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Protecting Your Finances: The lowdown on fraud alerts and credit freezes.

in Protecting Your Identity
credit freeze

In today’s digital age, where cyber threats and financial scams abound, safeguarding your hard-earned money has never been more critical. If you’ve fallen victim to fraud or identity theft, you’re likely exploring options to fortify your financial defenses. Two primary tools at your disposal are fraud alerts and credit freezes. Which one should you choose? We’ll delve into the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision, but first, let us remind you that the best source of information on this subject is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This page is particularly useful and chockful of information.

Fraud Alerts

The first thing to know about fraud alerts is there are three kinds: initial, extended, and for military personnel, active duty.

Initial alerts should be filed if you suspect you are being targeted for fraud or have just been victimized. These alerts last for one year and can be renewed. Filing an initial alert will allow you to receive a free credit report from each of the national credit reporting agencies.

Extended alerts last for seven years and are appropriate if your identity has been stolen. This alert requires creditors to reach out to you in person, on the phone, or through another contact method to confirm you actually requested the credit.

Active-duty alerts last up to twelve months but can be rescinded early. They protect servicemembers while they are on active duty and assigned away from their usual duty station. This alert requires businesses to take reasonable steps to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.


Immediate Action: Placing a fraud alert on your credit report notifies creditors to take extra steps in verifying your identity before extending credit. This adds an extra layer of security and can prevent unauthorized accounts from being opened in your name.

Ease of Implementation: Initiating a fraud alert is relatively simple. You need to contact one of the major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—and request a fraud alert. The bureau you contact is required to inform the other two, ensuring comprehensive coverage.

Temporary Solution: Fraud alerts typically last for one year and can be renewed as needed. This flexibility allows you to maintain control over your credit while still offering protection against potentially fraudulent activity.


Limited Protection: While fraud alerts can deter identity thieves, they do not prevent all types of fraud. Creditors are not legally obligated to heed the alert, meaning some may still extend credit without additional verification.

Potential Delays: While creditors are encouraged to take extra precautions, the process can sometimes result in delays when applying for credit yourself. If you’re in a hurry to secure financing, this could pose an inconvenience.

Credit Freezes


Comprehensive Protection: Unlike fraud alerts, credit freezes offer a more robust defense mechanism. When you freeze your credit, potential creditors cannot access your credit report, making it extremely difficult for fraudsters to open new accounts in your name.

Long-Term Security: A credit freeze remains in place until you choose to lift it, providing ongoing protection against unauthorized credit inquiries and account openings.

Peace of Mind: Knowing that your credit is under lock and key can provide a sense of security, especially if you’ve experienced previous instances of identity theft or fraud.


Inconvenience: While effective, credit freezes can be cumbersome to implement. You must contact each of the three major credit bureaus individually to initiate a freeze, and there may be fees associated with both placing and lifting the freeze.

Potential Impact on Credit Applications: If you’re in the market for new credit, you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily, which adds an extra step to the application process. This could result in delays or require additional documentation.

Which Option is Best for You?

Ultimately, the decision between a fraud alert and a credit freeze depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you’re seeking a temporary solution with minimal hassle, a fraud alert may suffice. However, if you prioritize long-term security and are willing to endure some inconvenience, a credit freeze offers unparalleled protection against identity theft and credit fraud.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and monitor your financial accounts regularly for any signs of suspicious activity. By taking proactive steps to safeguard your finances, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to fraud and enjoy greater peace of mind in an increasingly digital world.

Protect Yourself by Partnering With Lafayette Federal

At Lafayette Federal, we know that the rise of cybercrime puts more and more people at risk of financial fraud every day. We prioritize our members’ financial safety; our team members are trained to help spot potential scams or abuse and can offer tips on how to improve cyber security. We also offer tools and resources aimed at safeguarding our members, including our credit monitoring and restoration services.

Not a Lafayette Federal member yet? You can become a member by completing an online membership application.

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