Don't let anyone ever tell you that you have to pay someone to monitor your credit. Federal law entitles you to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). You can link to each of them from this one site:
Just THAT site. Don't try any impostors! Just click on that site.
You can also opt out of junk mail and credit card solicitations for free by contacting the Direct Marketing Association (http://www.the-dma.org/index.php).
From each bureau, you can request a free fraud alert or a "freeze" on your credit report. The alert or freeze should prevent any new accounts from being opened on your credit without the use of a password determined by you.
The downside of those alerts is you have to renew them every 90 days. If you're disciplined, that's no big deal, but for some of you, that may be a hassle.
Now most credit monitoring services I've investigated aren't worth the money. They either do not secure your personal information very well, or they simply can't do what they say they can do when it comes to monitoring your credit.
But LifeLock (www.lifelock.com) does.
I investigated LifeLock a few years ago after I saw its CEO, Todd Davis, put his Social Security number on his commercials and web site. I ran his number -- it really is his Social Security number!
In fact, I had a sign made with his number and spent a whole morning walking around the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center (201 Poplar) and its criminal courts, displaying Davis's number.
Records show nobody ever tried to steal his number during my stunt, but attempts have been made on his number before. Each time, his LifeLock membership has foiled the theft.
For as little as $10 a month PER PERSON, LifeLock will automatically update your fraud alerts every 70 days. It will also contact the Direct Marketing Association for you to opt out of those unwanted solicitations.
I interviewed one woman who said after she joined LifeLock, 80 percent of her credit card junk mail just stopped.
A Germantown LifeLock member I interviewed said LifeLock immediately alerted him when someone tried to use his debit card number to buy $2,000 worth of jewelry. He lost nothing.
LifeLock goes one step further. If it fails and lets someone slip through and steal your identity, all you have to do is file a police report. LifeLock will take it from there, doing the leg work to fix everything. If you're out a specific dollar amount, LifeLock will reimburse you up to $1 million.
I also recommend Triple Alert from the credit bureau Experian (https://www.experiandirect.com/triplealert/default.aspx). When the holding company that has my individual IRA was compromised, the company gave me a free 2-year membership with Triple Alert. It alerted me to an inaccurate address change and credit card account added to my Equifax report. I was able to have an Equifax agent clear it up immediately.