ITRC Info Sheet – Comparing Fraud Alerts and a Credit Freeze

 

Fraud alerts and credit freezes can help minimize attempts for fraudulent use of your Social Security Number (SSN) in gaining access to new lines of credit (which can lead to financial identity theft). 

 

 

90-Day Fraud Alert

7-Year Fraud Alert

Credit / Security Freeze

What It Is

A notice placed on your credit file to alert creditors for 90 days to verify your identity prior to issuing credit.

A notice placed on your credit file to alert creditors for 7 years to verify your identity prior to issuing credit.

A block on your credit report that prevents unauthorized (i.e. from companies you don’t already do business with) from viewing  and accessing your report.

Who Can Place One

Anyone over the age of 18.

Victims of identity theft with a police report/FTC Identity Theft Report who are over the age of 18.

 

Anyone over the age of 18. 

Why You Would Place One

You are a victim of identity theft or at greater risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen items. 

 

Alerts you to applications for new credit and gives you a chance to stop new fraudulent accounts.

 

You are a victim of identity theft, but cannot place a credit freeze because your employer requires a regular background check or you need to have ready access to your credit.

You are a victim of identity theft or at greater risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen items. 

 

Blocks new creditors, background check companies and potential thieves from seeing your credit information. This is one of the best ways to proactively minimize your risk of identity theft.

Cost

Free

Free with a police report or FTC Identity Theft Report

Free to all victims of identity theft who have a police report/FTC Identity Theft report and, in most states, to seniors 65 years or older.

 

Charges for non-victims vary by state (See ITRC State Resources).

How To Apply

 

Contact the three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) by phone, online, or mail (See ITRC How To Place a Fraud Alert).

 

Write to the three Credit Reporting Agencies. (See ITRC How To Place a Fraud Alert).

 

Contact the three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) by phone, online, or mail (See ITRC How To Place a Credit Freeze)

 

Pros

No penalties or fees for continuing.


Does not affect your ability to use existing credit cards and lines of credit.

Great for the initial phase of discovering identity theft when you are actively viewing your information

Same as 90-day Fraud Alert

Does not affect companies you already have an established relationship with.

 

A credit report may be thawed for a specified period of time if you need access to your credit.

Cons

There are no laws requiring a creditor to contact you. Some credit issuers will only ask for verifying documents at the point-of-sale. Other credit issuers don’t use credit reports for verification so they may not see the fraud alert.

Does not provide long term protection.

Same as 90-day Fraud Alert.


Need a police report that states you are a victim of identity theft to apply.

Each time you wish to qualify for credit with a new creditor you will need to lift the freeze from (unfreeze) your credit report. There is a charge which varies depending on your state of residence (See ITRC State Resources).

 

This fact sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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