Q: I have been looking into possibly signing up for an identity theft protection plan, but I'm hesitant because I don't want these companies to keep my personal information when I decide to cancel. Do these identity theft protection companies delete my personal information when I cancel my membership, or will they retain my personal information even after cancellation?

A: Great question! More than nine million Americans have their identity stolen each year, according to the FTC, and one of the best ways to prevent identity theft is to know who has your personal information. Since these companies specialize in identity theft protection they have very secure and safe ways to keep your information private, yet it's important to know that a handful of the services still keep your personal information on file even after you cancel.

Some identity theft protection services — such as Identity Guard, Lifelock, ProtectMyID.com and Equifax Complete Premier — do not delete all your personal information when you cancel your membership. Instead, they delete some information, such as bank account numbers, and archive the basic information required for a membership, such as name and Social Security number. They archive the information just in case you decide to sign up for the protection again in the future.

Only three of the identity theft protection services we review — TrustedID, PrivacyGuard and IDFreeze — completely delete your personal information from their systems after cancelling. All three services will keep your information for a set period of time just in case you decide to get the protection again, then completely remove your information from the system. With TrustedID and IDFreeze your personal information will be purged from the system within 90 days of cancellation.

Check out our compare page to learn more about each identity theft protection service, or visit our FAQs to find out more information about identity theft protection services in general.

Credit Report Monitoring, credit report monitoring questions, id theft questions, Identity Guard, Identity Theft Protection, LifeLock, Reader Questions, TrustedID