Identity Theft

What is a fraud alert?

Once you have reported identity theft, you can ask the three major credit reporting agencies to place an extended fraud alert on your credit file. The alert will last for up to seven years, and it lets potential creditors or lenders know that you have been a victim of identity theft so they can help protect you.

Once this fraud alert is in place, you are allowed to receive two free credit reports annually from each of the credit reporting agencies. The credit reporting agencies will also remove your name from the list for receiving prescreened credit offers for five years. You may remove the fraud alert at any time.

If you think your information may be exposed and you're vulnerable to fraud, but you haven't suffered any losses yet, apply an initial fraud alert as a pre-emptive measure. A recent amendment of the Fair Credit Reporting Act extended the initial fraud time period from ninety days to one year. You'll receive one free credit report from each of the agencies as part of your alert.

An active-duty alert is a form of initial fraud alert designed for active-duty military members. It has always lasted for one year and was created because of the added difficulty of detecting, documenting, and correcting fraudulent activity when you're on active-duty status. The recent change extends the same time courtesy to all Americans.

When you're a confirmed victim of fraud, you may apply an extended fraud alert that lasts for seven years. To confirm the losses, you'll need to file a police report with your local law enforcement agency or file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).


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