The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced $1.7 million in grant funds to provide direct assistance to victims of identity theft and financial fraud. The awards will expand existing services and strengthen law enforcement's response to victims of identity theft and financial fraud nationwide.
"The financial toll exacted by identity theft can be as devastating and emotionally traumatic as violent crime," said Cybele Daley, Acting Assistant Attorney General for OJP. "The Department of Justice recognizes the tragic consequences to those affected by identity theft and is committed to tackling this problem by giving victim service organizations and local law enforcement the resources to provide a measure of relief to victims."
The funding, awarded through OJP's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) earlier this year, is being given to existing national, regional, state and local victim service organizations that are currently providing direct assistance to victims and will collaboratively expand their efforts to help identify additional theft and fraud victims. The award recipients are:
-- The Identity Theft Resource Center, a national organization that provides free identity theft victim assistance, is receiving $500,000 to improve and expand its current identity theft victim counseling and individual case work while expanding staff at its identity theft call center.
-- The Texas Legal Services Center, a state support office and regional victim services provider, is receiving $500,000 for operation of the Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration of the Southwest (VICARS) project. VICARS provides free legal assistance to victims of identity theft and financial fraud living in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado and provides step-by-step coaching on how to reacquire their identity and credit.
-- The Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center is receiving $500,000 to enhance its existing practice to provide free assistance to victims of identity theft and financial fraud through increasing direct victim services; self-advocacy and pro bono attorney development. The Center will partner with a variety of national programs to assist victims of identity theft and fraud nationwide including the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, and the National Crime Victim Law Institute.
-- The Atlanta Victim Assistance Inc., a non-profit organization serving the needs of both victims and witnesses, will receive $200,000 to carry out a public education campaign aimed at stopping identity theft and financial fraud in Atlanta, Georgia. The "Stop Atlanta Fraud Empower (SAFE)" campaign consists of a three-prong innovative approach of education, advocacy, and training to help reduce the incidences of fraud in Atlanta and increase city resident awareness of their rights if victimized.
The awards are a direct outcome of efforts made by the President's Task Force on Identity Theft. The Task Force, co-chaired by the Attorney General and the FTC Chairman, was established by Executive Order of the President on May 10, 2006, and is comprised of 17 federal agencies and departments. The Task Force's strategic plan, released in April 2007, can be found at http://www.idtheft.gov/.