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Consumer use of fraud alerts and credit freezes: an empirical analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Julia S. Cheney
  • Robert M. Hunt
  • Vyacheslav Mikhed
  • Dubravka Ritter
  • Michael Vogan

Abstract

Fraud alerts ? initial fraud alerts, extended fraud alerts, and credit freezes ? help protect consumers from the consequences of identity theft. At the same time, they may impose costs on lenders, credit bureaus, and, in some instances, consumers. We analyze a unique data set of anonymized credit bureau files to understand how consumers use these alerts. We document the frequency and persistence of fraud alerts and credit freezes. Using the experience of the data breach at the South Carolina Department of Revenue, we show that consumers who file initial fraud alerts or credit freezes likely do so out of precaution. Consumers who file extended alerts are more likely to be actual victims of identity theft. We find that consumers are heterogeneous in their choice of alerts and that their choices are correlated with important characteristics found in their credit bureau files. These facts are useful for interpreting consumer responses to data breaches and for policymakers.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia S. Cheney & Robert M. Hunt & Vyacheslav Mikhed & Dubravka Ritter & Michael Vogan, 2014. "Consumer use of fraud alerts and credit freezes: an empirical analysis," Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers 14-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpdp:14-04
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    File URL: https://www.philadelphiafed.org/-/media/frbp/assets/consumer-finance/discussion-papers/dp14-01-prepaid-cards.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Julia S. Cheney & Robert M. Hunt & Vyacheslav Mikhed & Dubravka Ritter & Michael Vogan, 2014. "Identity theft as a teachable moment," Working Papers 14-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mikhed, Vyacheslav & Vogan, Michael, 2018. "How data breaches affect consumer credit," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 192-207.
    2. Julia S. Cheney & Robert M. Hunt & Vyacheslav Mikhed & Dubravka Ritter & Michael Vogan, 2014. "Identity theft as a teachable moment," Working Papers 14-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    3. Nathan Blascak & Julia S. Cheney & Robert M. Hunt & Vyacheslav Mikhed & Dubravka Ritter & Michael Vogan, 2020. "Financial Consequences of Identity Theft," Working Papers 20-33, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Data breach; Identity theft; Fraud alert; Credit freeze; Credit report; Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA);
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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