Message From the Director
Every day, identity theft and financial fraud claim more victims. Many of these victims experience the crime as a personal violation. They often have no idea where to turn for help, may be traumatized by the sudden loss of control over their lives, and face having to prove their innocence.
Although identity theft and financial fraud are on the rise, victims are not yet in the mainstream of VOCA-funded victim assistance programs, nor have they traditionally been a priority for law enforcement, whose cooperation with victims reporting the crime is essential before legal remedies can be put into action.
OVC has increased its focus on these underserved victims, providing funding to expand existing services to victims and strengthen law enforcement’s response across the Nation. The President’s Task Force on Identity Theft was established in 2006. The following year, OVC awarded four 2-year grants under the National Program to Directly Assist Victims of Identity Theft and Financial Fraud to enhance direct services to victims, train service providers and allied professionals, and promote awareness of victims’ rights and needs and of services that are available in their communities.
This e-publication summarizes the efforts of these grantees to expand the reach of their services at the national, regional, state, and local levels: the Identity Theft Resource Center; the Texas Legal Service Center/Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration of the Southwest; the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc., and Atlanta Victim Assistance, Inc. Their collective work has resulted in a heightened awareness of the challenges unique to this type of victimization and how to respond more effectively to the ever-increasing number of victims. This document includes background information, victims’ experiences, and a number of practical tools to set up program infrastructure; train staff, pro bono attorneys, law enforcement, and other professionals; equip victims with information to help themselves; and stage an effective public awareness outreach—all without a major outlay of financial or human resources. It is our hope that, in sharing the work of these grantees, many more victim service organizations will be inspired to expand their reach to help remediate the devastating impact of identity theft and financial fraud on the millions of Americans who fall prey to this insidious crime every year.
Joye E. Frost