New Law Extends Initial Fraud Alerts to One Year

As of September 21, 2018, a new federal law increases the length of time a consumer reporting agency must include a fraud alert in a consumer’s file.

On May 24, 2018, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) into law. Part of this new law amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to allow consumers to place a fraud alert on their credit file at no cost for one year—up from 90 days currently—starting September 21, 2018.

How Fraud Alerts Work

If you put a fraud alert on your credit file with the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—a creditor has to take extra steps to verify the identity of a person applying for credit under your name before going ahead with the transaction. (To get additional information about fraud alerts, see What’s the Difference Between a Credit Freeze and a Fraud Alert?)

After you request a fraud alert at one of the three bureaus, the alert is automatically set up at the other two.

Different Kinds of Fraud Alerts

The different types of fraud alerts that you may place on your credit file are an initial alert, an extended alert, and an active duty alert.

Initial Alert. If you suspect you might become the victim of identity theft, you can place an initial alert on your file. Currently, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the alert last for 90 days. The recently-passed Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act extends this kind of alert to one year starting September 21, 2018. (Learn more about your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.)

Extended alert. If you’ve already become a victim of identity theft, you can send the credit bureau an Identity Theft Report and ask it to set up an extended alert in your file. The extended alert remains in place for seven years. (To get a checklist of the recovery steps you should take if your identity has been stolen, see Stolen Identity? Take These Recovery Steps.)

Active duty alert. If you are on active military duty, you can add an active duty alert to your file. This type of alert is similar to the others, but it remains in place for 12 months.

Getting Help

To learn more about preventing identity theft or how to handle identity theft after it happens, see Top Ten Ways to Prevent Identity Theft and go to the FTC's identity theft website at IdentityTheft.gov.

Effective date: September 21, 2018