Where credit reports can be acquired.
David A. Szwak


Postby David A. Szwak » Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:51 pm

Requests to remove fraud security alerts must be submitted in writing

Dear Max,
Once a written request is made to have a fraud security alert removed from my file, how long does it take for this to happen? I have to open checking and savings accounts and am unable to do so as long as the security feature appears on my file.


Dear MMO,
Your question is a good example of why security alerts are intended for victims of identity theft, and not as a preventative tool for non-victims. It's also good evidence that the alerts work to help victims recover by preventing ongoing fraud attempts.

An identity thief would want the alert removed so that he could continue victimizing you. To protect you, Experian requires you to send your request to remove the alert in writing, along with copies of identification documents to ensure you are making the request, and not the identity thief.

Once we receive the request and verify your identity, the alert is removed very quickly. However, it can take a week or more for the request to arrive in the mail, especially if weekends or holidays are involved.

Fraud alerts notify businesses that access your credit history that you are, or have reason to believe you are a victim of identity theft. Further, the alerts ask the lender to take additional steps to verify your identity before approving your application for credit, or in your instance to open a checking or savings account.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) requires businesses to respond to the alerts. However, application processes often are automated. In order to complete your application when an alert is present, the business would need to have a means to pull the application out of the automated process and conduct a manual review and personal investigation.

That may not be possible, and would add significant cost if the lender does have that capability. As a result, the business may simply decline the application to protect both you and them.

Your question also points out another important issue. Credit reports aren't used only in credit transactions, and as a result, fraud alerts may affect your ability to open checking or savings accounts, secure employment, or finalize a rental agreement.

For victims, such inconvenience is worth the protection the alert provides against ongoing identity theft. If you are not a victim, the alerts simply prevent you from getting the credit or other services you want and need.

Thanks for asking.

[[ask maxine sweet]]

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