On today’s Clark Howard Show, Earl called in and said his wife’s purse had been stolen. He wanted to put a credit freeze on her credit history. I thought he might also want to file for a 90-day fraud alert. Here’s what you have to do if you want to file a fraud alert or a security freeze.
HOW TO FILE A FRAUD ALERT
Go to any one of the credit reporting bureaus, Equifax.com, Experian.com or TransUnion.com. Click on “file a fraud alert” and then follow the instructions. If you file a fraud alert with one of the three CRBs, the others will be notified automatically. You’ll get a 90-day fraud alert automatically. To get that extended to two years, you’ll have to provide some additional paperwork.
HOW TO “FREEZE” YOUR CREDIT FILES
A security freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors. A security freeze can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumer’s credit history. If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number probably would not be able to obtain credit in your name.
To date, all but three states allow credit or security freezes. States allow credit reporting bureaus to charge for this service. The Consumers Union has a terrific website that lists how credit or security freeze works in each state.
To place a freeze in Georgia, you must write to each of the three major credit bureaus. Currently, the credit bureaus charge $3 to place a freeze. Starting August 1, 2008, the credit bureaus cannot charge more than $3 to place a security freeze. If you are a senior 65 or older, there is no fee to place a security freeze. If you provide proof that you are a victim of identity theft, there is no fee.
If you want the fee waiver as an identity theft victim, you must provide a copy of your police report, investigative report or a complaint to a law enforcement agency.
Write to all three addresses below and include the information that follows:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union Security Freeze
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
For each credit reporting bureau to institute a freeze, you must:
- Send a letter by regular or certified mail;
- If you are a victim of identity theft, you must include a copy of either the police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft;
- Provide your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.)
- Provide any name you previously used;
- Provide current and recent full addresses, including street address, apartment number, city, state and zip code;
- Provide your Social Security number;
- Provide your date of birth.
- Send a photocopy of a government issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, etc.)
- If applicable, include payment by check, money order or credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express or Discover cards only.)