Tag Archives: Equifax

How to Place a Fraud Alert

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.
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What is a Credit Freeze or Security Freeze?

Credit FreezeIf you’ve been the victim of identity theft, a credit freeze is one of the best ways to stop additional fraud in its tracks.

A credit freeze effectively “seals” your credit reports with a personal identification number (PIN) so that only you, and those you give that PIN to, can access your reports. With a fraud alert, whether it’s the shorter 90-day version or the much longer 7-year variety, creditors are simply warned that they should be doing a little more diligence before extending you credit. It results in a little more work on your part, asking for information that, hopefully, an identity thief doesn’t have.
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Review Your Credit Reports Every Year

CreditJavelin Strategies reported that of the 11.1 million consumers experiencing identity theft fraud in 2009, it took an average of 21 hours to resolve them. Part of the reason it takes so long has to do with when people discover the theft in the first place. If you discover someone has stolen your identity because a debt collector is calling, you have many sleepless nights ahead of you. This underscores the importance of checking your credit report every single year. Like an annual physical, checking your credit report will serve as an early detection alarm if you have been the victim of identity theft.
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