All the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) have been swamped with "Fraud Alert Calls lately after clients of the largest home mortgage company in the U.S., the Countrywide Home Mortgage Loans informed their clients by snail mail that their confidential personal data may have been compromised. It seems one of Countrywide's employees who have access to the company's confidential files, stole all information about its clients and sold it to a still undidentified third party. Included in the stolen information are sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and expiry dates, birthdays and other pertinent information vital to any credit transaction. While the matter is still being investigated, Countrywide advised its clients to immediately inform any one or all the three credit reporting agencies to tag their accounts with a Fraud Alert. This is a free service provided by the credit reporting agencies to anyone who wishes to avail of it. The initial tag will stay for 90 days with an option for the client to extend it for the next seven years.
Simply put, the fraud alert is a notice attached to the client's credit files. What it does is it informs creditors that the account may have been compromised and may possibly be used by identity thieves. So every time a client whose credit file has been tagged with a fraud alert avails of a credit facility like using a credit card or opening a new one or applying for any form of loan, the creditor is immediately informed of the delicate situation. Extra care is taken by the creditor who has the option to require the client for other proofs of identity. In the store front, if you swipe a credit card with a fraud alert tag, you will be required to produce other supplementary ID's more than what is normally asked for. It is a preventive measure to avoid identity theft but may also cause some delay in credit processing. But hey, this is definitely better than having your card or your credit facility be used by thieves!
If you are one of Countrywide's clients, you better make the call now! Countrywide Financial to which the Countrywide Home Mortgage is affiliated with, is a large conglomerate. They are into home mortgage loans, banking services, and insurance. We are not exactly sure whether the stolen information is limited only to clients of Home Mortgage. There is a distinct possibility the guy may have hacked the whole caboodle of confidential information from the conglomerate. Besides, the fraud alert service is free!