What are the top-rated identity theft protection services in 2024?
The finest identity theft protection services are designed to swiftly identify, prevent, and aid in the recovery of your identity following a crisis. Given that restoring your identity and reclaiming your life can be a lengthy and challenging process when undertaken alone, opting for one of these services can significantly reduce the time and effort involved. Many leading identity theft protection services not only offer credit monitoring but also include additional security features such as a virtual private network (VPN) or a password manager to enhance your online safety.
To determine the most suitable identity theft protection service for your needs, we conducted a thorough three-month testing period on all those listed below, actively utilizing them on various devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets. Our consistent monitoring aimed to identify any potential misuse of our identities online. Simultaneously, we meticulously assessed the legitimacy of each alert received, distinguishing between critical notifications and those that could be disregarded.
Through this rigorous testing and evaluation process, we can provide insights into which identity theft protection services may inundate you with excessive alerts, as well as those capable of scanning court records, monitoring the dark web for your data, or notifying you about a new neighbor who may be a sex offender. Explore our findings to discover the most effective identity theft protection services available for subscription today.
Here’s a quick overview covering all the essential details about the top identity theft protection services, including the aspects they monitor and whether they provide family plans. With options suitable for various preferences and budgets, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your needs.
- Full security package Lack family plans
- Two-factor authentication No monthly option
- TransUnion credit-freeze button Does without payday loan and title change monitoring
- Malware protection, VPN and password manager included
Bitdefender, renowned for its antivirus software, has recently elevated its online protection by incorporating identity theft services from Identity Force into its latest offering, Bitdefender Ultimate Security.
Concerning credit monitoring, Bitdefender Ultimate Security stands out, providing comprehensive coverage with monthly reports from all three major credit bureaus. The service also extends its vigilance to monitor up to 10 banking and investment accounts, although it currently lacks alerts for payday loans and title changes—features actively under development by Bitdefender. Notable features include an instant TransUnion credit freeze button and an action plan for each event, offering advice ranging from password changes to implementing a spam blocker.
Setting itself apart from other identity theft protection services often capped at $1 million, Bitdefender goes the extra mile, providing a substantial $2 million in identity theft insurance. Users can also benefit from up to $1,000 per week in lost pay (for up to five weeks) and up to $2,000 in travel expenses. In the event of an ongoing identity crisis, Bitdefender helps mitigate damage by freezing credit cards. Additionally, the service enhances online security with access to Bitdefender’s antivirus software, a password manager, a VPN, and even parental control software.
Throughout our three-month evaluation of Bitdefender Ultimate Security, we received eight notifications, primarily related to personal data surfacing on the dark web. Although Bitdefender lacks a monthly plan, canceling the service is a straightforward process involving turning off auto-renewal and waiting for the plan to expire. This process is easily accomplished and takes only a few minutes. If you seek comprehensive protection for your entire digital life through a single dashboard, Bitdefender Ultimate Security Plus could be the ideal identity theft protection service for you.
Our top choice for two years running, IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit hasn’t changed much and has fallen behind the rest of the ID protection industry. See how it stacks up.
- Reasonably priced – App issues
- Fast installation and setup – Quarterly credit reports
- TransUnion credit-freeze button – No malware protection
- Comprehensive identity protection
- Offers two-factor authentication from the start
LifeLock is the perfect choice for those looking for the most comprehensive identity theft protection, with a wide variety of plans and subscriptions to choose from. However, none of them include credit simulators, and add-ons like malware protection and VPN access can get expensive. Still, if you want to secure your entire digital life with one service, LifeLock is the best choice.
When it comes to credit scores, LifeLock does a better job than the competition, with daily scores from Equifax and monthly ones from both TransUnion and Experian if you sign up for the service’s top-of-the-line Ultimate Plus plan. It also checks for suspicious activity on your credit cards, bank, and investment accounts and can even look at payday loan companies. LifeLock even includes dark web monitoring to see if your personal information is already in the hands of hackers. The service also stands out when it comes to identity-theft insurance, as it doesn’t use an insurance company and provides up to $1 million on its own. There’s also an additional $1 million to cover stolen funds, and the limit can rise all the way up to $3 million with a family plan.
As for security, LifeLock Ultimate Plus can be bolstered with Norton 360 malware coverage and additional extras like a firewall, parental controls, and a VPN, but these do cost extra. Fortunately, adding antivirus protection to your identity theft plan comes at a steep discount. LifeLock also now includes a Phone Takeover feature that monitors your smartphone and SIM card for signs of abuse, and the sex offender alert lets you know if anyone you need to be cautious of has moved into your area.
During our testing period, we received four alerts from LifeLock, which were mostly for inquiries made to our credit history. Likewise, canceling the service was easy enough, and we were able to go through the entire process right from LifeLock’s mobile app on our Android smartphone. LifeLock may be expensive depending on the plan you pick, but you’re getting excellent identity theft protection and security extras for the price.
McAfee+ is another new entrant to the world of identity theft protection from the antivirus maker McAfee. One thing that really sets it apart from the competition is the fact that the service includes malware protection for an unlimited number of users, along with its Protection Score, which shows you useful steps you can take to further protect your identity online.
If you sign up for McAfee+’s Advanced plan, you only get credit scores from a single bureau, while the more expensive Ultimate subscription we tested gives you access to all three while also including an easy way to lock your TransUnion account in an emergency. This plan also includes access to your VantageScore 3.0, which can let you know if you’re ready to apply for a new loan or mortgage.
Like many other identity theft protection services, McAfee+ uses AIG for its identity theft insurance, which has up to $1 million in coverage. However, the Ultimate plan also throws in $25,000 to help you deal with the fallout from a ransomware attack, which no other service does. As for security extras, you get access to the company’s malware defenses and an unlimited VPN.
During our evaluation period, we received five alerts from McAfee+, which ranged from information about credit inquiries to data breaches. There’s no way to outright cancel the service online, and instead, we just canceled the auto-renewal process. McAfee+ is a good first effort, but if investment monitoring and credit simulators are something you’re interested in, you’ll need to look elsewhere. However, if you need to protect an unlimited number of computers along with your identity, McAfee+ might be the perfect service for you.
7. Identity Guard
Identity Guard provides solid identity theft protection at a fair price, with an excellent variety of plans to choose from. These plans also include access to a password manager, but you won’t find malware protection or a VPN here. Still, Identity Guard’s thorough social media monitoring and identity insurance make it a great pick for those on a tighter budget.
Regarding credit monitoring, Identity Guard’s cheapest Value plan doesn’t show any of your credit scores, while its mid-range Total plan adds single bureau credit scores updated monthly from Equifax with monitoring at all three credit bureaus. Meanwhile, the Ultra plan shows scores for all three bureaus and includes credit reports, though they only arrive annually. It’s worth noting that IdentityGuard’s parent company is Aura and you might be better off with them if you want access to a VPN along with malware protection from Avira.
As for identity-theft insurance, Identity Guard includes $1 million to cover fraud and to help you recover your identity. Another nice thing about this service is that a single agent handles your claim from start to finish, and there’s also an Experian credit lock to make it simple to freeze your credit during an emergency.
During our three months of testing, we received four alerts from Identity Guard, which covered several large payments as well as an IRS identity verification that many other services missed. Cancellation was easy enough, but it did have to be done entirely over the phone instead of online. Identity Guard does the basics of identity theft protection extremely well, and the lack of some security extras helps keep the annual cost of the service down.
MyFICO is an excellent choice if you want to protect your identity but your main focus is on carefully monitoring your credit. Unlike other identity theft protection services that use the VantageScore 3.0, this one gives you access to your actual FICO scores which are what loan officers use to determine your creditworthiness — perfect for those looking to take out a new loan or mortgage.
Besides your FICO scores, MyFICO also gives you access to your credit scores from all three bureaus depending on which plan you choose. The Basic plan included Experian credit scores and reports as well as your main FICO score while the Advanced plan adds scores and reports from all three bureaus. Upgrading to the top-tier Premier plan gives you scores from all three bureaus monthly as opposed to quarterly. Unfortunately though, there’s no family plan nor do you get a discount for paying annually.
All of MyFICO’s three plans include up to $1 million in identity-theft insurance to pay for consultants, investigators, lawyers and other experts to help you recover your identity. One interesting thing that sets this service apart from the competition though is that lost wages are covered with no limit while other services stop at around $7,500. There aren’t any security extras though which means you won’t get access to a VPN, password manager or malware protection.
During our testing, we got a startling 32 alerts though most of these were for changing bank balances. The alert threshold can be turned down though if you want to receive fewer alerts when moving money between your accounts. Canceling MyFICO can be done by phone, email or on the company’s website. If you want to get to the bottom of why your credit scores are the way they are, MyFICO is an excellent choice but you will have to supplement your plan with malware protection and other security features from a different provider.
How to protect your identity for free
Any of the services detailed above are well worth paying for if you know your personal information was compromised as the result of a data breach or data leak. However, you can also take several steps on your own that won’t cost you anything to protect your identity and monitor your credit.
- Frequently check both your bank and credit card statements
- Go to annualcreditreport.com for free yearly credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion
- Ask the credit-reporting agencies to put a free credit freeze on your files
How to choose the best identity protection service for you
The services we’ve reviewed in this guide have a lot in common. All of them monitor your files with all three of the major credit bureaus and let you know when something alarming has shown up. Watch the dark web and other places cybercriminals frequent for mention of your name, Social Security number, and credit card and bank account numbers.
Additionally, each of these services sends you alerts via email and text messages, and all of them have mobile apps for Android and iOS.
If your identity is stolen while paying for one of these services, each will spend up to $1 million or more to help restore your good name and credit, including reimbursement for stolen funds and lost wages.
However, the best identity theft protection services differ in how often you’ll get credit reports and scores as well as when it comes to which bureaus you’ll get credit scores from. Not every service monitors your bank, credit card, and investment accounts.
Last but not least, not every one of these services offers two-factor login authentication (2FA) to protect your account. This makes sense considering the sensitive nature of the information they handle. It would be pretty ironic to have your identity stolen from an identity theft protection service.
How we test and rate the best identity theft protection services?
Our testing and analysis of the best identity theft protection services focuses on how well each one monitors credit information, financial activity, and personal information. We also rated each service for how frequently it provides credit reports and credit scores, not including free annual credit reports.
We gave extra weight to the services that offer tools to help improve your credit score and penalized any services that do not give you credit reports from all three credit bureaus.
At the same time, we also rated each service for the number of credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts they monitor. We paid close attention to whether or not a service provides email or SMS notifications for large changes to an account balance or large expenses on a credit card.
We penalized services that didn’t allow us to add personal information beyond our Social Security number, such as our driver’s license number, phone number, or multiple email addresses. Each of these numbers can also be used to steal your identity. We also gave extra points to services that detected any compromised personal information.
To see which identity theft protection service is truly the best, we spent three months trying out all of the services on this list. During this testing period, our reviewer used his credit cards and bank accounts as usual to look for signs of identity theft. However, he also opted for email, SMS, and phone alerts (when available) from the services while regularly checking his credit reports to monitor for any changes.