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  • Writer's pictureAntonio Buchanan

“What are Fraud Alerts?”

10 Tips To Prevent Credit Fraud

If you’ve been the victim of identity theft or fraud, you can contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit reports, giving potential lenders and creditors a heads-up 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 the reports that you may be a victim of fraud or identity theft. This alerts creditors and lenders that they should perform more-thorough vetting — such as calling to check whether you’re actually at a particular store trying to take out new credit — when verifying your identity before extending credit in your name.

Here’s what you should know about the different types of fraud alerts, how to place an alert on your credit reports, when you should place one, and if an alert can affect your credit scores.

Types of fraud alerts

There are two main types of fraud alerts you can place in your credit reports:

initial fraud alerts and extended alerts.

The initial fraud alert expires after 90 days. Once it expires, the credit bureaus will automatically remove it from your reports. After the initial fraud alert is removed, you can then request another 90-day fraud alert if you think you’re still at risk for identity theft.

An extended fraud alert can last seven years and can only be placed on your credit reports after your identity has been stolen and you’ve filed an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission.

Sometimes you’ll also need to file a report with local law enforcement. With an extended alert, a creditor must contact you in person or through your designated contact method to make sure that you’re actually the person trying to request credit.

How to place a fraud alert on your credit reports

Here are the steps you can take to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

1. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus. (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion)

2. Request the right action.

3. Obtain a free credit report.

4. Let the fraud alert expire or remove it early if it’s no longer necessary.

5. Renew the fraud alert or request a different type if necessary.

Will a fraud alert affect my credit scores?

“A fraud alert does not have any impact on a consumer’s credit rating,” Danaher says.

However, the alert can sometimes delay certain credit applications until your identity can be verified.

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