You cannot know when you might become a victim of fraud or identity theft, but you can be prepared to act. When you suspect you have been victimized, the first thing to do is to contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. That credit bureau is then required to notify the other two.
What is a Fraud Alert?
A fraud alert is a notification in your credit reports that alerts anyone reviewing your reports that you may have been a victim of fraud or identity theft. It indicates the need for extra measures to be taken in vetting any requests for credit.
A fraud alert remains active for 90 days, after which it expires unless you request another 90-day alert if you feel you are still at risk. If you know for certain you have been victimized by fraud or identity theft, you can request an extended credit reporting alert, which remains in effect for seven years.
You can also request a credit freeze, which prevents lenders from even checking your credit reports. This is a stricter action that prevents you or others from opening a new credit account. If you want to open a new credit account, you can ask the credit bureaus to temporarily lift the freeze.
Take Immediate Action
Even if you do not know for sure, but you think you have been victimized, there is no time to waste. Contact one of the three credit bureaus immediately:
Equifax Online or call 1-888-836-6351
Experian Online or call 1-888-397-3742
Transunion Online or call1-800-680-7289
You can also use these companies to check your FICO score online. Read more here.
About This Author
Alpine Bank Staff
Alpine Bank is an independent, employee-owned organization with headquarters in Glenwood Springs and banking offices across Colorado’s Western Slope, mountains and Front Range.
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