New York’s Office of Victim Services (“OVS”) has been around since 1966. Specifically, this state agency funds and supports victim assistance programs throughout the state including crisis counseling, emergency shelter, and legal assistance. Additionally, OVS provides financial assistance and reimbursement to victims for medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages. Now, new legislation expands access to funds and services to additional crime victims.
Debt Collection From Crime Victims of Domestic Violence-Related Identity Theft
In cases of domestic violence, more than 99% of victims experience financial abuse. What is financial abuse? It is when an abuser attempts to conceal information, limit a victim’s access to assets, or reduce a victim’s access to family finances. As a result, many such crime victims have financial woes including debt collection.
Newly-passed laws in New York now expand resources for crime victims of domestic violence identity theft. For example, an abuser may take out a credit card in a victim’s name and then leave the victim to foot the bill.
Now, these victims can report the identity theft to law enforcement or through a filing to the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Victim’s reporting process. When this is done, creditors must stop any debt collection activities until they have completed a review of that documentation. Creditors must now also consider statements by the victim of coercion, and/or criminal or family court documents before pursuing collection.
Funds for Crime Victims of “Revenge Porn” and Other Offenses
New laws also expand eligibility for compensation to crime victims of certain offenses. This includes Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image (Penal Law § 245.15) and Reckless Endangerment in the First (Penal Law § 120.20) and Second (Penal Law § 120.20) Degrees.
For victims of “revenge porn,” they are now eligible to seek compensation for counseling, moving expenses, loss of earnings, and the repair or replacement of essential personal property. If a person is a victim of reckless endangerment, they can now seek compensation for expense related to counseling, costs related to securing a crime scene and cleanup, and loss of earnings.
- Pressroom for NYS Governor, Governor Hochul Announces Expanded Financial Assistance and Protections for Victims and Survivors of Crime (Dec. 27, 2022). Available at: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-announces-expanded-financial-assistance-and-protections-victims-and-survivors (last accessed Jan. 6, 2023).
- NY Senate Bill S8975, Legislative Session 2021-2022, Relates to victim compensation for unlawful surveillance crimes. Available at: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S8975 (last accessed Jan. 6, 2023).
- NY Senate Bill S8976, Legislative Session 2021-2022, Relates to award to victims of certain crimes. Available at: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S8976 (last accessed Jan. 6, 2023).
- NY Senate Bill S9359, Legislative Session 2021-2022, Relates to debt collection procedures related to identity theft. Available at: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S9359 (last accessed Jan. 6, 2023).
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