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Review of identity theft protection platforms: Top 5 for 2021

With more and more people shopping online due to COVID-19 limitations, identity fraud is on the rise meaning the ever-increasing need for protection from identity theft. Scammers appeared to be much better prepared for the pandemic than law-abiding merchants and authorities. Based on a report from the AITE group, 47% of US citizens faced some sort of financial identity theft in 2020. More to say, losses from identity theft cases grew from above $500 bn back in 2019 to nearly $715 bn in 2020, a stunning 42% leap over a single year.

Naturally, online merchants are not left alone to combat the fraud wave. There are specialized companies providing identity theft protection services. This article provides a brief review of identity theft protection approaches and showcases the 5 most popular identity theft prevention services with their pros and cons, as of 2021.

Let’s start!

What is identity theft and how to protect from it?

Identity theft stands for unauthorized use of personal information — credit card details, Social Security Numbers, phone numbers and email addresses, etc. — to open fake accounts, engage in fraudulent activities, start chargeback claims, etc. 

An Insurance Information Institute report on identity fraud and cybercrime back in 2019 stated that more than 3.2 million fraud cases were reported, totaling up to above $1.9 billion in losses in the US alone. The figures nearly doubled during the pandemic. For example, a CNBC fraud report from 2021 states worldwide losses from identity theft amounted to $56 billion in 2020.

Naturally, merchants are not left alone to deal with this threat. Various companies provide protection from identity theft as a service through combining features like:

  • real-time transaction monitoring
  • scanning websites for abnormal activity
  • tracking the stolen credentials across the Dark Web and social media
  • blocking fraudulent transactions
  • closing fake accounts opened using your credentials, etc.

Unfortunately, none of the solutions offer the full range of protection from the whole variety of possible CNP frauds and identity theft. How to select the best identity theft protection services then? Take a look at what each platform provides and select the one best for YOU and your specific goals.

We briefly describe the 5 best identity theft protection solutions on the market, from our point of view. Of course, as we list Covery there, you might call it a biased comparison — but just bear with us through the pros and cons and you will see that we are not pulling your leg when we say Covery is a good option for identity theft protection. Without further ado, our choices are as follows, in no particular order:

It’s also important to note that none of the tools in the list are able to prevent the loss of your personal data. Instead, they help detect such a breach as soon as possible and minimize its consequences. Let’s now briefly list the features, selling points, pros, and cons of each of these platforms.

Identity Guard

Developed and distributed by Aura, Identity Guard uses the immense power of IBM ® Watson ™ to track your identity across social media, email, phone numbers, credit reports, Dark Web, and more. It provides $1 million in identity theft insurance and 3 credit bureau monitoring to help timely detect and close any fake identities created using your credentials, as well as recover from malicious actions.

The platform offers a clear and easy-to-navigate dashboard where the users can configure multiple types of alerts for a wide variety of actions that might be the earliest signs of identity theft. Identity Guard offers individual and family multi-tier protection plans suited for personal data protection and starting from $6.67/mo.

Pros:

  • Enterprise-grade IBM Watson technology
  • Variety of family-friendly plans
  • Ample alerting configuration choises

Cons:

  • Not suited for business use
  • Limited recovery options

All in all, Identity Guard is one of the best choices for identity fraud early detection and prevention. Operating for more than 20 years, trusted by more than 47 million customers, this is one of the basic self-protection choices, even if it’s not well-suited for real-time identity checks of your users.

IdentityForce

This platform offers both individual/family and business (starting from $17.95/mo) plans covering credit scores and accounts, mobile devices, PII, and other sensitive data. IdentityForce certified experts monitor all the personal details you entrust to them and alert you once they detect any suspicious activity.

Other features include spam email forced opt-out, protection from medical ID fraud, protection tools for your online PC and mobile operations, smart tracking of your Social Security Number, and even assistance with lost wallet recovery. Should any of the data be compromised, the experts will handle the recovery process. Finally, the service also comes with $1 million in insurance to help you recover from identity detail breaches.

Pros:

  • You get 2 months free when subscribing to any annual plan
  • The platfom covers mobile devices
  • You can select between multiple Family plans and even Investment accounts

Cons:

  • Plan upgrade is often required to cover both credit accounts and scores
  • The service cannot retroactively uncovery identity theft cases and their support does not cover anything that happened before you subscribed

All in all, IdentityForce is a solid choice for family protection offering the benefit of experts doing the heavy lifting for you. However, the lack of retroactive support and AI-based data analysis greatly reduces its usefulness as a business tool.

IdentityWorks

As one of the 3 major credit bureaus, Experian is no stranger to identity verification, so it was only natural of them to launch an identity fraud prevention service. With Plus, its basic plan, you get only credit scores monitoring and Dark Web surveillance to warn you of your sensitive details surfacing on the black market. With the advanced plan, Premium, you also get lost wallet assistance, smart SSN monitoring, credit lock for 3 credit bureaus, and many more features.

Having direct access to your credit history, IdentityWorks can help track your FICO score, which is used by credit specialists approving your next car, home, or personal loan. This is a unique feature provided by Experian. With plans starting from $29.99, direct handling of credit scores, and a wide range of features covering your identity protection, IdentityWorks is worth considering as a tool of your choice.

Pros:

  • In-depth credit score monitoring features
  • Dark Web surveillance and SSN tracking
  • Configurable plans at affordable costs

Cons:

  • Lack of real-time automated support
  • Most vital features are hidden behind a paywall

Wrapping it up, Experian’s IdentityWorks can be a good choice for someone concentrating on their credit scores primarily. By upgrading your plan you get access to more advanced features, which can be good for personal identity protection, yet still does not cover the business aspect of things.

LifeLock

LifeLock partners with Norton Security to track customer’s personal information across a variety of channels, including the credit card bureaus, Dark Web marketplaces. Their features also include SSN and fake credit accounts alerts, US address verification, Lost Wallet Protection and rapid identity restoration in case of any data breach.

Partnering with Norton helps LifeLock identify various malware and phishing schemes aimed at stealing user’s personal identity details. Configurable alerts and notifications available in the dashboard cover various aspects of your personal and financial data management. Ultimate Plus plan introduces notifications on various accounts opened and crimes committed using your credentials, your presence in Sex Offender reports, and much, much more. Pricing starts at $9.99/mo and there are multiple tiers and plans available.

Pros:

  • Clear and simple to navigate dashboard
  • 401k plan and investment plamn alerts
  • Multi-tioer family accounts

Cons:

  • Limited number of monitored transactions
  • No in-depth guides or support materials
  • Best features are available after the paywall

Summing it up, LifeLock offers a wide choice of basic identity theft prevention features, both in personal and family packages. The downside, as with all the tools listed above, is that it’s not a business-oriented service.

Covery

Covery is different from all the solutions above, as it was built primarily with merchant/user protection and account takeover prevention in mind, not as a tool to combat personal identity theft with family plans. Thus said, the main benefit of Covery is not the access to 3-bureau credit scores, but the access to Trustchain — a global reputation records knowledgebase. It contains more than 400 million records with some of 12 digital profile identifiers — phone number, credit card number, IP address, IBAN, BIC, email address, and others. 

Whenever any of these identifiers are used by your customers, Covery checks them against Trustchain and combines the results with AI-powered Supervised Learning, behavioral analysis, and device fingerprinting to deliver a precise risk score and answer the main question: whether the person performing the transaction is a legitimate account owner or a scammer involved in identity theft fraud.

For example, should an email address be used as a login to your website for a month along with an IP address from Boston, and then be used from Miami, the explanation can be simple — the user went for a trip to visit his relatives or went on vacation. However, should the email be used in combination with an IP address from Timbuktu — chances are, the information is compromised. Combining all 12 separate identifiers helps get the full picture and identify fraudsters with 97% accuracy in real-time.

As a result, you, as a merchant, can decide whether to accept risky transactions or block them and inform your customers about potential identity theft of their personal details. This helps save time, money, and nerves of all the parties involved and reduce the number of fraudsters by up to 80%, simultaneously reducing the chargeback ratio, payment processing fees, and operational overhead for you.

Pros:

  • Real-time account takeover monitoring, detection and prevention
  • In-depth analytics and risk scoring based on user behavior analysis
  • Access to Trustchain global reputation knowledge base
  • Dedicated support

Cons:

  • Lack of 3 bureau credit scoring
  • Lack of Dark Web monitoring

Wrapping up, Covery is unlike the rest of the solutions. Instead of being a B2C platform for personal and family use with credit score monitoring capabilities, it is a comprehensive B2B risk mitigation, chargeback management, and identity theft prevention platform.

Conclusions

Identity theft is an ever-present threat both businesses and individuals must overcome. DIY approach requires a ton of time and manual effort — but subscribing to SaaS services is not the best decision as well, because some of them are just not equipped to perform the tasks required by your business.

Thus said, the best identity theft protection is not the one with the most features — but the one that solves the most of your business pain points. Should you decide it is Covery — contact us, we are always ready to help you fight fraud and prevent identity theft for your customers!