You’ve decided you need identity theft protection. Congratulations, that’s the easy part…
It seems we’re inundated with commercials and advertisements from Lifelock, Identity Guard, TrustedID and the countless other identity theft services. There’s certainly no shortage of protection services and if you’ll just give them the chance, they’ll all give you plenty of reasons why they’re the best identity theft protection available.
I’m sure these companies hired expensive ad agencies to create marketing campaigns that highlight their strengths, gloss over shortcomings, and explain why they’re better than the competition.
What’s a discerning consumer to do?
It takes a discerning eye to separate the “chaff from the wheat” so to speak. Our staff at IDProtectionGuide takes a certain pride in delivering analysis you just won’t find anywhere. In fact, most of what you’ll read elsewhere sounds like warmed over ad copy. Much of our information comes from trying out the individual services and many hours on the phone. Let’s dig in.
After reporting and reviewing on the identity theft industry the last few years, we’ve noticed that there are a few consumer profiles that will cover just about 99% of the potential market. Don’t worry if you find yourself in one or more profiles. In understanding where different services rank, it may help you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of an identity protection service and help you make a better informed buying decision.
How Identity Theft Protection Works
The Limits Of Identity Theft Prevention
The first concept to understand is no protection is foolproof. That doesn’t mean identity theft prevention is without merit, far from it actually. It’s just that no plan or service exists that can guarantee complete protection. Why? You have no control over your information once it leaves your hands. What’s to prevent the auto loan application you filled out from falling into the wrong hands? How about your mortgage application or your medical records? Ever hear of data breeches? In 2009, one single breech compromised over 130 million records. So much of your information is already in circulation, we simply can’t prevent the countless ways that data can be lost, stolen or innocently given away.
Prevention vs. Detection
In the early days of identity theft protection, there was much fuss made of Lifelock’s use of fraud alerts as a preventive measure. The problem with preventive measures like these are first, it’s completely free to do yourself and second, its akin to locking your front door and leaving the windows and back doors open. As the identity theft industry evolved, companies have moved toward sophisticated detection methods and scanning the internet for your records.
Many people associate identity theft with financial or credit fraud but there is also criminal, employment, and even medical identity theft. Many detection services will scan not just your credit report but public databases, court records and even sex offender registry reports. Even Lifelock, the industry leader in identity theft protection, has moved in this direction with their upgraded service, Command Center™.
Absolutely not. It’s just important to understand there are many ways in which identity theft occurs that fraud alerts or credit freezes can’t protect you from. Fraud alerts and credit freezes will prevent potential lenders from accessing your credit file, which is the primary criteria in the decision to extend or deny credit.
How Identity Theft Services “Package” Protection
First and foremost, identity theft protection is a business. For the most part, comparable identity protection features are available to almost any company. However, every additional feature increases the cost of the protection. Services must balance a price sensitive public with features that are most effective.
Things like economies of scale and proprietary technology can give some companies an edge over others in product offerings but only you can decide if these features are something you’ll find value in. Most consumers have a natural aversion to buying features they never use.
Naturally these companies will create protection packages to serve the greatest amount of people. I’ve separated consumers into these three categories and hopefully you’ll fall into one of them. For each category, I’ll explain the concerns, my recommendation for protection and reasoning behind it. If you can’t place yourself into any of these categories, feel free to drop me a note in the comments section and I’ll try my best to give you an answer.
To compare more identity protection plans visit our one of a kind identity service comparison tool.
Best Identity Theft Protection: Family Plans
Consumer Concerns: In addition to individual protection, this consumer is looking to protect a spouse and/or children.
Rationale: TrustedID will cover an entire household for less than the price of another policy. So if you have a spouse, a few kids, and an elderly grandparent, everyone’s covered provided they’re all under the same roof. Nobody else offers anything that comes remotely close.
Current Promotion: Try TrustedID Free For 30 Days and get 15% off.
Best Identity Theft Protection: Credit Monitoring
Consumer Concerns: Identity Guard formerly known as Debix is the gold standard in credit monitoring. For consumers who can afford to pay for the best.
Rationale: Although IdentityGuard doesn’t employ fraud alerts or credit freezes it uses a sophisticated monitoring system to carefully monitor your credit historu in near real time. The proprietary technology behind some of the products available to Identity Guard separates it from most other identity theft protection companies. The quarterly updates of your credit files with all three consumer reporting agencies make this service the most comprehensive in credit monitoring available and our choice to best manage your credit file.
Current Promotion: Try Identity Guard Free For 30 Days
Best Identity Theft Protection: Value
Consumer Concerns: Consumers looking for affordable credit monitoring.
Rationale: ProtectMyID from Experian is a comprehensive protection package without the frills of Identity Guard’s Total Protection. They offer three bureau credit monitoring with some exceptions (Read detailed review) but for nearly half the price of IDentity Guard’s Total Protection.
Current Promotion: Try ProtectMyID Free For 30 Days