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How to Activate a Fraud Alert

Ever had a conversation with a shady customer service agent who demanded your FULL social security number and other personal information, which you reluctantly handed over? It can be a rather unsettling feeling when you realize that you probably just gave out way too much information to someone that might not actually be who they said they were. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help set your mind at ease.

If you're worrying that you have been, or could be, a victim of identity theft, you may want to consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports. Unlike a credit freeze, which completely locks up your credit reports and makes it impossible for anyone to pull your credit history unless you specifically grant them access, placing a fraud alert on your credit file simply means that potential lenders must take extra precautions before granting any type of credit in your name. It's free, and can even be done for a period of up to 90 days. Here's how you do it:

Directly contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) and request that an initial 90-day fraud alert be placed on your credit reports. The credit bureau will take it from there and contact the other two agencies on your behalf. Once the fraud alert is active, lenders will have to take several extra steps to verify your identity if anyone applies for credit in your name. And if 90 days isn't enough, you can always call back and request that the fraud alert be extended for additional 90-day increments.

on Sun, 2010-10-24 17:00