Which Identity Theft Protection Service Is Best for You?
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2022 [*]:
Americans reported losing $8.8 billion to identity theft and fraud — not including the billions more that go unreported every year.
Identity theft protection services promise to protect you from the constant threat of hackers, scammers, and identity theft. But not all identity theft protection is equal.
While household names like LifeLock have dominated the market for years, a new generation of companies is taking a more modern approach to solving the identity theft crisis — focusing on proactive protection, rather than just offering support after you become the victim of identity theft.
In this guide, we look at the most important identity theft protection features, review the top 12 providers available, and explain how you can start protecting your identity today.
How to choose an identity theft protection provider: 5 essential features
Identity theft protection has become a crowded industry, with multiple brands offering similar levels of protection at varying prices.
But the details matter — especially if you’re opting for a top-tier service.
Effective identity theft protection must cover every angle that cybercriminals pursue when targeting you. This means protecting your identity, finances, online accounts, devices, and more.
Here are the five feature categories that we looked at when judging the best identity theft protection services of 2023:
- Identity monitoring and alerts. At a minimum, services should monitor your most sensitive information — Social Security number (SSN), name, address, etc. — across the internet, Dark Web, and public records. We judged services based on how much sensitive data they monitor, where they monitor, and the quality and depth of their alerts.
- Credit monitoring, financial account protection, and fast fraud alerts. Identity thieves almost always target your financial accounts. We looked for services that offered three-bureau credit monitoring (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), financial account protection, and fast fraud alerts.
- Digital security tools to protect your data, devices, and network. Today, cybercriminals are more likely to hack your online accounts than try to steal your SSN. We looked for services with robust digital security offerings, including antivirus software, virtual private network (VPN), password manager, email aliases, and Safe Browsing tools.
- 24/7/365 fraud resolution support. No one should have to deal with fraud alone. We judged services on the availability, quality, and speed of their support teams (as well as what real customers said about receiving support).
- Comprehensive identity theft insurance. Almost every identity theft protection provider offers some form of insurance to cover stolen funds, legal fees, etc. But many limit the amount they’ll pay out based on your plan price. We judged companies not only on their overall insurance plans, but also on the transparency of their coverage.
The 12 Best Identity Theft Protection Providers of 2023
- Identity Guard
- Experian IdentityWorks
- ID Watchdog
- Complete ID
On the surface, the top picks for the best identity theft protection share many of the same features. But dig deeper and you’ll find critical differences that can impact your level of protection.
Here are our top selections for identity theft protection, why you might want to choose them, and how to sign up:
1. Aura: Award-winning protection for your entire family
Aura’s all-in-one solution combines award-winning identity theft protection with three-bureau credit monitoring, the industry’s fastest fraud alerts, powerful digital security, and comprehensive Fraud Resolution support and insurance.
While Aura is a relatively new name in identity theft protection, it’s already won awards or been rated #1 by publications including Money.com, Forbes, and Security.org. Aura also holds a 4.6-star rating on Trustpilot from nearly 200 independent reviews [*] — one of the highest ratings out of any company on this list.
Among distinctions that set Aura apart from other providers are its AI-powered features, fastest fraud alerts in the industry, comprehensive family protection, and easy-to-use platform.
Aura pros and cons:
What customers are saying about Aura:
- Customer service went above and beyond. “[Aura’s] service is over and beyond what I expected. With one phone call, [the Aura representative], called each creditor and checked my credit reports and offered great follow-up advice. If you want peace of mind, you need Aura.”
- Fast fraud alerts saved me money. “Aura caught several fraud attempts early on and were able to mitigate the damage almost immediately. I will not be without this service. It is a very wise investment!”
- Shut down fraudsters in seconds. “I received a suspicious credit inquiry alert from Aura and followed the instructions to call customer service. They got the credit card company on the line and assisted me in shutting down a fraudulent cash advance credit card application filed under my credentials. Very kind and very helpful! I recommend Aura to my friends and family now!”
Aura plans and pricing:
Aura offers simple and transparent pricing. All plans include the same features, and the price you pay won’t increase after the first year (unlike other providers that offer low introductory rates and then hike up the price in year two).
Here are Aura’s plans and pricing as of June 2023:
- Individual Plan: $12 per month (or $6 per month using the link below)
- Couple Plan (two members): $22 per month (or $11.49 per month using the link below)
- Family Plan (five adults and unlimited children): $37 per month (or $20 per month using the link below)
Aura’s Family Plan includes additional features such as parental controls, Safe Gaming tools to protect against predators and cyberbullies, and child identity monitoring.
Who should choose Aura?
You should choose Aura if:
- You want to protect your financial accounts: Aura monitors your credit, bank accounts, credit and debits cards, and investment accounts for signs of fraud. Aura’s fraud alerts are up to 250x faster than other providers — meaning you’ll not only find out about fraud faster, but be better equipped to contain any damage before it’s too late.
- You have a family, adult children, or elderly parents or grandparents: Aura’s identity theft protection plans specialize in keepings families safe. The Aura family plan covers up to five adults in different households — so you can protect your adult children or elderly family members on a single plan.
- You have multiple online accounts and devices: Every Aura plan includes comprehensive digital security tools for protecting your online accounts. For example, Aura monitors the Dark Web for recent data breaches and can warn you if your personal information or account passwords have been compromised.
- You prioritize receiving the best support: Out of all of the providers listed in this guide, Aura has one of the best customer ratings on Trustpilot. Real customers called out Aura’s quick response time, high level of support, and empathetic fraud resolution agents.
You’re tired of complicated and misleading pricing plans. Aura provides simple, transparent pricing. All features are included in every plan, and your price won’t increase after your first year as an Aura member.
2. Identity Guard: Identity theft protection trusted by millions
Identity Guard has been a household name in identity theft protection for decades, helping keep more than 38 million Americans safe from fraudsters.
Identity Guard monitors billions of web articles, social media sites, and content on the Dark Web to find threats to your identity. If your name, SSN, bank account numbers, or other personal details are found, you’ll be sent near real-time alerts.
While Identity Guard used to be powered by IBM Watson artificial intelligence (AI), the company recently joined forces with Aura to provide modern AI-powered identity theft protection for more customers.
Identity Guard pros and cons:
What customers are saying about Identity Guard:
Identity Guard has 4.6 stars out of five from over 4,448 reviews on TrustPilot at the time of this writing — one of the highest ratings and most reviews of any service on this list [*]. Here’s what some real customers had to say:
- Customer support that goes above and beyond: “By the end of the call, we felt like the weight of the world was off our shoulders.”
- Saved me thousands of dollars: “[My Identity Guard rep] got Bank of America's fraud group on the phone and within minutes they put the stolen money ($4,880.36) back into my account. If it were not for this intervention, who knows how long I would have been waiting for!”
- Step-by-step fraud resolution: “Identity Guard emailed me about a suspicious account. After discussion we contacted the institution to report the fraud and Identity Guard walked me through all I would need to do to protect my identity and credit. This process was made easy by giving me step-by-step instructions on how to contact various institutions and law enforcement.”
Identity Guard plans and pricing:
Here are Identity Guard’s pricing plans as of June 2023:
- Value Plan (no credit monitoring): $8.99 per month (individual) and $14.99 (family)
- Total Plan: $19.99 per month (individual) and $29.99 (family)
- Ultra Plan: $29.99 per month (individual) and $39.99 (family)
Identity Guard doesn’t offer a free trial but includes a 60-day money-back guarantee on all annual plans.
Who should choose Identity Guard?
You should choose Identity Guard if:
- You want more flexible plan options. Identity Guard offers more customization based on your needs. For example, the Value plan is an affordable option if you’re most concerned about identity monitoring and insurance.
- Seniors or older Americans who want to protect their investments. Identity Guard is a great option for anyone wanting to protect large assets. Identity Guard monitors your 401k and investment accounts, home title, bank accounts, and credit and debit cards, and warns you in near real-time to any signs of financial fraud.
Our take: Identity Guard is a great option for individuals and families looking for comprehensive protection and recovery services. However, their premium protection plan is a bit pricier than Aura’s.
3. LifeLock: Recognizable brand name (with a few issues)
LifeLock is one of the most well-known brands in identity theft protection due to its long history and collaboration with Norton 360. LifeLock offers an abundance of different plan options — from basic identity theft protection with minimal financial protection to comprehensive coverage including Norton 360 digital security.
While this level of customization may seem like a benefit, it can quickly become overwhelming — leading many customers to either pay for services that they don’t need or end up without enough coverage.
LifeLock pros and cons:
What customers are saying about LifeLock:
LifeLock currently has a 4-star rating on Trustpilot with many customers complaining about poor customer support, buggy software, and missing fraud alerts [*]:
- Unprofessional customer service: “The customer service is not as professional as before Norton took over and the price increase is absolutely ridiculous. Every time we get a notification, customer service has no idea what we’re talking about. I don’t even waste my time calling them anymore…”
- Buggy software: “If LifeLock worked, it would be ideal for me. Unfortunately, it doesn't! The software/website is buggy and ‘customer service’ is a joke — totally inept and incomprehensible (what happened to ‘US-based specialists’ who can speak english?)”
- Missed clear signs of fraud: “In the past 4 months I have had two issues with accounts that were attempted to be open in my name. LifeLock did not notify me of either fraud accounts. When I contacted customer service the first response was, we can't catch them all.”
What about the recent LifeLock data breach? LifeLock recently disclosed that sensitive information from thousands of customers — including passwords — was compromised in a December, 2022 data breach [*]. If you're looking for a secure LifeLock alternative, consider trying Aura free for 14 days.
LifeLock plans and pricing:
Here are LifeLock’s pricing plans as of June 2023:
- LifeLock Standard plan: $11.99 per month
- LifeLock Advantage plan: $22.99 per month
- LifeLock Ultimate Plus plan: $34.99 per month
You can also choose to add an additional adult to your plan or opt for the family plan (two adults and up to five children). Each is more expensive than the last. For example, LifeLock Ultimate Plus with Norton 360 for a family costs a staggering $48.99 per month (and renews at $81.99/month!).
Who should choose LifeLock?
You should choose LifeLock if:
- You want a higher amount of identity theft insurance. LifeLock recently upgraded the amount covered in its identity theft insurance plans. The Ultimate Plus plan now includes up to $3,000,000 in insurance coverage. However, the more affordable pricing plans only include $25,000–$100,000 in stolen funds reimbursement.
- You want an all-in-one product. Adding the Norton 360 integration gives you an all-in-one provider for identity theft protection and digital security. Note: Aura offers an all-in-one solution on all plans without paying extra or having to decide what level of protection is right for you.
Our take: LifeLock is a household name and one of the most commonly used identity theft protection services. However, its sky-high renewal costs and unclear support policies put it further down the list.
💡 Related: The Top LifeLock Alternatives of 2023 →
4. IdentityForce: A good (yet expensive) option for families
IdentityForce is a popular identity protection service owned by TransUnion — one of the three major credit bureaus. IdentityForce offers two different plan options, depending on whether you only want identity theft protection or if you want to bundle credit monitoring as well.
It’s important to note that even IdentityForce’s most basic plan is significantly more expensive than other options out there — and with more limited features.
IdentityForce pros and cons:
What customers are saying about IdentityForce:
IdentityForce currently has a 4.4-star rating on Trustpilot [*] with customers giving mixed reviews on the level of service and protection they receive:
- Missed data breach notifications: “I found out my phone number was on the Darknet through another protection service. We were getting calls and texts regarding this breach. When I called IdentityForce, I was told they did not catch this and could not tell me why.”
- Good customer support but poor app experience: “I would rate the representative I spoke with 5 stars. However, the wait time on hold was long all three times and my call was dropped twice. I had to wait and call back because the website had not been updated with my credit card information from last year.”
IdentityForce plans and pricing:
Here are IdentityForce’s plans as of June 2023:
- IdentityForce UltraSecure plan: $17.99 per month
- IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit plan: $23.99 per month
On its pricing page, IdentityForce doesn’t offer coverage for families, but you can inquire about custom family plans by calling them directly. While its plans are a bit pricier than many other identity protection providers, IdentityForce does offer a free 30-day trial.
Who should choose IdentityForce?
You should choose IdentityForce if:
- You’re looking for credit tracking and simulation tools. IdentityForce offers a good level of credit protection as well as a credit score simulator to help you make informed choices about taking out loans.
- You only need to protect yourself. IdentityForce only provides vague information about family plans (you have to call to find out about pricing and coverage), making it a better option for individuals as opposed to couples and families.
Our take: IdentityForce is a popular choice for credit protection. However, their pricing plans are more expensive than other services, and they lack information about family plans.
5. IdentityIQ: Affordable (but basic) protection
IdentityIQ provides all-in-one digital security through a partnership with Bitdefender. Unfortunately, like LifeLock and other providers, you have to choose one of its most expensive plans to get essential features, such as three-bureau credit monitoring, digital security tools, and fraud restoration support.
IdentityIQ pros and cons:
What customers are saying about IdentityIQ:
IdentityIQ has a 4-star rating on Trustpilot based on 177 reviews [*]. Some customers are split on the company’s customer service as well as its cancellation policy:
- Annoying cancellation process: “Do not, I repeat, do not purchase this program. It is absolutely useless and impossible to cancel. When you call their customer service number you have to wait 10 minutes only to be told that they are unable to [accept] voicemail messages. There is no way to cancel it online on their website.”
- Disappointing credit monitoring: “This company cost is much higher than its competitors, it does not provide a free credit report or account details like its competitors (makes you pay for a report) and worst of all they make it impossible to cancel the subscription.”
IdentityIQ plans and pricing:
Here are IdentityIQ’s plans (including Bitdefender protection) as of June 2023:
- Secure (with Bitdefender): $8.99 per month
- Secure Plus (with Bitdefender): $11.99 per month
- Secure Pro (with Bitdefender): $21.99 per month
- Secure Max (with Bitdefender): $32.99 per month
Who should choose IdentityIQ?
You should choose IdentityIQ if:
- You want digital security from Bitdefender. IdentityIQ provides all-in-one protection through its Bitdefender protection. However, not all security features are available for all devices.
- You only want basic protection (for an affordable price). IdentityIQ’s Secure plan is one of the lowest-priced plans out there. However, it only offers limited protection. You can get all of Aura’s features at an even more affordable price using this special 60% off link.
Our take: IdentityIQ offers a very low priced basic protection plan; however, its identity protection is not as robust as most options on this list.
💡 Related: The 7 Best McAfee Alternatives in 2023 →
6. IDShield: Flexible plans depending on your needs
IDShield provides a standard level of identity theft protection — but the standout feature is its “ID specialist” program that offers unlimited guidance on identity theft prevention. The company also partners with Trend Micro to provide online security against ransomware, malware, and potentially dangerous websites.
IDShield pros and cons:
What customers are saying about IDShield:
IDShield has a 4.6-star rating on Trustpilot — tying with Aura for the best customer rating [*]. However, some customers have complained about issues with service and support after a recent update to IDShield’s website:
- Went from good to horrible in the past year: “I don't understand what happened to ID Shield. I've been a member for several years now and had no issues with them. Now they updated their site and locked me out. The customer service rep I finally managed to get ahold of was abysmally unprepared to help me on what should be a very simple matter.”
- Missed critical signs of fraud: “They failed to notify us or protect us when both my husband and my Social Security numbers and IDs [were] used to open fraudulent accounts and damaged our credit. Very disappointed in the service.”
IDShield plans and pricing:
Here are IDShield’s plans as of June 2023:
- Individual (one credit bureau monitoring — only TransUnion): $14.95/month
- Individual (three-bureau monitoring): $19.95/month
- Family (one credit bureau monitoring — only TransUnion): $29.95/month
- Family (three-bureau monitoring): $34.95/month
IDShield doesn’t advertise a free trial or money-back guarantee. To cancel your membership, you need to reach out to them in writing and wait for a response.
Who should choose IDShield?
You should choose IDShield if:
- You want the help of a private investigator. If you’re the victim of fraud, IDShield’s team of PIs can help you recover from fraud. However, many other providers offer similar levels of identity restoration support.
- You only need to protect family members under the age of 18. IDShield’s family plan only covers two adults and dependent children under the age of 18. If you have adult children or elderly family members whom you want to protect, they’ll need to pay for their own plans.
Our take: IDShield is known for its identity theft investigation services, which makes it a good option for some. However, the family plan is less flexible than most.
7. PrivacyGuard: Fewer proactive protection features than others
PrivacyGuard offers flexible plans that can cover identity theft protection, credit monitoring, or both — depending on how much you’re willing to pay. Neither plan includes digital security features beyond a “Secure browser and keyboard.”
Unfortunately, while PrivacyGuard’s credit monitoring is competitive with similar services, it lacks some essential identity theft protection features.
PrivacyGuard pros and cons:
What customers are saying about PrivacyGuard:
PrivacyGuard doesn’t have any customer reviews or ratings on Trustpilot. However, the PrivacyGuard iOS app has a 4.8-star rating, with users split on the usability of the app (some say it’s easy to use while others complain that they can’t access their credit histories or scores).
PrivacyGuard plans and pricing:
Here are PrivacyGuard’s pricing plans as of June 2023:
- Identity Protection: Starts from $9.99/month — only offers basic identity protection
- Credit Protection: Starts from $19.99/month — includes monthly three-bureau credit scores
- Total Protection: Starts from $24.99/month — offers everything in both plans (above)
Who should choose PrivacyGuard?
You should choose PrivacyGuard if:
- You want peace of mind from a dedicated ID restoration specialist. Like many other services, PrivacyGuard offers a dedicated support agent to help you through any instances of fraud.
- You want only credit or identity protection. PrivacyGuard’s plans offer more flexibility based on your individual needs. However, if you want an all-in-one provider, there are better options.
Our take: PrivacyGuard is a good option for individuals who want to focus on credit protection. However, the lack of proactive protection features make it a less ideal option for identity theft protection.
8. Experian IdentityWorks: Credit-focused identity protection
IdentityWorks is the identity theft protection service offered by Experian — another of the three main credit bureaus.
As such, IdentityWorks can quickly alert you to changes to your credit report, and can also help you place a fraud alert on your credit file to warn lenders that you could be at risk of identity theft. (Note: Fraud alerts and credit freezes are free — anyone can place an alert on their own account.)
Experian IdentityWorks pros and cons:
What customers are saying about Experian IdentityWorks:
Experian currently has a 3.8-star rating on Trustpilot; however many of those reviews don’t mention IdentityWorks specifically [*].
Experian IdentityWorks plans and pricing:
Experian IdentityWorks offers a free plan which includes your Experian credit report (you can view this for free once per year even without becoming a member), your FICO® score, and Experian credit monitoring. For more comprehensive protection, you can choose one of their paid plans.
Here are Experian IdentityWorks’ plans as of June 2023:
- IdentityWorks Basic (Experian credit monitoring only): free
- IdentityWorks Premium (individual): $24.99 per month
- IdentityWorks Premium (family): $34.99 per month
Who should choose Experian IdentityWorks?
- You’re looking to apply for credit soon. Most credit monitoring services use the VantageScore model to determine your credit score. However, IdentityWorks provides FICO scores — the same that many lenders use to decide whether or not to extend credit to you.
- You want free Experian credit score tracking. IdentityWorks’ free plan can be an easy way to track your Experian credit score. However, you won’t get as accurate of a report as you would with a service that provides three-bureau credit monitoring.
Our take: Experian IdentityWorks is another good option for credit-focused protection — especially if you’re looking to take out a loan soon. However, its lack of digital security features and minimal customer support hours put it lower on the list.
💡 Related: LifeLock vs. Experian vs. Aura –Which One Is Right For You? →
9. ReliaShield: Affordable option for large families
ReliaShield is an “employee owned” identity theft protection service operated out of Nashville. The company promotes 24/7 customer support as well as a “100% success rate” for identity restoration.
ReliaShield is entirely focused on identity and credit monitoring and doesn’t offer any digital security tools.
ReliaShield pros and cons:
What customers are saying about ReliaShield:
ReliaShield doesn’t have any customer reviews on Trustpilot but holds a 3/5 rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) [*].
ReliaShield plans and pricing:
Here are ReliaShield’s plans as of June 2023:
- Essential: $7.99/month (individuals) or $14.99/month (families)
- Prime: $14.99/month (individuals) or $24.99/month (families)
- Elite: $21.99/month (individuals) or $34.99/month (families)
Who should choose ReliaShield?
- You have a large family (all living under the same roof). ReliaShield heavily promotes its unlimited child protection policy. However, be aware that this only covers children under the age of 18 who are living at home.
Our take: ReliaShield can be a good budget option for large families. However, the lack of digital security tools and three-bureau credit monitoring on some plans will leave gaps in your protection.
10. ID Watchdog: Financial protection from Equifax
ID Watchdog is an identity theft protection service owned by Equifax — another of the three major credit bureaus. Equifax suffered a massive data breach in 2017 and recently agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for up to $425 million to help victims [*].
Data breaches aside, ID Watchdog offers many of the standard identity theft protection features as other services with an emphasis on credit monitoring. The more expensive Premium plan includes three-bureau credit monitoring, Equifax and TransUnion credit lock, and daily one-bureau VantageScore credit scores.
ID Watchdog pros and cons:
What customers are saying about ID Watchdog:
ID Watchdog doesn’t currently have any user ratings on Trustpilot, but holds a 2.1-star rating in the Apple App Store [*]. Mobile users complained about broken features, an inability to contact support, and being constantly locked out of their accounts.
ID Watchdog plans and pricing:
ID Watchdog offers two tiers of plans — Select and Premium — with the option to add family protection (two adults and four children). The Select plan only includes one-bureau credit monitoring with limited identity theft monitoring (data breach notifications, public records, USPS change of address monitoring), credit lock, and a password manager.
Here are ID Watchdog’s pricing and plans as of June 2023:
- ID Watchdog Select: $14.95/month (individual) or $23/95/month (family)
- ID Watchdog Premium: $21.95/month (individual) or $34.95/month (family)
Who should choose ID Watchdog?
- You’re most concerned about credit monitoring and protection. ID Watchdog’s multi-bureau credit lock gives you more control over your credit file. (You’ll still have to pay to lock your credit file with Experian for total protection.)
Our take: ID Watchdog comes near the end of our list for a reason — the protection it offers leaves some serious gaps. You won’t be able to monitor your Experian credit file, and your proactive protection will be limited.
11. Complete ID: Identity theft protection for Costco members
Complete ID is identity theft protection for Costco members only. True to the Costco model, the idea is that you’ll receive ID theft protection at a lower, group rate.
Complete ID includes digital privacy tools such as a password manager, VPN, and Safe Browsing tools — as well as three-bureau credit monitoring, Experian credit lock, and 24/7 customer support.
Complete ID may be worth it if you’re already a Costco member. However, it evens out to the same price as other ID theft protection services if you pay their membership fee just to get identity theft protection.
Complete ID pros and cons:
What customers are saying about Complete ID:
Complete ID doesn’t have any customer reviews on Trustpilot, but has a 2.3-star rating in the Google App store [*]. Many customers wrote that the app doesn’t work and keeps crashing on their mobile devices.
Complete ID plans and pricing:
Complete ID’s pricing plans depend on your Costco membership status and how many people you want to protect.
Here are Complete ID’s pricing plans as of June 2023:
- One adult: $8.99/month (Executive members) or $13.99 (Business and Gold Star members)
- One adult and up to five children: $11.98/month (Executive members) or $17.98 (Business and Gold Star members)
- Two adults: $15.99/month (Executive members) or $25.99 (Business and Gold Star members)
- Two adults and up to five children: $18.99/month (Executive members) or $29.99 (Business and Gold Star members)
Who should choose Complete ID?
- Costco shoppers with an Executive membership. If you already regularly use your Costco Executive membership, Complete ID could be a good option. However, it still costs the same as other more comprehensive options (such as Aura), even without factoring in the additional membership fee.
Our take: Complete ID may be a good option for active Costco members who are already getting their money’s worth out of the membership fee. However, for anyone else, the cost won’t likely be worth it.
12. Zander: Celebrity endorsed identity theft protection
Zander identity theft insurance proudly promotes its affiliation with finance personality Dave Ramsey. Zander monitors your personally identifiable information (PII), including your SSN, health insurance, home title, and more.
It’s an affordable option for identity monitoring, but that’s about it. Zander doesn’t include credit monitoring in its plans and only offers basic digital security (VPN and antivirus) on its most expensive Elite Cyber Bundle plan.
Zander pros and cons:
What customers are saying about Zander:
Zander doesn’t have any ratings on Trustpilot, but has a 2.85/5-star rating with the BBB. However, most reviews don’t mention identity theft insurance specifically.
Zander plans and pricing:
Zander offers two plan tiers with the option to protect your family (two adults and unlimited children).
Here are Zander identity theft insurance’s pricing plans as of June 2023:
- Essential Plan: $6.75/month (individual) or $12.90/month (family)
- Elite Cyber Bundle: $9.99/month (individual) or $19.49/month (family)
Zander doesn’t offer a free trial. However, if you pay monthly (which costs slightly more), you can cancel at any point.
Who should choose Zander?
- You’re looking for an affordable plan and already have credit monitoring. If you don’t need (or want) credit monitoring, Zander is an affordable option for identity monitoring and restoration support.
Our take: Zander offers affordable, limited protection against modern cyberattacks. It’s a good choice if you’re more concerned about support when recovering from identity theft rather than trying to prevent it from happening in the first place.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Identity theft occurs when fraudsters use your sensitive information for illegal purposes or their own personal gain. For example, scammers can use your SSN to apply for government benefits or take out payday loans in your name — with no intention of ever paying them back.
To steal your identity, scammers first need to access your personal information. Here are some of the most common ways that identity theft happens:
- Data breaches. Hackers break into online databases and leak personal details to the Dark Web. In 2022 alone, over 422 million people had their personal information compromised in data breaches [*].
- Phishing and imposter scams. Phishing occurs when criminals send you fake emails, texts, calls, or social media messages claiming to be someone they’re not. Usually, fraudsters impersonate companies or government agencies that you trust — and pressure you to “confirm” your personal details or send them money.
- Wi-Fi and device hacking. In an increasingly digital world, scammers know that your phone and other devices house all the information they need to steal your identity. Hackers use a “man-in-the-middle” attack (MITM) to spy on your home network or try to hack your devices to gain access to sensitive data, images, and videos.
- Stolen mail. Credit card offers, bank statements, and other physical mail can contain sensitive information that scammers use for identity theft.
- Lost or stolen IDs. Losing an ID or passport is one of the easiest ways to have your identity stolen. If your wallet is missing, you should assume that your identity is at risk.
- Malware and other viruses. Fraudsters hide viruses in email links or on fake websites. If you accidentally click on these traps, criminals can take over your device, spy on you, or lock your data and demand a ransom.
💡 Related: How Does Identity Theft Happen? (And How To Avoid It) →
How Do Identity Theft Protection Services Work?
Fraudsters are constantly changing their tactics — and no provider can guarantee to stop all types of identity theft. However, modern identity theft protection services work to minimize your exposure to fraudsters and make you a much less attractive target.
Here are some of the critical features that identity theft protection companies use to keep you safe:
Identity theft monitoring and alerts
The sooner you know that your personal information or finances have been compromised, the better chance you have of mitigating the damage that scammers can do.
Providers like Aura monitor your personally identifiable information (PII) — such as your Social Security number (SSN), address, driver’s license, bank account, and credit file — for suspicious activity.
Aura monitors the internet, public records (court records, sex offender registries, home titles, etc.), and the Dark Web for signs that your data has been compromised. If Aura finds any signs of fraud, you’ll be alerted in near real-time to help you quickly shut down scammers.
Bank account and credit monitoring
Bank account and credit monitoring ensures that you’re the only one using and updating your bank accounts, credit cards, credit reports, etc.
For example, you’ll get alerted if the address on your credit account is unexpectedly changed or if someone makes a withdrawal from your debit account that’s over your threshold limit.
Credit monitoring is one of the areas in which identity theft protection companies differ in their services. There are two key features to look for in a good credit monitoring provider:
- Three-bureau credit monitoring. Your credit report can be different at each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Yet, many companies only monitor one or two of your credit reports, or only offer three-bureau credit monitoring in their highest pricing plan. Every Aura plan includes three-bureau credit monitoring for the best coverage (and at no extra cost).
- Near real-time alerts. Most identity theft protection companies wait for credit bureaus to notify them of changes to your credit report. This means that you won’t receive alerts about changes to your credit report in real time.
Aura monitors your credit report across all three bureaus and detects changes to your credit report at the same time as the credit bureaus. This means that Aura sends you alerts for changes to your credit report up to 250x faster than competitors.
💡 Related: Top 5 Credit Protection Services in 2023 (How To Choose) →
Digital security tools to protect your data and devices
The best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to keep your private information and assets safe from scammers.
That’s why modern identity theft protection companies offer proactive digital security features like virtual private networks (VPNs), antivirus software, Safe Browsing software, and a password manager. These tools help prevent cybercriminals from stealing your information.
Here are a few of the features Aura offers to proactively protect your personal information:
- Secure password manager. This tool creates, stores, and auto-fills randomly generated passwords for you. Aura’s password manager can warn you if your passwords have been compromised in a data breach. And on select sites, Aura will also log in and update the password for you — all it takes is one click. Using unique, hard-to-guess passwords for each account (email, banking, etc.) is vital to keeping your data safe. But remembering so many passwords can be difficult (if not impossible). Aura’s password manager safely stores and remembers all of your passwords for you.
- Virtual private network (VPN). Hackers can easily intercept your data over unsecured Wi-Fi networks (even at home). A VPN provides you with military-grade encryption so that your online activities are hidden from hackers.
- Antivirus software. This tool automatically detects and isolates spyware, malware, ransomware, adware, and other online threats so that your devices won’t become infected with malicious software.
- Safe Browsing tools. Fraudsters create fake websites that steal your passwords and sensitive information (like bank account or credit card numbers). Aura’s Safe Browsing tools warn you if you’re entering potentially dangerous sites that are trying to steal your personal information.
- Anti-track. Criminals use information found in your online footprint to target you with phishing attacks and other scams. Anti-tracking tools prevent websites from tracking your online activity, so scammers can’t use that information against you.
- Email aliases. This tool lets you keep your personal email address safe by generating random email addresses for you to use when signing up for new accounts. All emails sent to your alias will be forwarded to your main email address — but your main inbox and email address will stay safe.
- Automatic data broker removal. This service removes your personal information from data broker lists. Data brokers scan public platforms and gather your information to create a profile on you. Then, they sell that information to anyone who wants it — even identity thieves.
Identity theft insurance
Most identity theft service providers offer some form of identity theft insurance to offset financial losses of identity theft.
$1 million in identity theft insurance is the standard number quoted by most companies — however, many companies only cover stolen funds and some legal fees, leaving you to foot the bill for lost wages and additional expenses.
Aura offers $1 million insurance to cover eligible legal fees, accountant fees, lost wages, travel expenses, care for loved ones, and loss of funds. Every adult Aura member receives this insurance, regardless of the pricing plan you choose.
💡 Related: What Is Identity Theft Insurance? Do You Really Need It? →
Identity restoration assistance
Many customers feel that having a real person to help them with the process of recovering from identity theft is among the best reasons to invest in an identity theft protection service.
However, many identity theft protection providers rely heavily on automated phone messaging systems, or outsource their customer support. This is the last thing you need if you think you’re the victim of identity theft.
Aura’s U.S.-based fraud remediation team is available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you navigate the complex process of dealing with fraud and identity theft. You’ll be assigned an experienced, dedicated case manager for each instance of fraud who can:
- Explain each step of the fraud recovery process, including how to fill out forms and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Set up three-way calls with financial institutions, credit bureaus, and anyone else you need to contact in order to resolve the fraud.
- Walk you through your annual credit report (and help you spot errors or fraudulent activity).
- Help you initiate a credit freeze.
- Resolve technical issues with the Aura app.
- Help you figure out what to do if your wallet has been stolen.
- Answer any other questions that you have about identity theft protection and how to keep your whole family safe.
Is Identity Theft Protection Worth It?
The main criticism of identity theft protection is that you’re paying for many services that you can potentially do on your own. For example, everyone is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major bureaus each year by contacting AnnualCreditReport.com (you can even get a free report every week until the end of 2023).
You can also check public records for your personal information, use a free Dark Web scanner or rely on company announcements to tell you if you’ve been impacted by a data breach — and follow best practices to avoid viruses, hacking, and phishing attacks.
However, all of these steps take time and effort. And if you become the victim of identity theft, you’ll be left to deal with the fallout on your own.
Ultimately, identity theft protection equals peace of mind. These services monitor your personal data and finances around the clock so that you don’t have to. And if the worst should happen, you know that you’ll be protected, supported, and covered for losses.
💡 Related: Is Identity Theft Protection Worth It In 2023? →
How To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Even if you sign up for identity theft protection, it pays to take steps to protect your identity yourself. It’s always better to try to prevent identity theft than to deal with the consequences of having your identity stolen.
A few small actions can help make you a much less vulnerable target for cybercriminals and scammers.
Here are some practices that can help you prevent identity theft:
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on all of your accounts. Passwords are regularly leaked in data breaches. By enabling 2FA on your accounts, you add a second layer of protection that hackers can’t easily bypass.
- Use unique passphrases and store them in a secure password manager. Strong passwords are your first — and sometimes only — line of defense against hackers. Many cybersecurity experts now suggest using unique passphrases rather than complex strings of letters and numbers. For example, “#AlLth3W0rLD1sASt4Ge.” To keep track of all of your phrases, store them in a secure password manager.
- Freeze or lock your credit with all three bureaus. A credit freeze stops anyone from accessing your credit file — which also stops scammers from opening new accounts or taking out loans in your name. To freeze your credit, you need to contact each of the three bureaus individually.
- Regularly check your bank and credit card statements. Look for unrecognized charges — even small ones. Criminals often start with tiny purchases to test if stolen card information works before moving on to larger transactions.
- Remove your personal details from the internet. The less information scammers can find out about you online, the better. Try to keep your social media profiles private and remove as much personal information from the internet as possible.
- Keep your data and devices up to date. Hackers use vulnerabilities in outdated software to hack your devices. Always keep your apps, software, and operating system up to date.
- Learn to spot the signs of a phishing scam. If you get a strange email, text, or call, don’t respond or click on any links. Use these examples of phishing emails to help you recognize common scam tactics.
- Check if your data is circulating on the Dark Web. Even if you do everything right, your data could still be leaked in a data breach. Use Aura’s free Dark Web scanner to check if your information has been compromised in a recent leak.
The Final Verdict: Choose Comprehensive ID Theft Protection
The number of identity theft victims has grown dramatically over the past few years. But perhaps even scarier is the loss of billions of dollars to scammers, hackers, and identity thieves every single year. In 2023, it makes sense to do everything you can to protect yourself and your loved ones from the threat of identity theft.
For advanced protection, 24/7 White Glove Fraud Resolution, and up to $5 million in insurance coverage, sign up for Aura.