With the growing concern over id theft in the United States, many Americans look for ways to guard against a stolen identity, and protect themselves against credit card fraud. By establishing a, “fraud alert”, also known as a, “credit fraud alert” on their credit file, consumers take an important step towards credit and identity protection from thieves. By contacting the 3 credit bureaus, individuals can temporarily put a credit freeze on their credit files, barring unwanted access by criminals.
3 Major Fraud Alert Requests
When an individual has been a victim of identity theft, (or suspects they have been a victim of theft) they can request an alert be issued for their credit files. The fraud alert essentially alerts lenders to the fact that they have been previously victimized by id theft and should be notified any time a request has been made to view their credit files, http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert.
Currently there are three major types of alerts available for consumers to request through the credit bureaus, either online or through credit bureau telephone numbers. Each of these fraud alerts provides the consumer with protection from unwanted or unsolicited use of credit files. Although each generally works the same way, the term for which the alert is active is different.
90-Day Fraud Alert
Consumers can request a 90-day fraud alert at the time they first suspect they have been a victim of identity theft. They may also issue an alert if an individual has breached a secured site that contains their information, such as an insurance company or creditor. Consumers may request a 90-day fraud alert if their wallet has been lost or stolen as well.
The fraud alert is a temporary, three-month measure that requires credit bureau subscribers such as, banks and credit card companies to contact the consumer individually when anyone requests credit in their name. If the consumer does not verify that the request is valid, the identity thief will not have access to new accounts and credit in general.
Extended Fraud Alert
An extended fraud alert through the major credit bureaus can remain on a consumer credit file for up to seven years. The fraud alert requires that a creditor must contact the consumer via telephone to verify the legitimacy of a request for credit. In order to request a fraud alert for an extended period, an individual must provide the credit bureaus with a police report that can prove identity theft. In conjunction with an extended fraud alert, the consumer’s name will automatically be removed from lists for five years that allow prescreened offers for credit and insurance to be sent to them.
Active Duty Alert
Persons in the U.S. military on active duty may request an active duty alert through the credit bureaus. This alert remains in place for a period of 12 months. Automatically, the military member’s name will be removed from any lists for prescreened offers for credit or insurance for two years as well.
Credit Bureau Phone Numbers To Request Fraud Alerts
Consumer Fraud Division
Phone: 800-525-6285 or: 404-885-8000
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian’s National Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634-6790
Identity theft and fraud wreaks havoc in the lives of millions of people every year. In 2013, financial losses from identity crimes have totaled over 21 billion dollars already. Credit monitoring services can help provide an added layer of credit protection for accounts and personal information by alerting you to changes in credit scores or credit history.