In an era where identity theft and fraudulent credit activity is prevalent, it is imperative that consumers have tools to keep their financial lives protected. In recent years, the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – along with the federal government have implemented steps that consumers can take to help safeguard their personal information. The first line of defense against the fraudulent use of your personal information is placing a credit fraud alert on your credit file before or shortly after you are the victim of identity theft.
A credit fraud alert is a temporary notice placed on your credit file that prompts creditors for new credit applications to take the appropriate steps to verify your identity prior to an account being opened. Whether it is a new credit card, a personal loan, mortgage or line of credit, a fraud alert adds an additional barrier between an identity theft and an unknowing creditor.
Fraud alerts are provided at no cost to individuals, whether or not they have been the victim of identity theft or fraudulent credit activity, and are in force for 90 days. While temporary fraud alerts are sufficient for most individuals, an extended fraud alert lasting for seven years can be requested for victims of identity theft, also at no cost. The process of placing a fraud alert varies among the three major credit bureaus, but is most commonly achieved through submitting a request via the agency’s website, over the phone or via certified mail.
Each of the three major credit bureaus vary slightly in how temporary and permanent credit fraud alerts are effectively removed prior to their expiration date. Follows these steps for each of the bureaus listed below.
A temporary fraud alert may be removed by letting it expire 90 days from when it was requested, or by submitting a request in writing. The written request should include verification of your personal information, and can be mailed to the Equifax at:
Equifax Consumer Fraud Division
PO Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Additional information on fraud alerts can be found on the Equifax website.
Experian requires that a fraud alert removal request be submitted in writing as well, if the request is being made prior to the alert expiration date. Verification of personal information must be included in the written letter, such as a copy of a government ID or driver’s license, along with name, date of birth, and social. Requests can be sent directly to Experience at the following address:
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
A copy of the form letter provided by Experian can be found on the bureau’s website.
Unlike Equifax and Experian, a fraud alert can be removed from your TransUnion credit report by submitting a request form online. The request requires you to input your personal information and is processed immediately after it is reviewed. Access to TransUnion’s fraud alert removal system can be found here.
However, if you prefer you can call TransUnion at 888-909-8872, or mail them.
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
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