Identity theft and ID fraud are issues that most consumers across the globe are worried about. With the growing online population and rising identity theft cases, it is becoming crucial for individuals and firms to consider protecting their identity. In 2017, the U.S. had an estimated 16 million cases of ID theft. The types of ID theft and identity fraud are diverse which are sometimes difficult to detect or resolve, necessitating the need to seek identity theft companies for complete and automated protection against the fraudsters. Identity theft protection is a collective effort and consumers alone are not capable of protecting themselves as they do not have the control to prevent identity theft or the skills to detect and resolve identity fraud.
There are many ways that identity theft criminals can obtain personal information to commit fraud. Whether cyber-criminals hack into systems that store personal data, or tap into data that is sold in the dark web following a data breach resulting from a variety of critical security vulnerabilities, or steal identity information directly from consumers through phishing and social engineering attacks, the criminals use the stolen information to create fake identities and use the information to extract money from a bank account, apply for new credit line, or make illegitimate purchases on various platforms across the web, among numerous other felonies.
How Can Consumers Find the Best Service?
When looking for an identity theft service, consumers must ask themselves a few questions:
- What major services do identity theft companies offer?
- Who are the major identity theft companies?
- What differentiates one company from another?
- What services or ID theft protection do I need?
- How do I know which company is better than the others?
- What are the company’s security, privacy, and data retention practices specially after customers stop doing business with the company?
The best way for consumers to answer the above questions and select the best service is to ask the identity theft company if they offer an independent audit report or an identity theft company certification report issued by Identity Management Institute. This independent report typically validates the company’s assertions about their services and describes in a simple language the company’s privacy and security policies. Most privacy policies are either unclear, incomplete, or too detailed that no one reads. An independent product certification offers the best validated information that consumers can trust for selecting an ID theft product. Sure consumers can go online and review other customer reviews or visit the company’s website, but can they truly trust the consumer reviews some of which may be fake or incomplete? Or can consumers trust the information on the company’s website which has not been validated by an independent third party?
The Cost of Identity Theft Protection
The typical price for a monthly subscription in identity theft companies is between $10 and $35. Basic plans usually just monitor credit reports. The most expensive subscriptions offer advanced services like dark web scans, notifications about any activity on your bank and investment accounts, three bureau credit reports and reports on any fraudulent activity carried out in your name.
Overview of Identity Theft Companies
This article is designed to give consumers limited information about identity theft companies and their services. Identity theft services must be designed to help individuals safeguard their identity while surfing different social media platforms, online banking systems, and data transfer platforms, or detect signs of identity theft, and support the identity theft victims overcome the hurdles of identity theft.
The review of identity theft protection companies in this article is limited and may change at any time after this article is published. Consumers are encouraged to learn from this article and visit the identity theft company website of their choice to get the latest information.
Below is a list of some ID theft companies and their services:
IdentityForce offers one of the most extensive protection services. IdentityForce has a tremendously far-reaching service provision for its clients. Among them are monitoring Social Security Numbers, names, credit card numbers, and street addresses for any signs of unauthorized activities.
The company’s extensive scope allows tracking of loans, public record databases, sex offender registries, and lease records. Various other companies may offer some of these services, but very few monitors all the areas.
As much as IdentityForce is not able to prevent your data from being stolen, it notifies you immediately when it notices any suspicious activity in any of the areas. One of the company’s product features is that the client can set a specific range of transactions to monitor. They will then receive notifications as soon as a transaction exceeding the amount is made on their account. Clients also get notifications if an unidentified alias or address is associated with the account or name. Consumers don’t have to buy a transaction monitoring services as many financial institutions offer account alerts, however, consolidation and automation may be of interest.
Since identity criminals can affect your credit score adversely due to their occasional use of your data, IdentityForce sends regular reports to you from the three bureaus. To top it all off, the company offers you tracking tools to keep you updated on changes in your credit score over time.
There are various tools that the company offers to recover your stolen ID. These tools include a fully managed restoration service. The feature provides support for filling out the paperwork on your behalf.
LifeLock offers one of the most comprehensive and thorough identity theft protection services. Its Ultimate Plus plan monitors an extensive range of public records, online databases, and even dark web sites to see if your data is compromised.
The company scans for addresses and names linked to your Social Security Number to safeguard you from any criminals looking to open a fraudulent account using your data. LifeLock’s service monitors most areas that other service providers will not. It scans popular data-sharing sites to see if any of your personal information has been uploaded to any of them. It also monitors sex offender registries that use any of your personal information.
Another powerful tool offered by LifeLock is its Privacy Monitor service. The tool is essential in alerting clients when fraudulent activity has been detected using their details. The alerts are programmed to ask the client if they have made any purchases, or if an address change is legitimate. If fraudulent activity is confirmed to have taken place, LifeLock will act swiftly to resolve the situation. The company has identity restoration specialists who will deal with the situation on a personal level to its remedy.
On top of its identity monitoring services, LifeLock also offers its clients the tools for credit monitoring. Annual reports from the three bureaus are sent to the clients with monthly access to their Equifax score.
One of the cons of using LifeLock is its high prices. It offers one of the priciest services among the companies with a monthly subscription fee of $29.99 but higher prices come with more services.
LifeLock’s protection against identity theft goes beyond credit cards, bank accounts, email addresses, and phone numbers. On top of these protection services, the company also monitors its clients’ medical insurance and public record databases to check for possible fraud.
3. Identity Guard
Identity Guard offers the most appealing balance of cost to service. It is a crucial part to consider prices in your buying decision. However, when choosing an identity protection service, you must keep in mind the scope of the service you require to keep your identity safe. You need a service that not only covers a broad scope but also provides you with timely alerts on activities that use your data.
You can access a complete coverage close to the best services provided in the market for just $16.99 per month. Some service providers offer even lower prices than Identity Guard, but their services may be limited.
The company’s features match the services offered by the companies we have reviewed. Its protection monitors your address, credit card numbers, and Social Security Number. It also provides monitoring services for other aspects of your identity, like driver’s license information and criminal records.
As an additional feature, Identity Guard also offers you tools to gauge the risk of your data theft. The device can become an invaluable feature in helping you safeguard your data by changing behaviors that put your personal information at risk. In case your identity has been compromised, the company also offers immediate recovery services and quick alerts. The recovery services include fraud insurance of up to one million dollars.
4. IdentityProtect by Intellius
IdentityProtect specializes in general searches and background checks. Our research found that the company excels in these areas more than all the companies we reviewed. Intellius’ ID theft protection service, “IdentityProtect,” is one of the most efficient at tracking information matching your data in public record searches.
For instance, the service can track sex offender registries and addresses. Besides free monitoring services, Intellius’ other protection services are mostly basic. The company sends you alerts in case of any suspicious activity in your credit report. If you are a victim of identity fraud, resolution experts are available 24/7 to help you resolve your problem. Its monthly subscription fee is $19.95, and a seven-day trial is available for potential clients who need to understand how the service works.
5. IDFreeze by myFICO
IDFreeze, according to our review, will provide you with the most thorough and efficient credit report monitoring service. The company also sends you regular reports from the three bureaus. Like all the above ID protection services, it sends alerts whenever there is an activity on your credit reports.
IDFreeze also provides dark web monitoring services to its clients. If your personal information has changed hands or has been used to carry out fraud on any of the popular platforms across the web, the service works hand in hand with you to get the issue resolved.
One of the few cons of the service is that it is one of the more expensive options charging $29.95 per month.
Identity theft is an increasingly worrying problem for most people. The best way to protect yourself from fraudsters looking to use your information for personal gain is by using the best identity theft company and protection service. Sometimes, consumers must sign up with multiple service providers to get a complete protection if they are extremely worried and cost is not an issue.
The services listed above are just some examples of identity theft service providers but the best validation tool for consumers to select the best identity theft company in terms of the service quality, scope and coverage; and system security or privacy policies is an independent certification by Identity Management Institute.