To help protect yourself from possible identity theft, you could consider placing either a security freeze or fraud alert on your credit file.

Placing a Fraud Alert on Your Credit File

A fraud alert helps prevent an identity thief from opening new credit accounts in your name. When a merchant checks the credit history of someone applying for credit, they get a notice that the applicant may be a victim of identity theft. The alert notifies the merchant to take extra steps to verify the applicant’s identity. You can report potential identity theft to all three of the major credit bureaus. When you call any one of the toll-free fraud numbers below, you will reach an automated telephone system that allows you to place a fraud alert on your credit file.

Equifax
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348-5069
800-525-6285
www.equifax.com

Experian
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
888-397-3742
www.experian.com

TransUnion
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
800-680-7289
fraud.transunion.com

Placing a Security Freeze on Your Credit File

You could also consider putting a "security freeze” or credit freeze on your credit file. A security freeze will generally prevent creditors from being able to access your credit file at the three nationwide credit reporting agencies without your consent. However, please be aware that doing so may delay, prevent, or otherwise interfere with you getting approved for new loans, credit mortgages, employment, housing or other services in a timely manner. After receiving your request, the credit bureaus have three (3) business days to place a security freeze on your credit report. To request one, contact and place an order with each of the credit agencies at:

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
800-525-6285
www.freeze.equifax.com

Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com/freeze

TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
800-680-7289
freeze.transunion.com

The credit agencies may charge a reasonable fee to put a security freeze on your credit file. You will need to provide the following information when requesting a security freeze:

  • Your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.)
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • If you have moved in the past five (5) years, provide the addresses where you have lived over the prior five (5) years.
  • Proof of current address such as a current utility bill or telephone bill
  • A legible photocopy of a government-issued ID card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, etc.)
  • If you’re a victim of identity theft, include a copy of the police report, complaint to a law enforcement agency, or investigative report concerning the identity theft.
  • If you’re not a victim of identity theft, include payment by check, money order, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover only). Do not send cash in the mail.

Temporarily Lifting a Security Freeze

At some point after placing a security freeze on your file, you may want to temporarily lift it so that a specific entity or individual can access your credit report. To lift a security freeze, you will need to call or send a written request to the credit bureaus by mail. You will need to include not only proper identification (name, address, and social security number) and the password or PIN number provided to you when you placed the security freeze, but also the identities of those entities or individuals you would like to receive your credit report or the specific period of time you want the credit report available. After receiving your request, the credit bureaus have three (3) business days to lift the security freeze for those identified entities or for the specified period of time.

Completely Removing a Security Freeze

To completely remove the security freeze, you must send a written request to each of the three credit agencies by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and social security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze. After receiving your request, the credit agencies have three (3) business days to remove the security freeze.


Additional Information for Massachusetts Residents:

Placing a Credit Freeze: Massachusetts law also allows consumers to place a security freeze on their credit reports. See the description above about what a security freeze does and how to order them with each credit reporting agency. Under Massachusetts law, if you have been a victim of identity theft, and you provide the credit reporting agency with a valid police report, it cannot charge you to place, lift, or remove a security freeze. In all other cases, a credit reporting agency may charge you up to $5.00 each to place, temporarily lift, or permanently remove a security freeze.

Obtaining Police Reports: You have a right to obtain a police report relating to this incident. If you are the victim of identity theft, you also have the right to file a police report and obtain a copy of it.

Helpful Contacts: You can learn more about how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft by contacting the Federal Trade Commission to obtain additional information about how to avoid identity theft, how to place a fraud alert, and how to place a security freeze on your credit report.

Federal Trade Commission,
Consumer Response Center

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
www.ftc.gov/idtheft

For Iowa residents: You may also contact local law enforcement or the Iowa attorney General’s Office to report suspected incidents of identity theft. You can reach the Iowa Attorney General at:

Iowa Attorney General
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
515-281-5164
http://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov

For residents of Maryland: You may also obtain information about preventing and avoiding identity theft from the:

Maryland Office of the Attorney General,
Consumer Protection Division

200 St. Paul Place,
Baltimore, MD 21202
1-888-743-0023
http://www.oag.state.md.us

For residents of North Carolina: You may also obtain information about preventing and avoiding identity theft from the:

North Carolina Attorney General’s Office
Consumer Protection Division

9001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001
1-919-716-6400
http://www.ncdoj.gov