With so much of our lives tangled up in electronic transactions, thieves have become adept at reaching into that data stream and plucking out vital information — often so deftly that we don’t even know right away that we’ve become victims.
In the last year, the number of data breaches grew 44 percent and the number of records exposed swelled by 389 percent, according to the most recent year-end report from The Identity Theft Resource Center. More than two million Americans a year report being the victims of fraud or identity theft, such as stolen credit card data or Social Security numbers, reports the Federal Trade Commission.
More people pay for identity theft protection now than previous years. And there are more cybersecurity products to choose from. Identity theft protection companies offer a combination of tools to protect your security and respond in a crisis. The services these companies offer is often on a sliding scale based on what you’re willing to pay.
Which service is best for you?
|Price per month||Credit monitoring||ID theft insurance||Free to try?||Notes|
|Experian||$10 (plus) or $20 (premium)||✓||$1 million||Yes, 30 days||Higher tier includes additional alerts, social media monitoring|
|LifeLock||$10 (standard), $20 (advantage), or $30 (ultimate plus)||✓||$1 million||Lost wallet protection, address change verification. Higher tiers include additional alerts and credit reports and scores|
|IdentityForce||$18 or $24 (plus credit), annual discounts available||Yes, 14 days||Includes anti-phishing software. Higher tier includes credit reports and scores and credit monitoring.|
|Idwatchdog||$15 (plus) $20 (platinum), annual discounts available||✓||$1 million||Identity restoration service. Higher tier includes credit reports and scores|
|$10 (advanced), $16 (pro), or $20 (platinum)||✓||Includes credit reports and scores. Higher tiers include lost wallet protection and additional monitoring services.|
Debt.com Identity Theft Protection
|$19 (individual), $30 (couple), $40 (family)||✓||Yes, 30 days||24/7 theft resolution, credit reports and scores, anti-phishing software, and travel assistance in case of identity theft|
One of the big three bureaus that track Americans’ credit, Experian also sells credit protection services.
It offers two packages. A Plus and a Premium package, both of which begin with 30 days for free before charging $9.99 or $19.99 a month respectively.
Both tiers offer surveillance of electronic black markets, also known as “dark web” surveillance. It will allow up to $1 million of identity theft insurance. Not to mention a fraud resolution specialist, and alerts when someone inquires about or opens a new line of credit in your name. The service gives you help to shut down cards when your wallet is lost. And it allows you to track your credit scores and more. Go Premium, and you get additional alerts on events including address changes. Premium package will monitor your social networks and Social Security number, too.
LifeLock promotes three levels of service. First, a standard package at $9.99 a month, then Advantage plan at $19.99 a month and the Ultimate Plus for $29.99 a month.
Every buyer gets a “$1 million protection package.” But, the more you buy the more you get in terms of reimbursements. That money is used towards what was stolen and compensation for the money you spend trying to fix it.
Credit and Social Security alerts, lost wallet protection, address change verification, dark web monitoring and credit monitoring at one bureau are also universal across plans. Again the more you pay, the more you can get including alerts when someone commits a crime or opens a bank account in your name.
In 2015, the FTC ordered LifeLock to pay $100 million to consumers to settle contempt charges that it violated a 2010 court order to protect consumer information and deceptive advertising. Since then the company has been bought by Symantec for $2.3 billion.
IdentityForce offers two levels of service. Both of which start at a higher price than Experian or LifeLock at $17.99 and $23.99 a month. Those prices become more competitive if you pay for the year up front at $179.50 or $239.90 respectively.
The standards are all here. From $1 million identity theft insurance, monitoring of the dark web to lost wallet assistance and credit card activity alerts. Also, court record monitoring and change of address monitoring. IdentityForce is among those companies offering an ounce of prevention with PC-based anti-phishing and anti-keylogger software that attempts to keep thieves and malware at bay.
This award-winning identity theft company was bought in August 2017 by Equifax. Which, is one of the big three credit bureaus that had months earlier suffered its own data breach.
Idwatchdog offers two tiers of service, beginning at $14.95 a month for Plus and $19.95 for Platinum.
Both levels offer the standards from credit report monitoring and dark web surveillance to checks of all sorts of electronic records. Identity restoration service is included. When you pay more, you get access to all three credit bureau reports and scores.
In addition to the valuable advice Debt.com provides consumers daily, it too offers identity theft protection. It’s free to try for 30 days. Unlike other companies, Debt.com offers one level of service, but package costs increase by the number of members on plan…
- Individual: $18.98 a month $198.98 a year
- Couple: $29.98 a month or $314.98 a year
- Family: $39.98 a month or $419.98 a year
That package includes a 24/7 theft resolution service, access to reports and scores from the three credit bureaus, anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software, lost wallet assistance and medical identity theft assistance. Should you be hit with identity theft while away from home, ID Theft Protection can help with emergency travel arrangements, translation services, and cash advance.
Consumers can choose from three levels of paid service from Credit Sesame. They start at $9.96 and grow to $15.95 and $19.95 a month. But anyone can tap Credit Sesame’s free offer that gives you a monthly credit score update. It also provides monitoring with alerts through TransUnion, one of the big three credit agencies.
The most basic paid package delivers additional credit score updates and reports from the other two agencies. Pay more, get more, with the top level providing live experts 24/7 if your wallet is lost or stolen. Also, monitoring of the dark web, and public records including your Social Security number.