Financial Crimes, Identity Theft & Fraud
Identity theft and related crimes are sometimes a part of relationship violence cases. Other times, it’s a stranger against stranger crime. These types of crimes cost victims emotionally as well as financially. You may spend hours writing to credit card companies, merchants, financial institutions, and credit reporting agencies. Feelings of rage, betrayal, helplessness, and anger are normal reactions to this crime. It may take months to repair the damage.
Their target population is the low income and impoverished client. Their services are available in English and Spanish and include:
- Informing victims of their rights relating to identity theft and financial fraud;
- Providing publications to guide them through the process of reporting the crime, restoring their identity, and recovering damages;
- Providing clear instructions and sample forms for reporting identity theft and financial fraud and obtaining and reviewing credit reports;
- Assisting victims to achieve restoration of their identity/credit and recovery of monetary loss (including the value of loss of time);
- Assisting victims in making reports, filing disputes, and communicating with police, financial institutions, credit card companies, credit reporting companies, and regulatory and licensing agencies;
- Helping victims evaluate emergency financial needs;
- Helping victims compile and review documentation; and
- Providing direct legal representation, including small claims cases, other legal actions against perpetrators, and negotiations with creditors and collection agencies.
The Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration of the Southwest (VICARS) is a program that helps victims of identity theft and financial fraud. They provide a “toolkit” that helps victims compile the needed evidence and information to document the crime and repair credit. Their website is in both English and Spanish. They also provide direct legal advice and counsel to victims, they help victims negotiate with creditors, collection agencies, and credit reporting companies at no charge. For more information on VICARS and their services.
Identity Theft, Fraud and Cyber Crime Information
The Roanoke Police Department advises every victim that they should take the following steps anytime they believe an Identity Theft, Fraud or similar incident has occurred:
- Download the Financial Crimes Packet and fill it out; make sure to fill out and execute both Affidavit pages. Once the packet is complete bring it to the Roanoke Police Department to drop it off and speak with an officer. The officer will then give you a case number. For more information, please contact the Roanoke Police Department Non-Emergency line at 817-491-6052.
- Contact the credit card issuer by telephone and advise them of the situation. Get replacement cards with new account numbers. Request that the old account be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" for credit record purposes. Ask that a password be used prior to any purchases on the new account. Follow up the telephone call with a letter summarizing your requests.
- You should get in touch with the following groups if you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, some will ask for the report number that you receive when you file a report through the Roanoke Police Department. You should also ask that all of your accounts be flagged, and add a victim's statement to your report requesting that any financial institution contact you to verify future credit applications.
- Order copies of credit reports so that you can review them to make sure that no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name.
- Follow up with credit bureaus every three months for at least one year, and order new copies of your credit report. Review these copies to verify that corrections have been made, and that no new fraudulent accounts have been opened.
4. You can also call (888) 567-8688 to opt out of receiving "pre-approved" credit card offers. All three credit bureaus will honor this request.
5. If your social security number has been used fraudulently, notify the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General (800) 269-0271.
6. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of Identity Theft. All victims should report the incident to them immediately. You can file a complaint with the FTC by:
- Calling (877) 438-4338,
- Online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or
- Writing them at: Consumer Response Center Federal Trade Commission 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20580
- Protect your social security number and only give it out when required by law.
- No bank, auction site or other business should send you an email asking you to enter credit card information, passwords, social security numbers or other personal information. Often these fake emails will contain links to pages that look real but are not. If you suspect you are being directed to a fake site please go to the actual home web site of the company and inform them of what has happened.
- Avoid mail theft by obtaining a locked mailbox and dropping off outgoing mail at the local post office or postal mailbox.
- Do not give out your personal information or credit card number over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- Shred credit card offers and bank statements before you throw them away if you do not plan on using them.