Those who have been the victims of identity theft have the option of putting a fraud alert on their credit reports from the 3 credit bureaus. Is it worth the hassle?
In all honesty, a fraud alert on a credit report provides only a small amount of security. It is simply a statement that your identifying information has been compromised. Your phone number is attached to the fraud alert, and any business offering credit to you should call that number prior to the issuance of a new account.
The whole purpose of the fraud alert is to curb identity theft by preventing others from fraudulently receiving credit in a victim’s name. But the fraud alerts are only as good as the businesses paying attention to them. Companies offering credit are NOT legally obligated to act upon fraud alerts. Some lenders grant credit without investigating, and some even grant credit without ever pulling a full credit report.
So what do I recommend? If your identifying information has been compromised (i.e. your wallet has been stolen, your social security number was released, etc.) then I recommend putting the fraud alert on your credit bureaus.
Even though it appears that lenders are not doing a very good job of following through on fraud alerts, it is one layer of protection that I recommend utilizing. Above and beyond that, those who have been victims of identity theft need to be continuously and proactively monitoring their credit reports for suspicious activity.