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5 Great Tools to Prevent Identity Theft

Protect yourself from identity theft before it happens.

As the threat of identity theft grows, taking steps to protect yourself is more important than ever. Use these tools to prevent ID theft—or to spot it quickly after it happens.

SEE MORE: The Best Personal-Finance Products and Services of 2015

Best ID Protection Service: Identity Guard Total Protection ($20 monthly) tops its peers, based on tests by NextAdvisor, which evaluates providers. The service monitors your credit report with all three of the major credit agencies, provides score updates, and scans Internet black markets for your Social Security number and bank account and credit card numbers.

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Best Password Manager: Dashlane stores and encrypts passwords. Plus, the free program will alert you if a site you use is hacked. For $40 a year, you can sync your account information across multiple devices.

Best Antivirus Software: Antivirus software from Avira scored high marks in testing by the AV-TEST Institute, which evaluates security software. Avira has free software for Windows, but for superior protection, go with Antivirus Pro for $45 annually. Avira’s only antivirus product for Mac is free.

Best Personal VPN: For $40 a year (or $7 a month), Private Internet Access encrypts your Web activity over public Wi-Fi networks and masks your IP address with an anonymous one. You can use it on five devices at once.

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Best Test and Voice-Mail Encryption: With mobile app Threema ($1.99 for Windows phone and Apple devices; $2.49 for Android), you can send encrypted text messages, recorded voice messages (but not phone calls), photos, videos and even PDF files to other users of the app without worry that snoops will intercept your conversations. To remain anonymous, you can opt not to link your phone number or e-mail address to the app.

See Our Slide Show: 8 Things Never to Keep in Your Wallet

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