it.ucsf.edu

Fraud Alert Guidelines

Policy Type

Guideline

1. Credit Check: The easiest way to look at your credit report is to use the website below. Follow the instructions and answer the security questions to see your free reports. Do not go to the credit bureaus websites.

http://www.annualcreditreport.com -- OR -- (877) 322-8228

If you do not have internet access, you may send your full name including middle initial and generation if appropriate (for example, jr., sr.,II), your social security number, full address, and date of birth to the following address: Annual Credit Report, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You should get it within 15 days.

When you receive your credit reports, review them carefully. Look especially for these indicators of possible fraudulent activity:

  • Unfamiliar accounts, especially ones that have been newly opened
  • Unauthorized charges to existing accounts
  • Addresses where you have not lived

If you notice evidence of fraud (also known as identity theft), see section 2 below.

2. If you are a victim of identity theft

If you find evidence of identity theft on your credit reports, take these steps:

  • Close the credit card accounts that you believe have been opened fraudulently or have unauthorized activity.
  • File a report with your local police department, and get a copy to submit to creditors and others that may require proof of a crime.
  • Contact the credit bureaus to place a victim statement on your account.
  • File a complaint with the FTC online ( http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft) or by calling (877) 438-4338.
  • If you discover misuse of your Social Security number, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline, (800) 269-0271.
  • Keep a record of communications with credit bureaus, creditors, financial institutions, and police, including dates.

3. Fraud Alert: Whether or not you see problems with your credit report, you can place a fraud alert. In the case of a “Fraud Alert” (in contrast to the free credit report), you must make a phone call to a credit bureau directly or do it online at the credit bureau’s website. Experian allows you to file a “Fraud Alert” online or by telephone; Equifax and TransUnion require you to call. Once you notify one agency, it will verify the fraud alert and then inform the other agencies. This is a free service that will request creditors to verify your identity before opening a new account. The length of time that an alert stays on your record varies for each credit bureau but is minimum 90 days. You can request an extension when the initial period has ended.

Choose one of the credit bureaus from the contact information below.

Experian allows you to file a fraud alert online or by telephone; Equifax and TransUnion require you to call. Once you notify one agency, it will verify the fraud alert and then inform the other agencies.

Experian

http://www.experian.com

Online fraud alert: http://www.experian.com/consumer/fraud_faqs.html

(888) 397-3742

Equifax

http://www.equifax.com

(800) 525-6285

TransUnion

http://www.transunion.com

(800) 680-7289

When you receive your credit reports, review them carefully. Look especially for these indicators of possible fraudulent activity:

  • Unfamiliar accounts, especially ones that have been newly opened
  •  Unauthorized charges to existing accounts
  • Addresses where you have not lived

5. Facts about fraud alerts

Before you add a fraud alert to your credit report, be aware of these effects:

  • You may be asked to provide proof of your identification when applying for instant credit. In some cases, the presence of a fraud alert may limit your ability to receive instant credit for in-store purchases that you plan to take possession of immediately.
  • Creditors may contact you by phone at a designated number before opening a new account.
  • A fraud alert should not interfere with the daily use of credit cards or banking or checking accounts.
  • If you are a victim of identity theft
  • If you find evidence of identity theft on your credit reports, take these steps:
  • Close the credit card accounts that you believe have been opened fraudulently or have unauthorized activity.
  • File a report with your local police department, and get a copy to submit to creditors and others that may require proof of a crime.
  • Contact the credit bureaus to place a victim statement on your account.
  • File a complaint with the FTC online (http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft) or by calling (877) 438-4338.
  • If you discover misuse of your Social Security number, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline, (800) 269-0271.
  • Keep a record of communications with credit bureaus, creditors, financial institutions, and police, including dates.