Top VPN and identity monitoring services to protect your online identity

Stefan Etienne , CNN Underscored
Updated Wed July 31, 2019

Suddenly waking up to news of a new data breach within the banking institution Capital One occurred is unsettling no matter how you look at it. If you do bank with Capital One, I'd recommend taking precautions against potential identity theft by using a VPN (virtual private networks), especially since cyber attacks that attack your privacy and identity are on the rise. As a quick refresher, the data breach included names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, dates of birth and self-reported incomes of approximately 100 million Americans, plus an additional 6 million individuals in Canada. Even some social security numbers and bank account numbers were exposed.

Just keep in mind that at the end of the day, you're responsible for keeping your own identity secure. Don't broadcast personal information or internet traffic on open networks, and keep secure passwords that you make a habit of changing every few months (a password manager like Keeper Security could help with this).

Taking it a step further, you can also bolster your online security and help prevent identity theft by using a two-factor authentication for online accounts that are linked to your payment cards. Despite these precautions, in the event of a data breach like the Capital One incident, you'll have to rely on a professional service for consistent monitoring of your private information.

To help you better navigate your options, I've listed a few of the most reputable credit and theft monitoring services that you can check out for more information. And if you don't already have a VPN solution that helps encrypt your internet traffic and mask your IP address, look into using NordVPN for additional protection.

LifeLock is a solid identity theft protection service with a 60-day money-back guarantee and a base price of $107.88 for a year of service or $8.99 every month at a 10 percent discount (normally $9.99). Lifelock's lower-priced plans only cover one bureau, but you can upgrade to a $29.99 monthly plan that monitors all three credit bureaus, with a monthly credit score provided to you that's extracted from your own Experian data.

IdentityForce is one of the few sites listed here that offers a 14-day free trial version of its service. Afterward, it's $199.50 yearly for the UltraSecure+Credit program that has identity and credit monitoring. This credit report synthesizes info from all three reporting agencies, but also includes information like address changes, court and arrest records, payday loan applications and can even check for identity information sharing on illicit websites. However, the company doesn't seem to disclose just how frequently those checks (besides monthly credit reports) are performed.

Identity Guard is a service powered in part by IBM Watson (a supercomputer). It differs from the other services in that it uses Watson to build an information bank by compiling data from different sources, including social media networks, in an attempt to securely monitor your credit files, date of birth, social security number and more. Identity Guard will cost you $86.40 a year, which is pricey considering it does not include credit monitoring. A more comprehensive plan costs $191.88 and includes the three-bureau monitoring and credit score report that you'd expect from such a service.

McAfee Identity Theft Protection (Standard) is the least expensive identity theft protection service in this list, with a full year costing $69.99 and a $0.99 trial for your first month. Its services consistently scan your credit activity on the Experian credit file for anomalies and potential breaches but lacks TransUnion or Equifax support. So it checks two out of three brureaus.