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In the wake of data breaches and identity theft cases, our office has gotten several questions about security freezes and how they are different from fraud alerts.
Here’s the 411.
Fraud Alerts are like ‘red flags’ for anyone looking at your credit file. They signal to credit grantors that you may have been a victim of suspicious activity.
You can place an initial fraud alert on your credit report if you worry that you have been — or could be — the victim of identity theft. This is a good idea if you see any suspicious activity on your report or bills, if your wallet or other information has been stolen, if you’ve been a victim of a security breach, or even if you’re concerned that you’ve revealed too much personal information online or over the phone.
Anyone can place a 90-day initial fraud alert in their credit report, which can be renewed. Contact one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion), which will notify the others.
A Security Freeze, also known as a Credit Freeze, is a way for you to have maximum control of access to your credit.
Freezing your credit report prohibits the credit bureau(s) from releasing any information in your credit report without your express authorization, except to those with whom the consumer has an existing account or a collection agency acting on behalf of the existing account, for purposes of reviewing (account maintenance, monitoring, credit line increases and account upgrades and enhancements) or collecting the account.
In South Dakota, the fee for placing a security freeze on a credit report is $10.60, including tax. This fee is due to each credit bureau you wish to have freeze your report (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). If you are a victim of identity theft and submit a valid investigative or incident report, complaint with a law enforcement agency or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the fee will be waived
Here are links to each credit bureau if you are interested in placing a freeze on your file: