Preventing identity theft without paying monthly fees

Source: Alina Tugend, The New York Times

My first Shortcuts column, almost seven years ago, was on identity theft. At that point, in 2005, it seemed to be a scary and ever-growing trend, with tales everywhere of stolen credit cards and Social Security numbers leading to bad credit ratings that could haunt you for years, potentially costing you car loans, mortgages and even jobs. Spurred by a Consumers Union report this month that argues that identity theft is being hyped by marketers to scare consumers into buying costly and unnecessary services, I decided I wanted to revisit the issue. Is identity theft going up or down? What can we do to protect ourselves? And is it worth it to buy protection?

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