How to Put a Consumer Alert on a Credit Report

When you're starting out on your own and establishing a good credit history to help you make a large future purchase, you may be shocked to receive a collection letter on a credit card or loan that you never requested. If this happens or if you have another reason to believe you're the victim of identity theft, you can place a consumer, or fraud, alert on your credit report. This blocks additional credit accounts from being opened in your name and Social Security number without your permission. Consumer alerts also may help you prevent creditors from reporting erroneous information about your credit history because someone used your identity to fraudulently open an account.

Step 1

Order your free annual credit report from the three major reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. You can request a report from each one or order them online from

Step 2

Review your credit reports thoroughly and check for entries of credit or loans that you did not request. You may be a victim of fraud and need to place a consumer alert on your credit information so no more accounts will be open in your name without your knowledge.

Step 3

Contact one of the major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. By placing an alert with one bureau, the other two will be contacted. You may also access the bureaus online. Go to and click on the "Fraud Alert" tab at the top of the page for contact information.

Step 4

Have your Social Security number handy and be ready to provide a phone number where you may be easily reached. The credit bureaus will call you if someone attempts to open credit in your name after you place your consumer alert.

Step 5

Place a 90-day fraud alert on your file. You can do this if you suspect fraud occurred or may occur. This prevents new or extended credit being opened in your name for a three-month period.

Step 6

Request an extended seven-year fraud alert on your credit report. You will need to supply a document, such as a police report, proving you are a victim of fraud. The credit bureau will call you to confirm the extended alert.

Step 7

Request another free credit report one to three months later to ensure your file is free of fraud. After you place your consumer alert, you have the right to obtain one to two more credit reports, depending on the type of hold you initiate.

the nest