The credit card fraud alert is the first step of extra security you can
place on your accounts when you suspect that someone is tampering with
A fraud alert can be placed if you are a victim of identity theft or if you could be a victim.
Events that warrant this action are ......
Though it does not seem that you need a requirement to place a credit card fraud alert on your account!
Placing fraud alerts on accounts ensures (hopefully) that lenders will take extra precautions in verifying your identity when opening new credit in your name, extending credit on accounts that already exist, or issuing an additional card on an account.
The credit fraud alert asks the creditor to reach you by phone to
verify the opening or change to the account. When you place the fraud
alert, the credit bureau will ask for your phone number and it is
suggested that you use a cell phone so you can always be reached.
The phone call is not required by law though it should be!!!
The initial fraud alert has a ninety day cycle. This must be renewed each 90 days to keep in force. Depending on the company and their own requirements, in some cases spending that looks out of the ordinary on your account may be denied till a phone conversation with customer service is made.
Many complain that fraud alerts only focus on new accounts and do not affect older accounts. To some degree that might be true, but this depends on the company of that older accounts and their policies.
A few years ago I was a customer of Lifelock and tried to make a purchase online after signing up. Lifelock formerly used credit fraud alerts to put extra protection around their customers accounts and this cut down on junk mail. After signing up with them that purchase would not go through till I called customer service and okayed the order.
So keep in mind this can have some detrimental effects. In that instance I was glad to know they were being careful about what was going on with my card. Usually a customer service number is printed on your card so this kind of problem can be easily rectified.
You are also entitled to a free credit report from each of the three bureaus when fraud alerts are placed on your accounts.
Other credit card fraud alerts that can be placed on accounts are...
the active duty military fraud alert
the extended fraud alert
The active duty military fraud alert has the same features as the initial credit card fraud alert but that it lasts 12 months.
Additionally prescreened offers for credit and insurance will be stopped for 2 years.
The extended credit card fraud alert can be activated when you have become a victim of identity theft. In this case the same features of the initial credit fraud alert will be in place but the time will be for 7 years.
As with the active military fraud alert pre-screened offers of credit and insurance will be stopped. The law says for 2 years yet Equifax states 5 years!!
In this instance a creditor MUST verify account openings by phone. A police report showing you are the victim of identity theft is a requirement for this credit card fraud alert. This also entitles you to two extra credit file disclosures (credit reports).
One draw back with the credit card fraud alert is the fact that you will have difficulty with any instant credit offers like those that are offered in stores when making purchases.
To place fraud alerts:
online: Equifax online fraud alert
Mail: Equifax Information Service LLC
P.O. Box 115069
Atlanta, GA 30348-7289
online:experian online fraud alert
phone: 1-888-397-3742 experian says calling this number will not automatically get you the free credit report you are entitled to. You must then call 1-800-311-4769 for the free report.
Experian also says that with the initial credit card fraud alert offers of pre-screened credit offers will be stopped. The complimentary credit report comes with a special number listed to call an associate that is specially trained to help you detect fraudulent activity and give assistance in verifying the activity. Experian however does not provide this service by mail.
online: this can only be done by an email??????
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA. 92834
The law states that once you contact one agency they will contact the others. On each of the sites it seems to echo what the law states.
There are some sites that suggest this doesn't happen so checking by way of a phone call can't hurt, but also once the alerts are in place they should show up on your report. If the one that is free is not instantly accessed you should see the alert on your report if it is a few days later. If not then you will know a phone call to the others is indeed needed.