Identity theft protection services may not be worth the money

Company data breaches are on the rise and so is the number of companies offering to keep your information safe.

However, not all coverage plans are created equal so it's important to know what you're buying before you sign up.

Many consumers think having identity theft protection will stop identity theft from happening, but that is not the case.

Most protection services offer to alert consumers to potentially fraudulent activity and help try to fix the problem. The services can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 per month and will typically help dispute transactions with banks, credit card companies or other businesses.

RELATED: Equifax breach settlement: How to get a check, credit monitoring or freeze

If you are considering singing up for a service, make sure to ask a lot of questions. According to Consumer Reports, some companies offer very little and will give customers a credit repair checklist to use on their own if their information is compromised.

You can protect yourself from some types of fraud by putting a credit freeze with all three major credit bureaus. Putting a freeze in place is free, but it means no one will be able to open any accounts in your name, including you, until you lift the freeze.

Keep in mind that freezing credit does not guarantee protection against identity theft. Thieves could still use your personal information to steal tax refunds or get medical services.

One of the best ways to make sure your information is safe is to keep a close eye on bank and credit card statements, insurance claims and tax records.

You should also make sure to check your credit report once a year. You can get an official free credit report at

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