Stop Identity Thieves in Their Tracks with Surfshark Alert

Like GearBrain on Facebook

Data Breaches and Identity Theft Protection

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was notified of 1.4 million instances of identity theft. For the past two decades, identity theft has been a pervasive threat that now causes Americans to lose billions each year.

Basically, fraudsters steal your information — name, Social Security number (SSN), birthdate, etc. — and use it for their own financial gain. But how do these identity thieves access this sensitive information?

Every day, hundreds of websites’ stored information is breached and then leaked. With such rampant unauthorized access, email, and data breaches on the rise, it’s critical that you keep your personal online data safe and protect yourself from cybercrime.

Access to real-time credit card and email breach alerts — where the user receives immediate breach notification whenever your personal details are part of a data breach — allows you to monitor your most sensitive information’s appearance on public databases so you can take prompt action and protect them.

Using a breach alert service could save you serious monetary loss, not to mention endless hours spent restoring your credit cards and online shopping accounts and even reestablishing small business security.

As scammers update their methods, you need to level up your protection. Start with a high-quality data breach monitoring service that will monitor your credit and personal information, send alerts if anything seems suspicious, and walk you through recovery, repair, and safeguarding of your data.

We tested a number of these services to see what protections each offer and if there are any potential gaps in protection.

Let’s dive in:

What is a Data Breach and Why is it Such a Threat?

Yahoo, Microsoft, Meta, LinkedIn. Do you use any of these platforms or services? Well, we have sobering news — all of these corporations have experienced significant data breaches over the past few years.

But just what is a data breach? It’s a cyberattack against companies’ databases that are committed by hackers to steal data. Mostly, they sell this information, or publish it on the darknet — some even hold it for ransom.

Brazen data breaches like these harm both businesses and their customers. That’s why it’s critical to get familiar with all the potential threats and protect yourself.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t experienced a security incident. That includes the loss, alteration, accidental or unlawful destruction, unauthorized disclosure of, or access to your personal data.

Personal Data Breaches and How to Detect Them

  • Cyberattacks: Hacking, malware, or phishing attacks that result in unauthorized access to personal data
  • Physical Loss or Theft: Losing a laptop, smartphone, or portable storage device that contains personal data
  • Human Error: Sending an email containing personal data to the wrong recipient, or accidentally posting personal data online
  • Unauthorized Access: An employee accesses personal data without authorization
Personal data that can be affected by a breach:
  • Names
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Financial information (credit card numbers, bank account details)
  • Health information

When an email leak or personal data breach occurs, organizations are required to notify the affected individuals. Depending on the severity of the breach — and applicable regulations — they should notify data protection authorities.

These notifications empower affected individuals to take steps to protect themselves from potential threats like identity theft or fraud.

What’s the Downside of Cyberattacks & Cybercrime

Criminals can exploit your stolen data in a number of ways:

  • Payment card fraud – Criminals can use your cards to spend your money and/or open new credit cards under your name
  • Fake accounts – Your details can be used to create fake accounts for shady activities (phishing, impersonation, etc.)
  • Doxxing – Your confidential or controversial information can be published on the internet or by the media against your will
  • Surveillance – Criminals can predict and shape your opinion. It has a tremendous impact on elections
  • Impersonation – Criminals can pretend to be you or a relative and ask for money or deceive you into revealing sensitive details
  • Black market sales – Scammers can sell your data on the dark web
  • Blackmail – Once cybercriminals obtain your personal information, they can demand a ransom for not revealing it

Email notifications as well as data breach and fraud alerts, will notify you about any breaches that concern you. This way, you can change the passwords of your breached accounts and contact your bank before it’s too late.

Who is Affected by Email & Data Breaches

  • Individual Users concerned about identity theft and seeking to secure their personal accounts, email addresses, credit cards, and personal identification information, receive real-time data breach alerts, and regular security checkups to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Families looking to extend online security to all members, including children. Breach monitoring helps parents protect family members from potential data breaches.
  • Frequent Online Shoppers who often engage in online retail should receive instant fraud alerts and breach notifications in case of credit card data breaches to ensure secure online transactions.
  • Elderly Individuals may be more susceptible to online scams or phishing attempts so they definitely need an extra layer of security to protect their online identities.
  • Users with High Online Presence, such as Influencers, bloggers, or social media personalities, seeking to safeguard their online identities and personal information.
  • Technology Enthusiasts who are proactive about securing their digital lives and want a tool that provides real-time alerts and comprehensive security reports.
  • Travelers and globetrotters must keep their online accounts and personal information safe — regardless of their location.
  • Small Businesses looking to monitor potential breaches related to business email leaks or enhance overall cybersecurity for the enterprise.

How Can Email Leaks and Data Breaches Affect Small Businesses?

43% of data breaches involve small business victims, leaving overwhelming financial and reputational repercussions in their wake. So, breach monitoring is a terrific tool to prevent hits to:

  • Damage to consumer and partner trust
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Decline in brand reputation
  • Temporary operational issues
  • Productivity
  • Employee morale
  • Government fines

Understanding the Importance of Identity Theft Prevention

  • Early Detection: Identity theft and data breaches can have serious consequences, including financial loss and reputational damage. Immediate data breach response helps you take action to minimize the damage.
  • Prompt Action: Fraud and breach alerts prompt action to secure your accounts and personal information by changing passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, or contacting financial institutions to prevent unauthorized transactions.
  • Minimize Damage: The sooner you are alerted about a breach, the sooner you can minimize its impact. This can involve notifying affected parties, monitoring accounts for questionable activity, and preventing further damage.
  • Protection Beyond VPN: While a VPN may protect your online activities from prying eyes, it can't protect you from all cyber threats. Alerts for identity theft and data breaches provide an additional layer of security, helping you stay safe online.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing you'll receive an identity alert if your personal information is compromised gives you peace of mind. If there's any doubtful activity involving your account, you'll be notified immediately.

The Benefits of Using an Identity Theft Prevention Service

Clearly, an identity theft protection service is an intelligent choice. It tracks activity on your online accounts — including your bank account — your credit file, SSN, driver’s license, home title, and other highly sensitive data for signs of fraud.

If anything appears suspicious, your data breach monitoring kicks into effect and they’ll instantly send you a notification. Then it’s up to you to swiftly secure your accounts, minimize any damages, and stay on top of your private data.

Additional benefits to using a Data Breach Prevention service include the following: It allows you to freely surf the web without tracking, secures your devices from malware, and guards your accounts’ security with one easy-to-use app.

But there are so many more features your service should offer:

  • Immediate Response to Email Breaches — Receive instant alerts when your email address appears in a data breach. Quickly take action, such as changing passwords or enabling two-factor authentication, to secure your email account.
  • ID Breach Monitoring — Stay informed about potential breaches involving your personal identification information. Respond swiftly by updating sensitive details or taking additional security measures to protect your identity.
  • Preventing Unauthorized Access — Detect and respond to potential security threats before they escalate. With real-time alerts, users can proactively safeguard their accounts and personal information, preventing unauthorized access.
  • Identity Theft Prevention — Use as a proactive tool against identity theft. Receive alerts whenever your personal information is at risk, allowing you to mitigate potential threats before they result in identity theft.
  • Credit Card Protection — Get real-time alerts when your credit card information is compromised as part of a data breach. Act promptly to secure your financial accounts, report unauthorized transactions, and update your card details.
  • Data Security Checkups — Benefit from regular data security reports, either monthly, quarterly, or yearly. These reports provide an overview and help identify patterns, assess risks, and take necessary precautions.
  • Monitoring a Child’s or Family’s Accounts — Extend the protection to your family members, including children. Receive alerts for any compromised accounts within your family so you have comprehensive security for your entire household.
  • Secure Online Shopping—Stay confident when shopping online by receiving immediate alerts if your credit card information is compromised. This feature enhances security and trust in e-commerce transactions.
  • Peace of Mind for Travelers — Travelers benefit from real-time alerts during their journeys, maintaining control over their online security regardless of where they are.
  • Small Business Security — Small businesses can use a service that monitors potential breaches related to their business emails or financial information, enhancing overall cybersecurity for the organization.

Top 5 Best Identity Theft Protection Services


  • Monitors — Bureau credit monitoring, bank accounts, credit cards, SSN, ID verification, dark web monitoring, social media
  • Fraud Alerts — Real-time SMS text messages, email, mobile app, dashboard alerts
  • Plans — Individuals, small businesses, families
  • Insurance — $25K - $1M
  • Additional Services — VPN with safe browsing, password manager, minimizes spam emails, user-friendly apps, and 24/7 customer support


  • Monitors — 3 bureau credit monitoring, bank accounts, SSN, data breaches, home title
  • Fraud Alerts — Real-time via text, email
  • Plans — Individuals, couples, families
  • Insurance — $1M - 5M
  • Additional Services — Antivirus, VPN with safe browsing, password manager, parental control apps

Lifelock by Norton:

  • Monitors — 3 bureau credit monitoring, bank accounts, SSN, data breaches
  • Fraud Alerts — Real-time via text, email, app
  • Plans — Individuals, couples, families
  • Insurance — $2K - $1M
  • Additional Services — Antivirus, VPN

Identity Guard:

  • Monitors — Credit, bank accounts, data breaches, home title, social media
  • Fraud Alerts — Real-time via text, email
  • Plans — Individuals, families
  • Insurance — $1M
  • Additional Services — Password manager

ID Shield:

  • Monitors — Single or three-bureau credit monitoring, SSN, dark web, social media
  • Fraud Alerts — Real-time protection
  • Plans — Individuals, business, families
  • Insurance —$3M
  • Additional Services — VPN, malware protection, password manager

Which Company has the Best Identity Theft Protection & Data Breach Prevention?

Each of the above services offers unique benefits, so the best choice depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize regular personal data security reports, real-time alerts, an email leak checker, or 24/7 customer support, there's a data breach protection provider that will perfectly suit your requirements.

As with all things in life, it’s essential to stay up-to-the-minute about what’s going on with your sensitive information. Identity theft protection is a must-have as we increasingly spend our lives online in a digital world.

Like GearBrain on Facebook
Show Comments ()

The GearBrain

See which products "work with" either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa by clicking on the device below.