What is the best way to prevent identity theft?

There are various services (I think Lifelock is one) that supposedly make it impossible for you to be a victim in the first place. How reliable are these places? How do they prevent identity theft? What is the best service to use?

Also, there is a section on the credit report, that shows all credit cards you have had going back years. Do these eventually get wiped off your record (they all have {content}.00 balances)?

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