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Topics addressed on February 22, 2006:
The effect of fraud security alerts on credit scores
Dear Experian,I was recently notified by a college that I attended that the admissions office computer files had been hacked into and that I should notify all three major credit bureaus to flag my credit history in case of identity theft. Does this "flagging " of my credit affect my FICO score?
Dear LBS,The “flag” your college refers to is an initial fraud security alert. The alert will warn potential new lenders that you are at an increased risk of fraud and give you an opportunity to review your credit history for signs of fraudulent activity. An initial security alert expires in 90 days. If there is evidence of fraud you can, after filing a police report or other valid identity theft report, add a victim statement, which will last for seven years. Experian alerts businesses to the fraud statements every time your credit report is requested. Businesses are required by federal law to take reasonable action in response to the alerts. That reasonable response could take several different forms. The alerts do not affect credit scores, including those created by Fair, Isaac Corporation, which are known as FICO scores. However, the alerts could cause your application to be declined before a score is calculated, or despite the score you receive, as described in the response to ITR in this column. Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team