A “fraud alert” is a special message on the report that a credit issuer receives when checking a consumer’s credit rating. It tells the credit issuer that there may be fraud involved in the account. A fraud alert can help protect you against identity theft. A fraud alert can also slow down your ability to get new credit. It should not stop you from using your existing credit cards or other accounts. A “security freeze” means that your credit file cannot be seen by potential creditors – unless you give your consent. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumer’s credit history. The thief will be stopped cold, unable to open new accounts or run up debts in your name.