Fraud Alert

These a person’s credit is their life line; if a person falls victim to identity theft, their credit can be ruined. One way you can protect yourself against identity theft and inaccuracies on your credit report is to have fraud alert added to your credit report.

The Advantages of Fraud Alert

The U.S Federal Trade Commission says it takes about twelve months for a victim of identity theft to even notice the crime has been committed. Using a credit monitoring service that offers fraud alert, can pick up on suspicious activity daily and notify you at once. Identity theft cannot be stopped by using a credit monitoring service, but it can certainly lower the impact on your credit rating.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, you must first make sure a security alert is in place with all three credit bureaus. Then you must contact each creditor and inform them that the account if fraudulent making sure to take detailed notes such as: getting the name of the person you spoke with, their department, extension and the date you spoke to them. Make sure you know what your responsibilities are and what you should expect from them; making sure to request documentation that states you are not responsible for the debt. Make sure to place a follow up call. Several months after the matter has been cleared up, check your credit report again just to verify that the problem has been dealt with.

Credit monitoring services, like Experian for instance, help protect your identity by doing several different things:

+They drop several digits from each of your credit account numbers
+Your social security number is not listed on the credit report
+They have sophisticated fraud products that protect consumers and creditors
+Accounts are constantly monitored, if any suspicious activity occurs, it is investigated immediately
+They help law enforcement catch identity thieves
+They require a business to produce permission before releasing consumer credit information
+They work hard to ensure that they only accept reputable businesses as customers
+They have technology in place to prevent computer hackers from accessing consumer credit data

Fraud Alert Rights For Consumers

If you have been or believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you specific rights:

You have the right to ask nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file. You can have this fraud alert added to your file by calling one of the three agencies. That agency will then call the other two. This fraud alert ensures that creditors must follow certain guidelines before accessing your credit files and opening any new accounts in your name

You have the right to free copies of the information in your file. This gives you a free copy of all information in the file from all three credit bureaus. This also entitles you to two free disclosures in the twelve month period following the fraud alert.

You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts using your personal information. This means a creditor must give you copies of application and other records relating to the transactions and accounts that are being investigated as fraudulent.

If you find fraudulent activity in your file, you have the right to ask the consumer reporting agency to block that information from your file. To do this, you must provide the consumer reporting agency with proof of your identity and a copy of your identity theft report.

All three major credit bureaus and other agencies offer fraud alert services that can help you avoid having your credit destroyed by fraudulent activity.