Preventing identity theft: two tools that offer a little peace of mind

While signing up for a credit card fraud-protection program can lead to some unintended inconveniences and hassles, having your identity stolen can lead to much more dire consequences, including months of frustration and steep financial losses -- some of which may never be recouped.

Fortunately, there are two services that are being offered by the three credit bureaus that aim to prevent thieves from obtaining credit in your name: fraud alerts and security freezes. As Bankrate points out, there are some inconveniences - and in some cases, some costs - involved in using these tools, but it may be worth the extra peace of mind.