Financial institutions do their best to combat fraud, but discovering it can take months sometimes.
In some cases, you might find out fraud has been committed only when a debt collector comes calling, there’s a drop in your credit score, or an unfamiliar account pops up on your credit report.
However, placing a fraud alert on a credit report can help prevent what’s called new-account fraud. This type of fraud happens when an identity thief opens a new credit account in your name.
Read on to learn about when and how to sign up for these fraud alert protections.
3 types of credit report fraud alerts
When a fraud alert is on your credit report, creditors will call you before approving a credit application. They’ll verify your identity and confirm you’re the applicant.
Setting up a fraud alert on your credit report is free, but it’s important to know which one is suitable for your situation.
1. Initial fraud alert
The most basic of the three, an initial fraud alert lasts only 90 days. However, you can renew it after the period is over.
You’ll receive access to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, which will allow you to check recent activity to make sure no damage has been done already.
This option is best if you suspect you might become a victim of identity theft or if you’ve been a victim but haven’t reported the fraud.
2. Extended fraud alert
If you’re a victim of identity theft already and have submitted an identity theft report, you can place an extended fraud alert on a credit report.
An extended fraud alert lasts seven years. You’ll receive access to two free copies of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus within 12 months, which will give you more time to check your credit reports to make sure the fraudster doesn’t try to come back for more.
What’s more, credit reporting companies must remove your name from their marketing lists for prescreened offers for five years.
3. Active duty alert
A purely precautionary measure, active duty alerts are for service members who head out for deployment. Active duty alerts last for one year but can be renewed as long as you’re in active duty.
In addition to normal verification requirements for creditors, the alert also requires that credit reporting companies take your name off their marketing lists. You won’t receive prescreened offers for two years.
How to set up a fraud alert on your credit report
To set up an initial fraud alert or active duty alert, you need to contact only one of the three national credit bureaus. It will then forward the request to the other two.
With extended fraud alerts, however, you must contact all three bureaus to place an alert. You can request an alert online or by phone:
- Phone: 888-397-3742
- Online (initial and active duty alerts only)
- Phone: 800-525-6285
- Phone: 800-680-7289
When you request an alert, you’ll need to verify your identity. You’ll also want to include a phone number creditors can call to verify your identity.
How to remove a fraud alert on your credit report
Both Experian and TransUnion allow you to remove fraud alerts online. You also can call to remove them. With Equifax, you must call to remove your fraud alert. You can remove a fraud alert at any time.
Stay vigilant to avoid all types of fraud
Adding a fraud alert on a credit report is a great way to help prevent new-account fraud. But it doesn’t do anything to prevent other types of fraudulent activity.
To protect yourself, keep track of your bank and credit card accounts. Banks and credit unions try to catch fraudulent purchases, but their computers can’t catch everything.
Also, avoid giving out your payment information to just anyone. For example, don’t buy something online if the website is not secure. You usually can see whether a website is secure by looking at the address bar at the top of your browser.
Lastly, keep an eye on your credit score. If you notice any big changes, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
Identity theft is a real threat. But if you remain vigilant, you can limit the opportunities fraudsters have to steal your information.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.57% – 6.98%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.80% – 6.22%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.57% – 8.17%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|