Identity theft is one of the most prevalent cyber security threats in 2023.
In early 2022, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported 1,434,676 instances of identity theft in 2021. This accounts for over 25% of all reported cases of cyber crime.
Identity theft can have disastrous legal, reputational, and financial effects – for both individuals and businesses.
On average, a successful cyber attack costs small- and midsize businesses (SMBs) $200,000. Many of them never recover. In fact, 60% of SMBs who’ve become the victim of cyber criminals go out of business within 6 months.
And yet, the majority of small business owners aren’t worried about identity theft. A recent survey found that 56% of them said they weren’t concerned about becoming the victims of cyber crime.
This overconfidence is misplaced. Small businesses are much more likely – and more frequent – targets than big enterprises. Though successful hacks of SMBs rarely make the news, and total payout for cyber criminals is usually lower, their weak defenses also make them easy pickings.
To prevent this, it’s crucial to invest in your business’ cyber defenses. Apart from traditional cyber security solutions, it should also include identity theft protection.
This article first gives you an overview of why identity theft protection matters for small businesses. Then, it summarizes which features to look out for, and introduces the 10 best providers of identity theft protection services on the market in 2022.
Why Your Small Business Should Use an Identity Theft Protection Service
You’ve probably heard of classic identity theft before – criminals stealing someone’s identity in order to apply for credit cards, cover medical expenses, or distribute malware.
However, business identity theft is a serious issue in 2022. Here, cyber criminals commandeer your entire business’ identity, and can completely devastate years of building trust.
Business identity theft can take many forms. Most frequently, cyber criminals use your business’ name and credentials to fraudulently apply for business loans or government benefits. Especially during the pandemic, many businesses found that criminals had used their identity to apply for stimulus checks.
Similarly, cyber criminals also often use businesses’ credentials to submit tax returns in their name and cash out the refunds.
Going further, they may well use your business’ identity for elaborate schemes, from phishing and fake invoices to selling in your name and never delivering. Ultimately, they disappear and leave you with the angry customer fallout.
And, as cyber crime continues to develop, they might do all of these at once to milk out maximum profit.
In all of these cases, it’s vital to react fast and have an identity theft recovery strategy to deal with the aftershocks.
Identity theft protection services can help you do just that. They monitor your personal and business details, flag any instances of identity theft, and help you during recovery.
Identity Theft Protection Features To Look Out For
Before we deep-dive into the details of different providers, it’s necessary to get an overview of which features you should expect from a comprehensive identity theft protection service.
Identity Theft Prevention Features
To begin with, identity theft protection services offer a varied array of features to prevent identity theft from happening in the first place.
Often, this includes software features for device and Wi-Fi security, such as antivirus, encryption, and VPN.
VPN stands for virtual private network. This creates a secure connection by encrypting all your internet traffic, and makes it harder for hackers to access your personal information. Especially on public networks, such as those in coffee shops or airports, this is a crucial precaution.
Another feature frequently included in identity theft protection suites is a password manager. And there’s a good reason for that.
Using complex and secure passwords is your number one defense against identity theft. However, many people are still lax on password security. Recent statistics show that the most common passwords in 2022 are still “qwerty”, “123456”, and, painfully, “password”.
A password manager automates your password generation and helps you choose complex passwords without having to memorize them separately. It also reviews your existing passwords and flags any that are too weak or that have already been compromised in data breaches. Some can even automatically update weak or leaked passwords for popular sites and services.
At the heart of any identity theft protection worth its salt lies an extensive set of monitoring features. After all, one of the core benefits of identity theft protection services is being alerted to possible theft. This helps you react fast to minimize the damage.
Types of monitoring
One commonly offered type is dark web monitoring. This means that the identity theft protection provider deploys AI algorithms to scan the seedier corners of the internet for your personal and business information. If any of your passwords, bank and tax details, or your social security number are found on the dark web, you’ll get an alert.
Another essential type of monitoring concerns credit scores and financial services.
In the US, you can request one free credit report per year. Identity theft protection services, however, track your credit rating in near-real time. If there is a significant change, they’ll flag it for you. You can then review if it’s due to your own activities – or those of cyber criminals.
Similarly, financial account monitoring uses advanced algorithms to keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit card charges. When activity deviates from your normal patterns, you’ll find out immediately.
A third type of monitoring service relates to possible legal complications. Court records monitoring and sex offender monitoring algorithms automatically scan millions of criminal records and sex offender registries to ascertain whether your identity has been used fraudulently for criminal purposes.
Fourth, there is social media identity monitoring. Hackers frequently hijack the profiles of businesses and individuals for their own purposes – to spread malware, for instance. Social media identity monitoring immediately flags any of these posts.
Moreover, some providers of identity theft protection also offer services to monitor payday loans and attempts to have your postal address changed.
Identity Theft Insurance and Fraud Resolution Services
Finally, two major features that comprehensive identity theft protection services offer are identity theft insurance and fraud resolution services. These help you deal with the fallout of the worst-case scenario – if your personal or business identity does get hijacked.
As its name suggestions, identity theft insurance provides financial help if your identity is stolen. In most cases, providers offer coverage of up to $1 million in damage on standard plans.
Money alone isn’t enough to bounce back from the impact of business impersonation, though. Fraud resolution services provide more hands-on assistance. This means that your identity theft protection provider’s trained professionals will help you deal with the administrative and legal aspects of your recovery.
The 10 Best Identity Theft Protection Services for Small Businesses in 2022
Now that we’ve sorted out why identity theft protection is necessary for small businesses, and which features to look out for, here’s our list of the top 10 providers of identity theft protection services in 2022.
Our ranking is based on how comprehensive each providers’ features are, on their pricing, and customer reviews.
1 – Aura
Heading our list is Aura, which evolved out of five different companies focused on security and privacy: iSubscribed, Intersections, Pango, Figleaf, and PrivacyMate. Some of the expertise pooled here reaches back 20 years.
Aura combines all the technical features necessary for identity theft prevention. It comes with antivirus, VPN, safe browsing features, and a password manager.
Additionally, Aura also offers the most extensive list of monitoring services out of all the providers we compared. It includes online account monitoring, identity verification monitoring, personal information and social security number monitoring, credit monitoring, bank account and financial transaction monitoring, and 401k and investment account monitoring.
Furthermore, Aura also provides services against spam calls, junk mail, and for people search site removal, lost wallet remediation, credit locks, financial fraud protection, a monthly credit score, and annual credit reports.
In addition, all plans come with 24/7 customer support and a baseline $1 million identity theft insurance.
Aura offers pricing for individuals, couples, and families – for $12, $22, and $37 per month respectively. The family plan offers additional features to prevent child identity theft, such as child social security monitoring.
All the software features – extensions, desktop apps, and mobile apps – can be installed on up to 10 devices per adult.
2 – Identity Guard
A more lightweight alternative to Aura is Identity Guard. It offers many of the perks that Aura comes with, but doesn’t include any software features other than safe browsing. If you already have a comprehensive cyber security suite that includes a VPN, antivirus, and a password manager, Identity Guard is a fantastic identity theft protection add-on.
Plus, Identity Guard has a long and successful history of preventing identity theft. Its parent company, Intersections Inc, was founded in 1996. This makes it one of the oldest and most experienced identity theft protection services on the market.
In terms of monitoring, Identity Guard offers dark web monitoring, bank account and credit card monitoring, social media monitoring, credit and investment monitoring, criminal and sex offense monitoring, high risk transactions monitoring, and personal information change monitoring.
It also provides an extensive risk management report, a social media insights report, a monthly credit score, and an annual credit report based on data from three different credit bureaus.
Like Aura, Identity Guard also offers identity theft insurance for up to $1 million.
There are three different pricing tiers – Value, Total, and Ultra, which cost $8.99, $19.99, and $29.99 respectively per month.
3 – Norton LifeLock
Next up is LifeLock by Norton, one of the biggest players in the cybersecurity market.
LifeLock comes with extensive software protection options, courtesy of Norton 360, as well as monitoring tools and identity theft insurance.
What exactly is included, however, varies considerably between plans. One thing that’s clear is that, banking on the Norton name, pricing is a little higher than with most other options on this list.
The Standard plan is relatively pricey at a regular $11.99 paid monthly, considering that it provides only basic credit monitoring via one credit bureau, and a fairly paltry $25,000 in financial loss insurance.
In contrast, the Ultimate Plus plan, at $34.99 per month, comes with three-bureau credit monitoring, $1 million in insurance, crime and financial monitoring, and home title monitoring. Recently, the offer has expanded to include social media monitoring.
4 – PrivacyGuard
Privacy Guard offers one of the most flexible options on the list – you can opt for Identity Protection, Credit Protection, or Total Protection.
Identity Protection includes dark web monitoring, social security number monitoring, bank account monitoring, personal document monitoring, credit card monitoring, and public records monitoring.
In addition, it comes with monthly status updates, a dedicated fraud resolution agent, stolen wallet protection, a secure browser, and a $1 million identity theft insurance. Pricing starts at $9.99 monthly.
Credit Protection gives you monthly triple-bureau credit score tracking and daily credit monitoring. Moreover, you’ll get access to a credit score simulator, a credit information hotline, and a financial calculator suite. Pricing starts at $19.99.
Total Protection combines the benefits of both plans, with pricing starting at $24.99.
5 – IdentityIQ
IdentityIQ is a great all-round option with considerable flexibility.
Its Secure plan, starting at $6.99 per month, is a little hidden on the website. It provides credit report monitoring, dark web monitoring, and social security number monitoring.
In addition, it comes with a $1 million stolen funds reimbursement, lost wallet assistance, junk mail opt-out, and an ID restoring service. Plus, it provides coverage for lawyers and experts, as well as personal expense compensation when it comes to recovering from identity theft.
The Secure Plus plan adds annual credit monitoring and scores, at $9.99 per month. For $19.99 per month, the Secure Pro plan provides semiannual credit reports, as well as enhanced credit monitoring and public record monitoring.
The Secure Max Plan, finally, comes with monthly credit reports, a credit score simulator, and $25,000 identity theft insurance.
All plans offer the option of an antivirus and VPN add-on provided by Bitdefender, raising the cost to $8.99, $11.99, $21.99, and $32.99 for the respective plans.
6 – IdentityForce
In sixth place, there is IdentityForce by TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus in the US.
It comes with comprehensive identity theft protection features, such as dark web monitoring, payday loan monitoring, social media monitoring, and three-bureau credit monitoring. Like Aura, and Identity Guard, it also provides a $1 million identity theft insurance.
Plus, this provider also offers some stand-out individual features, such as a blanket junk mail opt-out.
IdentityForce offers two basic plans: UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit. The former is $17.99 paid monthly, the latter costs $23.99 per month. As the name suggests, only UltraSecure+Credit includes credit monitoring.
For $35.90 a month, the family plan version of UltraSecure+Credit covers two adults and any number of children.
IdentityForce also offers a few products directed at larger businesses – including the option of providing IdentityForce as an employee benefit.
Like IdentityForce, IdentityWorks has a house advantage: It is offered by one of the big three credit monitoring bureaus in the US, Experian.
IdentityWorks comes with solid identity theft monitoring tools, like dark web monitoring, credit monitoring, and social security number monitoring. Additional services include lost wallet assistance, access to fraud resolution specialists, and $1 million identity theft insurance.
Pricing starts at $9.99 for the Plus plan covering one adult. Credit monitoring is only provided at the Premium tier, though, which starts at $19.99 per month.
Each plan is also available for one adult and up to 10 children ($14.99 and $24.99 respectively) and two adults and up to 10 children ($19.99 and $29.99 respectively).
8 – ID Watchdog
Next up is ID Watchdog. The service is offered by Equifax, the third big credit bureau in the US.
It offers two tiers – Select and Premium – for both individuals and families. Businesses can also offer these as employee benefits.
The ID Watchdog Select plan includes credit report monitoring, loan monitoring, dark web monitoring, high-risk transaction monitoring, child credit monitoring, credit reports, and a credit score tracker. Plus, it comes with a $1 million identity theft insurance and recovery assistance. It costs $14.95 per month for individuals and $23.95 for families (two adults and up to 4 children).
ID Watchdog’s Premium plan adds advanced monitoring for financial accounts, social profiles, and healthcare provider monitoring. In addition, it integrates fraud alerts, credit report locks, VPN, a password manager, and a subprime loan block. Pricing is $21.95 per month for individuals, and $34.95 for families.
Identity Fraud, Inc. (ITI) provides both solid consumer identity theft protection services and a business service.
Like other entries on this list, ITI has two tiers – Gold and Platinum.
The Gold tier, at $9.95 per month, offers identity fraud monitoring, social security number monitoring, credit card monitoring, and data sweep monitoring. In addition, it comes with a $1 million identity theft insurance, lost wallet services, keystroke encryption software, and 24/7 assistance.
The Platinum tier, at $15.95 per month, adds triple bureau credit monitoring, regular credit reports, and credit scores.
ITI’s BIZLock service specifically addresses the cyber security needs of businesses. BIZLock covers a wider array of cyber threats, and comes with perks such as business identity fraud insurance, data breach liability insurance, compliance services, and victim resolution programs to help keep your customers safe.
Like Norton, McAfee is a major cyber security provider that offers identity theft protection services alongside its other well-known products.
McAfee offers two plans. It formerly offered four, but at the same time has also added family versions of the remaining two. The Premium plan comes the company’s renowned security software, solid identity monitoring as well as VPN. While antivirus can be installed on unlimited devices, VPN is limited to five. This plan comes at $49.99 in the first year.
The Advanced plan, at $89.99 for the first year, adds deep personal data cleanup, a $1 million identity theft insurance, and lost wallet protection.
Both plans can be extended with parental controls, which adds $10 to the respective plan’s cost. Overall, this is a great budget option if you’re not specifically after credit monitoring.