Best Identity Theft Protection Services
It is time to protect yourself from identity theft. As we recently shared in an article, more than 33 percent of U.S. adults have experienced identity theft and more than one in four older adults, aged 55+, have experienced it.
Identity theft is real and is out there. Many who experience it are ashamed to admit it or don’t know who to report it to. We are here to tell you it is not your fault! The various schemes out there are meant to deceive you and your aging loved one. The most common schemes aging adults are susceptible to are:
- Medical identity theft
- Estate identity theft
- Tax fraud
- Phone scams
- Military identity theft
- Wire transfer fraud
- Familiar fraud
We will describe identity theft, what it is, how it happens, what to look out for, and more throughout this article. In addition, we have compiled the top 5 identity theft protection companies for you to choose from.
What is Identity Theft?
It may sound too basic but identity theft occurs when someone else uses your information without your permission. That is it! The seriousness and danger are what information they are able to obtain and what they use it for. For example, they could use your:
- name and address
- credit card account numbers
- bank account numbers
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- health insurance account numbers
- other financial & medical account numbers
- social media account information
The type of information thieves can find is unfortunately quite long because of our digital footprint. With that said, paper material and other accessible information are just as valuable to them (which we describe in a little more detail later).
The Different Types of Identity Theft
The most common type of identity theft is financial. The goal of financial identity theft is to use your information, in order to gain economically and financially (at your cost). Other common types include:
|Tax Identity Theft: The criminal files a false tax return with the IRS using your stolen SSN.||Medical Identity Theft: The criminal uses your health insurance information (and other identification) to get fraudulent medical services.|
|Criminal Identity Theft: The criminal uses your personal information (as if it is their own) when questioned or arrested by the police.||Child Identity Theft: The criminal will use the SSN of someone under 18 years of age to apply for a bank account, other benefits and services.|
|Senior Identity Theft: The criminal targets those aged 60+ to steal information and often look to take money in many forms.|
After reading this you may wonder why you should care if someone steals your identity or your aging loved ones? The most important takeaway is that when a criminal steals your identity in any of the ways listed above – you may still be responsible for paying the bills! This may be surprising but is the tough reality of identity theft and why it is so important to protect yourself from it.
Being responsible for paying the bill or debt owed in your name, even if you didn’t do it, can happen because (as an example):
- the criminal may have a credit card in your name
- the address on the card is changed
- the bills are sent to you but you never see them
- the credit card company enlists a collection agency
- your credit is immediately damaged as a result and
- your name is tied to the debt, not the criminals
This tough reality can cause significant stress on you and your loved ones. Even if and when you resolve the debt issues it can take time for the company or federal (or state) governments to update the records creating years of trouble.
What Can the Criminal Do with Your Personal Information?
The criminal’s goal is to use your information to get what they want (most commonly for financial gain). With your personal information (name, address, SSN, etc.) the identity thief could:
- Get many new credit cards
- Purchase large and small items across multiplate credit cards
- Open a utility account (electricity, gas or electric)
- Get medical care
- Lease an apartment
- Steal your tax refund
This list is not exhaustive but reflects the many ways your identity can be used and how the thief can do so. Consider how fast it was for you to get your last credit card – with your basic information the same can be done online without you knowing.
How Does Your Identity Get Stolen?
Your personal information is all that the identity thief is after (physically or online). For example, a few ways a criminal may steal your identity include:
- Trick your aging loved one to send personal information in an email
- Find account numbers or SSN information in the garbage or mail
- Steal your wallet, license, or other identification
These tricks are how criminals have stolen millions of identities. Think about how quickly you may share your email, address and even your SSN? It is common to share on applications or forms we submit (paper or online).
How to Protect Your Aging Loved One from Identity Theft
You can take action right now to protect yourself from identity theft
- Select one of the Top 5 Identity Theft protection services summarized below.
- Do not share your SSN unless on required medical or government forms
- Pay attention to your credit card statements
- Check your credit score regularly
- Use more complex passwords
- Maintain security software on your computer
The Best (Top 5) Identity Theft Protection Services
To protect yourself and your aging loved one our #1 recommendation is to get identity theft protection services. We have compiled the Top 5 Best protection services and companies for you to choose the best option that fits your needs and budget. The small investment today will likely save you money, time, and stress in years to come.
The list below is based on researching the best companies for you based on services offered, price, and customer ratings. In addition, each of the 5 listed below is also vetted by reputable news and consumer report sources include NerdWallet, CNET, Forbes, TechRadar, and Money.com.
Check out each of the 5 companies listed below to find the right identity protection services that fit your needs.
|ID Protection Service||Price (per month) Range||Family Plan Offered||ID Theft Insurance|
|Identity Guard||$7.50 - $33.33||Yes||$1 million|
|Life Lock||$8.99 - $29.99||Yes||$1 million|
|IndentityForce||$9.99 - $26.90||Yes||$1 million|
|ID Watchdog||$14.95 - $34.95||Yes||$1 million|
|IDShield||$13.95 - $32.95||Yes||$1 million|
What Identity Theft Protection Companies Offer
The three main services offered by the best identity theft companies are: Monitoring, Alerts and Recovery.
Monitoring your credit files is essential to seeing any new accounts in your name or credit inquiries. If there is any activity you will receive an alert. The Alerts occur for any instance when your personal information is used for bank accounts or other like activity. Recovering your lost money and damage to your credit is not easy but these companies offer policies up to $1 million.
Consider these key services as you evaluate each of the top 5 below. The theft protection is primarily divided into monitoring your credit and your identity. In addition, create a scorecard to help you evaluate the best option for you including:
- What is the price I am willing to pay for these services?
- What services are most important to me?
- How long has this company been around?
- What additional features does this company offer?
- Is your credit monitored at all 3-credit bureaus?
For over 20 years, protecting consumers’ identities has been Identity Guard’s number one priority. They have partnered with some of the biggest names in the financial industry, protecting more than 47 million customers and resolving 140 thousand cases of identity fraud. As the threat of identity theft has grown – and the customers’ needs have changed – Identity Guard stayed ahead of the curve. Today, their award-winning services offer comprehensive solutions that extend beyond the basics - they also help protect your financial information‚ personal data‚ computer, privacy, and much more. Identity Guard's website has been recognized in the Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll by the Online Trust Alliance six years in a row for implementing the best practices in data security and privacy.
LifeLock provides a comprehensive monitoring service. With LifeLock you can easily lock your credit file, safeguard your home title and help take back your online privacy. You will have access to 24/7 live customer service support, lost/stolen wallet protection, identity and social security number alerts, coverage for lawyers up to $1 million on all plans, and a 60-day money-back guarantee with annual membership.
IdentityForce delivers ongoing monitoring, rapid alerts, and recovery services to help protect against ID theft. Recognized with multiple accolades from the American Business Awards including two-time repeat winner of the People’s Choice Stevie Award for favorite product, you can rest easy knowing IdentityForce are top-rated and have proven identity, privacy, and credit security solutions. They have combined advanced detection technology, real-time alerts, 24/7 U.S.-based support, and identity recovery with 40+ years of experience to get the job done.
With the vision of being the country's leading identity theft protection services provider, ID Watchdog was designed with law enforcement, banking, credit, and information privacy in mind. ID Watchdog continues to innovate solutions delivered directly to consumers and through the employee benefits marketplace.
IDShield is the most comprehensive identity theft protection service available regardless of your choice to protect yourself, your family, or the number of credit bureaus that monitor your account. You’ll get best-in-class service that provides continuous monitoring, includes unlimited recovery of your identity if you are compromised, and educates you about identity theft.
Many of the companies listed here will offer free trials for their identity theft monitoring. With their fraud alert systems, protection plans and immediate credit freezes you will be protected. In many cases, you will have the direct access to this information through their mobile app.
How Can You Tell if Your Identity is Stolen?
Identity theft protection services are the best way to monitor and identify any irregularity in your accounts from a stolen identity. If you are a victim of identity theft then you likely will see:
- Charges in your bank or credit card statements for things you did not purchase
- Withdrawals from your checking account you did not make
- Get a new credit report or inquiry on your account that you didn’t make
- No longer receive a bill for a credit card or other account
- Start receiving a bill for a credit card you did no open
- Medical charges for visits you did not make
It is clear from this list that you need to pay close attention to your accounts, statements and watch for any unusual activity or changes. Check your credit score and health insurance statements when you receive them. The strange charges or changes in your accounts are often signs of fraudulent activity and should be met with immediate action.
The protection services above offer dark web monitoring to see if your personal information (email, name, address) is being used on the dark web (for criminal activity). This is one of several important reasons to choose a protection service today.
Get you and your aging loved ones protected from identity theft. It is not 100% foolproof but you are provided numerous protection services and insurance should something happen. The tough reality is this will continue to be a threat and the more we do online, engage on social media, fill out online forms – the more likely our identity will be jeopardized.
You are not alone on this journey and we strongly encourage you to choose one of the services shared in this article and to report any fraudulent activity on any of your accounts.