We’ll pay you back up to $20/month in ATM charges if you use an out-of-network ATM to access your checking account.
Want a low rate? High rewards? A prestige cashback card? We’ve got the right card for your needs.
Simplify your life and save money when you refinance.
Alliant returns profits to our members through higher savings rates, lower loan rates, and fewer fees. And we make it easy to bank with 24/7 account access.
Teen Checking – with smart limits and parental monitoring – helps you teach money skills.
Return to The Money Mentor Blog
By Pam Leibfried
It’s National Consumer Protection Week!
In my identity theft post Tuesday, I wrote about being a past customer of Anthem Blue Cross, and facing the reality that I may now be at a higher risk of having my identity compromised or being a victim of credit fraud. Today I’ll share some information about two ways that you can reduce the chances that such financial fraud will occur: fraud alerts and credit freezes. Here’s a simple summary of what these credit protection options do and how they differ: A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report after they take steps to verify your identity, while a credit freeze locks down your credit.
What a fraud alert does. A fraud alert notifies potential creditors that you believe you are at risk of identity theft. When you have an active fraud alert, the credit reporting companies must contact you to confirm than any request for your credit information (for a loan, credit card, apartment rental, job application, etc.) is legitimate. This makes it much more difficult for a fraudster to use your identity to open new lines of credit in your name. On the other hand, it can also delay the approval process when you apply for credit or a job.
What a fraud alert DOESN’T do. Although a fraud alert can stop someone from opening new lines of credit in your name, it does not protect you from fraud related to existing accounts. For example, a fraud alert makes it harder for thieves to open a fraudulent credit card, but would not stop them from making fraudulent charges on an existing credit card if that account information were compromised. This is why it is important to continue to diligently monitor your accounts even after you enact a fraud alert.
Only one fraud alert request is required. When you set up one of these alerts with any one of the three major credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian or Transunion), that company will automatically inform the other two to add an alert; you do not need to contact each of the three companies separately.
Cost: Fraud alerts are free.
Types of fraud alerts. There are three types of fraud alerts:
What a credit freeze does. A credit freeze (aka security freeze), lets you restrict access to your credit report. This makes it less likely that identity thieves could open new accounts in your name. Because most creditors want to see your credit report before they approve a new account, keeping them from accessing your account may stop them from extending credit if a fraudster applies for it using your information. When you want to allow someone to access your credit report – when you apply for a loan or job, for example – you can contact the credit reporting companies to temporarily lift the freeze and allow access to your credit report.
What a credit freeze DOESN’T do. A credit freeze does not stop a thief from using a stolen credit or debit card number, so you still need to monitor your accounts just like you did before you set up your credit freeze.
Three requests are required. Because credit freezes are so much more limiting than fraud alerts, you can’t enact credit freezes with a single request to one of the credit reporting companies. Instead, you need to file a request at each of the big-three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. If you file a credit freeze request with only one credit reporting company, any fraudster who applies with a creditor who uses the others may still be able to open credit, so it is crucial that you request a credit freeze with all three companies if you choose this option.
Federal Trade Commission