A credit fraud alert is a notice sent to a credit reporting bureau that the identity of a customer is stolen, and an appeal for new credit in that name of the customer cannot be legitimate.

A credit fraud alert can protect the credit from someone opening fraudulent credit accounts under your name. You need to let one of the major credit bureaus know if your card is stolen, and they can place a credit fraud alert out.

Types of Credit Fraud Alerts
There are 3 kinds of credit fraud alerts initial, extended, active military.

Initial Alert
This alert is valid for 3 months and can be changed for 90-day terms thereafter.

Extended Alert
An extended alert is valid for 7 years. It needs you to submit a police report to the credit bureaus informing them that you are a victim of identity theft and have reported the crime to the authorities.

Active Military Alert
This alert is valid for 1 year and it will protect the credit while you are deployed. People file alerts if they know that they’re victims of identity theft or if the information of their profile was compromised due to the data breach.

How to place a fraud alert on the credit reports

Contact the major credit bureaus
You can ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your account with the 3 major credit bureaus Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian by requesting the alert online or by phone.

You should contact 1 of the 3 main credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your credit reports from all three. That bureau is required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to then inform the other credit bureaus of the alert.

Request the right action
Be sure you ask for the correct action. While 3 months or 7-year fraud alert notifies creditors that a customer may be a fraud victim, it isn’t the same as a credit freeze.

Still, you can open a new account having a fraud alert after the creditor has done its diligence and contacts you. A credit freeze, also sometimes known as a security freeze, prevents lenders from checking your credit to open a new account. Since most lenders will not open an account without checking a minimum of one credit report, a credit freeze efficiently can prevent new account openings.

Get and review a free copy of your credit reports
You are legally permitted to get an extra copy of your credit report from every bureau after filing an initial fraud alert. With an extended alert, you are allowed up to 2 free copies of your credit report from all credit bureaus that placed the fraud alert for up to 12 months after the bureau placed the alert.

Let the fraud alert expire or remove it if it’s no longer important
You can let the fraud alert expire or request that the credit bureau remove it prior to its 3 months expiration if you no longer require it. If you remove the fraud alert earlier, you must inform every bureau on your own to have that bureau take it off your report.

Renew the fraud alert or request a different one if required
After 3 months, you can resume the fraud alert if you want. If you want, you can appeal an extended fraud alert, which can stay in impact for 7 years. To do this, be sure you have made an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission. Do not forget, sometimes specific credit reporting companies or creditors will need a police report before filing an extended fraud alert.

Does a Fraud Alert Affect Credit?
A fraud alert has no effect at all on your credit report’s contents, or on the credit scores attained from the data stored in your credit report. It therefore can neither help nor hurt your capability to qualify for a loan or credit card.

A fraud alert can hinder your capability to get immediate approval for credit cards or in-store credit provides you encounter online or at retail outlets. The automated approval systems that are being used for these offers cannot be equipped to tackle the identity-confirmation steps. So, while you can’t be ineligible for a credit offer because of a fraud alert, you may have to contact retailer reps by phone or in-person to complete your application.