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Credit Fraud Alert - What Are Credit Fraud Alerts

report identity bureaus theft

Your credit is extremely important. The information in your credit report determines what loans you can qualify for and what interest rates you’ll receive. It can determine if you get a job, land an apartment, or qualify to purchase a car. Maintaining an accurate credit report is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, obstacles outside of your control can pose a threat to your credit.

Nowadays, identity theft is becoming more and more prevalent. With only basic information about you, someone can apply for credit in your name that can cause long lasting problems in the future. If you ever find yourself the victim of an identity theft, or if you feel like you have a cause for concern, credit fraud alerts are an option for you to consider.

Credit fraud alerts are available with all three of the credit bureaus. A credit fraud alert informs potential creditors that you may have been the victim of identity theft. This will show up to them as they run your credit, and requires that they verify for your identity. This is usually done by calling your phone and speaking to you. Adding credit fraud alerts is free and easy. You only need to notify one of the three credit bureaus. That bureau will notify the other two, so that if you call Equifax, they will inform Experian and Transunion. Credit fraud alerts typically last 90 days, but you can expand them if you need. Extended credit fraud alerts will remain on your report for seven years. These usually require proof of victimization, such as a police report. Other services such as credit monitoring also include regular fraud protection. Credit monitoring will alert you any time there is a change or inquiry on your credit report.

Adding credit fraud alerts likely means you won’t be able to get instant credit, such as being approved for a credit card online. That’s a small price to pay though if you want to protect your identity and stop someone from driving your credit score down. Placing credit fraud alerts on your reports entitles you to one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. This can help you verify that the information on your report is correct at the time you place the fraud alert as well as let you see if any fraudulent activity has taken place. Credit bureaus may not come out and tell you that you have this option. However, potential fraud is one of the government guidelines for allowing you to obtain a free copy of your credit report.

Credit fraud alerts are something you should definitely explore if you are a victim of identity theft, rather it be the result of a mugging or a lost wallet. If you do lose your wallet or a social security card, it’s a good idea to file a police report so that you can have an extended alert if you feel you need it. If you have other reasons to worry, such as leaving your computer on or you feel someone is looking over your shoulder at the grocery store, it might be a good idea to notify a credit bureau and place a credit fraud alert. It’s a small inconvenience for protection that can save you a lot of money and aggravation.

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