free identity theft protection alertsIdentity theft is everywhere these days, and it’s become such a prevalent problem that many financial institutions are taking action to try and combat it. Discover has tossed its hat into the ring with a new set of identity theft protection features for its cardholders that will help protect them by monitoring for misuse of their information, including their social security number and any new accounts opened in their names. Aimed at helping cardholders protect themselves from identity theft and fraud, these features are free to all existing account members. Keep reading to learn more about what these alerts do, how to activate them and whether or not they’ll help protect your identity.

What do these free identity theft protection alerts do?

Starting July 20, Discover will monitor dangerous websites that are known to sell or trade personal data illegally for cardholders’ social security numbers, alerting them in the event their information is found. Additionally, Discover will send an alert if any new accounts — including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and more — are opened on their Experian credit report. Alerts will be sent via email as well as optional text message, and customers can access the settings for the alerts by logging into their Discover accounts online. If a cardholder feels their identity is at risk, they can call and speak with Discover’s customer service representatives, who will help walk them through the necessary steps to resolve the problem. It’s important to note that these new identity theft protection features must be activated, which you can do by logging into your Discover account online.

Will these alerts protect your identity?

It doesn’t hurt to be aware, especially when it comes to identity theft, as it’s a crime which can often go unnoticed for months or even years. That said, it’s important to note that Discover’s new alerts only cover a small amount of the personal information that can be used to steal your identity. Your social security number is definitely a key element used by cybercriminals, but it isn’t the only data that can be misused, so monitoring for your social security number alone is not the most thorough job that can be done. And while receiving alerts to new accounts opened in your name is another great way to stay on top of what’s happening with your information, Discover is only monitoring one of your three credit reports. Since not all creditors report to all three bureaus, it’s possible for an account to still be opened without your knowledge if you are relying solely on this single-bureau credit monitoring, as the new account may only be reported to TransUnion or Equifax. That said, if you have a Discover card, it’s absolutely worth your while to take advantage of these free identity theft protection alerts.

The fact that Discover is offering these identity protection features for free is certainly a boon for its customers, since it is the first credit card issuer we review to offer these types of free alerts, but they may not offer enough protection for people who are concerned about identity theft. As such, those individuals may want to consider purchasing comprehensive identity theft coverage from a service that monitors all three credit reports as well as looks for other information besides their social security number online (as well as in other potential places where their information may show up as a result of criminal activity, such as public records).

Which Discover cards will come with these free alerts?

The good news: all of them! Similar to Discover’s Freeze it security feature which allows cardholders to “freeze” their card from anywhere if it’s lost or stolen, preventing any new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers, these new identity protection alerts will be available to all Discover customers no matter which Discover card(s) they have. Don’t have a Discover card and want to take advantage of this new feature? Here are some of the cards Discover currently offers:

Cash back credit cards: Discover it – Cashback Match and Discover it chrome

free identity theft protection alertsDiscover it – Cashback Match is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants to earn cash back on a variety of purchases, as it offers 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories like Amazon.com purchases or ground transportation (up to the quarterly maximum, which is currently $1,500, then it’s 1% back) and an unlimited 1% cash back on everything else. You do have to sign up each quarter to earn 5% cash back in the new categories, but Discover sends reminders to make it easy to remember. Plus, as a special intro bonus, all the cash back you earn during your first year will be matched by Discover at the end of the year. That means if you earn $500 cash back, Discover will give you another $500, effectively making your total first-year cash back $1,000! Cardholders also get a 14-month 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee), no annual fee or foreign transaction fees and free FICO scores from TransUnion on their monthly statements. This card is available to those with average to excellent credit, typically considered a credit score of 670 or higher, which means it’s a great option for someone with not-so-perfect credit.

As an alternative to Discover it – Cashback Match, hockey fans can opt for the NHL Discover it Card, which offers all the same perks and rewards, including Cashback Match, as well as some NHL-specific features. These include the ability to choose to display your favorite team’s artwork on your credit card — all 31 NHL teams are available — and a 10% discount when you shop at Shop.NHL.com and NHL.TV.

free identity theft protection alertsDon’t want the hassle of rotating categories? If so, Discover it chrome is for you. This card earns 2% cash back in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,000, then it’s 1% back) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Next, Discover will dollar-for-dollar match all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, meaning if you earn $400 cash back in your first year, Discover will match that to give you a total of $800 back! Cardholders will also get a 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee). Additionally, Discover it chrome, which is available to those with average to excellent credit, has no annual or no foreign transaction fees and you’ll get a free copy of your FICO credit score every month.

Balance transfer credit card: Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

free identity theft protection alertsThose looking for a balance transfer credit card will likely be pleased with Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer. That’s because it combines a generous 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers with 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories (up to the quarterly maximum, then it’s 1% back) and an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Similar to its sister card, Discover it – Cashback Match, you will need to sign up each quarter to earn 5% back in rotating categories, but Discover will remind you when it’s time. Next, at the end of your first year as a cardholder, Discover will match all of the cash back you’ve earned, meaning if you earn $300 back in the first year, Discover will match that $300 and give you a total of $600 back. It’s important to note that cardholders only get a 6-month 0% intro APR on purchases with Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer and that the card has a 3% balance transfer fee, but the 18 months of paying no interest on the transferred balance may make it worthwhile — our customizable Balance Transfer Calculator can help you decide. Other perks of Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer include no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and access to monthly FICO credit scores for free. This card is also available to those with average to excellent credit.

Travel rewards credit card: Discover it Miles

free identity theft protection alerts Prefer to earn travel rewards instead of cash back? Discover it Miles earns cardholders an unlimited 1.5x miles per $1 spent on all purchases — this means there’s no rotating categories to worry about. Plus, all the miles you earn during your first year will be matched at the end of the year — if you earn 30,000 miles during the first year, Discover will match that and make it 60,000 miles! This card’s miles hold a commendable $1.50 per $100 spent average flight and hotel value, according to our Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis, and miles can be redeemed for any amount as a statement credit or deposited into your bank account. Similar to its cash back sister card, Discover it Miles features $0 annual and foreign transaction fees, 14 months of 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee) and accepts applicants with average credit or better.

Student credit cards: Discover it Students and Discover it Chrome for Students

free identity theft protection alertsCollege is the perfect time to start building credit because if they use the card responsibly, it will set them up for success when they try to find an apartment or open a cell phone plan. Discover it Students is a great card for newbies because it offers a nice combination of cash back, a 0% intro APR and credit-educating tools. This card earns 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories (up to the quarterly maximum, then it’s 1%) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Since the categories rotate every quarter, students will have to activate the 5% back, but Discover will remind them when it’s time. Similar to the other Discover cards, Discover will match all of the cash back students earn with Discover it Students at the end of their first year as a cardholder. As an added bonus, students who earn a 3.0 GPA or higher will get $20 back each academic year for up to 5 years with Discover’s Good Grades Rewards. On top of that, Discover it Students has a 6-month 0% intro APR on purchases and charges no annual fee, no penalty APRno late fee on your first late payment and no foreign transaction fees.

free identity theft protection alertsRounding out our list of the top Discover credit cards is its Discover it Chrome for Students. Young adults can get their finances off to a great start with this card, which earns 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined restaurant and gas purchases (after the quarterly maximum, it’s 1% back) and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. This card is also eligible for the cashback match bonus, which means if you earn $200 in your first year as a cardholders, Discover will match it and give you a total of $400 back, as well as Discover’s Good Grades Rewards, which is noted above. Students can also ease into credit card interest with a 6-month 0% intro APR on purchases. Other perks of this card include no annual fee, no penalty APR, no late fee on your first late payment and only fair credit or better is needed for approval.

Want to learn more about these and other Discover credit cards? Check out our reviews for an apples-to-apples comparison so you can decide which is right for you.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.