Through December 31, 2023, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.
- What about the legitimate accounts that I already have established? Should I take precautions to protect those accounts?
If the criminal has your identification information and is attempting to obtain credit, you may want to contact your existing creditors to inform them of the situation. You can request that the creditors do not change your mailing address or mail out a replacement card unless they receive a written consent from you first. Be sure to ask creditors if additional precautions are available for your use.
- How can I prevent anyone from viewing my credit information?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows access to your credit report to those with "permissible purpose", such as someone who intends to use the information in connection with a credit transaction involving the extension of credit or the review or collection of an account; for employment purposes; in connection with the underwriting of insurance; to determine eligibility for a license; or for legitimate business needs. Your consent is not required.
- How do I place a security freeze on my credit report?
Learn more about requesting a security freeze or to place a freeze, visit Experian's Freeze Center.
Fraud or Initial Security Alerts
- What is an initial security alert, and how can it help prevent further fraudulent activity?
A security alert is a special message that you can request if you have reason to believe that information on your credit report may be inaccurate due to fraud. It displays on the credit report and asks potential creditors who view your report to verify the identification information used by an applicant before granting credit in the consumer' name.
- How can I request that an initial security alert be added to my credit report?
Visit our Credit Fraud Center to add an initial security alert and immediately view your report for any potential fraudulent activity. You also may call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) to add a security alert. Consumers do not receive a copy of their report when placing a security alert by phone.
Can an initial security alert or an extended fraud victim statement affect me negatively?
The presence of an initial security alert or an extended fraud victim statement should not interfere with your daily use of a credit card or banking/checking accounts. A security alert or a victim statement may limit your ability to obtain instant credit for in-store purchases. If you prefer to purchase items on a new line of credit established at a retail store and you must take possession of those items immediately, your request for credit may be delayed because of the high risk associated with this type of business transaction.
- What is an extended fraud victim statement, and how can it help to prevent further fraudulent activity?
If you find evidence of fraud on your credit report, you may want to add a seven-year victim statement to your credit report that asks potential credit grantors to call you before granting credit in your name. If you did not apply for credit, you can instruct the creditor not to process the application. This should prevent a new account from being established using your identification information. The victim statement has a section for two phone numbers to display.
- How can I request that an extended fraud victim statement be added to my credit report?
A written request from you that includes your full name, current mailing address, Social Security number, date of birth and any previous addresses used in the last two years. Please remember to state the phone number(s) you would like added to the victim statement. Two proofs of your address, one must be government issued, such as a copy of your driver's license, state or military ID card, etc., and one copy of a utility bill, an insurance statement, bank statement, etc.
- What happens if I elect to place an extended fraud victim statement on my credit report, but I change my phone number?
You can have the phone number changed on your extended fraud victim statement if you mail a written request to Experian, PO Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013. The request must include your full name, address, Social Security number, date of birth and any previous addresses used in the last two years. Remember to specifically state the new phone number you would like added and the number to be deleted. In addition, include two proofs of your address, one must be government issued, such as a copy of your driver's license, state or military ID card., etc., and one copy of a utility bill, an insurance statement, bank statement, etc.
- When I receive my credit report, how will I recognize fraudulent activity?
In most cases, fraudulent activity can be detected by reviewing the accounts, inquiries and addresses that appear on a credit report. Review your report carefully for the following items:
- Accounts: If you do not recognize an account and the account is newly opened, that may indicate that a criminal has obtained a line of credit using your identity.
- Inquiries: Review all the inquiries on your credit report. Your report contains inquiries from creditors that have accessed your credit report to process an application. If you do not recognize the credit grantor accessing your report, that may indicate fraudulent activity.
- Addresses: Review the addresses appearing on your credit report. If you discover an address that you have not lived at, it may indicate that the address was used on a fraudulent application for credit.
- What should I do when I find an account, an inquiry or other data that resulted from fraudulent activity?
The most important task is to notify the creditor reporting the fraudulent data. Simply call or write to the creditor and identify yourself as a fraud victim who would like to file a fraud claim. Each creditor has a process for investigating your claim. Cooperate completely with the requests of the credit grantor so you can ensure that you are not held responsible for payment on the account. In addition, you may contact the credit reporting agency to dispute the fraudulent data.
- As a fraud victim, do I have to pay for a credit report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that a consumer who has reason to believe that information in his or her report is inaccurate due to fraud is entitled to a free copy of his or her credit report. Visit our Credit Fraud Center to add a security alert and immediately view your report for any potential fraudulent activity. You also may call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) to add a security alert and for information on how to order a copy of your report delivered by U.S. mail.
- Should I file a police report?
In general, when a crime has been committed, it is a good idea to file a police report. If you would like to file a police report, we recommend that you call the non-emergency number for your local police department and explain what has happened. Your local police department can direct you to the appropriate department and explain what information you need to provide.
- I believe someone is using the identity of a deceased relative to obtain credit fraudulently. What should I do?
The executor of the estate or the spouse should notify Experian in writing of the fraudulent activity. Please clearly explain that the person is deceased and that you suspect fraudulent activity is taking place. Be sure to include the deceased person' full name, most recent address, date of birth and Social Security number. In addition, please enclose a copy of the death certificate. The spouse of the deceased person may receive a credit report at their home address. To mail the credit report to the executor' address, a copy of the executorship papers must be included with the letter.
- I have a credit card account that was fraudulently used by someone I know. What should I do?
Contact the credit card company as soon as possible and truthfully explain what has happened. Ask what the company's policies are for unauthorized purchases, and work with the customer service department to resolve the issue.
- If I am deaf or hearing impaired, how can I order my credit report or talk to a customer service representative for assistance with my report?
If you are deaf or hearing impaired, you may order your report by accessing experian.com/consumer or annualcreditreport.com. You may also call 1 888 EXPERIAN (888 397 3742) to order a copy of your report or call the number on your credit report to speak with a customer service representative with the assistance of your local relay operator.
- How can I contact Experian if I have additional questions?
Our phone number and address will be listed on your Experian credit report. Make sure you have your credit report close by when you call, and be prepared to enter your report number.