The Difference Between a Fraud Alert and a Credit Freeze (also known as a Security Freeze)
If you believe you are a victim of fraud or identity theft, TransUnion has two different types of services that you may wish to explore: A Fraud Alert or a Security Freeze, which can be placed fast and easy – online, right now.
A Fraud Alert is a cautionary flag, which is placed on your credit file to notify lenders and others that they should take special precautions to ensure your identity before extending credit. When you place a Fraud Alert, you can provide a mobile or other phone number for lenders to contact you to verify that the party applying for credit is actually you, not a fraudster.
When you place a Fraud Alert on your credit report with any one of the three major credit reporting companies, that company will notify the other two and fraud alerts will also be placed on those files, too. An Initial Fraud alert lasts for 90 days and may be renewed. Fraud Alerts are available at no charge to consumers who believe they may be victims.
Security Freeze (also known as Credit Freeze)
A Security Freeze is a more dramatic step to protect your credit. Placing a Security Freeze will prevent lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit. With a Security Freeze in place, even you will need to take special steps when you wish to apply for any type of credit.
Because of more stringent security features, you will need to place a Security Freeze separately with each of the three major credit reporting companies if you want the freeze on all of your credit files. A Security Freeze remains on your credit file until you remove it or choose to lift it temporarily when applying for credit or credit-dependent services.