Q: I’ve been reading your reviews about identity theft protection services, and I noticed that the phrase “annual prepay” is used often. What does that mean? 

A: Great question! An annual prepay is when you pay for one year of the services upfront. Three of our reviewed identity theft protection and credit monitoring services offer discounted prices — which save you money in the long run — when you pay upfront. For example, TrustedID costs a total of $112.50 per year when you pay with an annual prepay, while you pay an annual total of $161.88 for an individual plan. That’s a total savings of $49.38 per year.

The only thing that you should consider when signing up for an annual prepay is the refund policy. All the services that offer annual prepay — LifeLock, TrustedID and IDFreeze — also offer free trials so you can test the service before you make a financial commitment, however it is still important to know the refund policy if you ever decide to cancel.

If you choose to cancel LifeLock prematurely you will be refunded for however many months have not been already used. For example, if you cancel after seven months you will be refunded for the five remaining months that you haven’t used.

TrustedID and IDFreeze do not have the same return policy. These services offer the annual billing customers a 50 percent refund during the first 180 days of the membership — not including the free trial. After the 180 days have passed, you will no longer be eligible for a refund.

TrustedID and LifeLock are services that offer both identity theft protection services as well as credit report monitoring. IDFreeze offers identity theft protection without the credit report monitoring.

Check out our identity theft protection compare page to see what each service has to offer and how they compare to each other.