The difference between a fraud alert and a security freeze

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Credit Advice

Topics addressed on May 30, 2007:

The difference between a fraud alert and a security freeze

Dear Max,

What is and where can I find my Security Freeze Personal Identification Number? I have an extended fraud alert on my credit report and would like it removed. I have drafted and put together all the information to send to have it removed; however, I am lacking this Security Freeze Personal Identification number.

- IDR

Dear IDR,

You are confusing two different fraud assistance tools.

An extended fraud alert is also called a fraud victim statement. The statement can be added to your credit report when you provide proof of your identity and a copy of a police report or other valid identity theft report verifying you are a fraud victim.

The statement appears on your credit report every time it is requested, and remains for seven years or until you ask that it be removed. It says that you are a victim of fraud and asks that the business obtaining the report contact you before granting credit in your name. The statement includes two telephone numbers you provide.

You do not need a personal identification number (PIN) to have the statement removed. You will need to provide your request in writing along with copies of documents to verify your identity. That is necessary to ensure you, not an identity thief, is asking that the statement be taken off of your credit report.

Some states allow you to place what is referred to as a “security freeze” on your credit history. Unlike a victim statement, a security freeze prohibits anyone from accessing your credit history. You will need a PIN if you have frozen your credit file, and would have received it when you first requested that your credit history be frozen.

You must unfreeze your credit file before applying for credit or other services that require accessing your credit history, such as opening a new cellular telephone account or applying for new job.

If you do not unfreeze your credit file in advance of making an application, the business will be unable to access your credit history and so will be unable to process your application.

Thanks for asking.

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