The TRUTH About Protecting YOUR Credit: Fraud Alerts & Freezes
When purchasing a home, your credit is very important, but just how much do you know about some of the procedures that are meant to "protect" your credit?
Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes
Fraud alerts and credit freezes are intended to help you protect your credit, but sometimes there can be some confusion with the difference between the two.
Here is what you need to know:
What is a Fraud Alert?
A fraud alert is a signal to potential creditors to let them know to take further steps to verify your identity before issuing credit. They are useful protective measures to put in place if you believe your identity is at risk. To place a fraud alert, contact any of the three credit reporting agencies and request the alert - the agency you contact is required to inform the other two.
Things to Be Aware of
Fraud alerts only last for 90 days. While a fraud alert is relatively easy to put in place, you must remember to renew it after the 90 day mark if you still believe your identity is at risk.
What is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is a more permanent, restrictive solution that prevents new lenders from seeing your credit, and thereby opening new lines of credit in your name. A credit freeze remains in place until you ask to have it removed.
Things to be Aware of
Getting a credit freeze is slightly more complicated than requesting a fraud alert. You need to contact each of the three credit bureaus yourself, verify your identity, and pay a small fee (usually $5-$10). Keep in mind that a credit freeze not only prevents thieves from opening lines of credit in your name, but also prevents you from opening new, legitimate lines of credit. This solution is best for people who have confirmed they are victims of identity theft.
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