If you’re worried about being a victim of identity theft, you can place a free fraud alert on your credit report. TransUnion offers three types of fraud alerts, and you can choose the option that best fits your needs. An initial fraud alert lasts for one year. This is a smart option if you’re concerned about fraud and want lenders to take an extra step to verify credit applications in your name. There’s also a 1-year fraud alert specifically for eligible active duty military personnel as well.
An extended fraud alert lasts for 7 years. This option is intended for consumers who may have been victims of identity theft. A 7-year fraud alert needs to be requested by mail because it requires some extra documentation, including an identity theft report.
Unlike a credit freeze, a fraud alert does not block access to your credit report, so you can still open credit accounts. With a fraud alert, creditors are notified to take extra steps to verify your identity before approving a credit application. When you place your fraud alert, you will be asked to provide your phone number. This number will be used by creditors to confirm your identity any time an application for credit is being made. A fraud alert has no impact on your credit score.
You can create a free TransUnion Service Center account or log in to your existing account to add a 1-year initial fraud alert. After you place a fraud alert, you will get a confirmation email that the fraud alert is active. TransUnion will also notify Experian and Equifax so they can add an alert to the report they have for you.
If you prefer, you can add a fraud alert by phone by calling 800-680-7289, or you can mail a written request that includes your name, address and Social Security number to:
TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Your fraud alert will be on your credit report for 1 year from the date you add it, so be sure to note the date. You can also remove your TransUnion fraud alert or change your contact number when you log in to your account. If you want to remove the fraud alert from your Experian and Equifax credit reports before it expires, you will need to do so with each credit reporting agency individually.
Depending on your credit goals or data identity concerns, you can use either a fraud alert, a credit freeze or both as a way to protect your credit health. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, TransUnion has created a guide to help you through each step of the recovery process.