All right. I'm well-known for being shallow and brain-free. I can't vouch for "freecreditreport dot com" as a credit monitoring service, but I love their commercials, and especially the three unfortunate guys, who they are very smart to feature on their commercials.
Yes, here they are, in all their glory. I have no idea who these actors really are, but the commercials are perfect. My favorite is of course the seafood restaurant, which is uncomfortably reminiscent of Judge Reinhold's horrible job as big brother Brad in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (that's a link to a "where are they now?" article).
If Chowder-Head Guy had checked his credit, he wouldn't have had his identity stolen, and be wearing a stupid pirate outfit serving "chowder and iced-tea." Although updated for today, there is just something so "Fast Times" about these three chowderheads. They're actually called "the singing pirates."
Free Credit Report ISN'T actually free and it isn't the government "get your credit report free" thing at all. That is located at annual credit report, and you can read how it works via the internet, phone or mail here.
A lot of news and information has come out recently about the value or lack thereof, of services like Lifelock, which I use, but may not continue forever. Many banks now offer credit monitoring services to customers for a modest fee, and I highly recommend TransUnion's service, True Credit. For $9.95 a month, this service offers unlimited credit checks and scores, 24 hour a day monitoring, and the only downside is they ping the heck out of you with ads for credit-related products. These days, it is of benefit to regularly check your bank accounts and credit cards online (via a secure connection), to shred all old bills and paperwork, to take care with securing your mail, and to be extremely cautious and careful about online credit purchases. Even with the prevalence of fears of online credit theft, most credit is stolen using the old-fashioned methods of trash-searching, or of obtaining an expired card (particularly easily fooled things like gas cards, etc.), changing the address, and milking it for all it's worth in the period of time between the card's activation and the victim becoming aware. Remember, both the credit grantor and the individual are victims.
While major credit/identity theft rings are out there, most of this is done by low-level, messed-up people who steal a few hundred bucks here and there by basic means. By following the methods I recommend above, most people should be able to avoid becoming unwary victims. Monitor all accounts frequently, and consider investing in one of the credit reporting services that will send you an alert any time a change is made. Be careful in your personal habits, shredding old bills and so-on, and have all the information you need separate from your wallet or purse, in case either is stolen while you are out - always call all banks, credit card companies, stores and gas cards and cancel immediately in case of any theft.
Noticing things that are "out of place" is a characteristic of people with good survival skills. A few weeks ago, I was filling up at a gas station that I don't use very often. I saw a woman put a credit card into the pump, and it didn't work. Then, she withdrew a THREE INCH STACK of cards from her jacket pocket, which was secured with a rubber band. I went in the station and told the owner, and they cancelled the transaction and were questioning her as I drove off. She didn't look very happy. There's no reason for somebody to have a huge stack of credit cards - except for the one that you, I, and the gas station owners suspected. I hope they busted her, good.