Every year, millions of people become victims to identity theft and credit fraud. The unfortunate part is that many of these crimes could have been prevented with the help of an ID theft protection service. Although there are numerous companies that offer these fraud prevention services, not all of them are created equal. When it comes to protecting yourself against credit and identity fraud, you need the best. And that’s where we can help.
Our team has analyzed the best ID protection services on a wide range of factors to determine which companies had the highest level of protection and offered the best overall value for consumers. The factors we’ve taken into consideration include customer reviews, protection features, service guarantees, and pricing.
Let’s get right into it. Here are the top identity theft monitoring companies for 2016.
1) Identity Guard
If you’re looking for the protection against ID Theft, Identity Guard™ should be at the top of your list in our opinion. This service includes monthly credit monitoring at all 3 credit bureaus, $2,000 in lost wallet protection, and a complete suite of PC online security protection software to help keep your identity safe and secure.
Identity Guard also includes a $1 Million identity theft insurance policy as well as identity recovery assistance in the event that your identity has been stolen. Identity Guard does offer a free trial for the first 30 days, and then plans renew at $8.99 a month for the starter plan and up to $22.99 per month for their most comprehensive plan.
- Lost wallet protection
- 3-bureau credit monitoring
- Monthly credit score updates
- PC anti-virus and keyboard encryption software
- ID verification alerts
- Social security number monitoring
- Free trial available
- $1 Million identity theft insurance plan
2) Identity Force
IdentityForce is another company that offers a suite of protection services which includes credit report monitoring, change of address monitoring, and identity theft insurance. Their lost wallet assistance service also helps you cancel and replace any credit or debit cards that may have been stolen. IdentityForce also has an add-on for child identity theft protection to help keep your entire family safe.
- Change of address monitoring
- Credit report monitoring
- Medical ID fraud protection
- Junk Mail Opt-Out
- Anti-Phishing, anti-malware, and anti-keyboard logging software
- Real-time alerts for any suspicious activity on your identity
- A+ rating from the better business bureau
You probably have seen LifeLock advertise just about everywhere. You can’t watch TV, read a magazine, visit a website, or listen to the radio without hearing or seeing one of their ads.
As of right now, we’re not huge fans of this company. Their history of FTC issues and poor customer service leave us a little reluctant to give them our support.
We have created a comprehensive review that outlines the issues they have faced and what they are doing to rebuild a positive image (and a valuable service). We will keep a close eye on LifeLock and may revise our review of them in the future as they clean up their act.
Recovery of Your Identity
Recovering your stolen identity involves several services that companies provide when their customers are the victims of identity theft and fraud. The goal is to reclaim your identity from the thieves. Many companies keep fraud specialists on alert to immediately help customers begin repairing the damage the identity thieves have caused. Protection for a lost wallet is a key component of this service – this is very helpful when you need to cancel stolen or lost debit and credit cards.
Identity protection companies that do their job well also include as part of their service identity theft insurance. This insurance helps pay for the cost of reclaiming your identity. It also enables you to add fraud notifications to your accounts that will let the major credit bureaus know the situation. This is a key category to consider when you are choosing a company to protect your identity because these tools are important in getting your normal life back after your identity has been stolen.
Key Features of Identity Theft Recovery
- Reminders of Fraud Alert Expirations — Your company reminds you of the expiration dates on your fraud alerts, which gives you a chance to renew them on your accounts
- Fraud Specialists — Provided by the company, they provide assistance so you can get through your fraud case from the minute you report your stolen identity
- Identity Theft Insurance — Offered by the company in order to pay you back for the cost of bringing back your stolen identity
- Lost Wallet Protection — Your company provides help to cancel and replace your stolen or lost debit and credit cards
Protecting Your Information
Protecting your personal information is a vital category that includes the kinds of personal information monitored by the company as they protect your identity. The best identity theft services obviously monitor the basics such as your name, credit and debit cards, address and Social Security number. Other companies go above and beyond to keep track of public records information and any loans that include the name of their clients. Protecting your information provides a basis for all other credit protection services.
Key Features of Protecting Your Information
- Address — Use of your address that you did not expressly authorize is prevented
- Bank Accounts — You are protected against anyone who might try to use your bank account in an unauthorized or illegal manner
- Debit and Credit Cards — Your company monitors your credit and debit cards to protect you from any unauthorized use.
- Loans — Your company keeps unauthorized loans from being made with your name attached.
- Name — Anyone trying to use your full name without authorization is prevented.
- Public Records — Any information in public records that refers to you is monitored.
- Social Security Number — Your company keeps illegal use of your Social Security number from occurring.
This broad category covers additional products and services that an ID protection plan may offer. These services often include monitoring your credit score and reports, along with alerts sent whenever suspicious activity is detected with your information. Child identity protection may be of interest to families since those who will steal your identity don’t limit themselves to adults – they also try to steal information and identities belonging to your children.
Medical identity theft, where thieves steal your health insurance information and use it for their own medical services, is another common issue that requires extra services which may be essential for some who need identity protection.
Key Features of Extra Services
- Child Identity Protection — You are protected against your children’s personal information being used in an unauthorized manner.
- Credit Monitoring — The company provides monitoring services of your credit reports to catch any activity that may not be normal.
- Credit Reports — You can easily see your own credit reports.
- Early Warning Messages — You get early warning messages from the company when they detect questionable behavior connected to your account.
- Mailing List Protection – Your company will take your name off mailing lists to keep your personal data private.
- Medical Identity Theft Protection — Your company will keep track of your medical benefits to check for any questionable behavior.
Support includes the ways customers can reach their identity theft insurance provider. The options that most customers use include phone and email access to support specialists. Some fraud protection agencies also have built a strong following on social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter so their customers can quickly and easily contact them there. Being able to reach someone who can help quickly is highly important when you have a case of identity theft.
Key Support Features
- Email — Your company offers an email or some type of ticket contact system for support.
- Live Chat — Your company provides live chat for customers.
- Phone — You can reach your company on the phone to get help for your issue.
- Social Media — You can reach your company through their social media accounts if you need a question answered or have information for the company.
Your credit monitoring company should provide resources on its website that will assist people in understanding how to best use the company’s services and features. These resources could include a large knowledge base of articles explaining how functions work, or it may include a stash of video tutorials explaining some of the same features.
Some businesses have created an blog specific to their industry that provides tips and information on how people can best protect their identities and what they should do if their identities are stolen. The learning materials category is not a huge part of the decision-making process, but can still be helpful, especially for newcomers to the world of identity protection.
Most Important Resource Features
- Written Material — The company writes and produces blogs or articles that provide information on identity theft issues.
- FAQs — You can easily find a compilation of responses Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
- Knowledge Base — Your company has produced a repository of detailed pieces for when you need assistance.
Mobile functions have to do with whether your fraud prevention has a mobile app for its customers. In today’s mobile society, the top ID monitoring services have created apps that are available on several platforms, including websites optimized for mobile devices. These apps usually let users gain access to their accounts, including alerts having to do with any kind of questionable activity.
Mobile is not an overriding factor in selecting an ID theft protection service to use, but mobile features do play an important role, especially for those who are constantly on the go.
Key Mobile Features
- Account Access — Get into your account with your phone, tablet or other mobile device.
- Messages — You can see your identity theft and fraud messages on your phone, tablet or other mobile device.
- Android App — Your company has built an app specifically for Android phones.
- Good Reviews — The company’s iPhone and Android apps have should have a rating of 3.5 stars or higher in their reviews.
- iPhone App — Your company has built an app specifically for iPhones.
- Mobile Website — Your company includes a website that is optimized for mobile devices.
- Tablet — Your company has built an app specifically for tablets.
Why Should You Use Identity Theft Protection Services?
Identity theft is a hot topic in the news and a real, actual risk in our lives, but it’s one that we tend to gloss over with a glib, “Oh, that’ll never happen to me.” That’s only spoken by someone who has never been a victim. Talk to someone whose credit has been completely destroyed or whose personal information has been used for illegal acts and you might feel differently. Identity theft can cost thousands of dollars to resolve in funds lost and in hiring attorneys or private investigators to clean up the mess.
The first step to protecting your identity is keeping good track of your financial records. Be aware of transactions, check them regularly, and if something seems out of place, you’ll notice quickly. If, however, you want more protection, many reliable identity protection services will monitor your information for you, alert you to potential fraud and help you recover your identity if it is ever stolen. This includes not only financial information, but also medical information, Social Security information, your address and more. Some companies monitor your credit record to keep you informed of any immediate changes there as well.
The best services not only monitor your data, they adapt to new strategies that criminals use to steal your identity. You want aggressive protection, not just passive awareness.