A fraud alert is a notice on your credit reports that alerts creditors you may be a victim of fraud, including identity theft. A fraud alert can make it harder for someone to open unauthorized accounts in your name by encouraging lenders and creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity, such as contacting you by phone, before opening a new credit account in your name or making changes to existing accounts.
There are two types of fraud alerts you can place on your credit report, and both are free.
- Initial fraud alert: If you believe you are or may become a victim of fraud or identity theft, you may place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. An initial fraud alert remains on your credit report for one year, unless you choose to remove it sooner, and can be renewed for additional one-year periods.
- Extended fraud alert: If you have a police report or a Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Report showing you’re a victim of identity theft, you may place an extended fraud alert on your credit report. An extended fraud alert remains on your credit report for seven years unless you choose to remove it sooner. Click here for the extended fraud alert form.
You can contact any of the three nationwide credit bureaus to request a fraud alert. Once you have you placed a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the bureaus, that bureau will send a request to the other two bureaus to do the same, so you do not have to contact all three.
To place a fraud alert, create or sign in to a myEquifax account, or call our automated line at (800) 685-1111. You can also place a fraud alert by mail by downloading and following the instructions on the Alert Request Form.
To learn about the difference between fraud alerts and security freezes, click here.