A fraud alert is a statement that is placed on a credit bureau report that is intended to help consumers who have been a victim, or may have been a victim, of identity theft. A fraud alert is designed to stop an identity thief from using your personal information to open fraudulent credit accounts in your name. When a creditor or business reviews a credit report in which a fraud alert has been placed, they are prompted to verify the identity of the applicant using the information listed on the report. This may result in the creditor or business calling you directly or sending a letter or inquiry prior to granting the credit application. For this reason it is important to make sure your contact information is current on your credit report.
To place or rescind a credit bureau fraud alert, you need to contact only one of the three nationwide credit bureaus. By law, the credit bureaus are required to share fraud alert requests with the other bureaus. You will be required to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number, name, address and other personal information the credit reporting company requests.
There are two types of credit bureau fraud alerts—an “initial alert” and an “extended alert.”
- Initial Fraud Alert: An initial fraud alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you suspect or believe your identity has been or will be compromised. By requesting an initial fraud alert you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. The initial fraud alert will last for one year. It may be placed by calling one of the three nationwide credit bureaus.
- Extended Fraud Alert: An extended fraud alert is for a consumer who knows that he or she is a victim of identity theft. To place an extended fraud alert, you will be required to provide the credit bureau with a copy of an identity theft report, such as a police report, and appropriate proof of your identity as mentioned above. The extended fraud alert lasts seven years. By requesting an extended fraud alert, you are entitled to two free credit reports within 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. Additionally, with the extended fraud alert, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for prescreened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then.
Here is the contact information for the three national credit bureaus: