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The Resource Center Credit Fraud & Credit Monitoring | article

Are Fraud Alerts an Effective Means of Identity Protection?

Identity protection is a growing concern for many Americans. This is due to the fact that this type of crime is on the rise. According to the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 10 million Americans fall victim to identity fraud each year. In fact, the crime is so common that there is a certain amount of apathy among some law enforcement.

Signs of Identity Theft

Unfortunately identity theft is a crime that can take place for years without the victim's awareness. For many, the first hint of something amiss occurs when they begin to receive bills for items they didn't purchase.

Here are some signs of identity theft to watch for:

  • You're turned down for a loan or credit card, but you know you have a good credit score.
  • You begin receiving bills for products or services you didn't authorize.
  • You get notices or phone calls from bill collectors about outstanding payments.

When to Issue a Fraud Alert

If you discover you've been a victim of identity theft, then the first step is to call the police and report the crime. Although some may be apathetic, there are police departments throughout the nation which have put together task forces specifically to combat the crime.

The next thing to do is to contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Ask each agency to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This isn't always an effective means of identity protection because companies approving credit cards, lines of credit, or loans don't always take the extra steps required by the alters.

Other Types of Identity Protection

Even so, it's still a good idea to ask that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report. It's important that you ask all three companies to place an alert on your report because those who approve loan applications and other lines of credit typically work with one of the three credit bureaus. This means that if the alert is associated with only one of the credit bureaus, it could be completely missed during a standard credit check.

You might also consider other forms of identity protection such as a monitoring service like Identity Guard®. Typically, these types of services keep a close watch on your personal and financial information alerting you immediately to unusual activity.