Have you ever suspected that your personal information was compromised or your identity was stolen? Placing a fraud alert on your credit report can provide an extra layer of protection if you believe you may be at risk of credit fraud or identity theft.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll walk you step-by-step through how to place and remove fraud alerts with each major credit bureau. I‘ll also provide important information on the different types of fraud alerts, when you may need them, and how long they last.
As an experienced online privacy and security writer, I know that situations like data breaches, lost wallets, and suspicious activity often leave people wondering if they should place a fraud alert for protection. My goal is to explain the ins and outs of fraud alerts in a way that provides clarity and helps you make the best decision for your situation.
Let‘s get started!
What is a Fraud Alert?
A fraud alert is a notification added to your credit report that requires lenders to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing new lines of credit or loans in your name. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), this makes it much harder for identity thieves to open fraudulent new accounts.
There are three main types of fraud alerts:
- Initial Fraud Alert: For when you suspect you may be a victim of identity theft. Lasts for one year.
- Extended Fraud Alert: For when you‘ve been an identity theft victim and have an Identity Theft Report or police report to back it up. Lasts for seven years.
- Active Duty Military Fraud Alert: For active duty service members who are deployed/relocated. Lasts for one year.
Fraud alerts do not prevent access to your credit report. Instead, they require creditors to verify your identity before issuing new credit lines, often by contacting you directly.
This added verification step makes fraud alerts useful for:
- After a major data breach that exposed your information
- If your wallet/documents were lost or stolen
- When suspicious activity appears on your statements
- Before a long trip when mail theft is a risk
- For deployed military members
Now let‘s go over step-by-step how to place fraud alerts.
How to Place a Fraud Alert
Placing a fraud alert is free and fast – it can be done in just a few minutes online or by phone. Here are the step-by-step instructions for each major credit bureau:
Place a Fraud Alert with Experian
- Visit Experian‘s fraud alert webpage and click "Add a Fraud Alert".
- Select the type of alert you need – initial, extended, or active duty.
- Provide your personal information like name, address, SSN, and date of birth.
- Add contact details for verification purposes.
- Agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Submit.
Experian will provide a confirmation number for your records if the fraud alert is placed successfully.
Place a Fraud Alert with TransUnion
- Go to TransUnion‘s fraud alert webpage and click “Add Fraud Alert.”
- Choose the type of alert you need and create an account if you don‘t have one.
- Enter your personal information and contact details.
You‘ll receive confirmation when your alert is added. You can also call 1-800-680-7289.
Place a Fraud Alert with Equifax
- Visit Equifax‘s fraud alert webpage and click “Place An Alert.”
- Select the type of alert you need and create an Equifax account if needed.
- Provide your info and contact details.
Equifax will confirm your fraud alert is set. You can also call 1-888-766-0008.
Important: Placing an alert with any ONE bureau triggers notification and alerts placed at the other two.
Now let‘s go over how long fraud alerts last.
How Long Do Fraud Alerts Last?
Here is the duration for each type of fraud alert:
|Fraud Alert Type||Length of Time Active|
|Active Duty Military||1 year|
The clock starts from the date you initially placed the fraud alert.
According to the FTC, the bureaus must notify you before your fraud alert expires. You can renew fraud alerts indefinitely by contacting the bureaus again as needed.
Placing a new alert will replace any current alert. It‘s smart to track your alert expiration dates and renew promptly for ongoing protection.
How to Remove a Fraud Alert
If you no longer feel you need fraud alert protection, you can remove the alerts from your credit report. Here are the steps for each bureau:
Remove Experian Fraud Alert
- Online: Log in to your account and click “Remove this Fraud Alert”
- Phone: Call 1-888-397-3742 and provide your information
Remove TransUnion Fraud Alert
- Online: Log in to your account, go to “Fraud Alerts” and click "Remove Alert"
- Phone: Call 1-800-680-7289 and say “remove fraud alert” when prompted
Remove Equifax Fraud Alert
- Phone: Call 1-800-525-6285 and request removal
- Mail: Send written, signed removal request to Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348
Once removed from one bureau, the alerts will be taken off your credit report at the other two agencies as well.
Fraud Alert FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Do you need to contact all three bureaus separately?
No, alerting just one bureau notifies the other two to add fraud alerts automatically.
What’s the difference between a fraud alert and credit freeze?
Fraud alerts add identity verification steps for new credit lines. Freezes restrict access to your credit report which blocks new accounts.
Is there a fee for fraud alerts?
No, it’s free to place, renew, and remove fraud alerts with all three major bureaus.
Can I renew fraud alerts?
Yes, you can renew fraud alerts indefinitely by contacting the bureaus before your current alert expires.
If my identity was stolen, should I get a new SSN?
In most cases, no – getting a new SSN should be a last resort option. Fraud alerts and credit freezes provide substantial protection against identity theft.
What information do I need to place a fraud alert?
Be prepared to provide your name, SSN, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address when placing a fraud alert.
I hope this guide provided you with a clear, in-depth understanding of how to properly place and remove fraud alerts with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out! Wishing you the best in protecting your identity and financial information.