We receive dozens of emails each month asking for our opinion on Identity Theft Shield, an identity theft protection service created by Kroll, Inc and distributed by thousands of independent representatives of the network marketing firm Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. We have reviewed Identity Theft Shield and found that it offers solid identity theft recovery support for victims but takes no steps to protect their subscribers from having their identities stolen in the first place.

Identity Theft Shield offers single bureau credit report monitoring of your Experian credit file for $9.95 per month which also includes a free Experian credit report and score at sign up. Experian is the largest of the three credit bureaus and will likely reflect most major changes to your credit report, but we believe that three bureau credit monitoring is a better option since it eliminates the risk that a potentially fraudulent account or entry may not show up on your Experian credit report but end up on one of the other two bureau files in your name. Identity Theft Shield also offers a Gold package which includes credit report monitoring of all three bureaus, including Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, for $12.95. The Gold package also includes a credit report from each of the three credit bureaus at sign up.

Credit report monitoring is a good tool to help identify inconsistencies in your credit report which could be caused by identity thieves, but it doesn’t prevent identity theft in any way. Other services we have reviewed, such as LifeLock, Identity Guard and Trusted ID, take proactive measures to prevent identity theft crimes from being perpetrated against their subscribers. Identity Theft Shield, on the other hand, offers no tools that actually prevent identity theft.

Identity Theft Shield does offer extensive recovery services to their subscribers if they are the unfortunate victims of identity theft. Identity Theft Shield sets fraud alerts and sends notifications to all applicable government agencies and financial institutions on behalf of the victimized subscriber. They also monitor an extensive list of public and private databases in an effort to identify any misuse of a subscriber’s personal information. Identity Theft Shield’s recovery services also help reduce some out-of-pocket expenses and their fraud resolution specialists are able to handle much of the heavy lifting when it comes to recovering a stolen identity.

Setting fraud alerts and proactively searching national databases for suspicious activity are both great services for victims, but they are also extremely effective in preventing and identifying potential identity theft crimes. In fact, many of the other services we have reviewed offer these tools to all subscribers as preventative measures rather than after a crime has already been committed as identity Theft Shield does.

The lack of proactive identity theft prevention measures is the biggest downside to the Identity Theft Shield service. We do believe that it is a good service for victims, but many of the solutions they offer to help recover a stolen identity are used by other identity theft protection services to actually prevent identity theft in the first place.

We would suggest LifeLock or Identity Guard over Identity Theft Shield for most consumers. Both services received five stars on our comparison of identity theft protection services and, in our opinion, both deliver more extensive levels of service than Identity Theft Shield.

LifeLock offers proactive identity theft protection by setting fraud alerts on your credit file, monitoring the Internet for unauthorized use of your personal information and alerting you if anyone attempts to reroute your postal mail in an attempt to gain access to sensitive correspondence such as financial records. They also provide a fairly extensive service guarantee which will cover most costs and all the heavy lifting related to recovering your identity if it is stolen while you are a LifeLock member. This guarantee does have its limitations, which we have previously analyzed, but overall we feel that LifeLock is a more complete identity theft protection solution than Identity Theft Shield.

Identity Guard is another option, particularly if credit report monitoring is important to you. They provide 24/7 credit report monitoring of all three credit bureaus and quarterly access to your credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Identity Guard also offers a series of advanced tools which help prevent and/or identify any unauthorized uses of your personal information. Plus, Identity Guard offers a $20,000 insurance policy which covers many costs in the case you that a subscriber fails victim to identity theft.

You can sign up for LifeLock and Identity Guard online or over the phone and both services offer a 30 day free trial of their product. Identity Theft Shield does not offer a free trial and can only be purchased by contacting a Pre-Paid Legal independent sales representative.

Please visit our identity theft protection service comparison to learn more about these identity theft protection services.