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When we hear someone say identity theft, we think, whoa – that sounds scary. But… it’ll probably never happen to me.
It sounds too surreal for any of us to consider it as a potential risk – so we think it’s something that happens to other, really unlucky people – not us.
While you might think that it will never happen to you, identity theft is very real. Identity protection is as essential as taking out a car or medical insurance policy. In fact, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research, as many as 14.4 million people fell victim to identity fraud in 2018 alone.
Though it is not mandatory, if your identity gets stolen, the losses suffered can be very devastating and hard to recover from. Knowing how to protect your identity and signing up for ID protection services can save you a lot of worries and money.
What is identity theft protection?
Identity theft protection works as a security layer on your personal information as well as insurance policy coverage offering double bang for your buck. It is impossible to protect your identity one hundred percent all the time.
That said, should identity theft occur, an identity theft protection company will not only restore your identity and credit score but also reimburse your losses, which in most cases can go up to one million dollars!
There are quite a few identity theft protection companies these days, and it might be a bit confusing and overwhelming to pick one that is right for you.
In this article, we will explain why you need to get identity theft protection services, which steps you can take yourself to protect your identity, and which are some of the best companies offering identity theft protection in the USA right now.
5 Best Identity Theft Protection Services
Most companies have a few different plans that usually vary from basic to premium. Check what is included in the plans below to make an informed decision and pick one that is the best match for your needs.
With Identity Guard, you can choose one of their plans both for individuals and for family. They offer their clients risk management tools, online dashboards, personal threats detection, and a mobile app with phishing sensors.
Depending on the chosen plan, they will alert you in case of high-risk transactions, bank account takeovers, requests to open a bank account in your name, your personal information in the dark web, and much more.
Identity guard is working together with IBM Watson (a super Artificial Intelligence computer) to ensure the best threat detection and guide their customers on how to stay secure. In case of theft, they will take care of your identity restoration and reimburse your losses.
- Plans starting at $7.5 a month
- Save 17% by paying annually
- Anti-phishing mobile app
- Extension for safe browsing
- Teamed with IBM Watson
Starting with a basic plan which includes daily credit report monitoring, coverage, and ID restoration in case of theft up to $1 million, SSN Alerts, lost wallet assistance, and other basic protection.
More advanced plans offer protection to your children as well as long as they are living with you.
They believe that daily checks and monthly credit reports can ensure you are as secure as possible.
- The basic plan starts at $6.99 a month
- Opt-out IQ to spot junk mail and do not call list
- Three monthly bureau reports on selected plans
- Daily alerts on changes in your credit profile
Identity IQ Price: $6.99 - $29.99/mo Identity IQ offers 4 different options to start monitoring your credit with as little as $6.99 per month, you could get daily credit report monitoring and much more.
LifeLock offers three different plans of identity protection – Standard, Advantage, and Ultimate Plus. These plans include lost wallet protection, identity restoration, alerts and notifications, dark web monitoring, and much more.
The most basic of plans protect up to 5 devices, while the ultimate plus guarantees protection for an unlimited number of devices.
The main differentiator for LifeLock is family protection. They are offering LifeLock Junior and LifeLock Senior that protect your children and your parents when they are older than 65.
This is a great choice for those with older parents, who are not able to take care of their personal information security in the best way possible.
- Reimbursement up to $1 million
- Monthly payments starting at $8.99
- Kids and seniors’ protection
- 401(k) and investment account activity tracking
- 60 days money-back guarantee
LifeLock Price: $8.99 - $25.99 per month LifeLock monitors your credit and alerts you as soon as a problem arises. With monthly credit score tracking and credit scores from all three bureaus, you can't go wrong with LifeLock on your side.
IdentityForce offers one of the most comprehensive lists of identity protection services available in the industry today. Besides monitoring, alerting, and recovering as most ID protection companies do, they also pay a lot of attention to control.
They offer PC protection tools, two-factor authentication, and medical ID protection, with plans including credit monitoring, and three-bureau credit reports four times a year.
With monthly payments starting at $14.99, IdentityForce is not the cheapest solution, but as we said earlier, cheaper is not always the better solution. In this case, the value you get for their cheapest plan is much higher than that of basic plans other companies are offering.
- Advanced fraud monitoring.
- Payday loan application monitoring.
- Smart social security number tracking.
- Medical ID protection
Identity Force Price: $14.95 - $19.95 per month Identity Force uses advanced detection technology to keep your credit safe. It provides scores from all three bureaus and offers a user-friendly interface. You can try it out with a 14-day free trial to make sure its the best for your needs!
ID Watchdog features two different plans, both of which can be chosen as an individual or a family plan. Their family plans allow you to add one adult and a maximum of four children.
ID Watchdog’s plans offer a wide range of monitoring services such as non-traditional banking system loans, high-risk transactions, public records, dark web, and more. ID Watchdog also sends you alerts if there is suspicious activity noticed, including social media and data breach.
Alerts can also be customized, where you can choose what you would like to be alerted for.
- Cancel any time with no penalty
- Family plans include up to 4 children
- Monitoring USPS for address change
- Social media alerts
- Monthly payments start at $14.95
What identity theft protection is best?
When choosing an identity theft protection company, decide how much you can pay monthly, but keep in mind that cheaper is not better in most cases. If you have a family with children, you might want to pick a company that offers family plans.
It is also important to decide how much monitoring you can do yourself and how much of a high risk to identity theft you are, including the assets you have (and could lose if identity theft occurred).
Why is identity theft protection important?
If someone manages to get a hold of your personal information (like your social security number, date of birth, address, credit card number, medical or car insurance numbers, etc.), they can use that information to impersonate you.
The truth is that anyone can become a victim of identity theft, and it’s as real as the risk of having someone break into your house. The risk is always there – and you never know when you might get unlucky.
While there are things you can do yourself to protect your identity – like monitoring your credit activity, freezing your credit card, and other things – not everything is up to you all of the time.
Plus, in the time-starved world we live in, you may not be able to monitor your credit files often enough to notice when something looks suspicious. And, when it comes to identity theft, seeing it sooner rather than later is essential if you want to stop it from escalating, and costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The good news is that many companies can take care of your identity, as well as you, in case of identity theft. They will not only reimburse your losses but also cover legal fees, as well as restore your identity and credit score.
How can I protect my identity from being stolen?
There are steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft – and it’s important to make sure you’re doing it regularly.
Be Cautious in Public
It starts with simple things, like making sure no one is looking over your shoulder while entering your credit card pin or not throwing documents with your personal information in the garbage.
Be Secure Online
The next step is to be secure online. Avoid entering personal information while on public Wi-Fi – most of the time, it is not encrypted and not as secure as it might appear.
Even if you use secure Wi-Fi, make sure there is a lock sign next to the URL; this means the website is encrypted and is safe to use for payments and other operations, including entering your personal data.
Do Not Share Personal Information Over The Phone
The last and most important step is to not share your personal information over the phone (unless you know the caller on the other line is legit) or email.
There are a lot of scammers, pretending to be from your bank or other institutions, and asking you to give them your personal data. It is always best to contact the institution yourself before giving away any sensitive information – rather than providing it over the phone after being rung up.
However, just being cautious and making sure you’re taking these steps may not always be enough. And that’s where identity theft protection comes into play.
Should you get identity theft protection?
Everyone who has a social security number is a potential victim of identity theft, including children. The actual level of vulnerability will, of course, depend on your assets like credit cards, banks, and other accounts, online and mobile app accounts, as well as everything else that has your personal information stored on it.
You should always give away your data with caution, but remember that there can be data breaches on the provider’s end, which are ultimately well out of your control.
Identity theft protection companies help to protect your data and take care of restoration in case of an accident. Identity theft protection service will give you an extra layer of protection and peace of mind because they will take care of identity restoration in case of theft and even reimburse your losses for a small monthly payment.
The good news is that this extra layer of protection can cost you as little as a few dollars per month, meaning that you can leave it to the pros without breaking the bank.