In addition to subscribing to Equifax’s credit monitoring services, you may want to consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report. An initial fraud alert is free and will stay on your credit file for at least 90 days. The alert informs creditors of possible fraudulent activity within your report and requests that the creditor contact you prior to establishing any accounts in your name. To place a fraud alert on your credit report, contact any of the three (3) credit reporting agencies identified above. Additional information is available at http://www.annualcreditreport.com.
You may also have the right to put a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, on your credit file, so that no new credit can be opened in your name without the use of a personal identification number (“PIN”) or password that is issued to you when you initiate the freeze. A security freeze is designed to prevent potential credit grantors from accessing your credit report without consent. If you place a security freeze, potential creditors and other third parties will not be able to access your credit report unless you temporarily lift the freeze. Therefore, using a security freeze may delay your ability to obtain credit. There is no fee to place or lift a security freeze. Unlike a fraud alert, you must separately place a security freeze on your credit file at each credit reporting company. For information and instructions to place a security freeze, contact each of the credit reporting agencies. To request a freeze, you may need to provide the following information:
- 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 years, provide the addresses where you have lived over the prior five years
- Proof of current address, such as a current utility bill or telephone bill
- A legible photocopy of a government-issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, etc.)
The credit reporting agencies have one business day after receiving your request by toll-free telephone or secure electronic means, or three business days after receiving your request by mail, to place a security freeze on your credit report. The credit bureaus must also send written confirmation to you within five business days, and provide you with a unique PIN or password or both that you can use to authorize the removal or lifting of the security freeze.
To remove the security freeze or to temporarily lift the security freeze for a specified period or to allow a specific entity or individual access to your credit report, you must submit a request through a toll-free telephone number, a secure electronic means maintained by a credit reporting agency, or by sending a written request via regular, certified, or overnight mail to the credit reporting agency and include proper identification (name, address, and Social Security number) and the PIN or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze. If you are seeking to temporarily lift, rather than remove the freeze, you must also include the specific period of time during which you want the credit report available or the identity of those entities or individuals you would like to receive access to your credit report. The credit reporting agencies have one business day after receiving your request by toll-free telephone or secure electronic means, or three business days after receiving your request by mail, to remove the security freeze or lift the freeze for the specified period or identified entities or individuals.