Victim Assistance: Lessons From the Field
Case Handling and Documentation
This section examines case handling and documentation from VICARS’ perspective. Basic case handling begins with intake. After intake, each caller is given a toolkit and basic advice for using it. (See "Tools/Resources for Victims" for toolkit examples.) The caller is advised that a followup call will be made within a few weeks and is asked to obtain and review a credit report and to make a police report before the followup. Followup calls are made to the client 14 to 30 days after the toolkit is sent and periodically thereafter as long as the client needs help. At each client contact, the case is reviewed to see whether the client needs additional assistance or representation. An attorney (staff or pro bono) is assigned to the case when needed. The need for consistent followup cannot be overstated. Identity theft is the crime that keeps on giving to its victims. Frequently, victims find that as soon as one account is cleared, others pop up. Many victims also find themselves fighting to clear the same account repeatedly when creditors sell bad debts or when creditors change collection agencies.
Case handling was documented in a case management database. (VICARS uses Kemp’s Caseworks PRIME running on an SQL server.) Staff members were required to keep detailed notes about each client contact and each action taken on behalf of a client.