identity theft protection servicesUpdated: Dec. 30, 2016

Identity theft: it’s not something most of us want to think about, but all too often, we have to. These days, everyone is at risk due to the frequency and nature of data breaches. Although many breaches are limited to exposing adults’ information — payment card data, online account passwords, etc. — a great number also put children under the age of 18 at risk as well. High-profile breaches in recent years at health insurance companies as well as within the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management have put the social security numbers, birth dates and other key personal details of parents as well as their children into the hands of cybercriminals. This data winds up on the Internet black market, where it can be bought, traded and sold to criminals of all kinds for use with different forms of identity theft. Unfortunately, identity theft also happens close to home, which means your family members could be at risk from the dog walker or even a relative who gains access to information found in or around your home. Protecting everyone in your household with a solid identity theft protection service can help you achieve peace of mind that you’ll be able to tell if someone’s identity is stolen sooner rather than way down the road, and it also means you’ll have assistance on your side if the unthinkable does happen.

Which identity theft protection options are best for my family?

Identity Guard

Who it protects: Hands down, the best option for families when it comes to identity theft protection is the family plan offered by Identity Guard. It covers two adults living in the same household, as well as up to 15 children under the age of 18. The primary account holder must be able to prove legal guardianship of all children added to the plan. Single parent? No problem — simply sign up for the family plan and don’t activate the second adult’s account, and you can get a reduced price while still keeping coverage for your children.

What it costs: The cost for Identity Guard’s family plan is just $24.99/month, which includes an exclusive 25% discount for NextAdvisor.com visitors. You pay month to month with the ability to cancel anytime, and there’s a 30-day free trial to let you test it out before making a financial commitment. If the second adult membership is canceled or never activated, the monthly price will be reduced to $19.99/month to cover the remaining adult and children.

What you get: Identity Guard provides some of the most thorough identity protection and credit monitoring we’ve seen. Adult members will receive daily monitoring of all three credit reports as well as extensive fraud monitoring, including Internet black market monitoring and public records monitoring, and lost wallet protection. You will also receive quarterly updates of your credit reports and scores, which is a serious value.

Children are protected under Identity Guard’s kID Sure monitoring program, which monitors for their information on criminal records, DMV records, utilities records, as well as scans for social security number exposure on the Internet black market.

All covered members are entitled to Identity Guard’s $1 million identity theft insurance coverage and access to its Identity Theft Recovery Unit, which offers assistance with recovering from identity theft and restoring the victim’s good name.

LifeLock

Who it protects: LifeLock doesn’t offer a true family membership; instead, it offers individual plans with the option to add minor children for an additional cost per month, per child. This might be the best option for a single parent or guardian with only one or two children they’d like to protect.

What it costs: LifeLock offers three plans, but we’d recommend either the LifeLock Advantage or LifeLock Ultimate Plus plans, as the most basic plan — LifeLock Standard — doesn’t offer credit monitoring of any kind. All plans offer a 30-day free trial and NextAdvisor.com visitors receive a 10% discount. The cost for LifeLock Advantage is $16.50/month ($197.90/year) with annual prepay or $17.99/month if you opt for month-to-month, while LifeLock Ultimate Plus costs $26.99/month when you pay monthly or $24.75/month ($296.90/year) with an annual plan. Children can be added for $5.99/month for the month-to-month plan or $5.50/month ($65.99/year) for annual prepay.

What you get: All LifeLock plans offer an identity alert system which scans a variety of data points, including credit card applications, wireless services, retail credit, utilities, mortgages and auto and payday loans for your information, as well as Internet black market scanning, court records scanning, fictitious identity monitoring, data breach notifications and more. LifeLock Ultimate Plus also offers additional alerts for investment accounts and monitors your credit. LifeLock Advantage members receive annual credit reports and scores from Equifax, while LifeLock Ultimate Plus members receive annual scores and reports from all three bureaus as well as monthly credit score updates from Equifax.

LifeLock Junior protects children under the age of 18 with similar identity alerts and black market monitoring, in addition to searching peer-to-peer networks to ensure their data doesn’t show up and alerting parents if any registered sex offenders move into their zip code.

All LifeLock members are protected by its $1 million service guarantee, and in addition each member is covered by a stolen funds replacement guarantee — $100,000 for LifeLock Advantage members and $1 million for LifeLock Ultimate Plus members.

Protecting your family in the Digital Age isn’t easy, but purchasing one of these identity theft protection options is a great way to stay a step ahead. Visit our identity theft protection reviews to get more information about these services, and learn other ways to keep your household safe by following our identity theft protection blog.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the companies referenced in this article. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies mentioned. NextAdvisor.com may be compensated through advertiser affiliate programs.