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2 Investigators: Man's ID Stolen After Target Pays For Credit Monitoring

(CBS) – John Walters thought he was protected against identity theft.

Like millions of Americans, he had signed up with an ID theft protection service after the massive data breach at Target. He was shocked when his identity was still stolen.

How did it happen? CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports.

People can be lulled into a false sense of security by some of the claims these services make.

After the Target breach, 3 million customers signed up for ID theft protection services Target offered from ProtectMyID. Walters was one of them, saying he would try it for a year and then reassess whether he still needed it.

"It just went bad, really bad – fast," he says.

Identity thieves charged $1,400 at one department store and $6,000 more on two credit cards they opened in Walters name.

Walters says he got no alerts from ProtectMyID.

"They said we don't see anything. And I was just flabbergasted. I was like, 'What do you mean you don't see anything. How could you not see anything? There's two accounts open. There's charges on them, and you see nothing?'"

The service didn't see anything, apparently, because the free protection package Target paid for only monitored credit bureau reports from one company: Experian, the company that operates ProtectMyID.

"That is the biggest hole in this net," says William Kresse of Governors State University, an anti-fraud authority. "Some of these credit protection services only use one of the three credit reporting services."

"The bad guys are smart. If they know that Target's customers are only protected by Experian, they're going to take those stolen IDs  and apply for credit cards from companies they know are using the other two credit card monitoring services," he adds.

The Consumer Federation of America evaluated ID theft protection services, pointing out concerns that include claiming to be able to stop or prevent ID theft.

ProtectMyID boasts it can "stop identity theft in its tracks."

"There was no help combatting anything," Walters says.

Experian says it takes consumer concerns very seriously and there was no sign of an error in the Walters case.

Target says it gave customers thorough information about its protection package, but declined to say how many complaints it has gotten.

The Consumer Federation of America has advice on how to avoid ID theft.

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