It’s worth considering placing a fraud alert if you’re concerned about identity theft but haven’t yet become a victim (e.g. your wallet or purse was lost/stolen, your phone or computer was hacked into, or you gave out your personally identifying information to someone you do not know well, etc.), or immediately upon finding out that you may be a victim of identity theft. Fraud alerts, which are free to consumers, inform businesses to take extra care before issuing new credit in your name. You may also want to place a fraud alert if your personal information was exposed in a data breach.
When placing a fraud alert on your credit reports it is important to know that there are two types: an initial fraud alert (good for 1 year) and an extended fraud alert (good for 7 years). Any adult can place an initial fraud alert on their credit report, but generally only victims of identity theft, with proof (a police report or an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit), can file an extended fraud alert.
It is best to contact each major credit report agency (CRA) separately to place a fraud alert. You will receive notice that a fraud alert has been placed on your file as well as receive a copy of your credit report so you can check for information that is not yours. When you place an extended alert, you can get two free copies of your credit report within 12 months from each of CRA. The free copy/copies of your report are in addition to the free credit report you can receive from each CRA annually at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Fraud alerts can be renewed when the time frame for the alert is up. Mark your calendar so that you know when to contact the CRA’s again to ensure you are always protected.
For information on filing an initial fraud alert or an extended fraud alert with each CRA:
This fact sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.