Do You Need Identity Theft Protection? How To Decide

January 15, 2024


 Minute Read

In this article:

    Shield Icon

    Identity theft and fraud protection for your finances, personal info, and devices.

    Get Identity Guard

    Who Needs Identity Theft Protection the Most?

    Identity theft protection refers to digital security products and services that monitor your sensitive information to help prevent someone from stealing your personal data, account passwords, and money.

    Here are seven groups of people that should think about getting identity theft protection:

    1. Anyone with multiple online or financial accounts. If you or your family members lead active digital lives, you could already be at high risk of identity theft. Every new account creates a bigger attack surface — from work to email to social media to gaming platforms. Be especially cautious if you regularly notice warning signs of identity theft, like suspicious emails or unfamiliar activity on your accounts.
    2. Elderly Americans. Elder fraud is one of the most common types of identity theft — $1.5 billion was stolen from over 2.4 million victims in 2023 [*]. With more personal wealth, but less tech-savvy skills, older Americans are easy targets for scammers.
    3. Families with young children. Younger people are common targets because they have pliable credit files. If your children are online regularly, signing up for a family identity theft protection plan is a good idea.
    4. Previous victims of fraud. Among the victims of identity theft, 69% have been targeted more than once [*]. If you’ve lost out to scams before, thieves may use your personal data to target you again.
    5. Those who do not actively monitor their credit. Credit monitoring is a critical part of identity theft prevention. If you don't have the time to review credit reports, bank statements, and online accounts to scrutinize every transaction, then identity theft protection services can do it for you.
    6. Those who want identity theft insurance. If thieves steal from you, you can rest assured that your family home, savings, and credit score will stay safe if you are covered by an identity theft insurance policy.
    7. People whose data might be on the Dark Web. After a data breach, your account credentials could be available on hacker forums and illicit marketplaces. Identity Guard’s free Dark Web scanner can help you detect any leaked passwords.

    In short, these services are advisable for those who don't want to monitor their credit and personal information or have experienced fraud before.

    What Can Identity Theft Protection Do?

    In the past, most products simply provided identity monitoring services. That is, they only monitored your sensitive data and alerted you to identity theft or fraud after it had already happened.

    For example, if your Social Security number (SSN) or email was leaked to the Dark Web, or your bank account details were used to open a fraudulent line of credit, you would be notified.

    However, those services that proactively protect users against identity theft and fraud include spam blockers, password managers, antivirus software, and more.

    Here are the most important features that you should look for:

    1. Identity monitoring and alerts

    These services constantly scan for your personal information in credit applications, public records, websites, and databases. If the provider detects any unusual activity or leaked information, you receive an alert.

    Examples of what is monitored:

    • High-risk transactions: Identity thieves often use stolen personal data to apply for payday loans and make wire transfers. A good identity theft protection service can detect if your information has been used this way.
    • Home title: Title theft is most common in densely populated cities like New York City, where the Sheriff's Office received 3,500 complaints of deed theft from 2014 to the present [*]. An important feature of identity theft protection is checking homeowner registries to determine if anybody has attempted to alter your home title. 
    • Change-of-address requests: Scammers try to change people’s postal addresses to intercept mail. By checking with mail services, like the United States Postal Service (USPS), you can stay one step ahead.
    • Criminal and court records: These nationwide checks help you discover if anyone has used your identity during a crime, including traffic infractions. 
    • Sex offender lists: If an impersonator uses your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and is convicted of sex crimes, this could end up on public record — under your name.
    • The Dark Web: Your identity protection service will use Dark Web monitoring to check if your details are circulating after a data breach.

    2. Credit monitoring

    The best identity theft protection providers monitor reports from all major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). With credit monitoring, you can keep a check on your credit file, credit cards, and bank accounts.  

    What it detects:

    • Changes to your credit limits 
    • Sudden fluctuations in your credit scores
    • Fraudulent credit accounts opened in your name
    • Hard inquiries from lenders that you know you didn’t authorize
    • Unauthorized applications for loans or credit cards made in your name

    ⛳️ Related: Identity Guard vs. IdentityForce: 2023 Comparison & Showdown

    3. Financial account protection

    One of the key reasons to get identity theft protection is to secure your financial accounts. With extra protection, you can safeguard your credit and debit cards, savings, and credit score. 

    What it includes:

    • Credit lock: A one-tap credit lock stops anyone from opening new accounts or taking out loans in your name. 
    • Bank account monitoring: Get alerts about suspicious activity on your account, like if someone tries to remove your name or add unauthorized account holders.
    • Financial transaction monitoring: Link your credit card and bank accounts with the provider to track spending activity and catch early signs of financial fraud.

    4. Provide other digital security tools

    Hackers target victims with malware, phishing messages, and fake websites. Comprehensive identity theft protection includes tools to protect your devices and data from these scams. 

    • Antivirus software: Ensures all smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other internet-connected devices are safe from hackers and malware.
    • Parental controls: Establish boundaries for your children's online activities by limiting screen time and blocking specific apps and websites.
    • Data broker opt-outs: Scammers can easily buy lists of phone numbers and other PII from data brokers. Identity theft protection services can remove your details from these lists, reducing the number of spam emails and robocalls that you receive.

    ⛳️ Related: The 10 Best Identity Theft Protection Providers of 2024

    5. Online family safety

    Identity theft is a threat to everyone, from children to grandparents. With a family identity theft protection plan, you can keep even the most vulnerable members of your family safe.

    • Child SSN monitoring: Households led by younger parents or guardians with an annual income exceeding $150,000 are at a higher risk of child identity theft [*]. Surprisingly, 61% of consumers do not include their children in their identity protection service (IDPS) subscription. SSN monitoring alerts you if your child’s SSN or personal information is exposed online.
    • Virtual private network (VPN): A VPN masks your location, browsing history, and data — so that hackers can’t intercept it.  
    • Password manager: Instead of reusing simple passwords or trying to remember login credentials, everyone in your family can use a password manager to create and store unique, complex passwords for all accounts. 

    6. Identity recovery and support

    If you fall victim to identity theft, it could have far-reaching consequences. A below-average credit score can hinder your ability to obtain a loan, mortgage, or job.

    The best identity theft protection services can help you recover from the impact of fraud.

    What to expect:

    • 24/7 customer support: Easy access to U.S.-based remediation experts that help you create a recovery plan, and provide ongoing guidance to initiate credit locks or freezes.
    • Lost wallet protection: The customer service team helps you cancel cards in your missing wallet and obtain new cards.
    • White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists: Receive dedicated help to file reports, dispute fraudulent charges, and manage calls with banks, creditors, and government agencies.

     ⛳️ Related: How To Respond To The Theft Of Your Identity (15 Steps)

    7. Identity theft insurance

    Another vital component of identity theft protection is the built-in insurance that most plans include. With financial coverage, you may be reimbursed for many losses incurred due to identity theft.

    In most cases, identity theft insurance covers:

    • Lost wage reimbursement
    • Notary fees
    • Mailing costs
    • Phone bills
    • Child, spousal, and elderly care
    • Credit monitoring services
    • Legal fees
    • Costs of replacing stolen documents (e.g., passport or driver's license)

    ✅ Zoom out: Check with your employer or home insurance company to see if you have coverage for identity theft. While identity theft insurance offers more comprehensive coverage, your general insurance policy may help.

    What Identity Theft Protection Services Can’t Do

    No service can completely protect you from identity theft.

    In fact, in 2015, LifeLock — one of the largest providers of identity theft protection services — entered into a $100 million settlement with the FTC over deceptive claims about its ability to protect its customers’ identities [*].

    Speed is crucial when it comes to shutting down scammers and recovering from identity theft. The sooner you detect the threat, the better chance you have of minimizing the damage.

    ⛳️ Related: Is Identity Theft Protection Worth It In 2024?

    What You Can Do For Yourself:

    If you’re prepared to take a proactive approach, you can protect your identity without paying for an identity theft protection service.

    • Order your free credit reports. The only place from which you can get your free reports is Check the reports for signs of fraud, such as new credit inquiries, and unfamiliar transactions or accounts.
    • Manually review your credit card and bank statements. Check for fraudulent transactions by using your mobile banking app or paper statements.
    • Place a credit freeze. You need to do this manually with all three credit bureaus. A freeze stops scammers from opening new accounts or securing loans in your name.
    • Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Speak with these government bodies to ensure nobody has claimed your benefits or committed tax fraud in your name.
    • Regularly check public records across the country. Find out if anybody has tampered with your home title or Medicare account. You can also see if anyone who is using your name has committed crimes or ended up on the sex offender list.
    • Scan the Dark Web. You can manually use a Dark Web scanner to discover if any of your account passwords or sensitive information have been leaked.
    • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Additional authentication is yet another way to stop fraudsters from taking over your accounts. Make sure that you use 2FA on your most sensitive accounts, including your email and social media accounts.
    • Use a password manager. This step makes it easy to create and store stronger passwords — without relying on memory or scraps of paper. 
    • Sign up for data breach notifications. With notifications enabled for your most important accounts, you’ll get alerts if any company with which you have an account gets hacked.
    • Use antivirus software. Take the time to research the best antivirus protection. Download the software, and set it up on all of your devices to stay safe and get peace of mind whenever you browse online.
    • Learn about cyber hygiene. By reading about emerging cyber threats, teach your family to follow best practices while using social media. The more you know, the better your chances are of avoiding phishing sites and scam emails.

    ⛳️ Related: How Much Does Identity Theft Protection Cost (and Do You Need It)?

    The Top 5 Identity Theft Protection Services in 2024

    1. Identity Guard
    2. Aura
    3. LifeLock
    4. Experian IdentityWorks
    5. IdentityForce

    1. Identity Guard

    When considering the best identity theft protection services, Identity Guard is on almost every list. After two decades of keeping millions of Americans safe from online threats, Identity Guard joined forces with Aura to strengthen its position at the top of the market.

    Comprehensive Dark Web monitoring and Safe Browsing tools are included with every plan.
    The mobile app could be more intuitive.
    Provides the same rapid fraud alerts as Aura — up to 250x faster than competitors.
    Three-bureau credit monitoring is only available on the highest-priced tier.
    Affordable price, with a discount on annual plans.
    No free trial (but there’s a 60-day money- back guarantee on annual plans).


    Here are IdentityGuard’s plans and pricing as of January 2024: 

    • Value Plan: $7.50 per month (individual) and $12.50 (family)
    • Total Plan: $16.67 per month (individual) and $25.00 (family)
    • Ultra Plan: $25.00 per month (individual) and $33.33 (family)

    Who should choose Identity Guard?

    This service is optimal for budget-conscious people who don’t need premium credit monitoring. If you are willing to spend more for the three-bureau access, the premium tier is one of the best available.

    ⛑️ Protect yourself from the worst consequences of identity theft. Get 33% off your Identity Guard membership, including $1 million coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft. 

    2. Aura

    Since its inception in 2019, Aura has become a household name in the industry. With award-winning identity theft services, credit monitoring, and digital security protection, Identity Guard’s partner is among the best solutions in 2023.

    #1-rated identity monitoring and alerts.
    Some features aren’t available for Mac desktop or Chrome users yet.
    Fraud alerts are up to 250x faster than the competition.
    Only includes one annual credit report.
    All plans include powerful digital security tools like antivirus software, VPN, password manager, and Safe Browsing tools.
    More expensive than some competitors.


    Here are Aura’s plans and pricing as of January 2024:

    • Individual Plan: $12 per month (billed annually)
    • Couple Plan: $22 per month (billed annually)‍
    • Family Plan (5 adults and unlimited children): $37 per month (billed annually)

    Who should choose Aura? 

    With its direct connection to all three major credit bureaus and its rapid fraud alerts, Aura is ideal for people who want to protect their financial assets and investments.

    Aura’s parental controls and Safe Browsing tools also make it a sound choice for families, as Aura offers comprehensive protection for children and elderly adults alike.

    3. LifeLock

    Another industry stalwart, LifeLock, remains a popular choice. The built-in Norton 360 software is a big attraction — protecting against viruses, malware, spyware, and other emerging cyber threats — for an additional cost.

    Helps detect synthetic identity fraud, which occurs when fraudsters create fictitious identity profiles connected with your SSN.
    Lacks a suitable plan to cover the entire family — you need to buy a separate junior plan.
    Norton 360 antivirus software secures your personal information on public internet networks.
    One of the most expensive options, with full coverage requiring several additional add-ons.
    Includes a 60-day money-back guarantee if you pay for an annual membership.
    You can only lock your credit file with TransUnion — not Experian or Equifax.


    Individual plans as of January 2024 range from $7.50 to $19.99 per month for individuals for the first year. Family plans covering up to five children range from $18.49 to $38.99 per month — rising to $66.66 in the second year. 

    Who should choose LifeLock?

    If you want Norton 360 antivirus software and a powerful VPN, LifeLock is a good choice that offers solid identity theft protection. However, if you have a large family, the additional fees for every child can add up.

    ⛳️ Related: Is LifeLock Worth the Price? How To Decide

    4. Experian IdentityWorks

    IdentityWorks is Experian’s credit monitoring software that helps protect against fraud.

    Free for the first 30 days.
    The Plus plan only offers insurance coverage up to $500,000.
    Daily checks of your FICO scores with all three credit reporting bureaus.
    The Plus plan only monitors your Experian credit report — not Equifax or TransUnion.
    Offers real-time alerts about any new credit inquiries.
    Customer service is not available 24/7.


    Here are IdentityWork’s plans and pricing as of January 2024:

    • Premium Plan: Free for seven days, then $24.99 per month 
    • Family Plan (two adults and up to 10 children): $34.99 per month 

    Who should choose Experian IdentityWorks?

    With its seven-day free trial and the backing of Experian, IdentityWorks is a good choice for anyone who wants a trustworthy, effective credit monitoring service. However, it doesn't offer dedicated ID protection features, so it won't suit everyone's needs. 

    ⛳️ Related: Identity Guard vs. Experian IdentityWorks: 2023 Comparison

    5. IdentityForce

    With over 40 years of experience fighting back against fraudsters, IdentityForce combines advanced detection technology, real-time alerts, and identity theft recovery services.

    Cell phone monitoring for existing threats or potential attacks.
    The starting plan is expensive compared to most competitors.
    Credit monitoring with all three bureaus.
    Only offers two service plans.
    Discount available for anyone who pays upfront for one year of coverage.
    No refunds for cancellations.


    As of January 2024, IdentityForce offers two plans. The UltraSecure Plan is $17.99 per month per member, and the UltraSecure+Credit is $23.99 per month per member.

    Who should choose IdentityForce?

    With a high price point, IdentityForce is not a budget-friendly option — especially for families. However, if you are prepared to spend more to get advanced fraud monitoring, the UltraSecure plan could be a good option.

    Keep your identity (and finances) safe. Get 33% off Identity Guard.

    Related Articles

    Graphic showing the Identity Guard logo side-by-side with the LifeLock logo, both against a gray background

    Identity Guard vs. LifeLock Comparison: 2024 Review

    Identity Guard vs. LifeLock Comparison: 2024 Showdown — review of features, benefits, costs, pros and cons. Which solution is right for you?

    Read More

    February 14, 2024

    Identity Guard vs. LifeLock Comparison: 2024 Review
    Torso of a person in a white shirt, holding a mobile with their left hand and poised to tap on its screen with the other hand

    Social Security Number Monitoring: How It Works

    Your Social Security number is a “golden ticket” for identity thieves. Learn how to keep it secure.

    Read More

    February 14, 2024

    Social Security Number Monitoring: How It Works

    Get Started with Identity Guard

    Get started with Identity Guard today, risk-free.

    Get Protected Today
    1. Financial identity theft and fraud
    2. Medical identity theft
    3. Child identity theft
    4. Elder fraud and estate identity theft
    5. “Friendly” or familial identity theft
    6. Employment identity theft
    7. Criminal identity theft
    8. Tax identity theft
    9. Unemployment and government benefits identity theft
    10. Synthetic identity theft
    11. Identity cloning
    12. Account takeovers (social media, email, etc.)
    13. Social Security number identity theft
    14. Biometric ID theft
    15. Crypto account takeovers