Has your credit account been compromised? Experian has advice for you.

December 21, 2013 by Maxine Sweet

When a criminal steals your account number and security code, they often are planning to use that account to make purchases. Your credit report is not consulted for purchase transactions.

So, in such cases, you should consider contacting your card issuer and request a new account number. At minimum, you should check your account online to see if there has been any activity which you do not recognize.

If the criminal’s goal is to open new accounts in your name, then it is likely that one of your three credit reports would be accessed by the potential lender. In that case, you may want to consider adding an alert to your reports.

Fraud alerts are special statements consumers can have added to their credit report if they have reason to believe they may be a fraud victim or know that they have been victimized.

There are two different fraud alerts:

An initial security alert tells lenders that you may be a victim of fraud or identity theft and asks them to take additional measures to verify the identity of the applicant before granting credit in your name.

You can request a free copy of your credit report when you request that the alert be added. If you don’t find evidence of fraud, you can have the alert removed, or simply allow it to expire.

If you do find evidence of fraud, your next step would be to add an extended security alert, sometimes called a victim statement. You will need a police report or other valid identity theft report to add an extended security alert.

The extended security alert states that you are a victim of identity theft and requests that lenders call you to verify your identity before granting credit in your name. An extended security alert remains on your credit report for seven years or until you ask that it be removed.

The alerts are included when your report is provided to a lender so they can take appropriate action when the alert is on your report.

There is no charge to add a fraud alert. When you do so, Experian notifies the other national credit reporting companies so that alerts can be added to those reports, as well.

You can add an alert online at experian.com/fraud, or by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742) and selecting the fraud option.