How to protect yourself against identity theft

Identity theft is an all-too-real problem. In the final days before Christmas 2013, Target confirmed that a data breach compromised the credit and debit information of 40 million customers.

Web sites offering fraud protection at a price are now popping up everywhere. But are they worth it? We asked financial expert Lauren Lyons Cole.

“These sites that say they’ll protect you from identity theft really use a fear marketing tactic and they’re not for everybody,” Lyons Cole says. “If you’ve had your identity stolen in the past, you may want to go ahead and pay to have that service but if you haven’t you’re really not at risk.”

More than 13 million Americans had their identities stolen in 2013, according to one recent study.

As scary as that stat sounds, New Yorkers we spoke to are split on whether they too could be victims.

While you are right to be worried, experts say it pays to be vigilant. Plenty of fraud-protection sites you can use are free, including and, Lyons Cole says.

Experts say another great site you can use for fraud protection is Once a year you can get a free credit report from all three agencies. Then simply log on every four months and check your credit yourself.

Click here to read more of Lyons Cole’s money tips.

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