from being stolen and keep finances safe from hackers.
Best identity theft-protection services
- Aura: Best all-in-one system
- IdentityForce: Best for monitoring credit
- LifeLock: Best for property owners
- IdentityIQ: Best for device security
- Identity Guard: Best for scanning the web
- Allstate Identity Protection: Best for visual analysis
- IDShield: Best for restoring identity
- Zander: Best for affordability
Aura – Best all-in-one system
Aura comes with a comprehensive set of tools designed to fight cybercrime, including a password manager, credit inquiry alerts, malware blocking and a virtual private network (VPN). The service has a sleek interface for desktop and mobile, and it encrypts all online activity, making it harder for hackers to access your personal information.
Aura closely monitors online activity to detect any threats to personal data, such as breaches of passwords or a bank account opened under your name. In the case that identity theft is detected, customers are immediately alerted, and a white-glove fraud resolution team helps the victim resolve the fraud issue. Aura also provides up to $1 million in identity theft insurance to cover losses, such as lost wages and travel expenses.
A free two-week trial is offered. After that, there are three billing plans: individual, couple and family. The individual plan comes with all of the services offered by Aura and protects up to 10 devices. The next level up, the couple plan, comes with the same features but for two people and up to 20 devices. For families, the plan covers five people and up to 50 devices. All annual plans have a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Monthly costs — discounted if billed annually:
- $15 for the individual plan
- $29 for the couple plan
- $50 for the family plan
IdentityForce – Best for monitoring credit
IdentityForce, a division of TransUnion, offers an extensive monitoring system that detects fraudulent credit activity, changes of address, illegal trading of information on the dark web, sex offender registrations and inappropriate activity on social media. Customers get an alert when there’s evidence of any of these activities. Plus, the service notifies you when there’s a major data breach, such as if a social media platform is hacked or if a company is cyberattacked, so customers can take necessary steps to protect their information ahead of time.
Should personal information be breached or used for fraudulent purposes, IdentityForce connects victims with a resolution specialist to complete paperwork, make calls and assist with other steps to restore their identities. Victims are also able to quickly cancel or replace debit, credit or ATM cards through the online service, and the company will reimburse up to $1 million in losses.
A unique feature of IdentityForce is its optional add-on of tools for managing credit. Not only does the service grant customers instant access to credit reports and scores from multiple bureaus, it also provides a credit score tracker and a credit score simulator. With the simulator, you’ll be able to foresee how different financial decisions, such as taking out a loan, affect your credit.
For the basic plan — called UltraSecure — customers get a 30-day free trial. The UltraSecure+Credit plan comes with the extra credit management tools and includes some other features, such as a VPN and mobile phone threat detection, that the basic plan does not. With both plans, customers have the option to add child identity theft protection for $2.75 a month for each child.
- $17.99 for UltraSecure
- $23.99 for UltraSecure+Credit
LifeLock – Best for property owners
With Norton’s LifeLock service, the features available to protect personal identity vary notably between its three products. Each product comes with three plan options: one for an individual, one for a two-person family and one for a family of two adults and up to five children. The plans don’t come with device security, but they can be paired with Norton 360 suite at extra cost to include device security tools such as a VPN.
The LifeLock Standard product covers up to $1 million in legal and expert fees and up to $25,000 in stolen funds. With this plan, LifeLock monitors credit, the dark web and other networks where personally identifiable information may be used illegally.
LifeLock Advantage comes with all of the same features as the Standard product, except with a total of up to $100,000 in coverage for stolen funds. LifeLock Advantage comes with some extra features and alerts, including an identity block feature to block unauthorized account openings. Some additional alerts include alerts on crimes committed in your name and on bank account activity.
The final product, LifeLock Ultimate Plus, comes with all of the same features as the Advantage product, plus up to $1 million covered for stolen funds and some more features. In addition to investment account alerts and social media monitoring, among others, it includes an extra home title monitoring feature that accounts for any properties where you have ownership.
Monthly costs for individuals — discounted if billed annually:
- $7.99 for LifeLock Standard for the first year, then $11.99
- $15.99 for LifeLock Advantage for the first year, then $22.99
- $23.99 for LifeLock Ultimate Plus for the first year, then $34.99
IdentityIQ – Best for device security
IdentityIQ offers services to help protect customers not only from identity theft, but also from a number of other cyberattacks. On all plan options, customers get full monitoring of their information and accounts as well as the Bitdefender Total Security package for a small extra fee. The Bitdefender software is a unique feature designed to detect malware and protect files on various personal devices, available for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. It comes with a VPN, antivirus and antispyware, a password manager and parental controls.
Like its competitors, IdentityIQ provides all of the typical services to help monitor, alert and restore cases of identity theft. Some of these services include credit report monitoring, dark web monitoring, expert assistance for restoring identity and up to $1 million in theft coverage. IdentityIQ also provides enhanced tools for managing credit, such as a credit score tracker and a credit score simulator, but these tools are only available on the highest priced plan.
There are four levels of plan options available with increasing monitoring capacity. Only the Secure Max plan comes with family protection, which provides an extra $25,000 in ID theft insurance for children. Prices are discounted if billed annually.
Monthly costs, with Bitdefender included:
- $8.99 for the Secure Plan
- $11.99 for Secure Plus
- $21.99 for Secure Pro
- $32.99 for Secure Max
Identity Guard – Best for scanning the web
Identity Guard’s service includes all of the basic features that help to protect identities — namely, web monitoring, alerts and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. Expert help for remediating fraud is only available on the Ultra plan.
Identity Guard is especially designed to scan the web for unauthorized spreading of personal information. The service is partnered with IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence, combining traditional web monitoring with AI detection to more effectively scan for threats. The Identity Guard site provides a free dark web scanner for any site visitors to check if their personal data has been compromised. Additionally, with a family plan, the service scans for your child’s information on the dark web as well as potential cyberbullying.
There are several different types of plans available for a wide variety of consumers. Identity Guard offers three types of individual plans and three types of family plans. The basic plan for each is called the Value plan and is an affordable option, but it doesn’t include bank account monitoring or credit protection. Identity Guard Total includes bank account monitoring and credit monitoring. Identity Guard Ultra includes these features plus extra monitoring, such as home title and investment accounts monitoring, as well as an annual credit report.
Monthly costs — discounted if billed annually:
- $8.99 for the individual Value plan, or $14.99 for families
- $19.99 for the individual Total plan, or $29.99 for families
- $29.99 for the individual Ultra plan, or $39.99 for families
Allstate Identity Protection – Best for visual analysis
Allstate Identity Protection features standard identity monitoring, including monitoring of the web and customers’ accounts, and a unique visual, digital footprint. The Allstate digital footprint records online activity and organizes it into a straightforward, web-like visual, where customers can keep track of where all of their information is being stored or spread online. When there’s a data breach or threat to personal information detected, the digital footprint highlights the threat and helps customers navigate steps to protect their identity. Additionally, the digital footprint service provides tips and resources on how to reduce the amount of personal data exposed online.
Allstate Identity Protections also provides expert service for remediation in the event that identity theft is detected, and you’ll be insured up to $1 million for related expenses, not including stolen funds.
There are two tiers for an Allstate Identity Protection plan, and each tier has an individual and a family option. Each plan comes with a 30-day free trial. With a family plan, the service covers up to 10 members, including minors, college-age children and seniors. The Premier plan includes enhanced financial monitoring, credit reports, social media monitoring and a tax fraud refund advance, none of which are included in the Essentials plan.
- $9.99 for an individual Essentials plan, or $18.99 for families
- $17.99 for an individual Premier plan, or $34.99 for families
IDShield – Best for restoring identity
IDShield comes with 24/7 monitoring of personal data, protection against malware, credit monitoring and comprehensive services for identity restoration.
The restoration services, specifically, are a stand-out feature of IDShield’s products. If the software detects identity theft, the victim is assigned a licensed private investigator, whose responsibilities include contacting appropriate institutions, helping to place a credit freeze and/or fraud alert on credit reports and restoring the victim’s identity to pre-theft status. After resolution, the private investigators keep the case open for an additional 120 days should the victim be targeted again. Additionally, investigators are available to provide consultation regarding theft trends and tips for how to be a safe online consumer.
Each IDShield plan comes with mostly the same features, including an extensive monitoring system and full-service restoration. The only differences between the plans are how many credit bureaus are monitored (one or three) and how many users the plan covers. The family option covers a couple and up to 10 dependent children.
- $14.95 for an individual for one credit bureau, or $19.95 for three credit bureaus
- $29.95 for a family for one credit bureau, or $34.95 for three credit bureaus
Zander – Best for affordability
Zander offers two plans, the Essential Plan and Cyber Elite Bundle, both of which have individual and family options. For families, Zander covers up to two adults and 10 children. These offerings are more affordable than competitors, so they may be a good fit for those on a tighter budget.
Both plans come with a decent selection of cybersecurity tools, including personal information monitoring, data breach updates, specialists to help with identity recovery and up to $1 million in coverage for each adult. With the Cyber Elite Bundle, customers will also get malware protection, such as a VPN and antivirus software, and alerts for when personal information has been used to apply for a new account.
Zander does not provide credit monitoring, but the Cyber Elite Bundle does come with Experian CreditLock, which allows customers to instantly lock their credit files and block new accounts from being opened.
- $6.75 for the individual Essential Plan, or $12.90 for families
- $9.99 for the individual Cyber Elite Bundle, or $19.49 for families
Most consumers today have at least some of their personal information stored online, which means that they’re susceptible to data breaches and to other privacy threats. Whether you’re a frequent online shopper or you have an online bank account, it’s a good idea to protect yourself — and your money — ahead of time from cybercrime.
Identity theft-protection services make it much easier to prevent your identity from being stolen. The various services largely offer similar features — monitoring, alerts and identity theft insurance — but they differ in how much information they monitor and what enhanced features they provide. Some services come with added monitoring capabilities, while others focus more on shielding your information with antivirus software. When shopping around for identity theft protection, consider these details and in what areas you’d like extra protection.