Last updated: December 07, 2020
If you want to protect your credit report from fraud, you can file a fraud alert with the big three credit bureaus.
What is a Fraud Alert?
When you file a fraud alert, it places a note on your credit report that informs a lender that there may be fraud involved with your credit and requires them to take additional steps to verify your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional credit card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account.
Types of Fraud Alerts
There are two types of fraud alerts for most consumers:
- Initial Fraud Alert
- Extended Fraud Alert
Members of the military on can also file an Active Duty Fraud Alert.
Initial Fraud Alert
An initial fraud alert lasts up to 1 year unless you remove it sooner. An initial fraud alert requires the creditor take steps to make sure the person making a new credit application is actually you. If you provide a telephone number in your fraud alert, the lender must call you or take reasonable steps to verify whether you are the person making the credit request.
When you place an initial fraud alert in your file, you’re entitled to order one free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau. This free report does not count as your free annual report from each bureau.
Because a fraud alert requires creditors to take additional measures to confirm your identity the alert may delay your ability to credit.
Extended Fraud Alert
You can place an extended alert on your credit report after you file an identity theft report when your identity has been stolen. An extended alert remains on your credit report for seven years. Once you’ve filed this type of alert, your name will be removed from prescreened offers of credit or insurance for five years.
An extended alert requires that the creditor contact you by the telephone number or another contact method you specify to verify whether you are the person making the request for credit.
After you place an extended fraud alert, you are also entitled to order two free copies of your credit report from each nationwide credit reporting company in the next 12 months. These free reports do not count as your free annual report from each credit reporting company.
Active Duty Fraud Alert
Members of the military can file this type of fraud alert if they wish to avoid the risk of identity theft while on active deployment. An Active Duty Fraud Alert lasts for one year, and can be renewed again.
As with the other alerts, an Active Duty Fraud Alert requires the creditor take steps to make sure the person making a new credit application is actually you. The lender must call you or take reasonable steps to verify whether you are the person making the credit request.
How to File a Fraud Alert
You can place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or Transunion).
|Equifax Fraud Department||888-766-0008||Equifax Consumer Fraud Division, PO Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374||www.alerts.equifax.com|
|Experian Fraud Department||888-397-3742||Experian, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013||www.experian.com/fraud/center.html|
|Transunion Fraud Department||800-680-7289||TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016||www.transunion.com/fraud-victim-resource/place-fraud-alert|
When you contact one bureau, they are required to contact the other two credit bureaus to inform them to place fraud alerts on those credit reports as well.
Removing a Fraud Alert
You can update or remove your fraud alert by contacting any one of the three big credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, or Transunion by phone or mail.
In order to update your fraud alert over the phone, you will need to answer questions in order to verify your identity. If you are unable to answer those questions, they will likely request you send a request by mail with documents to prove your identity.
If you make your request by mail you will need to provide supporting documents to establish:
- Your identity, such as a driver’s license, passport, state ID, or military ID.
- Your address, such as a utility bill, phone bill, pay stub, or rental agreement.