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Identity theft is something that nobody dreams of happening to them, yet it unfortunately happens to over 300,000 Americans each year. When one discovers they are a victim of identity theft, it can be very overwhelming. At ORNL Federal Credit Union, we strive to be that strong support system needed when someone is building a healthy financial lifestyle. Below are the necessary steps to take in order to recover from identity theft, as well as staying secure for the future. 

What to Do Right Away

If someone is using your financial or personal information to make purchases, receive benefits, file taxes, or commit fraud—that is identity theft. Immediately, you should do the following: 

Call the companies where the fraud occurred.
You will need to explain to the companies that someone has stolen your identity. Ask them to close or freeze your accounts, that way no one can add new charges unless you agree. 

Change your logins, passwords, and PINs to all of your accounts.

Place a fraud alert and receive a copy of your credit reports.
Setting up a fraud alert is completely free and makes it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. To place the fraud alert, you may contact one of the three credit bureaus below. Once you have contacted at least one of them, that company must tell the other two. 

Get your free credit reports from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
You can do this by going to or by calling 1.877.322.8228. Review your credit reports and make note of any transaction you do not recognize. 

Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
To do so, go to and include as many details as you possibly can. Once completed, the website will actually give you an Identity Theft Report and recovery plan. 

What to Do Next

Once you have taken care of the initial items above, it is now time to repair the damage done. 

You will need to close out the new accounts that have been opened in your name.
Call the fraud department of each account and explain that someone stole your identity. Ask the organization to close your account and to send you a letter confirming the following: The fraudulent account is not yours, you are not liable for the account, and it was removed from your credit report.

You will need to remove the bogus charges from your accounts.
You will do the same as above with calling the fraud department of each account. After explaining to them that your identity has been stolen, you will let them know which charge is fraudulent and ask them to remove the charge(s). Then, you will have them send you a confirmation letter confirming that the charges have been removed. 

You will need to correct your credit report.
Write a letter to each of the three credit bureaus explaining the information on your credit report that is fraudulent. In your letter, ask them to block the information that is fraud. Make sure to include a copy of your Identity Theft Report along with proof of your identity, such as a copy of your driver’s license. If someone steals your identity, you have the right to remove the fraudulent information from your credit report. With an Identity Theft Report present, the credit bureaus must honor your request to block the fraudulent information. 

Other Possible Steps 

Depending on your situation, you might need to take additional steps, such as the following: 
  • Reporting a misused Social Security Number
  • Stopping debt collectors from trying to collect debts you don’t owe 
  • Filing a report with your local police department
  • Replacing government-issued IDs

For more information and resources on Identity Theft, you can check out the FTC’s website. At ORNL FCU we are always happy to help or answer any questions. If you have any questions in regards to financial education or our services, please contact us. We would be happy to help! 

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