You can call up the credit bureaus and put a fraud alert on your account. Once you call one, it will notify the other two and the fraud alert will be active at those bureaus as well. The fraud alert warns a potential creditor to do additional due diligence before extending credit. The idea is that credit reports with a fraud alert have already been compromised so the creditor should do extra work to ensure they are giving credit to the right person. They aren’t required to but they probably will because ultimately they lose money if they give money to a thief.
There are two types of fraud alerts, initial fraud alert and extended fraud alerts. The initial fraud alert stays on file for 90 days while the extended version lasts for 7 years. You will need to confirm your identity to place either but an extended report requires an actual identity theft report (initial 90-day fraud alert doesn’t require this). This will make it more of a hassle to obtain credit (you’ll have to provide more information) but this is one of the things many identity theft services do on your behalf.
Pick one of the bureaus and call them to place a Fraud Alert:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
If you want to remove the fraud alert before the 90 days are up, you will need to send your request in writing. I recommend using the sample form provided by Experian.
- TransUnion, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834.
- Experian, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
- Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348-5069