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Technology can be a beautiful thing. The internet can give you access to the world.
We can shop for anything online so as long as we have a payment method to make purchases. While PayPal is certainly popular, many people use their credit cards online to buy products and services.
Shopping online is simple and easy, but it can be dangerous.
Anytime you’re adding your personal information online, there’s always a risk of your information falling into the wrong hands. The more you use your credit cards online, the higher your chances for being a victim of credit fraud.
While consumers look for the very best security software on the market and lenders have improved security, things can happen.
If you’re anything like our community here at Credit Shout, you care deeply about your credit. Credit fraud can cause havoc on your credit in a very short window and you could spend years trying to correct everything.
For those of you that have already been a victim of identity theft or fraud, you know how negative it can be.
We don’t want that for you, we want to help you avoid identity theft and fraud. While you can never be 100 percent safe, there’s a lot you can do if something has happened.
If you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft recently, you can contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
This gives your potential lenders and creditors a warning that someone may try to fraudulently use your identity to apply for a line of credit.
A fraud alert is a statement in your credit reports that alerts anyone reviewing your credit reports that you may be a victim of fraud or identity theft. This tells creditors and lenders that they need to perform more-thorough vetting for the application.
This may include calling to see if you’re actually the person at the store right now trying to get new credit. They can ask for an ID, mailing address, social security number, etc.
As it pertains to fraud alerts, there’s different types you need to become familiar with. We’ll also show you how to file a fraud alert and how it relates to your credit scores.
- Initial Fraud Alert
- Extended Fraud Alert
The initial fraud alert will expire after 90 days. When it does expire, the credit bureaus will remove the initial fraud alerts from your credit report. After it expires, if you feel you’re still at risk, you can start a new 90 day fraud alert.
The extended fraud alert can last as long as 7 years. This particular fraud alert can only put on your credit report after you’ve been a victim of identity theft or fraud, as well only after you’ve filed with the Federal Trade Commission.
In some cases, you’ll be required to file a low police report too. With this extended fraud alert, creditors must contact you in person or through your designated contact method of choice.
How To Place A Fraud Alert On Credit Reports
Here’s the exact steps to take to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
- You will want to contact all 3 major credit bureaus.
- Make sure you request the right action (more on this soon).
- Get your free credit report.
- Allow the fraud alert to expire or remove it (if the threat is over).
- Renew your fraud alert and request a different type as needed.
(1) Contacting The Major Credit Bureaus
You can request a fraud alert be added via online or over the phone.
You must contact one of the 3 major credit bureaus, which are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can find their phone numbers below.
(2) Requesting The Right Action
While there’s only a few options to choose (90 Days or 7 Years), you do want to make sure you choose the right one.
If you haven’t been a victim of identity theft or fraud yet, you’ll need to set up the initial fraud alert. You’ll still be able to apply for new credit with this, just expect more due diligence due to it.
This is not the same as a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze. This prevents lenders from having the means to open new credit.
With this, you wouldn’t be able to open any new accounts.
(3) Get Your Free Credit Report
You can receive a free credit report from each credit bureau after you file an initial fraud alert. With the extended alert, you can get 2 free reports.
Take advantage of it and start monitoring your credit closely. If you haven’t yet, get signed up for some type of credit monitoring service too.
(4) Allow The Fraud Alert To Expire Or Remove It
If you no longer your initial fraud alert, you can ask for it to be removed prior to the 90 day period.
The only reason to remove it is that your 100 percent confident everything is fine. If there’s any doubt at all, let it run its course.
(5) Renew Your Fraud Alert
Once 90 days have passed, you have the right to set up another fraud alert that will also last 90 days. If needed, you can go ahead and request an extended fraud alert.
In order to do this, you will need to create an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission.
Should I Place A Fraud Alert?
When should you place a fraud alert on your credit report? We recommend at the first sign that identity theft or fraud has occurred.
Even with a fraud alert, identity theft can still happen.
Now, fraud alerts won’t impact your credit scores. It can cause delays on credit decisions from lenders, but it won’t hurt your credit scores.
At the very least, a fraud alert is a first layer of defence to protecting your identity and credit. If you’re concerned, you need to go a step further.
Get identity theft and fraud protection.