Have you ever seen a charge that you doubt isn’t yours? If your answer is yes, then you must know all about a fraud alert. If you have been a victim of an identity theft or fear to become one, you can place a fraud alert on your credit report which adds a layer of protection on your credit. Here is a know-it-all guide to help you know all about credit card fraud alert.
What Is Fraud Alert On Credit Card?
The fraud alert is a service offered to the citizens of the United States under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act. Under this service, people of the United States can place a fraud alert on their credit cards if they have been victims of an identity theft. The fraud alert helps you to add a layer of protection on your credit card.
A fraud alert may also be placed by someone who fears to face an identity theft. You can start placing a fraud alert on your credit reports by placing a 90-days initial alert and then decide to upgrade it later, before the end of this period.
Why Should You Consider Placing A Fraud Alert?
You must consider placing a fraud alert if you have been a victim of identity theft or other kinds of frauds related to your credit report. A fraud alert is placed by informing the three national credit reporting companies (the procedure in detail below) that keep a record of your credit. An initial fraud alert is free and can last for 90 days.
The initial alert can be extended and renewed after 90 days. An initial and extended fraud alert can make it harder for an identity hacker to open more accounts in your name. It also helps you to obtain one free copy of your credit report than the one that you get from one of the three credit reporting companies.
Whenever you have an alert on your report, a business is supposed to verify your identity before it issues credit from your contact, and therefore would have to contact you. This adds protection to your credit report but does not guarantee that no identity theft can be done.
How Many Types Of Fraud Alerts Happen?
In general, there are three types of fraud alerts that people can place in your file. You could choose the one that is the most appropriate for you. These fraud alerts are classified on the basis of the duration and severity of the fraud that has happened on your credit card.
Initial Fraud Alert
An initial fraud alert is based on a victim that has faced fraud/ID theft. This fraud alert has to be placed within 90 days of the incident. You require a series of documents for placing an initial fraud alert.
These documents include an appropriate identity proof. It can be placed with one CRC (Credit Reporting Company) which will then notify two other CRC’s to place an alert. Further steps that are required to carry on with the process of placing an initial fraud alert can be checked on the website (https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp)
Extended Fraud Alert
This kind of fraud alert is placed by victims of fraud/ID theft and its duration is about 7 years. You require a copy of the identity theft report to place an extended fraud alert. It is placed with one CRD, which then notifies two other CRCs to place an alert.
It entitles you to two free credit reports at all three CRCs in the first 12 months. You can look at the detailed steps of placing an extended fraud alert here (https://fraud.transunion.com/pdf/ExtendedAlertForm.pdf?)
Active Duty Military Alert
This kind of fraud alert is placed by people who are in the military and want to minimize the risk of fraud/ID theft while a person is deployed. The general duration of this fraud alert is approximately one year.
It is placed within one CRC, which will then notify the two other CRCs again to place an alert. The following steps that can be looked at for places an active duty military alert here (https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp)
How Do You Place Fraud Alert?
The basic steps that you need to follow to place a fraud alert include contacting any one of the major credit card agencies which will, in turn, notify the other two. When you initially place a fraud alert, it tends to expire in about 90 days.
You can also contact any one of the three major credit bureaus which include Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
Experian: 888-397-3742; Experian, P.O Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 800-680-7289; TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 2000, Chester. PA 19016
Equifax: 888-766-0008; Equifax Consumer Fraud Division, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
Does Fraud Alert Beneficial For You?
A fraud alert is beneficial to you in a lot of ways. It is not an actual guarantee that no credit will be issued under your name. It is actually triggered by creditors who look into and review your credit report before answering to a credit application.
The review of a credit report is not necessary for some accounts like bank accounts, utilities, and internet services. So, it becomes essentially important to monitor your credit report for changes, even after placing a fraud alert.
How Do You Renew Fraud Alerts On Credit Cards?
A fraud alert expires on its own if it’s not renewed. There are quick easy steps to renew or lift a fraud alert that is placed. This could be done by calling one credit bureau and providing your information. You should mark your calendars and extend your fraud alert accordingly.
A fraud alert may also expire if you tend continuously renew an alert. In that case, you should consider looking for a freeze or a lock. Each credit bureau is supposed to contact you to confirm the alert placed and then provide you with further instructions on how to take the process further.
They are also supposed to provide you with instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit card report along with the one that you get every 12 months by using AnnualCreditReport.com. You must keep this email or letter given to you in case a lender doesn’t follow the requirements.