Is Identity Theft Protection Worth It In 2024?

April 4, 2024


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    Do You Really Need Identity Theft Protection in 2024?

    Despite the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reporting more than $10 billion in losses from identity theft and fraud in 2023, some critics still argue that identity theft protection isn’t worth it [*]. 

    Their main concern? Many top-tier services charge a premium for features that are available through cheaper apps, or even for free — for example, you can monitor your credit by requesting free credit reports from 

    But the reality is that if you fall prey to identity fraud, it can impact your life for years. Without robust identity theft protection, you could lose a great deal of time and money.

    According to the Identity Theft Resource Center [*]: 

    On average, American victims of identity theft spend at least one week resolving the issues, and lose $500 – $10,000. 

    In this guide, we’ll explore what identity theft protection can and can’t do, describe proactive steps you can take on your own, and compare the top plans of five of the best identity theft protection services available. 

    🏆 More than 38 million people trust Identity Guard to protect their identities. Get award-winning all-in-one identity, fraud, and privacy protection. Save 33% when you sign up for Identity Guard today (60-day money-back guarantee included).

    What Does Identity Theft Protection Actually Do? 

    Identity theft protection services monitor your personally identifiable information (PII) and alert you if it’s been leaked online or used without your knowledge. This is important because if criminals get ahold of details like your Social Security number (SSN), medical ID, bank account numbers, or account passwords, you could become a victim of financial fraud or identity theft. 

    No service can guarantee that you will be completely protected against identity theft. However, you can reduce the risks by signing up for a dedicated identity theft monitoring provider. 

    The main benefits of paying for identity theft protection are: 

    • Identity monitoring for your most important information and accounts — including your SSN, ID, social media accounts, and more
    • 24/7 monitoring for your bank, credit, and investment accounts, along with fraud and risky transaction alerts
    • Proactive protection against hacking and data breaches — two of the most common ways your identity gets stolen 
    • Expert fraud resolution and identity recovery support 
    • Identity theft insurance to cover eligible losses and costs 

    Unfortunately, while many services claim to offer these protective features, there are key differences in their levels of protection that you should know about. 

    Here are nine ways identity theft protection keeps you safe — and what features to look for in each of them:

    Identity monitoring

    Many websites, apps, and data brokers track your digital footprint — including your SSN, driver's license, credit card numbers, and browsing activity. Identity theft monitoring services automatically scour known broker sites, credit reports, public records, and the Dark Web for any signs that indicate your identity could be at risk.

    What you need to know:

    • Not all services track the same amount of personal information. Each provider has a different “watchlist” of personal information it tracks. For example, Identity Guard can track upwards of 70 different pieces of data, whereas other services only scan for SSNs.
    • Some services claim to monitor your identity but only track your information on the Dark Web. Knowing if your information is available on illicit hacker forums and marketplaces is helpful, but you shouldn't limit your monitoring to the Dark Web. Social media and public records provide easy access for fraudsters to find your details. 

    Dark Web and data breach alerts

    While there are legitimate uses for the Dark Web, cybercriminals use this hidden part of the internet for malicious activities — including buying and selling stolen personal information, such as credit card numbers and passports. You can find out if you're at risk with the help of a reliable identity theft protection service.

    What you need to know:

    • You can’t remove your data from the Dark Web. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to scrub all of your information from the Dark Web. But with alerts about data leaks and breaches, you can find out about compromised accounts and stay proactive about updating your passwords and personal security. 
    • Passwords are a weak point. Nearly 50% of data breaches result from stolen or compromised login credentials — often because many people use easy-to-guess passwords [*]. You can keep hackers at bay by creating unique, complex passwords and adding two-factor authentication (2FA) to every account.

    Credit monitoring

    One main component of identity theft protection is a credit monitoring service that watches over your financial accounts, credit reports, and standing with the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). 

    What you need to know:

    • Look for complete coverage. Some services only monitor at one bureau, which leaves you at risk. Three-bureau credit monitoring ensures that you'll get notifications about suspicious activity found on all your major credit reports — such as if someone tries to take out a loan or account in your name.
    • You can block access to your credit report. If you think your information is at risk, or you know you've already been targeted, you can place a credit lock or credit freeze to add extra protection. These security measures stop fraudsters from ruining your credit score. 

    Digital security and scam protection

    The best identity theft protection providers include various digital security tools to proactively safeguard your computer, smartphone, tablet, and other internet-connected devices against threat actors and online scams. 

    Features you should look for:

    • Safe Browsing tools. Hackers create fake websites that steal your personal or financial information. Many providers include Safe Browsing tools that can warn you of phishing links and fake websites.
    • Password manager. This tool generates unique passwords for your accounts and stores them all in an encrypted vault — making it easy for you to log in to websites and harder for hackers to launch account takeovers. 
    • Antivirus software and a virtual private network (VPN). For added device security, look for reliable antivirus software to shield against viruses and malware — as well as a VPN that can mask your browsing activity. 

    Identity restoration support

    There’s no guarantee that dedicated ID protection services will stop you from becoming an identity theft victim. As such, the best services also provide support to help you recover lost funds, documents, and credit standing if the worst-case scenario occurs. 

    What you need to know:

    • Not every service offers 24/7 support. The best identity theft protection providers include teams of U.S.-based resolution specialists who are available at all hours to answer questions and act on your behalf in liaising with banks, vendors, credit reporting agencies, and government agencies.
    • Debt collection agencies could visit you. It can be stressful if debt collectors call or come to your home. With expert fraud resolution support, you can get the advice you need to handle these matters without any worries. 

    Identity theft insurance

    If you become a victim of identity theft, fraudsters could take out payday loans or obtain credit cards by using your stolen identity. You could lose your savings or end up with debts in your name. Identity theft insurance can save you a lot of stress and money as you work to repair your credit

    What you need to know:

    • Not every loss is covered. ID theft insurance typically covers expenses after the identity theft — like legal fees and lost wages. However, it may not offer reimbursement for fraudulent charges on your debit card, especially if you don't report the incident in time.
    • You won’t be covered if you wait too long. If you want to use identity theft insurance, it’s important to report instances of fraud or identity theft no later than 90 days after the event. 

    Lost wallet assistance

    If your wallet is lost or stolen,  it's best to subscribe to a service that covers important documents like credit cards, passports, driver’s licenses, etc. The hassle of replacing cards can be frustrating and time-consuming. Moreover, if a thief has your wallet, you could become a prime target for scams.

    What you should know:

    • Consider SSN Monitoring. The smartest thing to do is keep your SSN card (and number) secret. But if your wallet contains sensitive data related to your SSN, you should use a service that protects this crucial part of your identity. 
    • Be aware of medical identity theft. Evelyn Miller was billed $3,600 by a hospital when fraudsters used her stolen personal information to receive care [*]. While this type of fraud is rare, thieves could leave you with medical bills if they get their hands on your Medicare card. 

    Public record scanning

    A speedy response can stop scammers in their tracks before they cause any damage. ID theft protection platforms scan public records — including data brokers, court records, and sex offender registries — to look for signs that your data has been compromised. If the service finds any warning signs of fraud, you will receive notifications to help you respond quickly.

    What you should know:

    • Protect your kids. Child identity theft is a particularly insidious problem, as fraudsters can steal the SSNs of children and abuse their pristine records for many years before the fraud is detected. Be sure to scan for your children’s data, too.
    • Remember your title deeds. While the idea of someone stealing your home seems far-fetched, real estate fraud is very real. You can use a public records scanner to make sure nobody is trying to change your home title or sell your house without your consent.

    Parental controls and family safety

    Parental control software helps you block harmful content and manage how much time your kids spend online. With digital safeguards available across all devices and browsers, you can reduce the risk of your children being exploited by cyberbullies, scammers, and online predators. 

    What you should know:

    • Tech-savvy kids can circumvent many apps. About 75% of teens have seen pornography online — either accidentally or on purpose [*]. Even with restrictions, curious children may find ways to disable parental controls or access adult content. 
    • Some monitoring tools go too far. Many children — especially teenagers — believe dedicated parental control apps are too invasive. Indeed, many people worry that extensive monitoring could damage trust in families. 

    💡Related: How Does Identity Theft Impact Your Life? 10 Risks to Avoid

    What You Can Do on Your Own To Protect Your Identity

    Even if you pay for a comprehensive identity theft protection service, you still need to stay proactive in order to ensure that publicly available information about you isn’t putting you and your family at risk.

    Here are a few easy (and often free) ways to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft:

    • Freeze your credit with all three bureaus. A credit freeze is a free security measure that prevents scammers from using your personal information to open new accounts in your name. To place one, contact each credit reporting agency individually — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
    • Keep close tabs on your credit card and bank account statements. You can stay vigilant by regularly reviewing your credit card bills and bank statements for unauthorized charges or withdrawals. Report any issues to your bank immediately. 
    • Secure your online accounts. Use strong and unique passwords for every account. Whenever possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to add a second layer of security to sensitive accounts. 
    • Limit the information you share on social media and with companies. You can minimize publicly available data by cleaning up your online accounts. Adjust the privacy settings, and hide or delete personal data — such as your address and phone number. Also, make sure only close contacts can view your content and photos.
    • Scan the Dark Web to check your password safety. Cybersecurity experts don’t recommend accessing the Dark Web unless you know what you're doing — as you could expose more of your information. Identity Guard has a free Dark Web scanner that checks your email address to see if any of your passwords are at risk.
    • Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. If you think your identity has been compromised, file an identity theft report online with the FTC. You’ll receive a personalized recovery plan, as well as an official affidavit that you can use when dealing with impacted vendors and debt collectors.
    💪 Don’t get stuck dealing with identity theft alone. Identity Guard provides 24/7 U.S.-based support to customers who have questions or believe they’ve been victims of fraud. sign up for Identity Guard today and get peace of mind.

    Who Needs To Pay for Identity Theft Protection?

    Identity thieves target anyone — regardless of wealth, status, or background. Even children can be victims. However, some people are at a much higher risk for identity theft and should take great care to protect their sensitive data.

    You should strongly consider signing up for identity theft protection if:

    • You’ve been the victim of identity theft in the past. Previous victims are more than 50% likely to be targeted again [*]. If you’ve had your identity stolen in the past, you should sign up for identity theft protection. 
    • Your personal information has been leaked in a data breach. If hackers target a commercial or government organization and gain access to your data, they could take over your online accounts or steal your identity. In some cases, they may sell your information on the Dark Web.
    • You’re unwilling or unable to freeze your credit. You may need your credit for upcoming purchases or significant life events, such as a wedding or house purchase. With identity theft protection services in place, you can continue negotiating with lenders and opening new credit accounts without delays or worries about fraud.
    • You know you won’t actively monitor your credit, bank account, and identity. If you aren’t prepared to spend time proactively monitoring your financial accounts and credit reports, it makes sense to get a dedicated service. 
    • You have children or elderly relatives for whom you're responsible. Children and grandparents are among the most vulnerable when it comes to online scams and identity theft. Con artists target these groups often — so families must do everything they can to protect their loved ones, young and old.
    • You have significant assets (home, retirement funds, etc.). High net-worth individuals are obvious targets, as cybercriminals see the potential for a big payday. With identity theft protection, you can get comprehensive security for all of your most valuable assets, including home title deeds and investment accounts. 

    The 5 Best Identity Theft Protection Plans Compared

    There’s a wide range of products in 2024 — and most offer plans that appear similar on the surface. However, these options provide vastly different features and levels of protection.

    Here are the best plans available from five identity theft protection services:

    Best plan
    Two reasons why you should choose this provider
    Identity Guard Ultra
    $19.99/month (for individuals) or $26.67/month (for families) — billed annually.
    Provides three-bureau credit monitoring and protection.

    Offers 24/7 access to a dedicated team of U.S.-based White Glove Fraud Resolution support specialists.
    Aura Family Plan
    $24/month (billed annually).
    Claims to provide the fastest fraud alerts in the industry [*.

    Advanced Safe Browsing features include a military-grade VPN and AI-powered spam call blocker.
    LifeLock Ultimate Plus (with Norton 360)
    ID theft protection includes monitoring for SSN, social media, and home titles.

    Norton Security + VPN: A powerful VPN backed by Norton 360.
    Experian IdentityWorks Premium
    Optional free plan offers basic one-bureau credit file monitoring.

    With Experian CreditLock, you can instantly lock your credit file.
    IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit
    $34.90/month (for individuals) or $39.90/month (for families).
    Reputable brand name with over 40 years of experience.

    Credit simulation tools help customers assess and improve their credit scores.

    Keep in mind that price doesn't always equal value. Some services charge significantly higher prices for fewer features and lower levels of protection and support. Even if you get a discount to sign up for a year, membership becomes complicated if you cancel or try to refund the subscription.

    Below, we take a closer look at each of these options.

    1. Identity Guard Ultra

    screenshot of the Identity Guard homepage showing an older couple looking at a laptop screen together

    Identity Guard is an award-winning identity theft protection platform that includes three-bureau credit monitoring, online security tools, White Glove Fraud Resolution support, and a $1 million insurance policy for every adult on your plan. 

    Founded in 1996, IdentityGuard is now owned by Aura and continues to protect millions of people worldwide.

    When it comes to value for money, Identity Guard’s Ultra plan offers the best level of protection. At $19.99/month (for individuals), the Ultra Plan includes extra features such as home title monitoring, White Glove Fraud Resolution support, credit and debit card monitoring, and more. 

    Let’s weigh the pros and cons of Identity Guard:

    Identity Guard Ultra pros
    Identity Guard Ultra cons
    Award-winning identity theft protection, including Dark Web, data breach, and public record monitoring — rated best identity theft protection by Forbes Advisor.
    No free trial, but all annual plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
    Provides three-bureau credit monitoring, as well as financial account and transaction monitoring.
    Limited digital security tools — but you get Safe Browsing tools and a secure password manager to help protect your data.
    White-Glove Fraud Resolution Support is available 24/7 to help with questions and identity restoration services.
    Slightly more expensive than other services.

    Who is Identity Guard’s Ultra Plan best for? 

    Identity Guard is an excellent option for individuals and families looking for comprehensive protection — especially those with larger assets, including 401(k) and investment accounts. The addition of home title monitoring and White Glove Fraud Resolution support makes the Ultra account the best value for the money.

    🏆 Save on award-winning identity theft protection. Identity Guard received a 5-star rating from Forbes Advisor for its powerful identity theft and fraud protection. Save 33% on Identity Guard and give yourself peace of mind.

    2. Aura Family Plan

    Aura is a relatively new player in the identity theft protection market, but has already won accolades from,, Forbes, and others. 

    For families, Aura provides comprehensive protection for kids, teens, and even grandparents and other older family members. Aura’s family plan includes coverage for up to five adults (in different households) and unlimited children. 

    You also get access to award-winning parental controls, a full suite of identity, fraud, and scam protection tools, and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance. 

    While Aura’s $24/month pricing may seem expensive, it’s significantly lower than competitor family plans (which often don’t provide as many features or as much protection). 

    Let’s weigh the pros and cons of Aura:

    Aura pros
    Aura cons
    Three-bureau credit monitoring is included on all plans — with the industry’s fastest fraud alerts.
    Some features aren’t available on all devices and platforms yet.
    Award-winning identity theft protection — rated #1 by,, Forbes, and more.
    Can be slightly more expensive than other services (but includes more comprehensive protection).
    Aura’s user-friendly mobile app offers comprehensive digital security tools, including VPN, antivirus, AI-powered spam call blocker, and parental controls.
    Parental controls features are only available for mobile devices.
    Provides 24/7 White Glove Fraud Resolution support and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance coverage.

    Who is Aura best for? 

    Aura offers the best identity theft protection plans for families. You can include up to five adults in different households, which allows you to cover adult children or elderly family members on a single plan. Also, Aura's Safe Gaming features and parental controls ensure that your kids stay safe on all smartphones, tablets, apps, and browsers. 

    3. LifeLock Ultimate Plus

    Founded in 2005, LifeLock is one of the oldest identity theft protection services. In 2017, LifeLock was purchased by cybersecurity company Symantec (the makers of Norton). This merger turned LifeLock into an all-in-one online security service — but at a higher cost. 

    LifeLock has a complicated pricing and plan structure — but the Ultimate Plus plan offers the best level of protection, albeit at one of the highest monthly fees of $34.99/month.

    Let’s weigh the pros and cons of LifeLock:

    LifeLock Ultimate Plus pros
    LifeLock Ultimate Plus cons
    Extensive identity theft monitoring, including SSN scanning, Dark Web surveillance, and social media monitoring.
    Complicated plans and features make it hard for new customers to understand what they're buying.
    All-in-one protection with Norton 360 digital security tools (with additional fees), including VPN, password manager, and antivirus software.
    Second-year renewal rates are much higher than the initial advertised price.
    A recent security breach compromised the passwords of nearly one million people who were using Norton’s password manager [*].

    Who is LifeLock Ultimate Plus best for? 

    If you want Norton 360 antivirus software and a powerful VPN, LifeLock is a good choice. On the other hand, LifeLock’s tiered plans offer varying levels of protection, which increase in price depending on your needs. 

    There are better options for families, as Norton's plans vary dramatically depending on the features, the number of people you want to protect, and whether you pay monthly or annually. The cost could range anywhere from $18.99/month to $81.99/month. 

    Also, a major caveat is that prices listed are for the first year only — these prices go up by 30-50% in the second year [*]. 

    4. Experian IdentityWorks Premium

    This is the flagship identity theft protection service offered by Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus. Experian IdentityWorks helps you keep tabs on your credit file and will warn potential lenders that you could be at risk of identity theft.

    Among Experian IdentityWorks’ key benefits are its e free plan (with one-bureau credit monitoring) and a seven-day free trial for all plans.

    Let’s weigh the pros and cons of Experian IdentityWorks:

    Experian IdentityWorks pros
    Experian IdentityWorks cons
    Free plan offers basic one-bureau credit file monitoring at no cost.
    Limited protection is provided on the Basic plan (one-bureau credit monitoring and FICO® score tracking only).
    A seven-day trial lets you try out features before committing to a plan.
    More expensive than many competing providers.
    CreditLock functionality lets you instantly lock and unlock your Experian credit report. (Identity Guard and Aura also offer this Experian CreditLock feature.)
    No additional digital security tools are included, potentially leaving your other accounts vulnerable to scams and fraud.
    Does not offer 24/7 customer support or identity theft recovery services.

    Who is Experian IdentityWorks best for? 

    With the backing of Experian, IdentityWorks is a good choice for anyone who wants a trustworthy, effective credit monitoring service. However, the company doesn't offer proactive identity and data protection features — such as antivirus and Safe Browsing tools — meaning it’s not a suitable fit for people who want more robust defenses against identity theft. 

    💡Related: LifeLock vs. Experian: What To Know Before You Buy (2024)

    5. IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit

    First incorporated in 1978 as Stop Loss Associates, IdentityForce has been protecting customers against fraud for over 40 years [*]. 

    More recently, IdentityForce was acquired by TransUnion — one of the three major credit bureau reporting agencies. Naturally, this development makes IdentityForce a solid option for credit monitoring — and one of its best features is a credit score simulator.

    A recent price increase has made IdentityForce one of the most expensive options at $34.90/month for individuals. But for all-in-one protection, the UltraSecure+Credit plans offer similar features to alternatives, such as Identity Guard. 

    Let’s weigh the pros and cons of IdentityForce:

    IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit pros
    IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit cons
    Reputable brand name with over 40 years of experience.
    More expensive than most other options, despite offering fewer features.
    Credit simulation tools allow customers to improve their credit scores over time.
    No credit report monitoring or credit score tracking on the UltraSecure plan.
    Standard plans come with a 30-day trial.
    User reviews are mixed when it comes to usability and customer support [*].
    No public pricing information on family plans.

    Who is IdentityForce best for? 

    The credit score simulator is a nice feature that helps people improve their overall credit. However, since IdentityForce's family plans only extend to two adults, the company's individual plans provide better overall value. 

    A greater concern is that these services don't prevent sophisticated hacks and scams. Some users complained that they weren't notified of breaches until several months later [*].

    💡Related: The Best Identity Guard Alternatives in 2024: 7 Options

    Are Free Identity or Credit Monitoring Services Good Enough?

    Credit bureaus and banks offer free services for monitoring credit and preventing identity theft. However, these options are always limited, and you can expect to deal with slower alerts and only basic customer support. 

    A free service may make sense if you're an individual on a budget who wants basic monitoring. However, be aware that accepting free credit monitoring can stop you from participating in class action lawsuits against credit agencies and other companies.

    Ultimately, you want to avoid ending up with a false sense of security. 

    Identity theft has grown steadily, demonstrating an almost fourfold increase in the last 20 years [*]. As everyone spends more time online — shopping, banking, and using social media — the threat isn’t going away anytime soon.

    🛡️ Get all-in-one protection that you can trust. Identity Guard has helped protect over 38 million people from identity theft, fraud, and scams. Try Identity Guard risk free with a 60-day money- back guarantee on all annual plans.

    The Bottom Line: Identity Theft Protection Keeps You Safe

    Not everyone needs identity theft protection, but the risk is much greater than many people realize. 

    If you use the internet regularly and have multiple accounts — including email, social media, or any smartphone apps that link to your bank accounts — it’s crucial to adopt effective digital security practices.

    Children and elderly people are particularly vulnerable, as they may overshare information or unwittingly visit unsecured websites where scammers and hackers lie in wait. For the best protection and peace of mind, you should invest in a reliable identity theft protection solution like IdentityGuard.

    IdentityGuard’s award-winning identity theft protection platform bundles three-bureau credit monitoring with a suite of digital security tools designed to combat threats from identity thieves. Every adult IdentityGuard plan member is covered by a $1 million insurance policy and has access to a dedicated fraud resolution team if needed.

    Save on award-winning identity theft protection. Get 33% off Identity Guard today.

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    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