Credit Reports: What Is a Fraud Alert?
A fraud alert is a notation put on a consumer's credit report indicating that there has been suspicious or fraudulent activity or the consumer has been a victim of identity theft. If someone has obtained or tried to obtain credit in your name, the three credit bureaus recommend that you immediately notify them -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- and have a fraud alert put on your credit report.
There are several different fraud alerts available to consumers. If you are a victim of identity theft, you can put a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report by contacting any one of the three credit reporting agencies (credit bureaus). You only have to place a fraud alert with one of the three credit bureaus and they will, in turn, notify the other two credit bureaus.
To extend the fraud alert beyond 90 days, you must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies. If you file a police report indicating that you have been the victim of identity theft, you can put a fraud alert on your credit report lasting seven years.
Many people in the military are victims of identity theft. While they are away, friends, family members and strangers take advantage of them by using their social security number to obtain credit. There is a military "active duty alert" that consumers can place on their credit reports to try and prevent this.
You can place a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting any one of the three major credit reporting agencies:
Unfortunately, a fraud alert might not prevent thieves from obtaining credit in your name since so many in the lending industry are very eager to issue loans and credit and they hastily approve credit applications without properly investigating. Some lenders just ignore fraud alerts completely.
A credit freeze is a much more effective way of protecting your credit rating and preventing thieves from obtaining loans and credit in your name, but there is a negative side to a security freeze.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports by Mail:
TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Could not find a mailing address specific to fraud alerts (but you can request a fraud alert at their website, experian.com)