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Fraud Alerts and NYS Security Freeze

If you're a victim of identity theft or suspect that your identity might be stolen (e.g., you lost your wallet with all your identification cards), one of the first steps you should take is to put a fraud alert on your credit file to prevent identity thieves from further abusing your identity.  In addition to fraud alerts, you should be aware of New York State's Security Freeze.  Learn about alerts and the freeze by reviewing the chart below.

 Initial Fraud Alert Extended Fraud Alert NYS Security Freeze 
What is it? 

Fraud alert allows creditors to access your credit reports, but they must follow a verification process in order to issue any new accounts.

Both initial and extended fraud alerts can help keep an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name. Unfortunately, they do not protect you from an identity thief who is currently using your credit cards or other accounts. Call your credit card company or lenders directly to close those accounts. 

A freeze will prevent potential creditors and other third parties from accessing your credit report at all, unless you lift the freeze or already have a relationship with the company. 

Download the Security Freeze Law Brochure from the New York State Consumer Protection Board
How much does it cost? FreeFreeThere is no charge for New York State residents to place a Security Freeze on their credit report if they are the victim of identity theft or if they are making this request for the first time. For second or subsequent requests for a Security Freeze, you may be charged up to $5.
How long does it stay on my credit report? At least 90 daysSeven yearsThe freeze remains active until you request it to be lifted temporarily or permanently removed.
When would I want to put an alert on my credit report? You can have an initial alert placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been or are about to be a victim of identity theft. (This includes instances when your wallet was stolen or you gave away your personal information to someone who is not from a legitimate organization).You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you've been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Report.

Putting the Security Freeze on your credit report is your personal choice. Not everyone will want to put a Security Freeze on their credit file because it won't allow you to borrow money or get a new credit card until you temporarily lift or permanently remove the Security Freeze.

To place a security freeze on your credit file, you must contact all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) by mailing a certified letter requesting a security freeze.

What do potential creditors do when they see this on my credit report? Potential creditors must use what the law refers to as reasonable policies and procedures to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.Potential creditors must actually contact you, or meet with you in person, before they issue you credit.Potential creditors will not be able to access your credit report unless you inform the credit bureau to temporary lift the freeze or permanently remove it from your file. Each credit bureau has their own procedure for doing this but it usually requires proper identification, your password or PIN, and payment of any applicable fees.
Can I get a free credit report with an alert on my file? When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you're entitled to order one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you're entitled to two free credit reports within twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then.You are still entitled to one free credit report each year. To order a copy, visit