Any individual who has had their wallet or purse stolen knows what a nightmare it can be to have everything replaced. Waiting for replacement cards, going through the credit card companies to dispute charges, and getting a new driver’s license or Social Security card, it all takes forever!
After going through all that trouble, you rest assured that you have done everything to protect yourself. It’s later excruciating to apply for a loan or view a credit report to find that someone has either opened up credit accounts in your name or stolen your identity and ruined your credit score! There are a few ways to prevent that from happening.
Fraud alerts can be placed on an individual’s credit for 90 days or extended periods of time. The first step is to contact the credit bureaus. The three main bureaus are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Form a written request to these three bureaus that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report. It is critical that you provide current contact information and keep it up to date. This will be necessary for lenders to contact you when you are actually applying for credit in the future. Information that you will need to supply and keep current is your home address and home and work phone. If you move or change numbers, notify the bureaus to update the alert. Whenever anyone attempts to establish credit under your name and Social Security number the creditor is responsible for reviewing your report and contacting you at the numbers listed to request identification and permission to establish credit. This is an invaluable tool for protecting yourself form being a victim of fraud and identity theft.
For those who are active U.S. Military, there is an added feature available for your protection. Should you decide not to place a fraud alert on your file at this time, you have the option of placing an Active Duty Alert for the times during which you are deployed. This option is available to you so that while you are out of the country and someone might take advantage of your situation, creditors are alerted that whoever is submitting the application is doing so fraudulently. This can be a huge timesaver upon your return.