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How to Establish a Fraud Alert

How to Establish a Fraud Alert on Your Personal Accounts

If you receive notice that your personal information may have been inappropriately exposed, take the following steps to minimize the possibility of having your identity stolen.

  1. If the stolen information includes your financial accounts:
    • Close compromised credit card accounts immediately.
    • Consult with your financial institution(s) about the best course of action for your situation.
    • Place passwords on any new accounts that you open. Avoid using your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN), your phone number, or a series of consecutive number.
  2. If the stolen information includes your Social Security number:
    • Call the toll-free fraud number of any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies listed below and ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
    • Equifax
      P.O. Box 740241
      Atlanta GA 30374-0241
      1-800-525-6285
      www.equifax.com
    • Experian
      P.O. Box 2002
      Allen, TX 75013
      1-888-397-3742
      www.experian.com
    • TransUnion
      Fraud Victim Assistance Division
      P.O. Box 6790
      Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
      1-800-680-7289
      www.transunion.com
  3. After the fraud alert has been placed you'll be mailed information on how and when to order one free credit report from each of the companies. Review them for irregular activity, such as inquiries from companies you didn't contact, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Verify that information like your SSN, address(es), name or initials, and employers is correct. To learn more, call the FTC at (877) 382 - 4357 or visit  www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/credit/rights.shtm.

  4. If the stolen information includes your driver's license or other government-issued identification:
    • Contact the agencies that issued the documents. Follow their procedures to cancel a document and get a replacement.
    • Ask the agency to "flag" your file to keep anyone else from getting a license or another identification document in your name.
Once you've taken these precautions, watch for signs that your information is being misused. Always read your financial account statements promptly and carefully.