Identity fraud and identity theft have become an unfortunately common concern online, and the rise of these incidents is tied into the growing amount of data breaches happening these days with an increasing number of people working from home because of the pandemic.
As we saw at the start of 2020, the number of people affected by a data breach has reached truly alarming levels – over half of UK consumers, for example, during the course of 2019 (according to a report by DynaRisk) and billions of identity records posted for sale globally on the dark web
A data breach occurs when someone accidentally exposes data or a company’s systems are hacked or compromised, and the personal details of some (or many) customers are stolen – such an occurrence can lead to your details being leaked online through absolutely no fault of your own. Those details can then be used to steal your identity in some manner for fraudulent purposes.
Best identity theft protection in 2020 – at a glance
2. Norton LifeLock – Best all-rounder identity theft protection provider
3. Experian IdentityWorks – Best identity theft protection for beginners
4. ADT Identity Protection – Best affordable identity theft provider
5. Complete ID – Best ID theft protection service for Costco members
Read on for our detailed analysis of each ID theft protection services
And the danger is compounded because breaches are hitting some huge organizations with massive customer bases, such as the international hotel chain Marriot which had the details of something like 5.2 million guests exposed by hackers in April 2020. Or the more recent Home Chef hack which witnessed 8 million user records spilled on the dark web.
With large-scale data breaches continuing to hit high-profile companies around the globe, it’s no wonder many folks are worried about identity theft, but luckily, getting one of the best identity theft protection tools can keep you protected.
Many of the best identity theft protection services give you tools to help spot potential scams whereby a criminal may have obtained your details on the dark web (or elsewhere online), and used that information to take out a loan, make a payment or engage in some other fraudulent practice. And that’s something even other security and privacy tools like antivirus or VPN can’t offer.
Here are the best identity theft services currently available.
> If you want to ask any questions to a real human being, then you can call IdentityForce directly on this toll-free number 888-266-3930
Protection starts with access to credit reports from the top three agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Web access, iOS and Android apps enable checking your details at any time.
A comprehensive monitoring network offers near real-time alerts for issues including searches on your credit report, changes of address, accounts being opened in your name, fraudulent use of your social security number, your details appearing in court records or on the sex offender register, and your data being sold on the dark web. If a problem is found you’ll be speedily alerted via SMS and email.
There are some interesting bonus features. PC-based anti-phishing and anti-keylogger software tries to keep malware at bay and prevent hackers stealing your data, while a Social Media Identity Monitoring suite scans your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Google+ streams for malicious links, hacked and imposter accounts, and more.
Pricing for the service is $8.99 a month for the identity protection service, which offers round the clock monitoring of your personal information and alerts you if it’s compromised, and comes with $1 million insurance. There’s also identity protection with credit monitoring, scores, and reports, for $19.99 a month.
You can read our IdentityForce review here.
Norton LifeLock provides in-depth monitoring of credit and loan applications, court and criminal records, USPS change of address requests and any data exposed on more than 10,000 websites, looking out for any signs of others using your details.
If a potential issue crops up, smartly designed mobile apps give you alerts of what’s going on. Should someone apply for an auto loan in your name, for instance, you don’t just get to hear about it a few days later when your credit report updates: instead, the app sends you an immediate notification asking if this application was yours. Say no and Norton LifeLock’s support team jumps into action to investigate.
If a thief manages to bypass your defenses anyway, Norton LifeLock’s ID recovery specialists will help you get your life back. Unlike some services, that doesn’t mean they’ll advise you who to call – they’ll do the heavy lifting for you, making those calls, filling in forms and more. In really serious situations, you’re covered by up to $1 million for losses and expenses due to identity fraud.
Unsurprisingly, all this power doesn’t come cheap. Norton LifeLock’s high-end Ultimate Plus account costs $29.99 a month, 50% more than similar products from IdentityForce and ID Watchdog. That said, it is a very comprehensive service, and there is currently an offer which gives you 10% off your first year of subscription, meaning that during this time you will only pay $26.99 monthly.
It’s hard to beat Norton LifeLock’s features and functionality, though, and the service does offer good deals in some areas. If you’d rather not buy into the comprehensive package then the starter Norton LifeLock Standard plan gives you social security number and credit alerts for $8.99 a month.
Click here for our full Norton LifeLock review.
One of the biggest names in consumer credit reporting, Experian now maintains information on more than a billion businesses and individuals worldwide.
The company’s IdentityWorks is a capable service, offering access to their credit report and score, raising alerts when there are any significant changes, and keeping a careful eye on the dark web for any signs of the user’s personal data.
Available for as little as $8.33 when billed annually for a single individual on the IdentityWorks Plus, it provides with an affordable entry to all-year identity protection. Two adults and up to 10 children will pay only twice that amount.
You don’t have to be a financial geek to understand what’s on offer, as Experian has gone to unusual lengths to make everything accessible and clear. While just about everyone claims they can show you your credit report, for instance, the Experian site offers a sample report to show you exactly what you’ll get.
If you do sign up, you’ll discover a straightforward web console that presents your details in as simple a way as possible, although experts can drill down to payment histories and other details in a few clicks.
IdentityWorks Premium offers a far more comprehensive service, adding financial account activity, identity validation alerts, court records, as well as social and file-sharing network monitoring, all for $199.99 a year or $19.99 a month.
Check out our full Experian IdentityWorks review.
Perhaps surprisingly, ADT Identity Protection offers a pretty comprehensive service that covers all of the important basics while coming in at a reasonable price.
Features include standard credit checks on charge cards as well as bank accounts and SSNs, as well as credit score monitoring with annual reports. There are also identity checks on drivers licenses and passports, as well as phone numbers, medical insurance, addresses, court records, and even email addresses.
Another feature is protection of up to $1 million identity theft expense reimbursement, to cover any costs in reclaiming your identity in the event that it might become compromised.
All this costs from just $9.99, and even better is that there is no minimum contract terms to keep you locked in. Additionally, although ADT made its name in home security, ADT Identity Protection runs separately so don’t expect to feel pressured to sign up for that service.
Check out our full ADT Identity Protection review.
Complete ID is an identity protection service offered through Costco, and offers a surprisingly comprehensive package of features – but even better is that it comes in a very price-competitive package.
Complete ID works through three main protection features: credit monitoring, identity protection, and identity restoration. It does this by offering a range of monitoring services to ensure your identity has not been compromised, such as through dark web surveillance, SSN monitoring, as well as standard criminal record and credit score monitoring.
However, the pricing is much more competitive than rivals offering a similar service, with Complete ID costing from just $8.99 per month for Executive members and $13.99 per month per person if you happen to be a Business or Gold Star member. Though the Executive plan costs $120 per year, but but it also offers rewards such as 2% back on purchases.
On top of this, Complete ID also offer a bolt-on service of identity protection for your children, costing from $2.99 for up to five children. This ensures that details involving your children aren’t used and abused by criminals, and adds an extra level of security for families.
Overall, Complete ID offers a very similar service to IdentityForce above, but at a discounted price. While there are some small trade-offs in terms of the user interface, the discounted rate makes it well worth considering.
Find out more in our fill Complete ID review.
How identity theft protection works
The above services offer different levels of subscription to customers, but even the most basic identity theft management plan will offer a fairly comprehensive monitoring service of your personal details. However, many providers also offer a credit scoring plan that is either sold separately, or can be combined with identity protection to provide the most secure service available to defend against theft and financial loss.
There are a number of identity theft protection tools and software services out there. Commonly they will require a monthly subscription, and that will allow the company to automatically and continuously keep a check of your records on databases.
A key area they will usually check is credit scoring, as someone stealing a user’s personal details will often apply for a credit card or loan, which the identity protection service should flag up for you to confirm that you have indeed made such an application.
If you haven’t, this means that you can cancel the application and ensure that your credit rating is not affected, while also taking steps to protect yourself from further abuse of your private details.
However, some identity theft services do not perform an adequate job of making such checks or issuing such alerts, so it’s important to ensure that the service you’re considering for identity theft protection does have reviews that state it is both reliable and trustworthy. You can do this by looking for customer feedback and reviews on the Better Business Bureau website or at Trustpilot.
Ultimately, though, a lot of identity theft protection depends on your own actions. Simple steps such as having a good and up to date antivirus to protect your computer against intrusion and data theft, and also using a paper shredder to ensure confidential documents are destroyed before they are recycled.
Also, if you suspect that your identity has been compromised, do ensure you make checks, and if confirmed, take steps to protect yourself.
Keeping your identity and personal details safe requires both proactive and reactive approaches, but hopefully subscribing to any of the best identity theft protection software featured above will help provide peace of mind and keep you safe from fraud and theft.