Are identity theft protection services a waste of money?

With the constant headlines about data breaches and nightmarish stories about identity theft, it's easy for consumers to fall for the pitches made by identity theft protection and credit monitoring services.

But is there a value in paying the monthly fees for these services? For most folks, the short answer is no. Most of these companies offer services that consumers can do on their own for free or at a significantly lower cost. So consumers end up paying a premium -- typically $100 a year or more -- for the convenience of having someone else take care of things for them, even when they don't need them.