We have written about the process of requesting a “credit freeze” on your credit file with the big three credit bureaus as a way to protect yourself from someone opening credit accounts in your name. I just read an article from Lending Tree about another credit protection method called a “fraud alert.”
You can call one of the credit bureaus to request a fraud alert if you have had your wallet, driver’s license, social security card or number, or other significant identity documents or information lost or stolen. This includes information that you may have lost due to server breaches by retailers or Equifax, for example.
When you notify the credit bureau of your choice (Experian, Trans Union, or Equifax), they are obligated to notify the other two. Placing a fraud alert on your credit information requires credit card companies, lenders, and car dealers to take extra care to verify the identity of the person applying for credit. This is to ensure that the applicant is really you. A fraud alert lasts 90 days, and can be renewed if you wish. If you are a confirmed victim of identity theft, you can request an extended fraud alert that lasts for seven years. A fraud alert is usually requested if you have been the victim of credit fraud, but you may request one to prevent this from happening as well.
On the other hand, the credit freeze actually prevents the credit bureaus from selling or providing your credit data to credit card marketers or other companies without getting your permission first, via a PIN. This does result in an extra step for you when you apply for credit yourself, you will need to provide your permission before the lender will be able to pull your credit report. Credit freezes last for a year, and can be renewed.
Do you need a fraud alert or credit freeze? You may want to look at some of the article links provided below.
- Lending Tree – Metros with the Most Fraud Alerts
- FTC – Place a Fraud Alert
- Credit Karma – What is Fraud Alert?