Credit card fraud can be a nightmare. While you may not be held liable, especially for larger charges, that doesn’t mean that being a victim of credit fraud is a walk in the park. Your identity has been compromised, meaning you might become a victim of more — and more serious — crimes in the future. However, a credit card fraud alert can make sense both before and after your information has been compromised.
What is a Credit Fraud Alert?
A credit fraud alert is pretty much what it sounds like: You subscribe to a service, either paid or free, and you receive an alert when there are signs of suspicious activity on your credit reports. This type of service can be helpful if you’re looking for a way to monitor if fraudsters open accounts in your name.
Many credit card issuers monitor all transactions and will alert you if there is suspicious activity on your account. On top of this, you could activate account alerts on your transactions, which can notify you of purchases over a certain amount, for example. That might sound like overkill, but it only takes a couple of seconds to check an alert to see if you have anything to worry about.
More Robust Fraud Alert Protection
Another option that goes above and beyond a standard fraud alert is to contact the credit reporting bureaus directly. You can request that they freeze your credit reports. This means that no new credit accounts will be issued in your name until you tell them otherwise. You have to approve any pull on your credit report when you take this approach, meaning you’ll be aware if anyone tries to open a new account in your name.
Beyond monitoring your credit report, other personal information can be at risk. In 2016, identity theft hit a record-high when more than 15 million Americans fell victim to identity fraud.
Who Needs Fraud Alert Protection?
Everyone can benefit from fraud alerts, although some consumers may have stronger needs than others. A simple fraud alert can help you to nip problems in the bud before they become bigger.
On the other hand, if you know that your data has been compromised and you don’t plan on applying for any new lines of credit in the near future, you would do well to put a lock on your credit reports directly through the credit reporting bureaus. That will give you peace of mind, while also helping protect you from becoming a victim of more serious crimes.
Finally, consider doing a bit of DIY fraud alert protection. Check your credit card statements closely every month. This is especially important, as a common tactic is to start with small charges to see if you are paying attention. If you notice any suspicious activity on your credit card statements, report it immediately. That’s the best way you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a more serious, expensive and headache-inducing crime.\