How to safeguard your credit with a fraud alert

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No one wants to be a victim of fraud, but unfortunately, it can happen to anyone. If you’ve recently been a victim of identity theft or believe you may be at risk, one of the best things you can do is add a fraud alert to your credit report. Doing so can help prevent further damage and protect your credit score. Here’s a step-by-step guide to adding a fraud alert to your credit report.

What Is a Fraud Alert, and how does it work?

A fraud alert is a notice placed on your credit report that alerts businesses that someone may be using your information illegally. When you place a fraud alert on your credit report, all three nationwide credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) will be notified. They will then set a sign on their versions of your credit report. Anytime someone attempts to open a new account in your name, they will see the fraud alert and take extra steps to verify your identity. 

It’s important to note that a fraud alert is not the same as a credit freeze. A fraud alert allows businesses to see that you may be at risk for identity theft but still allows them to access your credit report. A credit freeze, on the other hand, completely prevents businesses from accessing your credit report. When a creditor sees this notice, they should take extra steps to verify your identity before extending your credit. For example, suppose you apply for a new credit card and have a fraud alert on your credit report. In that case, the issuer may call you directly to verify your information before approving your application.

How to place a fraud alert on your credit file

If you’re interested in adding a fraud alert to your credit report, here are the steps you’ll need to take:

Step 1: Contact One of the Three Major Credit Bureaus

You’ll need to contact one of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion—and request that they place a fraud alert on your credit report. Once you contact one bureau, they are required by law to get the other two. You can contact Experian by calling 1-888-397-3742 or by visiting their website. To reach Equifax, call 1-800-685-1111 or visit their website.TransUnion can be reached by calling 1-800-916-8800 or by visiting their website. Be prepared with the following information when you contact the credit bureau:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Proof of identity (e.g., driver’s license)

Step 2: Choose How Long You Want the Fraud Alert to Last 

You can choose how long you want the fraud alert to last. You can choose between 90 days and seven years. If you choose 90 days, it will automatically expire after that time unless you renew it. If you decide for seven years, it will stay on your credit reports until you remove it yourself.

Step 3: Review Your Credit Reports for Free 

After you’ve added the fraud alert, review your credit reports for any suspicious activity or unauthorized accounts opened in your name. The best way to do this is by requesting free copies of your statements from AnnualCreditReport.com, which you’re entitled to by law once every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—or directly from each bureau if you have an active fraud alert placed on your account with them already (which we’ll discuss shortly). Keep in mind that if there is suspicious activity on just one report, there’s likely fraudulent activity on all three since most lenders check all three when considering borrowers for new lines of credit.

A fraud alert is crucial if you have been the victim of identity theft or fraud. It helps protect you from future fraudulent activity and makes it easier for creditors to spot suspicious activity on your accounts. Taking these steps can help prevent further damage if you’re concerned about identity theft and help protect your good name and credit score. Reviewing your reports regularly is also a good idea even if you don’t have a fraud alert placed since doing so can help catch any suspicious activity early on. Take advantage of our services and we can further guide you through a free consultation. Real Credit Deal is here to help.

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Real Credit Deal is a credit repair company. We help people rebuild their credit, so they can buy the things they need and want in life. Our mission is to educate people about credit, help them understand their credit reports, and provide them with the tools they need to improve their credit scores. We believe everyone deserves a second chance and are here to help people get started on their journey to better credit.

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