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Best Identity Theft Protection & Monitoring Services in 2021

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Have you ever looked yourself up online? And I don’t mean just Googling your name, although that alone can give people a ridiculous amount of personal information about you – where you work, where you live, details about your family, even what stores you shop at regularly.

Because every time you provide any kind of information about yourself to anyone, that data about you is captured and saved in a database somewhere — a database that is accessible with nothing more than an internet connection and the right tools.

Quick summary:

  1. IdentityForce – best overall ID theft protection in 2021 ⇣
  2. Identity Guard – best protection with immediate alerts ⇣
  3. LifeLock– best online fraud protection ⇣

What fraudsters do once they have this private information varies, but it usually involves causing financial and reputational damage that can take a victim years to recover from. With identity fraud and identity theft becoming more prevalent thanks to an alarming spike in major data breaches, doing everything you can to protect your personal information from malicious actors is more important than ever.  

Good identity theft protection services are your first line of defense against someone trying to assume your identity. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth using. This guide is here to help you compare the best identity theft protection services and choose the one that is best for you.

Best ID Theft Protection for 2021

Identity theft protection services help prevent ID theft and help restore your identity if you become a victim of it. Here below are the best identity theft protection services of 2021:

1. Sontiq IdentityForce (Best overall protection)

Sontiq IdentityForce

Free Trial: 14-days free trial

Price: From $17.95 per month

Insurance Cover: Up to $1 million

Mobile App: Yes, iOS and Android

Major Credit Bureau Monitoring: Only with the premium plan

Trustpilot Rating: 4.5 stars

Website: www.identityforce.com

Owned by cybersecurity company Sontiq, IdentityForce is the number one rated identity protection service according to consumers.

The main features of IdentityForce include but are not limited to:

  • Credit report request monitoring
  • Change of address alerts
  • Scanning court records
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Mobile hacking protection
  • Sex offender notifications
  • Social media monitoring
  • Payday loan notifications
  • Monthly credit scores
  • Credit score tracker and simulator
  • Investment, bank, and credit card account monitoring
  • Social security number (SSN) tracking
  • Compromised data alerts
  • Identity theft insurance
  • Managed identity restoration

But what makes them our number one pick when it comes to identity theft protection services is their 100% success rate in recovering the stolen identifies of their customers and a 98% customer retention rate, along with an impressive range of benefits and features.

While their iOS app needs some work and signing up for a Family Plan requires an actual phone call, I think those shortcomings don't detract from the overwhelming positives with this service.

Pros

  • Comprehensive monitoring, including customizable bank and credit card account alerts as well as medical ID fraud
  • PC protection tools that include anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software
  • Two-factor authentication

Cons

  • A mediocre iOS app
  • The basic plan doesn’t include credit monitoring
  • Can be considered an expensive option compared to some other identity protection services

Pricing plans

There is a 14-day free trial for the basic UltraSecure plan. However, there is no money-back guarantee if you cancel your subscription. While family plans are available, you have to call for information on them. You get two months free on annual plans.

PlanMonthly FeeAnnual Fee
UltraSecure$17.95$179.50
UltraSecure+Credit$23.95$239.50

Visit IdentityForce to find out more about the features and pricing of their different plans.

2. Aura Identity Guard (Best for fast alerts)

Aura Identity Guard

Free Trial: Occasionally offer free trials

Price: From $8.95 per month

Insurance Cover: Up to $1 million

Mobile App: Yes, iOS and Android

Major Credit Bureau Monitoring: Only offers annual credit reports

Trustpilot Rating: 4.2 stars

Website: www.identityguard.com

Identity Guard is a reputable service that monitors your credit and scans the internet for threats of identity theft. 

The main features of Identity Guard include but are not limited to:

  • Credit monitoring
  • Financial monitoring
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Criminal and sex offender registry monitoring
  • Change of address alerts
  • Home title monitoring
  • Risk management report
  • Browser extension
  • Anti-phishing mobile app
  • Facebook social insight report

What makes Identity Guard unique among identity theft services is their partnership with Watson, IBM's AI-powered supercomputer. This artificial intelligence constantly scans the web and can alert you to potentially suspicious activity related to your accounts or identity.

They take this service a step further by actually assisting with the recovery process if you’re a victim of identity theft. This includes canceling your cards, filing a police report, and repairing damage caused by fraudulent activity.

Pros

  • Dynamic AI-powered identity protection based on your personal habits and updated threat monitoring
  • Detailed notifications and alerts
  • Comprehensive credit monitoring with a credit freeze option

Cons

  • Might be considered expensive
  • Social media monitoring is limited
  • Can only get credit reports once a year

Pricing plans

Identity Guard occasionally offers free trials, which can only be found through the “Terms of Service” page on their website.

However, they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on their annual plans and discounted rates through affiliate partners. Annual plans also come with two months of free service.

PlanIndividual Plan FeeFamily Plan Fee
Value$8.99 ($89.99/yr.)$14.99 ($149.99/yr.)
Total$19.99 ($199.99/yr.)$29.99 ($299.99/yr.)
Ultra$29.99 ($299.99/yr.)$39.99 ($399.99/yr.)

Visit Identity Guard to find out more about the features and pricing of their different identity theft protection plans.

3. Norton LifeLock (Best online fraud protection)

Norton Lifelock

Free Trial: 30-days free trial

Price: From $9.99 per month

Insurance Cover: $25,000 to $1 million

Mobile App: Yes, iOS and Android

Major Credit Bureau Monitoring: Three bureau reporting with the premium plan

Trustpilot Rating: 3.6 stars

Website: www.lifelock.com

LifeLock monitors for identity theft and threats. Sign up with one of the most trusted identity theft protection providers to help safeguard your credit, identity, and bank accounts against identity theft.

The main features of LifeLock include but are not limited to:

  • Address change alerts
  • Crime registry alerts
  • Court record scanning
  • Sex offender registries
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Data breach notifications
  • Stolen wallet protection
  • ID verification monitoring
  • Privacy monitor
  • Credit locking capability
  • Identity recovery assistance

Founded in 2005, LifeLock has been owned by Norton since 2017. Every LifeLock plan includes a Norton360 antivirus and antimalware subscription — making it the best identity theft protection service for those who spend a lot of time browsing sometimes questionable corners of the internet.

Another feature that makes this a standout offering is the ability to freeze your accounts and block inquiries with the three leading credit bureaus in America.

Pros

  • Computer and device protection with Norton360 antivirus
  • Streamlined credit locking feature
  • A generous free trial period

Cons

  • Identity theft insurance coverage is limited according to which tier plan you are on
  • There is a hefty price jump from first to second year’s subscription fees
  • Some functions only work with a PC

Pricing plans

LifeLock offers a 30-day free trial as well as an impressive 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans.

They also unveiled full-service family plans that cover up to five children in October 2020. Your subscription will increase drastically from your second year of service.

PlanIndividual Monthly FeesIndividual Annual FeesFamily Monthly FeesFamily Annual Fees
Select$9.99 (renews at $14.99/m)$99.48 (renews at $149.99/yr.)$23.99 (renews at $38.99)$251.88 (renews at $389.99/yr.)
Advantage$19.99 (renews at $24.99/m)$191.88 (renews at $249.99/yr.)$36.99 (renews at $59.99/m)$371.88 (renews at $599.99/yr.)
Ultimate Plus$29.99 (renews at $34.99/m)$299.88 (renews at $349.99/yr.)$48.99 (renews at $81.99/m)$491.88 (renews at $819.99)

Visit the LifeLock website to find out more about the features and pricing of their different plans.

4. IdentityIQ (Best for social security monitoring)

IdentityIQ

Free Trial: 7-day trial for $1

Price: From $8.99 per month

Insurance Cover: Up to $1 million

Mobile App: No

Major Credit Bureau Monitoring: One to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan

Trustpilot Rating: 3.8 stars

Website: www.identityiq.com

Best known for its affordable protection plans, IdentityIQ was founded in 2009 and is led by an expert with over a decade of experience in identity theft protection services.

The main features of IdentityIQ include but are not limited to:

  • Credit report monitoring
  • Dark web surveillance
  • Coverage for lawyers and restoration experts
  • Social security number alerts
  • Synthetic ID theft protection
  • Change of address alerts
  • File sharing network monitoring
  • Lost wallet assistance
  • Junk mail opt-out service
  • Criminal registry monitoring
  • Three-bureau credit monitoring

While their lowest tier plan doesn’t offer credit score monitoring or credit reports, it does offer daily monitoring of one of the three major US credit bureaus. And it is this feature as well as its affordability that makes this one of the best services for those who are on a budget but still want to protect against identity theft.

Pros

  • Enhanced credit monitoring
  • Free coverage of up to $25,000 for qualifying family members
  • US-based customer support

Cons

  • No social media monitoring
  • No mobile app
  • Shares some of the data it collects with third parties

Pricing plans

IdentityIQ doesn’t have a free trial, though they offer the option to try their services for 7 days for $1. You can cancel your subscription at any time, but they don’t offer refunds for a partial month of service.

While their plans include identity theft insurance for family members, they don’t actually have any family plans for their services.

PlanMonthly FeesAnnual Fees
Secure$8.99$91.99
Secure Plus$11.99$122.99
Secure Pro$21.99$224.99
Secure Max$32.99$336.99

Visit IdentityIQ to find out more about the features and pricing of their different plans.

5. IDShield (Best for a large family)

idshield

Free Trial: 30-day free trial

Price: From $13.95 per month

Insurance Cover: Up to $1 million

Mobile App: Yes, iOS and Android

Major Credit Bureau Monitoring: One to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan

Trustpilot Rating: 4.3 stars

Website: www.idshield.com

IDShield helps protect you against identity theft by monitoring your online reputation, passwords, credit cards, financial accounts, and credit score.

The main features of IDShield include but are not limited to:

  • Social security number monitoring
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Court records scanning
  • Social media monitoring
  • Unlimited consultation
  • 24/7 emergency assistance
  • Medical data reports
  • Lost wallet support
  • Credit score tracking and reporting
  • Public records monitoring

A division of LegalShield, IDShield has over 1 million members. What sets it apart from the majority of other identity theft protection services is its top-tier customer support.

The fact that even their lowest tier plan includes credit report monitoring is another huge plus. But the true value of this service compared to other identity theft protection companies comes from its large-scale family plans.

Pros

  • Family plans allow for up to 10 dependants
  • Data broker monitoring and deletion
  • Access to private investigators if your identity is stolen

Cons

  • No medical ID monitoring
  • No change of address alerts
  • The user experience when signing up is a little outdated

Pricing plans

IDShield offers an impressive 30-day free trial of their services and is mostly free of fine print. However, note that their restoration benefit doesn’t cover issues caused by an identity theft incident prior to signing up with them.

IDShield's 1 bureau plans only offer TransUnion credit monitoring and fraud alerts. They also don’t have annual plans.

PlanIndividual Monthly FeesFamily Monthly Fees
1 Bureau Plan$13.95$26.95
3 Bureau Plan$17.95$32.95

Visit the IDShield website to find out more about the features and pricing of their different plans.

6. IDX Identity & IDX Privacy (formerly MyIDCare – Best for detailed data breach reports)

idx MyIDCare

Free Trial: 30-day free trial

Price: From $9.95 per month

Insurance Cover: Up to $1 million

Mobile App: Yes, iOS and Android

Major Credit Bureau Monitoring: One to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan

Trustpilot Rating: 4 stars

Website: www.idx.us/idx-identity

MyIDCare (now IDX) provides identity theft protection and monitoring services built for the Digital Age.

The main features of IDX Identity include but are not limited to:

  • CyberScan surveillance engine
  • Single or triple bureau credit monitoring
  • Recovery services with a 100% recovery guarantee
  • Instant alerts
  • Annual credit reports
  • Lost wallet coverage
  • Social security fraud monitoring
  • Payday loan application monitoring
  • Change of address alerts
  • Court record monitoring
  • Monthly account recaps
  • Password detective
  • Scam alerts and protection advice

IDX is owned and operated by ID Experts, a company that has been in the ID theft protection industry for 15 years.

They have earned such a great reputation for data protection that there are numerous large businesses and government organizations that trust IDX to keep their most sensitive data safe.

With an A+ BBB rating, the combined IDX Identity and IDX Privacy services protect you from nine types of identity theft including medical, criminal, employment, insurance, and more.

Pros

  • Perfect ID restoration record
  • Protection against synthetic ID related fraud
  • Includes a VPN

Cons

  • Social media monitoring gives a lot of false positives
  • Awkward user experience
  • Full protection requires two different services

Pricing plans

There is a 30-day free trial for IDX Privacy, although it appears that IDX Identity doesn’t offer any free trial at the moment. New customers get a discounted rate when they sign up, and your subscription can be canceled at any time.

PlanIndividual Monthly FeesFamily Monthly FeesIndividual Annual FeesFamily Monthly Fees
IDX Privacy$12.95 $99.95 
Identity Essentials$9.95$19.95$107.46$215.46
Identity Premier$19.95$39.95$215.46$431.46

Visit the IDX website to find out more about the features and pricing of their different plans.

7. Equifax ID Watchdog (Best for ID theft resolution support)

id watchdog

Free Trial: No

Price: From $14.95 per month

Insurance Cover: Up to $1 million

Mobile App: Yes, iOS and Android

Major Credit Bureau Monitoring: One to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan

Trustpilot Rating: 4 stars

Website: www.idwatchdog.com

ID Watchdog provides identity theft protection and resolution services to both individuals and companies.

The main features of ID Watchdog include but are not limited to:

  • Dark web monitoring
  • Subprime loan monitoring
  • Public records monitoring
  • USPS change of address alerts
  • Customizable alerts
  • Credit freeze assistance
  • High-risk transaction monitoring
  • Social media monitoring
  • Sex offender registry monitoring
  • 24/7 customer support

Owned by the Equifax credit bureau and based in Denver, ID Watchdog is one of the few identity theft protection companies that offer their services as an employee benefit.

One of the other, more uncommon services they offer is one-touch multi-bureau credit locking. Another one is removing your personal information from databases that spammers frequent to send you junk mail and other unwanted offers.

Pros

  • Ability to lock your child’s Equifax credit report
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Ability to prevent certain types of loans from being opened in your name

Cons

  • No computer security tools like antivirus software
  • The credit bureau that owns ID Watchdog has been a victim of a number of recent data breaches
  • Doesn’t offer reimbursement insurance coverage with their plans

Pricing plans

ID Watchdog doesn’t offer any free trials and a money-back guarantee. Family plans also only support a maximum of four children.

PlanIndividual Monthly FeesFamily Monthly FeesIndividual Annual FeesFamily Annual Fees
ID Watchdog Plus$14.95$25.95$164$287
ID Watchdog Platinum$19.95$34.95$219$383

Visit ID Watchdog to find out more about the features and pricing of their different plans.

What Are Identity Theft Protection Services, and Why Do I Need Them?

Identity theft is when a criminal uses your personal information – like your name, social security number, or credit card number – without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity theft and fraud is a growing problem.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2020 1.4 million identity theft complaints in the U.S. accounted for 29 percent of all complaints received by the FTC, which's up 20 percent compared to 2019.

id theft complaints

Explaining what identity theft protection services are can get complex, considering the billions of different data points that the top-rated identity protection companies monitor. 

But the simplest explanation is that they monitor online databases and websites for any mention of your personal information, including your driver's license, medical ID, bank account, and social security numbers.

There are dozens of different ID protection services with a multitude of features and benefits. But the essential features that the best ones offer include:

  • Change of address monitoring
  • SSN monitoring
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Basic and advanced ID theft monitoring
  • Child identity theft monitoring
  • A recovery insurance policy

What are the different types of identity theft?

You may think of identity theft as something you only see on TV when some killer takes over the lives of their victim and pretends to be them with friends, family, and colleagues.

But online identity theft is a lot more subtle than this. Identity thieves can assume your identity in several ways — usually ones that don't involve physically verifying that you are who you say you are.

Financial Identity Theft

This is the most common form of identity theft. It involves someone pretending they are you when interacting with financial institutions and various stores. This may mean taking out loans, applying for a mortgage, or purchasing goods online.

According to the Javelin 2020 Identity Fraud study, the fastest-growing type of financial ID theft is account takeover fraud and is up 72% from the previous year.

Child Identity Theft

This type of identity theft is often perpetrated by a family member and is usually only discovered when the child gets old enough to start applying for loans and opening accounts of their own.

Social Security Identity Theft

This is the most dangerous form of ID theft as the information can be used to commit any number of fraudulent actions. This includes things like claiming benefits from filing tax returns or other means, opening accounts, applying for credit or driver's licenses, and more. All while masquerading as you.

Driver’s License Identity Theft

This usually involves your physical wallet being stolen but can be used by fraudsters to avoid citations that will then end up on your driving record.

Criminal Identity Theft

This is where a criminal has used your name and/or SSN when they are jailed for an offense. Whatever crime they committed then ends up on your permanent record and can cause untold problems in your personal and work life.

Employment Identity Theft

This is when someone uses your SSN on a work application form, thereby making you eligible to pay taxes on their wages and more.

Insurance Identity Theft

This is when someone uses your personal details to apply for or claim insurance benefits in your name. This may mean that you aren't covered in the event that you suffer an illness or injury, your home is damaged in a natural disaster, or you're in a car accident.

Synthetic Identity Theft

This is the fastest-growing type of identity fraud according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and represents 80-85% of identity fraud at the moment. It's a sophisticated operation that combines different elements from multiple people to create an entirely new, fake identity.

Medical Identity Theft

A report by the Identity Theft Research Center shows that the medical industry suffered the second-highest number of data breaches in 2019. This medical information is used by nefarious actors to receive medical services they wouldn't have access to otherwise.

Types of ID theft protection

Identity theft protection services contribute to your peace of mind by monitoring your personal and financial information.

Identity protection services are designed to ward off problems. They'll notify you of suspicious activity, work with you on any resulting issues that arise, and even cover the financial losses incurred by an account takeover.

Here are the most common types of identity protection services provided to protect you from all types of identity theft.

Credit Monitoring

Alerts are issued by the service any time an unauthorized inquiry is initiated or changes are made to your credit reports.

Credit Freeze

A freeze is placed on your credit records, preventing new creditors who request access to them from getting a report until you thaw the freeze.

Credit Report Monitoring

Your credit report is monitored over time for any changes indicating that someone has accessed or tampered with your records without your permission.

Identity Theft Insurance

This coverage will reimburse you for any expenses incurred as a direct result of identity theft and give you support while it comes to terms with the incident.

Identity Recovery Services

These services help you take back control of your identity and restore any damages that may have been incurred, like credit repair or replacement documents like driver's licenses or birth certificates.

Credit Bureau Monitoring

This is a proactive service where changes to your personal information are monitored by the credit bureau providing the protection service.

Email Alerts

Notifications of any changes to your personal information will be sent to you by email so that you can take appropriate action if necessary.

Secure Password Management

Using a password manager your login credentials are stored for each website so that only you can access them or change them. Any suspicious activities set off an alert or the credentials are changed for you.

Other – Identity protection services can also include traditional services like debt protection and life insurance, as well as online tools to help safeguard your identity such as password management systems.

How do I report identity theft?

If you are a victim of identity theft, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. Next, contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your file.

Request a copy of your credit report to check for fraudulent accounts or activity in your name. If you do find fraudulent accounts or activity, file an identity theft report with the FTC at ftc.gov/idtheft or call the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 866-438-4338.

You can also file your own complaint with the FTC to help hold identity thieves accountable for their actions and to alert others that you were a victim of this crime. The FTC will not charge consumers a fee for filing an IdentityTheft.gov complaint.

Comparison Table

CompanyFree TrialPriceInsurance CoverageMajor Credit Bureau MonitoringTrustpilot Rating
IdentityForce14-daysFrom $17.95 /moUp to $1 millionOnly with the premium plan4.5 stars
Identity GuardOccasionallyFrom $8.99 /moUp to $1 millionOnly offers annual credit reports4.2 stars
LifeLock30-daysFrom $9.99 /mo$25,000 to $1 millionThree bureau reporting with the premium plan3.6 stars
IdentityIQ7-days for $1From $8.99 /moUp to $1 millionOne to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan3.8 stars
IDShield30-daysFrom $13.95 /moUp to $1 millionOne to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan4.3 stars
IDX Identity (formerly MyIDCare)30-daysFrom $9.95 /moUp to $1 millionOne to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan4 stars
ID WatchdogNoFrom $14.95 /moUp to $1 millionOne to three-bureau monitoring depending on your plan4 stars

Frequently asked questions

What is identity theft?

Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information – like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number – without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Is it worth paying for identity theft protection?

According to statistics, at least 33% of adults in the U.S have experienced identity theft, with another study by Javelin showing that the average loss per victim is $1,100. When balanced against the cost of an identity theft protection service, yes — it is worth paying for identity theft protection.

How long does it take to recover from identity theft?

That will depend on how long the theft went undetected and what a fraudster used your identity for. In some cases, it can be resolved within a day. For others, the damage can take years and thousands of hours to recover from.

How can I find out if someone is using my identity?

There are 4 main ways to check if someone is using your identity. These are:

Check that no one has changed your billing address by tracking what bills you’ve stopped receiving.
Look for charges on any of your accounts for things you didn’t buy.
Review your bank account statement for withdrawals you didn’t make.
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com and register for your free annual credit reports, then check them for accounts you don’t recognize.

How do I protect my identity for free?

Keep your social security card safe, as this is the easiest way for fraudsters to get the information they need to steal your identity. Protect any documents that contain your personal information and never give out personal information over the phone. Watch out for phishing scams, password protect your devices, and also use a password manager.

How do I check to see if anyone is using my social security number?

The easiest way to check this is to visit www.socialsecurity.gov/statement. Request your Social Security Administration earnings and benefits statement, then check whether someone has used your SSN to get a job or avoid their taxes.

Which identity theft protection service is best?

The best identity theft protection service will depend on your budget, the specific features you are looking for, and the success rate of the service in question. But we believe that IdentityForce by Sontiq gives you the best protection at the best price.

Summary

Identity theft is a serious problem that continues to grow, with criminals finding ways to hack databases and steal personal information as fast as the technology to stop them can be created. In fact, if current trends are any judge, ID theft protection is only going to become more essential in the future.

We want all of our visitors to stay safe and have the tools they need to protect their identities. If you’re on a really tight budget and aren’t able to pay for even the most affordable ID theft protection service, visit www.identitytheft.gov.

This is an identity restoration service offered by the US government that helps victims of identity theft report and recover from the damage caused.

How were these identity theft protection companies tested?

My analysis tested the features, pricing plans, strengths or weaknesses, and the overall value of using each service. However, these reviews are not in-depth due to the impossibility of evaluating identity theft protection apps.

Because that would take months of testing and purposefully hacking personal accounts to see if the service works. It would require exposing personally identifiable information, doing multiple credit checks, and risking that my personally identifiable information getting exposed.

References

Table of Contents

Best ID Theft Protection

IdentityForce
#1 IdentityForce

From $17.95/month

Visit IdentityForce

Identity Guard
#2 Identity Guard

From $8.99/month

Visit Identity Guard

lifelock
#3 LifeLock

From $9.99/month

Visit LifeLock