If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, you need take action quickly. One of the first steps you should take is to place an initial fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three national credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
When you have a fraud alert on your credit report, a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit. This puts up a huge obstacle for any identity thieves trying to open an account using your name. The initial report stays on your credit report for 90 days, and it also allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
The best part about placing a fraud alert on your credit report is that the process is pretty straightforward. The following steps will show you what to do.
1. Contact one of the three credit reporting agencies
It actually doesn’t matter which credit reporting agency you call, since any one of the big three is required to let the other two know you’ve put a fraud alert on your account. The contact information for each agency is:
When you make the call, you’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number, the numbers in your mailing address, and your birthdate. Once that has been done, confirm that the other two agencies will be contacted as well.
You’ll also want to make sure the credit agency you call has your current contact information. Review your contact information with them after you’ve placed the fraud alert on your account.
2. Learn about your rights
The credit reporting agency will explain that you can get a free credit report, and other rights you have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
3. Mark your calendar
The initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days before expiring automatically. You can renew it, but you’ll need to remind yourself.
It’s worth noting that if you’ve created an Identity Theft Report, you can get an extended fraud alert placed on your credit file. The extended fraud alert lasts for seven years, but it is only available once you’ve filled out the Identity Theft Report.
4. Update your files
Once you’re finished, record the dates you made calls or sent letters. Keep copies of the letters in your files.
You’ll also want to contact the other two credit agencies and make sure they have your current contact information. While you’re at it, you should also make sure you contact your other financial institutions and make sure they have your most current contact information as well.
Want to know more about protecting your identity? Watch First Alliance Credit Union President and CEO Mike Rosek discussing identity theft on KIMT.
Protect Your Identity With First Alliance Credit Union
While placing an initial fraud alert on your credit report is a good way to prevent identity thieves from taking out money in your name, preventing identity theft before it starts is even better. First Alliance Credit Union offers several services to help keep your identity safe, from discounts on LegalShield Identity Theft Protection coverage to First Alliance's new My Cards protection service, which lets you ensure your credit cards and debit cards are only used in the ways you authorize.
Contact a First Alliance Member Advisor today and learn more about what we can do for you.