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Help Prevent Fraud and Identity Theft

Monitor your Credit Reports. 

You can monitor your credit report by visiting www.freecreditreport.com

How does credit monitoring work?

Credit monitoring keeps a daily watch on your credit report for any changes that can be linked to fraudulent activity. It works by sending you alerts when there is suspicious activity or changes in your credit, making it easy for you to stay on top of your personal and financial information.

Why do I need credit monitoring?

Credit monitoring can help you spot inaccuracies in your credit report that could be the result of identity theft and negatively affect your score. Such negative impacts to your credit could lead to higher interest rates and even a credit card or loan rejection. Keeping track of the changes in your report can give you enough time to repair any issues that might be a factor when applying for new credit.

Monitoring your credit can help you better prepare for any planned big purchases and avoid surprises when you go to apply. Generally, it’s recommended to monitor your credit for at least three months before getting a mortgage or any large purchase. That way, you can ensure everything is in order and see what improvements you can make. It’s also a good idea to check your credit after your large purchase to verify the accuracy and know the impacts to your credit.

What is the best way to monitor my credit?

You can check your credit yourself once a year by requesting a copy of your Experian credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Experian credit monitoring checks your Experian credit report daily for you and alerts you when there are any changes.

How do I monitor my credit report for identity theft?

Some red flags of identity theft include incorrect personal information, inquiries from lenders you don’t recognize, and new accounts you’ve never opened. Once you’ve identified the signs of fraud, you can quickly take the necessary steps to mitigate the damage.

Does credit monitoring hurt my credit score?

Credit monitoring will not affect your credit scores because you won’t incur hard inquiries. When you access your own credit report, it’s considered a soft inquiry which doesn’t lower your credit score as it’s not a scoring factor.

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT FILE.

You have a right to place a ‘security freeze’ on your credit report, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing information in your credit report without your express authorization. The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. However, you should be aware that using a security freeze to take control over who gets access to the personal and financial information in your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, or any other account involving the extension of credit. Note that a security freeze generally does not apply to existing account relationships and when a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control or similar activities. There is no charge to place or lift a security freeze.

To place a security freeze on your credit report, contact each of the 3 major consumer reporting agencies –

3 Major Credit Bureaus/ Consumer Reporting Agencies

Equifax
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
1 - 800-525-6285
www.equifax.com
Experian
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
1 - 888-397-3742
www.experian.com
TransUnion
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
1-800-680-7289
www.transunion.com

To request a freeze, you will need to provide the following:

  • Your full name (including middle initial as well as , Sr., II, III, etc.), Social Security number, and date of birth; and
  • If you have moved in the past five (5) years, the addresses where you have lived over the prior five years;
  • Proof of current address such as a current utility bill or telephone bill;
  • A legible photocopy of a government issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, )
  • If you are a victim of identity theft, include a copy of either the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft. If you request a security freeze via toll-free telephone or other secure electronic means, the credit reporting agencies have 1 business day after receiving the request to place the In the case of a request made by mail, the bureaus have 3 business days after receiving your request to place a security freeze on your credit report. The credit bureaus must also send written confirmation to you within 5 business days and provide you with a unique personal identification number (PIN) or password, or both that can be used by you to authorize the removal or lifting of the security freeze. To lift the security freeze to allow a specific entity or individual access to your credit report, you must call or send a written request to the credit reporting agencies by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and social security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze as well as the identities of those entities or individuals you would like to receive your credit report or the specific period of time you want the credit report available. The credit reporting agencies have up to 3 business days after receiving a request to lift the security freeze for those identified entities or for the specified period of time. To remove the security freeze, you must send a written request to each of the three credit bureaus by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and social security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze. The credit bureaus have up to 3 business days after receiving the request to remove the freeze.

PLACE FRAUD ALERTS ON YOUR CREDIT FILE.

As an alternative to a security freeze, you have the right to place an initial or extended fraud alert on your credit file at no cost. An initial fraud alert is a 1-year alert that is placed on a consumer’s credit file. Upon seeing a fraud alert display on a consumer’s credit file, a business is required to take steps to verify the consumer’s identity before extending new credit. If you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which is an alert lasting 7 years. Contact the credit reporting agencies listed above to activate an alert.

REMAIN VIGILANT: REVIEW YOUR ACCOUNT STATEMENTS, & REPORT FRAUD.

Carefully review your credit reports, debit/credit card, insurance policy, bank account and other account statements. Activate alerts on your bank accounts to notify you of suspicious activity. Report suspicious or fraudulent charges to your insurance statements, credit report, credit card or bank accounts to your insurance company, bank/credit card vendor and law enforcement. (For Oregon & Iowa residents: Report any suspected identity theft to law enforcement, Federal Trade Commission, and your State Attorney General.)

POLICE REPORT:

You have a right to a police report about an incident (if any exists). If you’re an identity theft victim, you have the right to file a police report and obtain a copy of it.

ORDER YOUR FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORTS.

Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 to obtain one free copy of your credit report annually. Periodically review a copy of your credit report for discrepancies and identify any accounts you did not open or inquiries you did not authorize. (For Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Vermont residents: You may obtain additional copies of your credit report, free of charge. You must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies noted above directly to obtain such additional reports.)

OBTAIN INFORMATION ABOUT PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT FROM FTC / STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Go to http://www.experian.com/credit-advice/topic-fraud-and-identity-theft.html. Federal Trade Commission also provides information at www.ftc.gov/idtheft FTC hotline is 877-438-4338; TTY: 1-866-653-4261 or write to FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580. Your State Attorney General also may provide information. (For MA residents: You may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy & Response Division at 1-617-727-8400. For MD residents: You may contact Maryland Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202, www.oag.state.md.us, 1-888-743-0023. For NC residents: You may contact NC Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001, www.ncdoj.gov, 1-877-566-7226.

FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT:

You also have rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. The FTC has published a list of the primary rights created by the FCRA (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0096-fair-credit-reporting-act. pdf), and that article refers individuals seeking more information to visit www.ftc.gov/credit. The FTC’s list includes the following FCRA rights: (1) To receive a copy of your credit report, which must contain all the information in your file at the time of your request; (2) To receive a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion; (3) To receive a free credit report if  a company takes adverse action against you (e.g. denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment), and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting company. You are also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you are on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft; (4) To ask for a credit score; (5) To dispute incomplete or inaccurate information; (6) To obtain corrections to your report or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information; (7) Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information; (8) To restrict access to your file and to require consent from you for reports to be provided to employer; (9) To limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you receive based on information in your credit report; and (10) To seek damages from violators. Note – Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights.

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