How do I add a fraud statement to my credit report? I want to warn creditors that I have recently been a victim of identity theft and "red flag" my credit report for any new inquiries made.
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, there are several steps you should take immediately to protect yourself.
Whether someone used your personal information to open an account in your name, or one of your existing accounts was used fraudulently, the first thing to do is contact any creditor involved to notify them of the fraud.
Adding an Initial Security Alert to Your Credit Report
Next, notify Experian to add an initial security alert to your credit report, which will remain on the credit report for twelve months. The alert notifies potential lenders that you may be a victim of fraud and encourages them to take extra steps to verify your identity before approving any applications in your name.
Adding a contact phone number to the alert enables creditors to contact you directly if someone tries to apply for credit in your name.
The quickest and easiest way to request an initial security alert is by visiting Experian's online Fraud Center. You can also request an alert be added over the phone by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN or by mailing your request to: Experian, P.O. 9701, Allen, TX, 75013.
When you add an alert with Experian, we will automatically notify the other two credit reporting agencies so that they can add an alert to their files as well.
Consider Filing a Police Report
It's a good idea to contact your local police department to file an identity theft report. Include as much information as possible in the report, such as the names of any accounts opened fraudulently. You can then send a copy of the identity theft report to Experian by mail or by submitting it online.
Check Your Credit Report for Anything Fraud-Related
As a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. Be sure to request a copy of your report and review all the information in it carefully. If you see anything in the report that may be related to fraud, you should notify Experian as soon as possible.
Adding an Extended Fraud Victim Alert
If you find evidence of fraud, it may be a good idea to add an extended fraud victim alert, which lasts seven years. To do so you must provide a copy of the police report you filed. You can request the alert and upload a copy of the police report at Experian's online Fraud Center.
The extended victim alert states that you are a victim of fraud and asks that the lender call you at one of two telephone numbers you provide. For example, you could include a home telephone and work telephone number.
A lender would then be able to call to verify your identity before granting credit in your name.
How a Security Alert May Affect Your Ability to Open New Credit
Keep in mind that adding an alert to your credit file may delay any application for new credit until your identity can be verified by the lender. Because of the nature of instant credit, applications for things like in-store credit cards may be declined if there is a security alert present on your credit report.
Read about how to respond to identity theft for more information on steps to take if you are a victim of fraud.
Thanks for asking,
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist