A crucial step in improving your community’s response to victims of identity theft and cybercrime is to raise the level of expertise in professionals/agencies who come into contact with this victim population while working within the context of their field. The below information will provide these particular service providers with basic knowledge and resources to provide assistance when identity theft and cybercrime have complicated the circumstances of their clientele.
Tax Preparer Guide to Identity Theft: Tax preparers play a critical role in assisting clients, both individuals and businesses, who are victims of tax-related identity theft. This IRS publication seeks to increase awareness and knowledge of tax professionals in protecting themselves and their clients from becoming a victim of identity theft. Content provides guidance on safeguarding taxpayer data, and how to facilitate victim assistance for clients.
The Fighting Fraud Toolkit, developed by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, in collaboration with AARP, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), provides professionals and community-based organizations with knowledge, skills and tools necessary to combat investment fraud and to assist clients in spotting and preventing fraud.
Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft is a concern for patients, health care providers, and health plans. Health care providers and insurers are asking how they can minimize the risk and help their patients if they’re victimized. The Federal Trade Commission provides answers to these questions in its publication Medical Identity Theft: FAQs for Health Care Providers and Health Plans.
The California Attorney General is offering Medical Identity Theft: Recommendations for the Age of Electronic Medical Records as a best practices guide for health care providers, payers, health information organizations and policy makers. The guide focuses on the impact of identity theft on the integrity of medical records, which poses the greatest risk to victims and is often unaddressed by existing procedures and remedies.
The Medical Identity Fraud Alliance offers information, solutions and best practices for the prevention, detection, and remediation of medical identity fraud. Industry Resources are available to aid service providers, as well as Consumer Resources that can be provided to patients/victims of medical identity fraud.
Senior Service Providers and Advocates
The Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC) offers the training module Online Elder Abuse Training for Legal Service Providers. This interactive Web-based training program for legal aid and civil attorneys has four modules that offer a variety of information, tools, and resources to identify and respond to elder abuse, including Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Financial Fraud and Exploitation, Practical and Ethical Strategies, and What Lawyers Need to Know.
The Federal Trade Commission offers information for issues specific to seniors including identity theft, healthcare scams, and charity fraud. Downloadable presentations, pamphlets, and activities are available to assist in community outreach. Campaign materials are also available to assist with targeting senior citizens, including assistance with social media messages, press release/newsletter articles, and web buttons.
The National Adult Protective Services Association, in partnership with Project MASTER at San Diego State University’s Academy for Professional Excellence have developed a core curriculum around practice issues in Adult Protective Services. These training modules are available nationally for all APS organizations to use to advance workforce skills and knowledge. Comprehensive training packets are accessible at no cost for states and municipalities to utilize in their training efforts. Training modules include scripted trainer and trainee materials, with skill-based learning activities, handouts, evaluation materials and PowerPoint Presentations.
The core curriculum is broken down into six sections:
The National Center on Elder Abuse offers an Elder Abuse Awareness Kit, highlighting health/mental issues older adults face, and dealing with fraud and exploitation. The kit also offers templates for media outreach and presentation tips.
The National Crime Prevention Council offers a senior kit on identity theft and fraud as well as downloadable brochures on identity theft and a presentation to engage the public.
Native American/Tribal Resources
The National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative offers online interactive training modules on elder abuse and financial information. This agency also offers a Website & Tools resource page to assist individuals and service providers, and a State/Tribal Hotlines resource map to report Elder abuse.
The National Indian Council on Aging offers downloadable fact sheets focusing on the economic well-being of Elders that includes fraud/scams targeting Elders, financial literacy, financial caregiving, financial decision-making, credit reports, and Social Security.
The National Indian Justice Center provides educational programs via regional trainings, on-site training and conferences for tribal courts, tribal government, law enforcement, social services, medical personnel, and victims’ assistance programs.
The IRS office of Indian Tribal Governments has identified various abuses and schemes that cause financial risk to the tribes and their tribal members. Examples of current abuses and schemes are listed below:
- Improper sheltering of taxable gains by passing third party transactions through Indian tribes
- Disguising of enterprises to appear as tribally-owned so as to evade Federal Unemployment Tax and oversight by state insurance regulators
- Embezzlement from tribal enterprises
- Use of Tribal credit cards for personal gain
- Use of Casino comps for purposes unrelated to gaming play
- Illegal activities (i.e. Bribes and Kickbacks) in enterprises where tribes lack adequate internal control
- Employment Tax Irregularities
- Improper tax treatment of the use of net gaming revenue, including misclassified distributions to tribal members
- Misrepresentation of federal status of tribe to attempt to obtain tax advantages
- Misrepresentation of treaty provisions to claim improper tax relief
- Claiming nonresident alien status through the filing of false Forms W-8BEN
- Schemes related to Income derived from the land
The Social Security Administration has developed a guide called Promoting Effective Tribal Consultation and Building Relationships, highlighting ways to engage and collaborate with Native American/Tribal communities. The guide is broken into four categories:
1. Increasing outreach efforts
2. Improving service delivery
3. Strengthening policy consultation and education
4. Promoting hiring and local assistance efforts
Attorneys/Legal Assistance Agencies
This information is intended to be helpful for attorneys working with victims of identity theft including legal assistance providers, victims’ rights attorneys, prosecutors, and other lawyers involved in working with victims.
The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains a list of criminal penalties, restitution and identity theft passport laws.
OVC offers a Directory on Crime Victim Services to locate nonemergency crime victim service agencies within the United States. The search can be customized by location, type of victimization, or service needed.
The National Crime Victim Law Institute offers the following tools/resources for attorneys and advocates:
- Technical Assistance: This is provided in the form of legal research and educational writing as well as trainings to attorneys, advocates, judges, legislatures, and victims.
- Training: Training is centered on victims’ rights enforcement, and is customized per needs and experience level: introductory for those new to victims’ rights; advanced for those who want to deepen their knowledge of a particular topic; and practical skills for those working in the trenches. Trainings are customizable by audience, length and learning objective, and can be taught in person, using distance-learning technology, or through a combination of methods.
Victim Resource Map: This is a tool for victims with links to organizations that provide aid, information, and support directly to victims of crime. Searchable by:
- crime type or location, the map contains links to valuable national and state programs.
- Victim Law Library: This contains crime victim law publications. Materials are organized by topic and may be accessed by selecting the relevant right, victim type, or procedural posture.
Child Identity Theft
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers safety and prevention resources for professionals that focuses on internet safety, child abduction and exploitation.
Staysafeonline.org offers lesson plans and materials to teach cybersecurity and cyber safety to children of all ages.
FTC Guide to Protecting Foster Kid’s Credit: The Federal Trade Commission in coordination with ChildFocus, Inc., and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to develop a guide for advocates/professionals working with youth or young adults in foster care. The content is broken down into five steps to help young people understand credit and to remediate credit problems in the event of identity theft or fraud:
- Understand your own credit history and issues.
- Educate young people in foster care about the importance of their credit histories and the threat of identity theft.
- Find out how your state is implementing the Federal credit check requirement.
- Fix credit fraud and errors.
- Help young people build credit as the first step to financial empowerment.
NITVAN webinar on Identity Theft and Children in the Foster Care System.
Youth in the foster care system transitioning to adulthood may face a steep climb to overcome problematic family histories, graduate from high school, and learn to obtain financial security as they age out of the system. Imagine this burden multiplied when a young person discovers that her identity has been stolen by a family member, stranger, or even a trusted foster care worker. How will she apply for college loans, obtain an apartment, phone, utility service, or buy a functioning car to travel to and from a job? How can advocates and allied professionals help assist this young person in overcoming the risk of homelessness, poverty, and further victimization?
“Identity Theft and Children in Foster Care,” is a webinar hosted by the National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network. Speakers include Steven Toporoff of FTC, Joanna Crane, Identity Theft Expert, and a panel of coalition coordinators including Anne Gargano-Ahmed, (coordinator of the former the Wisconsin Identity Theft Coalition), Hazel Heckers, who coordinates the Identity Theft Advocacy Network of Colorado, and Sunrise Ayers (coordinator of the former Idaho Coalition Against Identity Theft). The three panelists will discuss their coalitions’ initiatives to train foster care parents and workers to detect identity theft and assist the young victims before they age out of the system.
Domestic Violence and Identity Theft
The Consumer Rights for Domestic Violence Survivors Initiative (CRDVSI) is a national project that seeks to enhance consumer rights for domestic violence survivors by building the capacity of and building collaborative partnerships between domestic violence and consumer lawyers and advocates.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence offers the following resources and training for professional and advocates:
The Economic Justice Project provides training to domestic violence victim advocates on financial abuse, as well as informing on resources and personal finance tools that can assist victims.
Identity Theft: Resources for Survivors of Domestic Violence:This is a summary of identity theft resources advocates/professionals can give to survivors of domestic violence.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) offers the following resources and training for professional and advocates:
Financial Education Project: Hope & Power: NCADV collaborated with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) to develop these financial education materials in an ongoing effort to support victims of domestic violence in their endeavors to achieve economic self-sufficiency. The Hope and Power materials include topics such as safety planning, budgeting, identity theft, banking, predatory lending, credit, getting a job, money management, and taxes.
Disaster Related Victimization and Fraud
Being knowledgeable on the types of fraud activities perpetrators are engaging in will allow you to provide timely information and resources to assist victims involved in national disasters who experience identity theft and fraud. Below are some of the scams per the Department of Justice that a community can be faced with in the wake of a weather emergency/natural disaster:
- Fraudulent Charities: Cases in which individuals falsely hold themselves out as agents of a legitimate charity, or create a “charity” that is in fact a sham;
- Identity Theft: Cases in which the identities of innocent victims are “stolen” and assumed by criminals who convert the assets of, or otherwise defraud, the victims, and;
- Insurance Fraud: Cases in which false or inflated insurance claims are filed;
- Government Benefit Fraud: Cases in which individuals file false applications seeking benefits to which they are not entitled.
Here are some resources victim service providers and advocates can provide to victims/potential victims:
Tips for Developing a Coordinated Response:
- Engage local partners or develop local partnerships: Law enforcement officers and other first responders are an example of partners who can assist with disbursing information before and during a natural disaster. Local businesses can support your response efforts out in the community. Other potential partners are banks and credit unions, who you can partner with in offering safety deposit boxes to evacuees to help prevent theft of personal information.
- Utilize fraud alert outlets: Local news/media coverage and your local Better Business Bureau are good resources to share up to date information before, during, and after a natural disaster.
- Develop a social media campaign: You can share information on disaster fraud and available resources to victims through various forums such as Twitter or Facebook.
To view additional information on developing a coordinated response, go to the NITVAN webinar on Disaster Related Identity Theft Victimization & Fraud.
- Quickly access leaders and resources in your region via a national network of identity theft coalitions
- Model the innovations and emerging practices used recently in critical areas to improve conditions for victims of identity theft in the wake of natural and manmade disasters
- Understand how to report those who would divert – for fraudulent purposes – charitable and government funds which would otherwise go to victims in need.
- Involve and recruit pro bono attorneys to assist victims.
- Access resources online and an upcoming resource guide for disaster related service to victims.
Mental Health Providers and Identity Theft
The goal of this curriculum, developed by the former Texas Identity Theft Coalition, is to introduce participants to the basics of identity theft, how identity theft can influence the mental health of its victims, how to strengthen resilience in identity theft victims, and how to determine when referral to professional mental health providers may be appropriate. Module Five, specifically for professional mental health providers, is to apply current, evidence-based trauma therapy practice specifically to identity theft victims.
Module 1: Identity Theft 101 Provides a basic primer on identity theft in two lessons, Understanding Identity Theft and Assisting Victims.
- Action Plan For Victims Of Identity Theft [PDF]
- Module 1 Instructions [PDF]
- Module 1 Power Point [PPT] [PDF]
Module 2: The Emotional Impact of Identity Theft
Introduces common reactions to identity theft in two lessons, Common Reactions to Identity Theft and Variations in Victim Reactions.
- Common Reactions Brochure [PDF]
- Module_2_Emotional Impact Of Identity Theft [PDF]
- Module_2_Emotional Impact Of Identity Theft [PPT] [PDF]
Module 3: Strengthening Resilience in Identity Theft Victims
Introduces five traits of resilience along with strategies advocates can use to help identity theft victims build resilience.
- Brochure [PDF]
- Module_3_Power Point_Strengthening Resilience [PPT] [PDF]
- Module_3_Strengthening Resilience [PDF]
Module 4: Screening and Referring Identity Theft Victims to Professional Therapy
Describes the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder distinguishing these symptoms from natural trauma reaction and provides suggestions for making professional referrals.
- Module_4_Mental Health Therapist Survey [PDF]
- Module_4_Referring To Professional Therapy [PDF]
- Module_4_Referring To Professional Therapy [PPT] [PDF]
Module 5: Tips for Professional Therapists Serving Identity Theft Clients
Applies current evidence-based trauma therapy skills to the mental health needs of Identity Theft victims in five lessons, Introduction to Trauma, Physical and Emotional Safety Strategies, Self-Regulation Strategies, Social Support Strategies, and Processing the Trauma Strategies
Business Identity Theft