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How to Place a Fraud Alert on Credit Reports

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A fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name.

When you have a fraud alert on your report:

  • a business must verify your identity before it issues any type of credit
  • the alerts stay on your report for one year.
  • you can get a new one after one year.
  • it allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus

Be sure the credit bureaus have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you.

3 Steps to Place a Fraud Alert

  1. Placing a fraud alert is free, but you must contact a credit bureau.
    • Ask the credit bureau to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
    • The credit bureau you contact will then contact the other two credit bureaus.
    • Be sure the credit bureaus have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you if necessary.
  2. The credit bureau will explain that you can get a free credit report and other rights you have.
  3. Mark your calendar and set a reminder. The fraud alert stays on your report for one year. You can request another new fraud alert after one year.

It’s important to place a fraud alert on all three credit reports when you discover you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud.

Follow this step to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Place a Fraud Alert with a Credit Bureau

Contact one of the nationwide credit reporting bureaus and place a fraud alert in your credit report:

  • Equifax, 800-525-6285
  • Experian, 888-397-3742
  • TransUnion, 800-680-7289

When you place a fraud alert on one credit report with a credit bureau, it must notify the others. A fraud alert requires creditors who check your credit report to take steps to verify your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account based on a consumer’s request.

Want to be proactive? Monitor your credit reports using a credit monitoring service or enroll in a paid ID theft insurance plan.

2 Types of Fraud Alerts

There are two main types of fraud alerts: initial fraud alerts and extended alerts.

Initial fraud alerts

You can place an initial fraud alert on your credit report if you believe you might become a victim. Credit reporting companies will keep that alert on your file for 90 days. An initial fraud alert requires that the creditor take reasonable steps to form a reasonable belief that they know the identity of the person making a new credit request in your name. If you provide a telephone number, the lender must call you 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 of the nationwide credit reporting companies. When you place an extended fraud alert in your file, you’re entitled to order two free copies of your credit report from each nationwide credit reporting company over a 12 month period. These free reports do not count as your free annual report from each agency.

Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for:

  • Accounts you did not open.
  • Information about the status of the accounts and whether the account balances appear correct.
  • Outstanding balances on your reports that you cannot explain.
  • Incorrect personal information, such as your Social Security number, address, name or initials, and employers.

If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, contact the credit bureau to have it removed by filing a dispute.

Extended alerts

You can place an extended alert on your credit report after your identity has been stolen. You must file either a police report or an “identity theft report” with a government agency such as the Federal Trade Commission. An extended alert is good for seven years. An extended alert requires that the creditor contact you in person or through the telephone number or other contact method you designate to verify whether you are the person making the credit request.

Jason Vitug

Jason is the founder of phroogal, creator of the award winning project Road to Financial Wellness, and author of the bestseller and New York Times reviewed book, You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life.

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