When your personal financial information has been compromised, you will want to do something to protect yourself. But what should you do? One easy step you can take is to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
What Is a Fraud Alert?
A fraud alert is simply a note on each of your credit reports—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—stating that you may have been a victim of identity theft. When a creditor or lender requests your credit reports to verify an application, they will see the alert and will be required to contact you directly to verify your identity. If the person applying for credit with your information is not you, the fraud alert will prevent them from being able to use your identity.
When You Should Issue a Fraud Alert
You don’t have to know for sure that you are the victim of identity theft in order to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Some reasons you might want to take this step include:
- Your wallet or purse was stolen
- Your Social Security card is missing
- Your house has been robbed and financial documents are missing
- You have been informed that you may have been a victim of a data breach
With a fraud alert in place, you will be contacted before credit is approved, giving you an extra measure of protection if someone does indeed have access to your personal financial information. You only need to contact one of the three credit reporting agencies (CRA) and that agency will inform the other two. The alert will stay on your reports for a year and can be renewed after that if necessary.
When You Might Need a Credit Identity Theft Attorney
When your identity has been stolen, you may have false information on your credit reports. When you inform the CRAs about the theft, they have to take swift action. If they don’t, you may be able to sue for damages. The identity thief might also take loans out in your name and you could be harassed by debt collectors. Again, once you tell them about the theft, they have to stop contacting you. If they don’t, you can take legal action. In either of those situations, a California consumer attorney can help you protect your rights under federal law. If you are in one of these situations, please contact me online or call my office directly at 855.982.2400 and I will be in touch with you as soon as possible.