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Here’s how identity theft protection services can help you protect against fraud

Identity theft protection can include credit monitoring and other services. Signing up can help you spot potential fraud early and restore your identity.

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While identity theft might not be completely unpreventable, there are certain actions you can take to protect yourself. Signing up for an identity theft protection service can help you spot potential fraud early and restore your identity if it gets stolen.

These services do the heavy lifting for you by checking if your personal information appears on the dark web, social media and other databases that can indicate if a fraudster has your info. And if you are the victim of fraud, many services also offer advice from specialists, as well as insurance that can offset legal fees and other expenses related to restoring your identity.

While identity theft protection services can be a great asset, they aren’t free. The best plans range from $7.20 to $34.99 per month.

Before you sign up for one of these services, take time to understand how these services work to spot fraud and help you restore your identity.

What is identity theft protection?

Identity theft protection services monitor websites and databases for signs of your personal information, such as your social security, driver’s license number, medical ID and bank account numbers.

You’ll typically receive an alert if your sensitive information appears on a variety of sites, including:

  • Dark web
  • Social media
  • USPS address change requests
  • Court or arrest records
  • Orders for new utility, cable or wireless services
  • Payday loan applications
  • Check cashing requests

Many identity theft protection services, like IdentityForce®, PrivacyGuard™ and Experian IdentityWorks℠, also include credit monitoring features. This generally includes changes to your credit report, such as an increase in a credit card balance or a new account opened in your name, which can indicate fraud.

And if your information is compromised, identity theft protection services kick in and help you resolve the issue. The best services, like IdentityForce® and Identity Guard, include identity theft insurance, which offers up to $1 million for eligible expenses associated with resolving and restoring your identity, plus assistance from experts.

Bottom line

Identity theft protection services can help you spot fraud early, which can make it easier to stop the damage before it becomes an even bigger headache. While you’ll pay a fee for these services, they can help you be proactive about securing your personal information.

If you’re hesitant to pay a fee for identity theft protection, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service instead. The two services often overlap in coverage, and there are many free credit monitoring programs. Then if you want a more comprehensive level of protection, consider upgrading to an identity theft protection service.

Best identity theft protection services

IdentityForce® UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit

On Identity Force's secure site
  • Cost

    For a limited time, get 3 months free on all annual plans - that's $17.99/mo or $160.99/yr for UltraSecure+Credit and $9.99/mo or $88.99/yr for UltraSecure - offer ends 03/12/2021

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian, Equifax and TransUnion

  • Credit scoring model used

    VantageScore 3.0

  • Dark web scan

    Yes

  • Identity insurance

    Yes, up to $1 million

Terms apply. To learn more about IdentityForce®, visit their website or call 855-979-1118. 

PrivacyGuard

Information about the PrivacyGuard® plans have been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the company prior to publication.
  • Cost

    $9.99 to $24.99 per month

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian, Equifax and TransUnion

  • Credit scoring model used

    VantageScore

  • Dark web scan

    Yes, for Identity and Total Protection plans

  • Identity insurance

    Yes, up to $1 million for Identity and Total Protection plans

Terms apply.

Experian IdentityWorks℠

On Experian's secure site
  • Cost

    $9.99 to $29.99 per month

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian for Plus plan or Experian, Equifax and TransUnion for Premium plan

  • Credit scoring model used

    FICO®

  • Dark web scan

    Yes

  • Identity insurance

    Yes, up to $500,000 for Plus plan and up to $1 million for Premium plan*

Terms apply.

*Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc. (AIG). The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

Identity Guard

On Identity Guard's secure site
  • Cost

    $7.20 to $23.99 per month

  • Identity theft insurance

    Up to $1 million

  • Credit monitoring

    The Total and Ultra plans monitor your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports; the Value plan doesn't offer credit monitoring.

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Family plan

    Yes

Terms apply.

LifeLock®

On LifeLock's secure site
  • Cost

    $8.99 to $34.99 per month

  • Identity theft insurance

    Up to $1 million for lawyers and experts; up to $25,000 to $1 million each for stolen funds reimbursement and personal expense compensation

  • Credit monitoring

    The Ultimate Plus plan monitors your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports; The Standard and Advantage plans monitor Equifax or TransUnion.

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Family plan

    Yes

Terms apply.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.