How to Get a Free Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

By Dr Penny Pincher on 28 February 2018 0 comments

Placing a fraud alert on your credit report makes it harder for someone to steal your identity and open credit accounts in your name. If you have a fraud alert in place, businesses must confirm with you before issuing any new credit, typically by calling you at a provided phone number.

Unlike credit monitoring or simply watching your statements for suspicious activity, placing a fraud alert on your credit report is a preventive measure. It cuts fraudulent activity off at the pass, before it can impact your credit. Fraud alerts provide less protection than a credit freeze, which prevents anyone from seeing your credit report without your permission, but are typically more convenient; fraud alerts are free and don't have to be lifted every time you apply for new credit. (See also: How to Freeze Your Credit)

The credit reporting companies provide three types of fraud alerts, each with different requirements to qualify and that stay on your credit report for different durations. Here are the types of fraud alerts you can request:

  • Initial fraud alert (90 days).

  • Extended fraud alert (seven years).

  • Active duty military alert (one year).

If you get a fraud alert from one credit reporting company, this company will share the fraud alert with the other credit reporting companies. Contact one of the three credit reporting companies listed below and provide the requested information to open a fraud alert:

How to get an initial fraud alert (90 days)

If you are concerned that your personal information may have been stolen, but it has not yet been used to open a fraudulent account, you can place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Here are some circumstances where you might want to get an initial fraud alert:

  • You have been notified that your personal information was involved in a data breach.

  • Your purse, wallet, or financial documents have been lost or stolen.

An initial fraud alert is the easiest type of fraud alert to get. You will be asked to provide proof of your identity, such as a copy of your driver’s license, and a copy of a utility bill or bank account statement.

An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days and can be renewed for 90 days at a time. When you get an initial fraud alert, you are allowed to order one free credit report from all three credit reporting companies. (See also: Here's What to Do Immediately After a Credit Card Breach)

How to get an extended fraud alert (seven years)

If your personal information has been used to open a fraudulent account, you may want to file an extended fraud alert. This means that your personal information is in the hands of criminals who are using it for identity theft. Here are some situations where you may want to request an extended fraud alert:

  • Your credit report shows a new account that you didn’t open.

  • You get a statement in the mail for a credit account you don’t recognize.

  • You get a tax refund or tax statement that is not consistent with your tax filings.

You will again be asked to provide proof of identity and a copy of a utility bill or bank statement, plus a police report or other identity theft report that provides specific details about how your identity was misused. Having your personal information exposed in a data breach is not sufficient to get an extended fraud alert. You need to show that someone has used your personal information for fraudulent purposes.

An extended fraud alert stays on your credit report for seven years and you are allowed to order two free credit reports from all three credit reporting companies in the first year. In addition, your name is removed from prescreened credit card offers for five years. (See also: 9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen)

How to get an active duty military alert (one year)

If you are serving in the military and will be deployed, you can request an active duty military alert on your credit report. This alert makes it harder for identity thieves to open fraudulent accounts during a deployment when identity theft may go unnoticed for a long time. You will be asked to provide proof of your identity when requesting an active duty military alert.

Active duty military alerts stay on your credit report for one year, and can be renewed if the period of deployment is longer. An active duty military alert also takes your name off the list for prescreened credit card offers for two years to provide further protection against identity theft.

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How to Get a Free Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

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