During the last week of September, I called the Experian credit bureau to renew the Fraud Alert on my credit file for another 90 days. I called since Experian has an easy and quick phone system for consumers.
During the phone call, Experian advised me that it would automatically notify the other 2 national credit bureaus, which would also place a Fraud Alert on my file at their services. The entire phone call took maybe 5 minutes max. About 3 days later, I received via surface mail from Experian a written confirmation of the transaction:
"We have added an initial Security Alert to your credit file as requested on your behalf by one or more of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. This message, which will expire after 90 days from 09/27/2007, alerts credit grantors to verify your identity in case someone is using your information without your consent. As an additional precaution, we have removed your name and address from pre-screened offer mailing lists for six months."
The next day after that, I received via surface mail confirmation from the TransUnion credit bureau of my Fraud Alert renewal. I placed the initial Fraud Alert on my credit report at all three national credit bureaus back in July, after IBM notified me of their data breach. If you want to place a Fraud Alert on your credit report, the TransUion site lists phone numbers for all three national credit bureaus.
I fully realize that limitations of the Fraud Alert tool. The national credit bureaus make money by selling consumers' credit reports to (hopefully responsible) creditor companies. The Fraud Alert tool doesn't stop the credit bureaus from selling my credit report to credit grantors. The credit bureaus simply append an alert notice to my report. If you want to learn more, the Experian site lists the reasons companies purchase consumers' credit reports. Since credit bureaus don't notify consumers when our credit report is distributed, I use my credit monitoring service for notification.
Now that 2 of the 3 national credit bureaus will offer the Security Freeze tool starting in November 2007, I look forward to using that tool to really lock down my credit report so that nobody has access to it, unless I authorize access. As each credit bureau releases details about its Security Freeze program, I will share my findings in this blog.
Will I let the Fraud Alert expire on my credit reports once I have the Security Freeze in place? I haven't decided yet about that.