No one can entirely stop identity theft on their own, but identity theft protection services can help by monitoring pieces of your financial life and flagging symptoms of identity fraud. But is identity theft protection worth it? Follow this guide to find out what identity theft protection includes, its cost, and how the best identity theft protection services like LifeLock Standard can help protect your identity.
What does identity theft protection include?
Identity theft protection is a term used to describe several practices that help reduce the risk of identity theft, including alerting you if your identity is stolen and helping you recover your identity. While there are steps you can take yourself to help protect your identity, identity theft protection services work around the clock, closely monitoring your identity for warning signs of identity theft.
The cost of identity theft protection varies depending on your provider and the level of protection you’re seeking. For example, simple identity theft protection services may cost around $10 a month, whereas more advanced services with additional safety features may cost closer to $30 a month.
While different identity theft protection services may have different offerings, key features include credit monitoring, identity monitoring, identity restoration, and identity theft insurance. Keep reading to better understand how each of these features can help protect your identity from thieves.
- Changes to your credit score and report
- Changes to your credit limit
- Changes to your listed address with the USPS
- New loan or credit card applications
- Hard inquiries from lenders
Keep in mind that credit monitoring doesn’t prevent thieves from taking over your existing accounts, but instead helps indicate any fraudulent activity on your credit report that may be a sign of identity theft. Identity theft protection services provide this service by monitoring your credit reports with one or more of the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Identity monitoring means scouring the internet for your personally identifiable information, including:
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
These are some of the most important pieces of information that make up your identity, so it’s crucial to ensure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Identity theft protection services will send you alerts if your personal information is found online and may help you opt out of public people-search websites, giving you better control over your data privacy.
Another popular form of identity theft monitoring is dark web monitoring, which patrols the dark web for your personal information, where it could be bought and sold by identity thieves and other online scammers. By using a service that keeps a close watch on your personally identifiable information, you can quickly discover any areas where your information has been compromised, whether the result of a data breach or cybercrime.
Identity restoration assists you in recovering from identity theft. Exact services vary depending on your provider, but may include:
- A dedicated case worker who handles your case and walks you through the recovery process step-by-step
- Assistance in communicating with your bank, the government, credit bureaus, and other relevant organizations
- Help reporting identity theft
- Aid placing fraud alerts with credit bureaus
- Support canceling compromised accounts, credit cards, and more
By having access to experts, you can rest easy knowing you’re following the proper steps to report identity theft to relevant organizations and minimize the damage of a stolen identity.
Identity theft insurance
Identity theft insurance reimburses you for certain costs associated with identity theft, such as legal fees, lost wages, and other related expenses. In some cases, identity theft insurance will also cover stolen funds up to a specific limit. This is especially beneficial for those who have faced a significant financial loss due to identity theft or had to take time off work to resolve their case.
With an identity theft protection service like LifeLock Standard, you can reap the benefits of identity theft protection, identity restoration, and additional features like stolen funds reimbursement, stolen wallet protection, and dark web monitoring, ensuring identity theft coverage from all angles.
How do I help protect my identity myself?
If you're looking for a DIY approach, there are a few ways to help protect your identity yourself:
- Sign up for free credit and debit card alerts
- Monitor your credit report
- Freeze your credit
Keep in mind that these measures offer limited protection. For instance, a credit freeze won't protect the accounts you already have open, and monitoring your credit reports may not flag when someone uses your identity after being arrested, for instance. You'll also miss out on recovery services included in some of those paid plans.
Which identity theft protection service is best? 4 questions to ask before deciding
There's only so much you can do to help protect against identity theft. If your information has already been part of a security breach, there may be a higher chance that you'll become a victim of identity fraud. After all, thieves can't "unsee" that info.
An identity theft protection service can help by quickly notifying you of activity regarding the use of your personal information. And responding swiftly to potential identity theft is one of the best ways to not lose money. Here are some of the best identity theft protection services:
|LifeLock Standard||$11.99/month||1 bureau|
|IDShield Personal Identity Theft Protection||$14.95/month||1 bureau|
|ID Watchdog Select||$14.95/month||1 bureau|
|Aura Individual||$12/month||3 bureaus|
Note: prices as of October 2023.
Before you decide on a service, keep these questions in mind:
- Do you have the time to do it yourself? Consider whether you're willing to put in the work to track your own credit (keeping in mind you might not have the ability or time to check certain areas).
- Does the service match your protection needs? Compare a few services and what each offers. If you'll need to add a family member, check whether that's included in your cost or whether you'll need to pay more.
- Does it monitor credit reports with credit bureaus? Consider choosing a service that monitors reports with one or more of the three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
- Are there any hidden costs? If the plan offers personalized service or legal assistance (typically for identity restoration), ask for details on what this involves and what your costs will cover. Ask whether you'll pay for anything out of pocket. If the plan offers insurance, check what costs it will actually cover.
The best identity theft protection service is one that's coupled with your own common sense—always keep your information private and secure, and consistently monitor your accounts.
Help protect your identity with LifeLock Standard
If you don’t have the time to proactively monitor your identity, consider using an identity theft protection service like LifeLock Standard. With LifeLock Standard, you can go through life knowing your identity is monitored 24/7 and that you'll be alerted if anything needs your attention. Plus, if a thief steals your identity, you’ll have access to a team of experts who can help you restore your identity.
FAQs: Is identity theft protection worth it?
Are you still wondering if identity theft protection is worth it? Read through our FAQs to help answer more of your questions surrounding identity theft protection.
Can identity theft protection help if your identity has already been stolen?
While some identity theft protection services offer identity restoration, they will likely only be able to help if your identity is stolen while you’re already using their services.
Do I need identity theft protection?
Identity theft protection is beneficial for almost everyone, as identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. However, you may be more at risk if:
- You’ve been a victim of identity theft before
- You’ve lost important documents such as a Social Security card or passport
- You’ve been affected by a data breach
- You’ve been affected by phishing or other online scams
Why is it important to have identity theft protection?
Identity theft protection is important because it can alert you to identity theft as soon as possible, helping you to quickly minimize damage and restore your identity. Without proper identity monitoring, you risk financial loss, reputation damage, and other lasting effects of identity theft.