The importance of a security alert

One of the most common ways you can get in debt is from fraud. Someone steals the information from your credit card and makes frivolous purchases, and you get charged for it. The scary part about this is there are so many ways an outside party can get your information. Someone could steal personal information you have typed into an unsecured website. An employee could take your information when you have used your credit card to make a purchase. Somebody can even go through your trash to look for old credit statements you have thrown away. Earlier in the year, someone stole the information from my debit card after I went to an unsecured website, and let me tell you it is absolutely infuriating to see money being taken out of your account by someone who has no idea who you are! If you think someone has stolen your credit card information, you need to fill out a security alert.

When you have a security alert placed on your credit report, your lenders will subsequently take steps to verify you are the person who has made any new purchases. You can contact any of the three major credit companies for a security alert, and the company you contact will then notify the other two credit companies of possible fraud on your account. The security alert should be placed on your credit report a business day after you have made the request.

There are three types of security alerts, two of which apply to everyday people. The first type is called an initial fraud alert. This will be active for 90 days, and every time a new purchase is made or a new line of credit is asked for or an attempt to increase the credit limit on one of your accounts is made, your creditor will contact you over the phone and ask if you are the person taking these actions. You are also allowed a free credit report from the three major credit companies during this 90-day period.

You can place an extended fraud alert on your account if you have proof of fraudulent purchases. Contact one of the three credit companies and send them a copy of the police report showing the theft. If approved, an extended fraud alert will be active for seven years. During this time, you can request two free credit reports, and your name will also be removed from any prescreened credit offers for five years.

If you are serving in the military, you can apply for an active duty alert. You don’t need physical proof of fraud here, and the alert will remain on your file for an entire year. You will also be removed from prescreened credit offers for the next two years.

If you feel you are a victim of fraud and need to place a security alert on your account, contact Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion via mail, phone, or online as soon as possible!

Related post: What is a credit freeze?

David Pilley

David Pilley

David Pilley is a May 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in communication studies and a creative writing minor. He is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.

Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.

In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.
David Pilley

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