Do You Need Identity Theft Protection?

Identity theft protection companies pledge to act as guardians of your personal data for a monthly or annual fee. Mostly, they start with

credit monitoring,

so layer on additional services to warning you to potential issues.

Simply alerts just flag you after the fact; they can’t foreclose someone from stealing and misusing your financial data. That’due south why NerdWallet advises proactively

freezing your credit

— it tin prevent the opening of fraudulent accounts.

Consider paying for an identity theft protection service simply if:

  • You’re already the victim of

    identity theft

    or at high risk of information technology.

  • You lot are unwilling to freeze your credit reports.

  • Yous know that y’all won’t become through the effort of actively monitoring your own credit.

  • You have checked and don’t have acceptable identity theft monitoring

    available for complimentary as a benefit

    or every bit a effect of a data breach.

Y’all can practise it yourself

Y’all tin can perform the basic services offered by these companies yourself, oftentimes at no charge:

  • Yous can freeze your credit files at all three major credit bureaus —





    — for free, something an identity theft protection company cannot do for you.

“The outset thing consumers need to do if they’re worried nigh ID theft is just to freeze their credit reports,” says Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Freeze, freeze, freeze. Everything else is gravy on top of that.”

What identity theft protection companies do

In general, identity theft protection companies offer three primary services:

  • Monitoring:

    Identity theft protection firms monitor your credit files and alert you about activity, such every bit new accounts opened in your name and credit inquiries received, and so you can react quickly.

  • Alerts:

    Notify you of instances where your personal information has been used, similar if someone tries to open a bank business relationship in your name. This can be helpful because many people don’t realize identity theft has happened until their credit is wrecked, their banking company accounts depleted or they suddenly have a lot of new debt in their proper noun.

  • Recovery:

    If someone hacks your information and uses information technology maliciously, these companies can help you recover lost money and help undo the damage to your credit. Most offer insurance policies of up to $one meg.

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Many also offer tangential services, such as alerts about identity theft news and local sex activity offender registries. Some monitor dark web sites known to traffic in stolen personal and financial data, which is something you can’t do yourself.

Compare identity theft protection services

You may decide you want a full suite of safeguards and don’t heed paying for peace of heed. Or you may know you lot won’t exercise it yourself.

If so, compare prices and coverage details to find a plan that fits. Make sure the product you lot choose monitors credit information at all iii credit bureaus; otherwise, you’re paying for incomplete protection.

Avert credit monitoring products

from the credit bureaus,

which tend to take less robust coverage and may limit your right to sue them, even if they are the ones that exposed your financial information.

Hither’s a expect at some popular products in the identity protection industry. This is a small sampling; you may find a unlike provider that suits you amend. If you’ve already placed credit freezes, you’ll need to temporarily elevator them to allow a provider access to your files for monitoring.



  • The pinnacle-tier Norton LifeLock plan,
    Ultimate Plus
    , offers multiple services to help y’all detect and recover from identity theft.

  • Information technology includes a countersign manager, web privacy and device security benefits.

  • The company adds value to its bundle through additional features, such as a $1 million identity theft recovery programme and legal assist.



 Coverage is $29.99 a month for one developed the first yr, and so information technology car-renews for $34.99 per month. Discounts are available for paying annually.

All-time for:

Those who don’t have an unabridged family to protect; those who can afford to spend a niggling extra for comprehensive coverage. Read our total

LifeLock review



  • Like shooting fish in a barrel to empathize exactly what you are getting, because there are no tiers, and pricing is clear.

  • Offers unlimited consultations with identity theft expert.

  • Scans social media posts for reputational take a chance.


  • Every bit with all services, you may be tempted to dismiss the importance of good cyber hygiene practices.

  • Multiple alerts may pb you to dismiss them without reading, missing important information.


 Monitoring of the three credit bureaus is $17.95 per month for individuals or $32.95 for families (2 adults, up to 10 minor children).

All-time for:

Price-sensitive customers who want to have their social media accounts scanned as part of a package. Read our full

IDShield review



  • IdentityForce offers less expensive three-bureau monitoring than big names like LifeLock.

  • You lot can become a family programme, which covers ii adults and any children 25 and under.

  • Offers alerts well-nigh suspected health insurance fraud.



$23.99 a month or $239.90 a year for the

IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit

programme, which offers monitoring at all three major credit bureaus. As noted, though, promotional pricing is often available. It’s smart to wait for it.

All-time for:

Those who want protection on a budget; those who desire medical identity coverage.



  • ID Watchdog keeps credit monitoring, alerts and recovery simple.

  • One standout feature: It will help you lot recover from pre-existing identity theft for an additional fee of $79.95 to $279.95, depending on the kind of fraudulent credit line.


  • Equifax bought ID Watchdog in 2017, the same twelvemonth Equifax suffered a major information breach that exposed sensitive personal data of nigh 148 million consumers.

  • The company’due south mobile app and desktop interface provide less information than those of its competitors.

  • ID Watchdog offers fewer monitoring services than other companies.


$nineteen.95 a month or $219 for an annual plan for

ID Watchdog Platinum
, which offers three-agency credit monitoring.

Best for:

Those who need help recovering from pre-existing identity theft.

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