An active-duty fraud alert is a designation that you can add to your credit report in the hopes of preventing identity theft and fraud while you’re deployed for military service. An active-duty alert lasts for one year and can be renewed for the length of your deployment (or removed sooner, if you wish). There is no charge for either adding or removing an active-duty alert.
How to Request an Active Duty Fraud Alert:
- Reach out to a credit bureau. You can contact the credit bureaus online, by mail, or over the phone to request an active-duty fraud alert. Once you request a fraud alert at any of the three credit bureaus, that bureau will coordinate with the other two to make sure they set up fraud alerts as well. However, we recommend contacting all three bureaus to ensure your request is handled properly. You will need to verify your identity through your Social Security number in order for your request to be processed.
- Reevaluate after one year. After one year has passed, the alert will automatically disappear. So if you are back from deployment, there’s nothing to do. If you want to extend your alert, you renew it with the credit bureaus.
What to Expect With An Active Duty Fraud Alert:
The alert requires lenders to take certain “additional steps” to verify your identity when a request for credit is submitted in your name, according to the Federal Trade Commission. These steps aren’t specified, though. They’re instead left to the discretion of lenders, which means there’s ultimately no guarantee the alert will provide any benefit. An unfortunately large number of lenders, particularly creditors offering instant approval, ignore this type of alert altogether. And it won’t stop utility accounts from being opened, either.
Still, having an active-duty fraud alert on your credit report is better than nothing, and not just for the chance that a scrupulous lender follows the rules to a T. It could also lend context to missed payments and other financial difficulties that you might experience while focused on more important matters than your credit history. It could even explain to a potential lender why your request for credit is originating from another country. Plus, it will automatically exempt you from those pesky prescreened offers for credit cards and insurance policies for two years.
Contact the Credit Bureaus About an Active-Duty Alert:
TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289
Equifax - 1-800-525-6285
Experian - 1-888-397-3742
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