A cat burglar might steal your jewels, and a pickpocket might lift your wallet, but an identity thief can steal your whole life. The worst of it is, you may not even know there’s a problem until the Powers That Be come to repossess your home, or arrest you for a crime someone else committed. The sooner you learn that someone’s playing fast and loose with your personal data, the sooner you can put an end to their chicanery. No security software or service can utterly prevent identity theft, but careful monitoring can flag problems early. And if you do suffer an attack on your identity, you’ll be incredibly grateful for professional help with the recovery process.
Identity protection can be expensive, and some consumers aren’t happy spending money every year on a service they may never use. On top of that, we have no way to test the efficacy of identity theft remediation services. Unlike with many products, we can’t say, “My identity was stolen, and Product X did a better job than Product Y with recovering it.”
That being the case, we’ve chosen to round up identity theft protection services that also include local security protection for your devices—mostly, but not all, security suites. Some of what’s here leans more toward device protection, and some emphasizes identity protection. These factors, along with the wide range of prices and other considerations discussed below, will determine which service is best for you.
Recommended by Our Editors
Our 5 Top Picks
Best Overall Identity Protection
Why We Picked It
LifeLock may well be the first identity theft protection service you ever heard of. Combine that history with Norton’s long-time security success and you’ve got Norton 360 With LifeLock Select, a winning combo. By itself, Norton 360 Deluxe is an Editors’ Choice suite, and your subscription also gets you full-scale licenses for Norton’s VPN along with 100GB of online storage for your backups.
Norton offers a broader collection of identity protection features than many, though you’ll pay extra if you want every last feature, or if you want to protect more devices. Advanced-level protection costs $100 per year more and raises your device count to 10. At the Ultimate+ level, another $100 per year, you get the maximum identity protection with no limits on the number of devices you can protect.
Who It’s For
Do you prefer going with a known and tested brand over a new company, one that might not stand the test of time? The Norton and LifeLock names are so well established, they even advertise on television!
Norton 360 With LifeLock Select Review
Best for Device-Level Protection
Why We Picked It
Bitdefender Total Security is our Editors’ Choice winner for feature-rich security mega-suite; Bitdefender Ultimate Security adds comprehensive identity theft protection, as well as Bitdefender’s password manager and a no-limits edition of Bitdefender’s VPN. Once you have all its components installed, it offers effective protection for your devices running Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS. The independent labs agree—they’ve tested Bitdefender on Windows, macOS, and Android, and given it top marks across the board.
As for identity theft protection, Bitdefender has partnered with TransUnion’s IdentityForce to monitor the Dark Web for your personal data and manage credit-related activities such as checking your credit score and applying a credit freeze. An unusual Credit Simulator gives you an idea of what effect a variety of actions would have on your credit score, things like paying off all your cards, opening a new auto loan, or declaring bankruptcy. If the monitoring system reveals misuse of your personal data for identity theft, you can quickly connect with a dedicated resolution specialist who will help you through recovery.
Who It’s For
At the device-protection level, Bitdefender is known for packing in myriad features while avoiding making demands on your attention. Sounds good? Then you’ll appreciate it even more when combined with comprehensive identity theft protection.
Bitdefender Ultimate Security Review
Best for Family Protection
Why We Picked It
Protecting your own identity against abuse is important, but you could face damaging fallout if your spouse or partner suffers identity theft. And don’t think your kids are immune. All too many youths reach their majority only to find they already have a credit history—a dismal and fraudulent one. IDShield’s family plan costs just a trifle more than Norton’s top tier plan for individual protection, but it covers you, your partner, and any number of minor children. Upgrading to a family plan also raises the number of devices you can protect from three to 15.
Spinning up a full-blown security suite from scratch would be tough. Instead, IDShield partners with Trend Micro for device-level protection. In the crowded security suite field, Trend Micro Maximum Security isn’t an Editors’ Choice winner, but it’s still excellent security for your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. You also get licenses for Trend Micro’s VPN and password manager products.
Who It’s For
If you’re a carefree single, IDShield may not be a good fit. But if you want protection for not only your own identity but the identities of your partner and kids, it’s the best choice.
Best for Protecting Your Privacy
Why We Picked It
As the name suggests, IDX Privacy focuses more on your privacy than on security issues. It doesn’t attempt antivirus protection, but it will remove your personal data from data broker websites. Its active Do Not Track system prevents advertisers and others from tracking your online activities. The SocialSentry feature watches for fraud and problematic content on your social media accounts. A VPN component ensures the privacy of your online connections, and a password manager lets you protect all your accounts with strong, unique passwords.
IDX Privacy’s identity monitoring covers a lot of ground. Naturally it scrutinizes the Dark Web for traces of your personal info, but it also watches for things like misuse of your Social Security Number and unauthorized change of address requests. It also monitors your credit with all three bureaus. And if the worst happens, you get unlimited identity theft recovery help, backed by the standard $1 million insurance.
Who It’s For
Maybe you’ve already settled on your favorite security suite and you don’t want to switch just to get identity protection. IDX Privacy works alongside that suite, providing privacy-specific protection features as well as identity monitoring and identity theft recovery.
IDX Privacy Review
Best for Multi-Device Households
Why We Picked It
Just how many desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones do you own? What about the other people in your household? With McAfee Total Protection, you can install security protection on all the devices in your household, whether they run Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS. You also get a VPN with no limits on bandwidth or server choices, a simple password manager, and a cross-platform parental control system.
As for identity theft protection, that comes automatically when you select the unlimited-devices top tier. McAfee doesn’t attempt monitoring accounts for anomalous transactions, nor does it offer regular checking of your credit scores. But it does perform the expected Dark Web tracking, to ensure your life isn’t being sold online, and it even handles clearing your personal data from online data aggregators.
Who It’s For
Between yourself, your partner, and your kids, your household has enough devices to merit its own transcontinental internet cable. McAfee Total Protection is just what you need to install security on that army of devices and also get yourself protected from identity theft.
McAfee Total Protection Review
Is It Worth Paying for Identity Theft Protection?
Subscribing to a standalone identity theft protection service is a bit like buying insurance. You put money into it every year, but hope you never have to use it. You might begin to think those payments are just wasted. However, when you look at combining such protection with security software for your devices, the financial picture looks decidedly better.
For example, LifeLock has three different monitoring tiers crossed with three levels of family protection. But at each of the nine possible combinations, adding Norton 360 only adds between $10 and $30 to the price. It’s like you’re getting the security suite for a Crazy Eddie-style bargain. Bitdefender Identity Theft Protection Standard runs you $129.99 per year, but for $50 more you get award-winning Bitdefender Total Security along with Bitdefender’s VPN and password manager. If you want to get something tangible for your money, opt for identity protection combined with standard device security.
The Best Identity Theft Protection Apps for Families
Monitoring and protecting your own identity is a fine thing, but if your spouse or partner has their identity stolen, you’ll suffer too. Identity protection services handle the need for family protection in a variety of ways. At the moment, Bitdefender just offers individual protection, though a family plan is in the works. McAfee Total Protection likewise only protects individuals. Yes, there’s a family plan for $20 more per month, but what you get is McAfee Safe Family parental control, not identity protection for family members.
Norton 360 With LifeLock Select and IDX Privacy both offer a family plan that covers you, your partner, and up to five children; Norton also weighs in with a plan for just you and your partner. There’s not much volume discount in IDX Privacy’s pricing. The family plan is just a few dollars short of double the individual price. As for Norton, it has the honor of the very highest pricing level. If you opt for the partner plus kids plan at the top Ultimate+ tier, you’ll pay $819.99 per year.
IDShield comes out as the leader for family protection. A family license costs twice as much as an individual license, but it offers identity protection for you, your partner, and all your minor children. Don’t think your kids need identity protection? Wait until they turn 18 and discover that someone, somewhere has totally ruined their credit.
The Best Identity Monitoring Services
Some features are just a given, found in all sensible identity theft protection services. They all: monitor the Dark Web to make sure your personal data isn’t turning up there; include a system to help you deal with the consequences of a lost or stolen wallet; have support experts standing by at all times, experts who will work with you as long as it takes to recover from identity theft. And they all back their remediation promises with at least $1 million of insurance.
Most of these services partner with one of the credit bureaus to offer credit monitoring, a monthly credit score, and an easy way to apply a freeze. Some extend that coverage to all three bureaus, for an extra cost. A few offer analysis of your score, showing the important positive or negative factors. The unusual Credit Simulator in Bitdefender Ultimate Security lets you see what would happen to your score if, say, you paid off all your cards, or declared bankruptcy.
All the services listed here will warn you of unauthorized change-of-address attempts. A few go farther and track any attempts at illicit changes to your home title. You’ll get a warning from many if someone tries to open a new account in your name. Others watch your bank and credit accounts and flag anomalous transactions.
When choosing an identity theft protection service, read the details very closely. Take note that some features may require a specific higher tier of service. For example, change-of-address warnings and anomalous transaction alerts require Bitdefender’s Plus level. Home title monitoring and tracking of retirement accounts only kick in at Norton’s Ultimate+ level.
Identity Theft Insurance
All the identity theft remediation services mentioned here back their programs with an insurance policy of at least $1 million. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll cut you a big check. Before signing up, read the fine print.
Some services reimburse you for funds directly stolen in an identity theft attack. McAfee puts a $10,000 cap on such reimbursement. With Norton, the cap depends on your tier of service: $25,000 at the Select level, $100,000 at the Advantage level, and a full $1 million at Ultimate+. Bitdefender’s Plus level specifically offers up to $25,000 for ransomware recovery.
You’re also likely to find caps on reimbursement for specific losses due to identity theft. For example, if you lose your job due to identity theft, the insurance may cover lost wages, but not for long, perhaps $1,500 per week for eight weeks, or $2,000 per week for five weeks. Caps also apply to travel expenses, childcare and elder care expenses, and notary fees.
Don’t imagine that identity theft insurance will cover money lost due to your own negligence. If you give your bank account details to your new bestie, who then turns around and robs you, that’s your own fault. You’re also likely to find requirements that you notify the service in a timely fashion, file any appropriate police reports, and provide the remediation experts with any necessary documents.
So, if that $1 million in insurance money mostly doesn’t go to you, just where does it go? The service uses that fund to pay for lawyers, investigators, and other experts involved in getting your life back on track after an identity theft event.
Who Has the Best Identity Theft Protection?
If you can guarantee you’ll never encounter a virus or other malware, you don’t need a security suite. And if you can guarantee nobody will ever steal your identity, you don’t need an identity theft protection service. But you can’t, so the question becomes, what level of risk are you comfortable with?
Most of us have come to accept that the protection of a security suite (or at least an antivirus) is necessary for our devices. It’s an easy decision. Read some reviews, buy the product of your choice, install it, and forget it. Our Editors’ Choice in this field is Norton 360 With LifeLock Select. Yes, it’s expensive, especially at the higher levels. But the identity protection component is a mature product that covers all the bases.
Buying into an identity theft protection plan requires more of an investment of your time and effort. To get the service’s benefits, you must sit down and enter the personal information you want to protect, the bank accounts you want to monitor, and more. And you have to trust that the identity theft protection service won’t go rogue and make off with the data you’ve supplied. Once you get through that initial hurdle, you won’t be blindsided by identity thieves. You’ll get an early warning from the monitors, and experts will work with you to fix the problem before it ruins your life.