5 Things to Know about Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts

What do fraud alerts and credit freezes do?

In this article by Joseph McClelland, an identity theft attorney for victims, you will learn the ins and outs of the fraud alerts and credit freezes and how they can play a part in recovering from and preventing identity theft.

With a fraud alert, a business must try to verify your identity before giving new credit. That means calling to check if the person is actually at the particular store attempting to get credit.

How do credit freezes work?

With a credit freeze, no one can look at your credit report to open a new account. If you put a credit freeze on your report, you’ll get a PIN number to use each time you want to freeze, unfreeze, and refreeze your account.

How long do fraud alerts and credit freezes last?

A fraud alert lasts for 90 days. If you don’t take the step of renewing the fraud alert, it automatically expires after that.

Identity theft victims are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which lasts seven years. In almost all states, a credit freeze lasts until you temporarily lift it or permanently removes it.

How much do fraud alerts and credit freezes cost? Fraud alerts are free. Depending on the state law, credit freezes may involve fees, but in Georgia, they’re free for victims of identity theft.

How can you put a fraud alert or credit freeze for your credit report? For a fraud alert, you can contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies by phone or online. The law requires that one credit reporting agency notify the other two of the consumer’s fraud alert requests.

If you want an extended fraud alert you must mail or upload your Identity Theft Report, which you can create at IdentityTheft.gov.

To get a credit freeze in place, you need to contact the three credit reporting agencies separately at their credit freeze page on their website.

If you are about to apply for a mortgage or other loan, you should consider the cost and potential hassle of unfreezing and refreezing each time. But if you don’t need new credit soon, a credit freeze might be what you want.

How to see if you are a victim of identity theft?

First, you will want to pull your credit report to completely review it. If you want more background on what is a credit report, this article is best for you.

Although you actually have numerous credit reports, the big three are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Here is a great article on pulling your credit reports for free.

Learn about statute of limitations in debt collection cases

Getting denied credit because of errors on your credit

Why you should never dispute credit mistakes online

About the author 

Joseph McClelland

Consumer Attorney that fights big businesses on your behalf.
Started his career in international human rights before eventually finding his true calling in consumer protection law. He is a husband and trial lawyer. Most of his work involves credit reporting errors, robocalls, and identity theft. His law practice is in the Atlanta/Decatur area.