Other Helpful Links
Financial Crime Resource Center
Managed by the National Center for Victims of Crime, this resource page has information about upcoming trainings as well as a helpful toolkit available for free download titled Taking Action: An Advocate’s Guide to Assisting Victims of Financial Fraud.
Help for Identity Theft Victims
This helpful webpage managed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Justice Programs includes basic steps to take if you’re a victim of identity theft, steps to take to protect yourself, information on specific identity theft issues, and various additional resources.
Identity Theft Resource Center
A national resource for victims, ITRC has assistance and information readily available, including identity theft specialists available to offer free support and resources.
Follow this link to download fillable legal and forms and letters that may be helpful in the recovery process.
Office for Victims of Crime: Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC)
This platform contains a wealth of information for advocates seeking training opportunities, including fundamental training on serving victims of identity theft.
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Supporting Victims of Identity theft
Identity theft can be overwhelming, frustrating, and scary to victims, and the process of reporting and recovery is time consuming and overwhelming. If you have the opportunity to connect with a victim, you can support them in a number ways. Below find suggestions of where to start when working with a victim of identity theft or cybercrime.
(1) Determine safety and security.
Safety and security will look different for everybody, but it is a fundamental need and an important place to start. Victims of identity theft may be afraid of further victimization due to their information’s exposure, or there may be other things going on in their lives that are affecting their safety. Some unique considerations for safety planning with victims of identity theft might include:
- Was there a financial impact of the victimization? Is this negatively affecting the victim’s ability to take care of basic needs like paying rent or buying groceries? What resources might be available to help meet these needs?
- Was the perpetrator a friend or family member? Could there be other forms of victimization happening alongside the identity theft, such as domestic violence or elder abuse? What other measures could the victim take to feel safe with this person or with other people?
- Does the victim have concerns that other information will be exposed? What are steps the victim could take to secure this information? Would it be helpful to purchase a lockbox for cards and other secure items at home, or to set up a password manager to prevent online hacking in the future?
(2) Allow for ventilation and validation.
The truth is, identity theft sucks, and no matter how great the supportive resources are, the process of recovering from identity theft can be overwhelming, exhausting, time consuming, and expensive. As a service provider, you have a unique opportunity to provide victims with space and time to express their feelings without judgment, and to validate them in a situation where they may otherwise feel completely alone. Before you rush to offer information and resources to a victim, remember that taking the time to listen to them might be the thing they need most.
(3) Take time for preparation and prediction.
Information is power, and for victims of identity theft, not knowing what is happening with their personal information or what to do to fix it can lead to feeling powerless. One thing you can provide is accurate, thoughtful information to a victim to help them predict what will happen next and prepare to respond effectively and efficiently.
· …the sorts of resources that might be helpful to a victim throughout the process.
· …barriers the victim may run into (e.g. reliable access to a computer, making time to deal with the recovery process, etc.).
· …financial cost.
· …what might happen next.
· …for the fact that this might be a long, time consuming, and expensive process.
· …coping strategies and resources to assist with emotional repercussions.
· …financial resources.
· …ideas of what to do when “next” happens.
Remember: explain what you know! Do not hold anything back, or assume the victim knows something they might not. Also, make sure you are not giving any misinformation. Do not make assumptions or tell a victim something if you do not know for sure. It is okay to say, “I don’t know—can I reach out to someone who does and then give you a call back?”
Make sure that every step you take is guided by the victim’s needs and desires. As with other forms of victimization, identity theft can make victims feel out of control and powerless. One major way that you can support them in empowering themselves is by making sure they are the ones making decisions about what to do and where to go next.
IdentityTheft.gov: a One-Stop Resource for Identity Theft Victims
IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource for victims of identity theft. This excellent website allows users to report their experiences to the FTC; download an official report that is compliant with the Federal Credit Reporting Act; and generate a personalized recovery plan including pre-filled forms and letters they may need during the reporting process. Victims can set up a username and password that allows them to revisit their recovery plan at their own convenience and take notes on steps they have already taken.
IdentityTheft.gov also has information on measures victims can take to protect themselves if their information may be vulnerable due to a data breach, a missing wallet, online hacking, or something similar. That includes recent data breaches by Equifax, Yahoo, and the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for FAFSA.
Archived Identity Theft Webinars
February 2018: Consumer Protections and Criminals’ Tactics: The AARP Fraud Watch Network, presented by Jay Haapala, AARP Minnesota (PDF of presentation)
Order Free Support Materials for Victims
Looking for print materials to distribute at events or give to victims? Visit the FTC’s bulk order page, where you can order free copies of cards and bookmarks with information on IdentityTheft.gov, as well as publications in English and Spanish including:
- Identity Theft – A Recovery Plan (English and Spanish)
- Identity Theft – What to Know, What to Do (English and Spanish)
- Child Identity Theft – What to Know, What to Do (English and Spanish)
- Data Breaches – What to Know, What to Do (English and Spanish)
- Identity Theft – Military Personnel & Families: What to Know, What to Do (English)