Although our finances and managing our lives have gotten easier thanks to technology, it’s also created a huge influx of identity theft issues and fraud.
This means you are more vulnerable to hackers, credit card info being stolen, bank account applications being applied for, and more being used under your information.
And when you fall victim to this, it can wreak havoc on your credit scores, your finances, and health as it can stress you out.
But if you take the time to be proactive ahead of time with identity theft protection software, you can gain a significant advantage on potential hackers.
And even if you are not a victim of fraud currently, you can have a bit more peace of mind when you safeguard ahead of time.
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What is Identity Theft Protection Software?
Identity theft happens when your online details are stolen and used by someone else. For example in the U.S., 14 million Americans were victims of theft in 2018, totaling $16.8 billion lost.
Although you may not have experienced it yourself, identity theft is relatively common in the U.S. and around the world. So what is one to do? Well, one of the best ways to combat it is with identity theft protection software.
Usually, identity theft protection software companies include services such as monitoring your personal information, providing immediate alerts, and providing steps to recovering your details. Monitoring services mean the company will monitor your credit files and let you know if any suspicious activity comes your way.
They will also usually alert you if your personal information is being used – like when someone tries to open a bank account in your name. This helps prevent identity theft from happening before any more damage can be done.
Some software may also offer services to help you recover any lost money if it gets stolen and fix any damage done to your credit file. Essentially, it’s an insurance policy up to a certain amount according to their terms.
Key traits of identity theft software
As you’ll learn in the next section, there are a few identity theft software options to choose from.
While which you potentially choose depends on costs, reviews, and features — most ill have similar key traits to help you stop identity theft.
Here’s some of the key features of these platforms:
- Credit Score Monitoring and Alerts
- Bank account monitoring
- Credit card monitoring
- If any accounts are opening in your name
- If someone is using your social security number
- Victim of email hacking
- Social media monitoring
- Insurance or medical information
- Dark web monitoring for your info
Some platforms may offer additional features like sex offender monitoring, child identity theft, and even recovery plans and compensation if your finances are majorily impacted.
Best Identity Theft Software
Since identity theft has become a major issue, naturally there would be solutions to help be protected.
It’s worth noting, that using identity theft software is no guarantee to completely prevent identity theft or your personal information being compromised.
Instead, it catches things in advance for you without you having to DIY monitor everything yourself.
It can save you major financial stress, time, and these platforms can provide details you need to immediately remedy the situation.
So what are some of the best identity theft software options out there? Below are some of the best choices to consider.
1. Norton LifeLock
Norton LifeLock is an identity theft software that offers theft prevention, credit monitoring, identity recovery assistance and identity theft insurance. It’s one of the most recognizable names in this space and they have over 5 million customers across the US.
They also offer identity theft recovery specialists that specialize in identity protection and recovery.
Norton LifeLock will send you immediate alerts if something happens. They also take control of the situation if the case gets worse: instead of asking you to fill forms and telling who to call, they will do the heavy lifting and fix the situation.
They also offer LifeLock, a popular feature that lets you lock your account and freeze your credit if you suspect something is happening.
The main negative with LifeLock is that it is a little more expensive than other theft protection software, but the coverage is some of the best. And they do offer some savings for your first plan.
IdentityForce is another identity theft protection software that provides services to individuals, government agencies and businesses. They offer a comprehensive monitoring service along with real-time alerts in case your details appear on separate records.
They also offer anti-phishing software as well as a social media identity monitoring feature for your social media networks.
The benefits are that the IdentityForce regularly checks the credit bureaus and monitors your financial accounts, and even court records and cybercrime forums. They take security for their own app and software seriously by offering two factor authentication.
IdentityForce is also a bit more affordable than LifeLock and offers family and individual plans with plenty of features. However, one downside to their software is they do not offer specific details as to who is requesting your credit files or trying to steal your identity.
3. Identity Guard
Identity Guard is a more advanced type of identity theft protection software that uses artificial intelligence to help find your stolen identity on the web. They use IBM’s Watson technology to scan the dark web for your information.
They also offer a TransUnion credit score, some family plans and they even offer a feature that lets you know if someone is filing a tax return in your name. This platform also offers an anti-phishing app and even safe browsing extension too.
The main negatives with Identity Guard is that they only provide credit reports on an annual basis, there is no child protection plan (will need a family plan for that), the cheaper plans have limited abilities.
ReliaShield helps protect users from financial fraud, tax fraud, social security fraud, and a lot more. They offer insurance of up to $1 million and boast a 100% recovery success rate for any identity that is stolen.
And the company has been around the longest compared to the other platforms on this list. So they have some positive history of effectiveness on their side.
Additionally, this identity theft software offers a comprehensive service for people on a budget, with several different tiers depending on your needs.
However, ReliaShield will not cover you any current claims if you have had your identity stolen before signing up with them, and they do not offer services for any existing recovery necessary.
5. ID Watchdog
ID Watchdog is owned by Equifax and has offered identity services since 2005.
They deliver reports from all credit reporting agencies and offer your very own “ID theft risk management specialist” who will help you restore your complete identity even if it takes several years.
They also offer monitoring for dark web forums and tips on how to protect your identity. You are alerted right away if your identity is breached, and you get regular updates on your credit files.
The main disadvantages with ID Watchdog is that they do not offer a companion app, social media monitoring nor a comprehensive family plan. And the other thing to note, is Equifax had a hacking issue a few years back, which might concern you.
This identity theft protection software also offers identity restoration, credit monitoring, credit reporting and identity theft insurance. IdentityIQ offers competitive pricing and their SecureMax plan offers even more features than other identity theft protection software.
They monitor the dark web, forums and a whole host of other places to alert you if your identity has been stolen. They also offer identity restoration service to help you get all your details back.
However, IdentityIQ has no family plan or mobile app compared to the others on this list. And it is also one of the most expensive options as well for the best protection.
But it can be a solid choice pending your needs or if you just want the basics, they have an affordable option.
Is It Worth Getting Identity Theft Protection?
Every year, 1 in 10 people are victims of identity theft. And everyone is at risk of getting their identity stolen or to face financial fraud, however there are ways to protect yourself online without paying for identity theft protection software.
Why you might not need identity theft software
If you are willing to: track your own credit, use government services to report any identity theft and freeze your credit on the three large bureaus, you may not need to purchase the software. It does require some monitoring and effort, but if you check up on your files regularly you’ll be able to see if someone is trying to steal your identity.
Why you should buy identity theft software protection
Having said that, it is important to note that going DIY does not guarantee protection of your identity, finances, or credit. Just because you freeze your credit does not mean other accounts will be protected, and you also won’t have a specialist to help you recover your lost identity if it gets stolen.
The advantage of identity theft protection software is that they act very quickly and can help you gain your lost money or identity faster than the government or your bank.
You are also getting real-time alerts before any major damage is done, plus monitoring other aspects of your life like social media, medical records, and even your own children’s identity information.
If you have fallen victim to identity theft in the past or are not willing to DIY identity protection, it’s probably worth paying for identity theft protection software.
When comparing various plans, check to see if you can get another family member included, if the plan offers legal assistance and whether there is insurance included.
It’s also worth picking software that includes reporting for the three main credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.
My Top Identity Theft Software Picks
|Identity Theft Software||Product Highlight||Get Started|
|Antivirus Features||Get Started Today|
|Credit Simulator||Get Started Today|
|$1,000,000 Coverage||Get Started Today|
|Assisted with A.I.||Get Started Today|
Additional Ways to Protect Your Identity
While I’m personally a fan of using identity theft protection software, it’s not 100% perfect. There is currently no way to 100% stop your personal data being exposed or potentially compromised. However, with one of the software choices from above you put yourself a step ahead.
Additionally, to take your protection to the next level, make sure you do the following to really safeguard your information.
- Freeze your credit reports at the three major bureaus. It’s free to do and even if you are not a victim currently, this prevents anyone from applying to things where a credit check is needed. You’ll just need to remember to unfreeze when you apply for things like credit cards, mortgage, car loan, etc.
- Set up banking and credit card alerts if certain amount transactions occur. This helps you monitor your finances if any big purchase or transfers are trying to come through.
- Use strong passwords for anything you log in, whether financial accounts or general social media accounts. I also like to change the password on some regular cadence, like every six months.
- Most financial platforms like banks or brokerages allow you to put additional security measures on your accounts. Take advantage of those, like the unrecognized device alerts, multi-factor authentication, security keys, etc.
- Check in regularly to your accounts, statements, and credit reports with Credit Karma or login to your accounts with TransUnion, Equifax, and Experien.
While all this can be a pain and you have the extra expense of identity theft software protection, it can save you countless hours of frustration and money from the potential damage cyber criminals can do.