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Fraud Alert vs. Credit Freeze

If you’re looking for ways to protect your identity, credit freezes and fraud alerts are two great options.

No one likes thinking about the potential threat of identity theft. However, it’s something we have to prepare for. The last thing you want to do is wait until you’ve been affected by a data breach, phishing scam, or other scheme that leaves your information open to fraudulent use.

Two easy ways to help mitigate the threat of identity theft are fraud alerts and credit freezes. Both of these options can help prevent fraudulent activity from negatively affecting your credit score. Wondering what the difference is? That’s why we’re here.

What is a fraud alert?

A fraud alert forces companies to verify your identity before granting any new credit in your name. That usually means they’ll call you to confirm that it’s really you trying to borrow money or open a new credit card. A fraud alert is free and lasts one year.

How do I set up a fraud alert?

All you have to do is contact one of the three credit bureaus and ask it to place a fraud alert on your credit file. Whichever bureau you choose is then required to notify the other two.

What is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze prevents any access to your credit reports until you lift the freeze with a PIN or password. That means that anyone – including you – cannot open any new accounts until the freeze is lifted. Similar to fraud alerts, a credit freeze is also free.

How do I freeze my credit?

If you want to be fully protected, you should place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus. You’ll need to give each bureau your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other personal info. Once your freeze is in place, each bureau will give you a PIN or password that you’ll need to keep track of and use to lift the freeze when you need to.

To contact the credit bureaus and place a fraud alert or credit freeze, here’s where you should go:

  • Experian: or call 800-685-1111

  • Equifax: or call 888-397-3742

  • TransUnion: or call 888-909-8872

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