Identity Theft (Penal Code 32.51)
Identity theft is sometimes a part of relationship violence cases. Other times, it’s a stranger against stranger crime. This crime costs victims emotionally as well as financially. You may spend hours writing 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.