Fraud Alert – What It Is and How To Use It
In our digital world, we need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves from identity theft. When our accounts have been compromised, it can take months to sort out. While you work to reclaim your information, it is vital to contact both TransUnion and Equifax to place a fraud alert on your credit file.
What It Is
When a lender pulls your credit report they will see the fraud alert. Verifying your identity will require extra work before moving forward. In this way, it makes it unlikely that thieves can open new lines of credit in your name.
According to numbers provided by the Competition Bureau, nearly 90,000 complaints were received in 2016 while there were just under 70,000 reported in 2015. Canadians experienced over $290 million dollars in losses, from January 2014 to December 2016, with our vulnerable senior population losing almost $28 million of that to fraud.
How To Use It
Adding a fraud alert to your account is a straightforward process. You need to file with both reporting bureaus as some lenders only report to one or the other instead of both.
TransUnion will require you to fill out a form that needs to be submitted by mail or fax along with photocopies of 2 pieces of your identification (both sides). You can also contact them by phone at 1-800-663-9980, prompt 3. It will cost $5 plus tax and is good for 6 years.
Equifax will process your fraud alert request by phone, 1-800-465-7166. You will need to provide identifying information such as your Social Insurance Number. The alert costs $6 plus tax and is good for 6 years.
You can extend or remove the alert at any time and each bureau has its own process and requirements.
There are many steps we can take to protect our information from winding up in the ends of the wrong people.
-Don’t carry your SIN, birth certificate and/or passport with you unless actually required. Keep them safely at home when not needed.
– Always take a close look at your credit card/bank statements and inquire about any transactions that you do not recognize.
-Invest in a shredder for sensitive documents that include any of your personal details. Sensitive documents also include those pre-approved credit card offers and cheques from closed chequing accounts.
-Order a free copy of your credit report from both reporting bureaus every year. Report any activity that you do not recognize.
-Memorize your passwords and PIN (personal identification number) and make sure that no one is watching when you use them.
Benjamin Franklin was right when he said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At best, identity theft will leave your accounts in a mess that will take some time to remedy. At worst, it can result in major losses that can push you into insolvency. That means bankruptcy or consumer proposal.
At PYLO Finance Inc., we encourage people to be vigilant when it comes to scams and fraud. Our team is available if you have any questions about contacting credit reporting bureaus.