Victims of identity theft should put a fraud alert on their credit report as soon as they learn that their identity has been compromised. There are two kinds of fraud alerts. One lasts 90 days while the other lasts 7 years, a necessary action for many identity theft victims. It is important to know how to request one of these alerts to keep your credit from being harmed further by identity theft.
A 7-year fraud alert, or extended fraud alert, will be on your credit report for seven years, and you must have proof that you are a victim of identity theft before you can file this type of alert. An extended fraud alert lets creditors know that they should contact you by phone before they allow any new accounts to be opened in your name.
TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are the three credit reporting agencies that can place extended alerts on your credit report. To begin filing an extended fraud alert, you must first be able to prove that you are a victim of identity theft, usually via a police or FTC report. Next, you should contact each of the credit agencies via phone and let them know that you wish to file for an extended fraud alert. Usually, there is an automated message that asks for your information and phone number. The Equifax and Experian credit bureaus both allow identity theft victims to file for a fraud alert online. A confirmation letter will be sent to you in the mail if you are approved.
After an extended fraud alert has been placed on your account, you will receive calls from creditors every time you or anyone else applies for a credit card or opens a new account with a company using your information. This keeps identity thieves from opening accounts without your approval. If you do get a phone call from a creditor for an account that you did not open yourself, never authorize it. Instead, contact police and file a complaint with the FTC letting them know that you are still being victimized by identity theft.
An extended fraud alert is a must for every victim of identity theft, as it can prevent thieves from using a victim’s information to open any more fraudulent accounts. Filing an extended fraud alert is a fairly simple process, but you must have proof that you are indeed a victim of identity theft before you can be approved.