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Do You Need Fraud Alert?

Identity Theft

If you discover you’re a victim of credit fraud or identity theft, the first thing you’ll want to do is to place a fraud alert on your credit file. A fraud alert will serve as a message to any potential lenders that they need to verify your identity first. This will lessen the likelihood of someone fraudulently obtaining credit by using your personal information. It’s important to be aware that a fraud alert is only applicable for 90 days. After the initial 90 days you’ll need to renew the alert on your account. If you can definitively prove that you have been a victim of fraud, you can also apply for an extended seven year alert.

Adding a Fraud Alert to Your Credit Report

Each of the big three credit reporting agencies claims to report fraud alert information to the other agencies once you contact them, but this is something that you shouldn’t take for granted, so it’s a good idea to contact each agency yourself to place a fraud alert on your record. If you find you want to remove the alert, you will need to put it in writing. Since you’ll need to include your personal information, including date of birth and social security number, you’ll want to ensure the security of your letter so you should send it by certified mail. You might even want to follow up with a call to make sure the letter arrived safely.

Is There a Downside to a Fraud Alert?

You may wonder if placing a fraud alert on your account will have a negative impact on your credit record. The answer is, in some small ways, yes. You won’t be able to get instant credit for some purchases, since you’ll first need to verify that you’re you. You might have to wait a day or two for that big ticket item but the wait is well worth it when it comes to protecting your credit. Also in most cases an alert is only temporary.

It’s important to act quickly if you discover discrepancies in your monthly statements or on your credit report. You may be dealing with credit card fraud or identity theft. By putting a fraud alert on your credit report, you’re taking one of the first important steps in keeping the damage to a minimum.

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