Can Discover Identity Theft Protection Keep You Safe?
Americans lost $56 billion to identity theft and fraud-related crimes last year alone [*]. And that number shows no signs of slowing down.
Like typical criminals, identity thieves are almost always after your money. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), credit card, loan, and bank fraud were three of the most common types of identity theft in 2021 [*].
Protecting your identity and financial well-being is probably one of your highest priorities. And if you’re a Discover® cardmember, you may be considering — or already signed up for — Discover’s Identity Theft Protection service.
But is Discover enough to keep you safe?
In this guide, we’ll review what’s included in Discover’s identity theft protection, how it compares to other top-rated services, and how you can make an informed decision about the coverage, protection, and features that are right for you.
What Does Discover Identity Theft Protection Include?
Along with the typical fraud detection features you’d expect from a credit card provider, every Discover card is automatically protected by two free identity theft protection services:
- Daily scans of your Experian credit file. This can alert you to suspicious activity, such as new credit accounts, changes to your credit history, or new credit inquiries you don’t recognize.
- Daily scans of the Dark Web. Discover searches sites, forums, and marketplaces on the Dark Web to see if your Social Security number (SSN) has been leaked in a recent data breach.
While these free tools can help keep your identity safe, they’re not enough to offer peace of mind against the growing threat of identity theft. That’s why, in 2021, Discover financial services started offering additional identity theft protection — for a fee.
Discover® Identity Theft Protection includes:
- Credit, bank account, and identity monitoring. Discover offers three-bureau credit monitoring, new bank account alerts, and basic monitoring of your personal information.
- Identity theft insurance. Discover provides the industry-standard of up to $1,000,000 in insurance coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft.
- Fraud remediation assistance. If the worst should happen, Discover will assign a case number and a fraud specialist to help you resolve the fraudulent activity.
While these services offer a decent level of protection, Discover identity theft protection is lacking in a few key areas that could leave you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
Showdown: Discover vs. LifeLock vs. Aura
Discover Identity Theft Protection has one major flaw: It only alerts you after your identity has already been stolen and used by a criminal.
While no service can claim to completely protect you against identity theft, most modern tools have moved toward proactively protecting your identity, finances, and account information from being stolen.
At a minimum, you should be looking at providers that offer features including:
- Antivirus software and a virtual private network (VPN) to stop hackers from accessing your devices or stealing your data over vulnerable networks.
- Safe browsing tools to warn you of phishing websites and other dangerous sites that might steal your information.
- A secure password manager to store all of your passwords, warn you if they’ve been leaked or are too weak, and automatically update compromised accounts.
- Dark Web monitoring to constantly scan millions of sites for your personal information.
- Credit monitoring services that alert you in near real-time to all changes — not just key events.
Two providers that offer proactive protection and highly-rated identity theft protection are LifeLock and our solution, Aura.
To help you decide which solution is right for you, we’ve compared each one head-to-head to show you how they compare on key features that help keep your identity safe.
If you want to try Aura for yourself, sign up for a free 14-day trial.
The Basics: Identity Theft Detection and Alerts
Identity theft protection essentially consists of monitoring and alerts.
Services track your personally identifiable information (PII) across more databases, sites, or records than you possibly could on your own; and they alert you if a criminal has used or is using your data (for example, to take out loans in your name or open a new bank account).
PII includes everything from your Social Security number (SSN) to your name and address, driver’s license number, and more.
How it works:
Identity theft protection companies use various forms of monitoring to detect fraudulent activity — SSN monitoring, credit monitoring, Dark Web monitoring, etc. To compare each one’s level of identity theft detection and alerts, it’s best to examine:
- Where they look for signs of fraud (e.g., the Dark Web, your bank accounts, court records, etc.)
- What you can add to the watchlist (e.g., SSN, driver’s license number, date of birth, etc.)
- How quickly they send you fraud alerts (e.g., in near real-time, or whenever they get updates from a credit bureau, etc.)
How these companies compare:
Discover, LifeLock, and Aura all have comprehensive identity monitoring and alerting features. However, they differ in the following ways:
- Discover: Offers basic identity monitoring with no information about its fraud alerts.
- LifeLock: Offers more advanced monitoring — depending on which plan you choose.
- Aura: Provides comprehensive monitoring across all plans, and fraud alerts that are up to 4x faster than the competition.
Now, let’s dig into the details and specifics of each service.
Discover: Standard identity and credit monitoring
- Your credit reports at all three of the major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (although you will only be alerted to major changes instead of all changes)
- Thousands of websites on the Dark Web
- A network of financial institutions across all 50 states
- The National Change of Address (NCOA) database
- Criminal court records
Discover’s “watchlist” can include up to:
Aura: Near real-time alerts that are 4x faster than competitors
Aura helps you quickly detect any signs of financial fraud and identity theft by monitoring:
- Billions of data points on the Dark Web. If your information is stolen during a data breach, it will likely end up on the Dark Web.
- Public records including the NCOA database, the sex offender registry, property records, court records, driver records, and many more.
- Your bank and investment accounts. You can set transaction limits on all of your accounts and get alerted of any suspicious activity.
- Your home and property titles to help prevent home title theft or change-of-address scams.
- Monthly and annual Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax credit reports. You’ll get alerts for all changes and inquiries.
- Credit score. Aura also lets you monitor your credit score using the VantageScore 3.0 model.
- Data broker websites. Data brokers gather your personal information from public sites and build a profile about you to sell to anyone who will buy — even identity thieves. Aura removes your information from these sites if it’s found.
- Risky transactions such as PayDay loans.
- And more.
Along with your personal information (name, birthdate, etc.) you can add the following items to your Aura “watchlist”:
Aura provides you with near real-time alerts on nearly any device (via Aura mobile apps) that are up to four times faster than competitors. You get near real-time notifications with details about why you’re getting the alert and what to do next.
LifeLock: Monitoring services change with each plan
- The Dark Web for signs of leaked information
- Data broker websites
- Your credit reports (however, some plans only offer one-bureau credit monitoring, so you may miss signs of financial fraud)
- Social media and public records
- Your publicly shared files
- Your bank and investment accounts
- PayDay loans
Depending on the plan you choose, LifeLock’s “watchlist” can include:
LifeLock doesn’t readily provide any information on the speed of its alerts. However they do mention that “the type and frequency of the alerts you get on your mobile device may differ from the alerts you receive through the Member portal.”
LifeLock data breach in the news: The company recently disclosed that sensitive information from thousands of LifeLock 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.
Proactive Identity Theft Protection
Hackers intercept and track your online activity in order to steal your private information (like passwords and account numbers). They use this information to access your accounts and to create personalized scams.
If you can prevent identity thieves from getting your personal information in the first place, you’ll be much harder to target.
How it works:
Digital and online security features like VPNs or antivirus software are designed to keep your online activity private and your personal information safe from hackers. However, not all identity theft protection services offer these features.
How these companies compare:
- Discover: Offers no digital or online security features.
- LifeLock: Offers online protection when bundled with Norton 360 (at an extra cost).
- Aura: All plans include extensive online protection, including antivirus, VPN, password manager, and more — at no extra cost.
Now, let’s look at the details and specifics of each service.
Aura: Multiple layers of proactive protection
Aura provides some of the best proactive protection in the industry with multiple layers of digital and online security, including:
- Antivirus software that automatically detects and isolates spyware, malware, ransomware, adware, and other online threats so that your devices won’t become infected with malicious software.
- Secure password manager that creates, stores, and auto-fills randomly generated passwords for you. On select sites, Aura will also log in and update the password for you — all it takes is one click.
- Virtual private network (VPN) with military-grade encryption to keep your online activities hidden from hackers. A VPN is essential if you’re going to be shopping, browsing, or working from public Wi-Fi.
- Safe browsing tools that warn you if you’re entering potentially dangerous sites that try to steal your personal information.
- Anti-track software that prevents websites from tracking your online activity, so scammers can’t use that information against you.
- Email aliases to use when signing up for new accounts so that your main inbox and email address will stay safe. All emails sent to your alias will be forwarded to your main email address.
Bonus: Aura goes beyond digital and online security and proactively protects your credit with credit locks. A credit lock prevents criminals from opening new lines of credit or taking out loans in your name (because lenders won’t be able to run a credit check).
Aura lets you lock and unlock your Experian credit file with just one tap from nearly any device.
LifeLock: Bundle with Norton 360 for digital security
LifeLock doesn’t provide any online or digital security features on its own. However, you can bundle LifeLock with Norton 360 for an additional fee and get access to:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Antivirus, malware, anti-spyware, and ransomware protection
- SafeCam for Windows PC (i.e., spyware specifically for your webcam)
- Password manager that creates, stores, and auto-fills your passwords
- Up to 500GB of cloud backup
Note: Full identity theft and device security is only available on Norton’s Ultimate Plus plan, which starts at $29.99/month [*].
Identity Theft Insurance and Fraud Remediation
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to stop every crime. Becoming the victim of identity theft can disturb nearly every aspect of your life and can be very complicated to resolve.
That’s why many customers feel that identity theft insurance and fraud remediation assistance are two of the most important parts of identity theft protection.
How it works:
Identity theft insurance can cover the various fees and losses that come with being the victim of identity theft, including:
- Lost wages while you work to resolve your stolen identity
- Notary fees for verifying important documents or notarizing affidavits
- Child and elderly care while you spend time resolving the fraud
- Legal fees to cover transcript costs, appeal bonds, court filing fees, and more
- Replacing identification documents such as ID cards, driver’s licenses, and passports
- Phone bills, mailing costs, and other expenses that are directly related to identity theft
When it comes to fraud remediation, many companies simply rely on automated phone messaging systems. Also, many insurance policies only cover lost wages and stolen funds — which leaves you on your own to cover other related expenses (such as travel expenses or additional childcare).
How these companies compare:
- Discover: Doesn’t offer fraud-specific support. Covers $1,000,000 in eligible losses.
- LifeLock: Offers varying levels of customer support. Insurance ranges from $25,000 up to $1 million, depending on which plan you select.
- Aura: All plans include 24/7 access to U.S.-based Fraud Resolution Specialists. All adults included on an Aura plan are covered for up to $1,000,000 in eligible losses due to identity theft.
Now, let’s go over the details and specifics of each service.
Discover: Limited insurance plans and general customer support
Discover doesn’t offer any fraud-specific support. However, you can contact their general customer support line at any time.
Discover offers $1 million in identity theft insurance to cover eligible legal expenses, stolen funds, and lost wages.
Aura: $1 million in identity theft insurance and 24/7 U.S.-based support
Every adult member on an Aura plan is covered for up to $1,000,000 for eligible losses due to identity theft. This means that on a family plan, you’re covered for up to $5,000,000 in losses.
Aura’s comprehensive insurance policy covers:
- Lost wages
- Notary fees
- Mailing costs
- Phone bills
- Child and elderly care
- Legal fees (i.e., transcript costs, appeal bonds, court filing fees, expert witnesses, courier fees, and any fees brought against you by a creditor or collection agency)
- Public records searches
- Private investigator fees
- Loan reapplication fees
- Replacing identification documents
Aura also provides 24/7 U.S.-based fraud remediation assistance with every plan. Within minutes (or seconds) of dialing, you’ll be able to talk to a live agent.
If you are a victim of identity fraud, our White Glove Resolution Specialists work with you to fill out forms and set up three-way calls with credit bureaus and government institutions to resolve your fraud incident quickly.
Bonus: Aura also provides lost wallet assistance. If your wallet is stolen or misplaced, you can reach out to our team, and skilled experts will walk you through the process of securing and recovering your accounts and personal information.
LifeLock: Insurance and support is different with each plan
LifeLock offers different insurance plans with each pricing package. Coverage ranges from $25,000 up to $1 million for reimbursement of stolen funds, personal expenses, and legal fees.
LifeLock lists several different types of customer support including:
- 24/7 customer support
- U.S.-based fraud remediation
- Priority customer support
- Identity advisors
It’s unclear how these services are different. But, it’s worth noting that each plan offers a different combination of these services. Plus, identity advisors are listed as an additional service for a separate fee.
📚 Related: 7 Best Credit Monitoring Apps (with Recommendations) →
Affordability: How Much Do These Services Cost?
Cost is often the defining factor when choosing to pay for a new service — and identity theft protection is no different.
Unfortunately, many companies have complicated pricing plans that offer different features and levels of coverage depending on what you pay. This means that you’re never fully sure of whether you’re protected — unless you pay an exorbitant monthly fee.
Even worse, companies like LifeLock offer a low entry price for your first year with significant price increases when you renew.
The bottom line: Choose a plan that offers all features for one price without sky-high renewal rates.
Discover: One simple (yet slightly expensive) plan
At the time of this writing, Discover offers just one plan for $15/month. This plan includes all features and covers the primary cardholder and up to 10 minors. However, you won’t be able to cover any additional adults under this plan — even joint or secondary cardholders.
Aura: All-in-one plans for individuals, couples, and families
Aura offers three plans that all include the same features and level of coverage. The only difference is how many people you want to protect.
Here’s a breakdown of the cost of Aura’s plans:
- Individual: $12/month billed annually ($15/month billed monthly)
- Couple: $22/month billed annually ($29/month billed monthly)
- Family: $37/month billed annually ($50/month billed monthly)
Special offer! Sign up today and receive up to 50% off your Aura membership →
Every annual Aura plan comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee, and there are no sky-high renewal rates on your second year of coverage.
Aura’s family plan covers up to five adults and unlimited children. Members can be any age and live in separate homes — meaning you can protect your elderly parents or adult children. Plus, each adult's personal information is kept private from the other members to maintain privacy (children’s information is handled, and can only be viewed, by the primary account holder.)
LifeLock: Tiered plans with sky-rocketing renewal rates
LifeLock offers lots of pricing options depending on how many people you want to protect, how many features you select, what types of features you want, billing frequency, and more.
A basic LifeLock with Norton 360 plan starts at $9.99/month — but renews at $14.99/month after the first year. If you want the same coverage as Aura’s Individual plan, you’ll need to opt for Norton’s Ultimate Plus plan, which costs $29.99/month and renews at $34.99/month.
Unfortunately, these sky-high renewal fees are assessed on all LifeLock plans.
Discover Identity Theft Protection is a decent ID theft monitoring service. However, it has serious gaps in its proactive protection and fraud remediation assistance.
For more comprehensive ID theft protection (without complicated pricing plans and sky-high renewal costs), consider signing up for Aura.
Aura helps you proactively safeguard your identity with top-rated identity theft protection, 4x faster fraud alerts, and 24/7 support.