The video describes the warning signs of debt collection fraud, including threats of jail time and pressuring the consumer into making a decision quickly. It's important to ask questions, become fully informed about the debt, and not be pressured by illegal threats. A real debt collector should answer questions and provide an address and a call back number for the company collecting the debt.
New Training Available to Help Older Adults Make Financial Decisions
The National Center for State Courts recently released a new online training course to assist individuals explore ways to help older adults make financial decisions with informal supports, legal options, or adult guardianship.
Supporting someone in making their own choices about health, money, and lifestyle.
Discovering ways to exercise independence.
Deciding whether to become a guardian or conservator, and how to support a person’s self-determination and decision-making as a guardian or conservator.
Preventing and addressing abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation that may occur with any of the above options.
This training was produced by the National Center for State Courts with the assistance of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging and supported by a contract funded by the Office for Victims of Crime and awarded by the Elder Justice Initiative, U.S. Department of Justice.
The guide provides an overview of many key concepts of reverse mortgage loans. Using simple text and graphics, the guide helps potential borrowers understand what a reverse mortgage is and whether it is the right loan for them.
The CFPB also offers a shorter guide, Considering a Reverse Mortgage, which discusses the basics of reverse mortgages. This guide is available in both English and Spanish.
The guides can also be a helpful resource for financial caregivers and others that serve older adults.
Save the Date for a Roundtable on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation
According to results from the National Elder Mistreatment Study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, approximately one in 10 older adults reported experiencing at least one form of elder mistreatment in the past year.
As part of its commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the U.S Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative and Office on Violence Against Women invite you to watch A View from the Bench: A Roundtable Discussion with Judges about Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation.
During this roundtable discussion, judges from around the country will share their views and experiences presiding over elder abuse or financial exploitation cases. The panel will discuss the important role of judges in combating elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
(Posted June 10, 2019)
Funding Opportunity: FY 2019 Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) Task Force To Combat Human Trafficking: Supporting Law Enforcement's Role
Through this grant, BJA seeks to develop or enhance law enforcement's role in multidisciplinary human trafficking task forces within the United States. This program furthers the U.S. Department of Justice's mission by enhancing law enforcement task force capacity to combat human trafficking.
BJA conducted a pre-application webinar on April 24, 2019, to review requirements and answer questions. A recording and transcript of this webinar are now available on the BJA Funding Webinars webpage.
NOTE: Victim service providers seeking funding to support ECM human trafficking task force activities should be on the lookout for the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) FY 2019 Direct Services to Support Victims of Human Trafficking solicitation. Funding under this OVC solicitation will support comprehensive services and other activities conducted in partnership with ECM task forces.
Federal law requires financial institutions report suspicious activity that might indicate money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities to the federal government.
Now, a first of its kind analysis can help the field better understand elder fraud and opportunities to improve prevention and response.
The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection recently released a report on these suspicious activity reports—or SARs—filed by banks, credit unions, casinos, and other financial services providers from 2013–2017. The bureau analyzed elder financial exploitation SARs filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and found suspicious activities involving more than $6 billion over this time period.
They also found that SAR filings on elder financial exploitation quadrupled from 2013 to 2017. The increasing number of filings may be due to a number of factors, including the growing number of older adults, a possible increase in the incidence of elder exploitation, and the addition of elder financial exploitation as a category on the SAR form.
Fewer than one-third of elder financial exploitation SARs specify that the financial institution reported the activity to adult protective services, law enforcement, or other authorities. This finding highlights a missed opportunity to strengthen prevention and response.
If financial institutions increase reporting, it is more likely that victims will receive appropriate services.
Participate in FTC Social Media Events During National Consumer Protection Week
National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) will be commemorated on March 3–9, 2019. NCPW is a time to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money.
During NCPW, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and its partners will provide information and advice on scams, identity theft, and other consumer protection issues.
OVC is excited to announce that on March 8, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. e.t., the FTC will host a Twitter chat with the OVC-funded Identity Theft Resource Center on tax identity theft. Learn strategies to protect yourself by following along using the #NCPW2019 hashtag.
For information about additional NCPW events, including a Facebook live event with the Social Security Administration, visit the Federal Trade Commission blog.
Access the National Consumer Protection Week website for campaign materials, including free print resources that you can order for your organization's consumer education events.
(Posted March 5, 2019)
Funding Opportunity: FY 2019 Measuring the Impact of Victim Services: Instrument Development
Through this funding opportunity, NIJ requests proposals for the development of a tool to assess the effectiveness of victim service programming.
The tool will consist of two parts. The first is a validated, multilingual instrument to collect relevant data from the consumers of the services (i.e., victims of crime). The second is an adaptable software platform for the delivery of the instrument to the consumer.
The instrument should be applicable across a diverse array of victim service programming, including, but not limited to—
programs embedded in hospitals/trauma centers;
one-stop victim services programs;
culturally-specific organizations; and/or
programs embedded in criminal justice agencies, and across different types of clients, and in different languages.
NIJ expects that this instrument will be easy to use to generate a high response rate from a wide range of victim service clients and inform broader evaluations of victim service provider outcomes.
Apply by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on May 16, 2019.
(Posted March 4, 2019)
Funding Opportunity FY 2019 Research and Evaluation on Trafficking in Persons
Through this funding opportunity, NIJ continues to build upon its research and evaluation efforts to better understand, prevent, and respond to trafficking in persons in the United States. Applicants should propose research projects that—first and foremost—have clear implications for criminal justice policy and practice in the United States.
NIJ is interested in research projects addressing both sex and labor trafficking. NIJ is particularly interested in research responding to the following priority areas—
labor trafficking research,
evaluation research focused on victim service providers (e.g., sex and labor trafficking, minor and adult victims, etc.), and
building knowledge of the “grooming" process of traffickers (i.e., how does one become a sex or labor trafficker?).
Apply by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on May 8, 2019.
For additional information about potential funding opportunities in the area of human trafficking, visit the FY 2019 DOJ Program Plan.
(Posted February 28, 2019)
Funding Opportunity: FY 2019 Evaluation of Services for Victims of Crime
NIJ is looking for formative evaluations and evaluability assessments of crime victim service programs.
NIJ is interested in evaluations of different types of victim services including, but not limited to—
programs embedded in hospitals/trauma centers,
one-stop victim services program, and/or
programs embedded in criminal justice agencies.
NIJ recognizes that many victim services programs may not be ready to support rigorous outcome evaluations, and as such, a phased approach is needed.
Applicants should plan to conduct a formative evaluation, as well as an evaluability assessment to determine whether an outcome evaluation of the program or model is possible. Applicants should consider the diverse array of victim service programs.
Apply by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on May 6, 2019.
(Posted February 28, 2019)
Video and Guides Help Financial Caregivers to Identify and Report Financial Exploitation
Millions of Americans are managing money or property for a family member or friend who is unable to make financial decisions or pay bills.
To help financial caregivers, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection recently released a video that explains its Managing Someone Else's Money guides for four different fiduciary roles: agents under a power of attorney, trustees, court-appointed guardians, and government fiduciaries.
These resources help caregivers by walking them through their duties, providing tips on protecting their loved ones from financial exploitation and scams, and how to report financial fraud.
The study used nationally-representative data from the Centers for Disease Control's 2012 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey to estimate the economic costs to society over the lifetime of all people who report experiencing intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. This cost includes expenses, such as medical costs, lost work productivity, and criminal justice costs.
Researchers found that the lifetime per-victim cost for women was $103,767 and $23,414 for men. The disparity between the two genders is due to differences in outcomes — for example, rape-related pregnancy — differences in the number of affected victims, and a lack of studies on this topic that include male victims.
The lifetime economic burdens of intimate partner violence are substantial, but preventable. The findings from this report can inform the potential benefit of prioritizing prevention, as well as evaluating current prevention strategies.
(Posted October 18, 2018)
New Federal Law Allows for Free Credit Freezes
Financial and economic crimes — including fraud and identity theft — cost American individuals and businesses billions of dollars every year. These crimes take a significant emotional and financial toll on victims.
To help protect consumers, a new federal law allows individuals to request free credit freezes, also known as security freezes. A credit freeze restricts access to credit files and makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts using a victim's name. Individuals can also obtain a free credit freeze if they are someone's guardian or conservator, if they have a valid power of attorney, or on behalf of a child younger than age 16.
The federal legislation also preempts state security freeze laws and extends initial fraud alerts from 90 days to 1 year. A fraud alert notifies the users that the consumer has been or may become a victim of fraud or identity theft. Fraud alerts are still free and identity theft victims can still get an extended fraud alert for 7 years.
(Posted October 9, 2018)
Partner Message Archive
Participate in a Public Forum on Fighting Elder Financial Exploitation in Your Community
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, recognized annually on June 15, is a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
As part of their efforts to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will convene a public forum in Topeka, Kansas on June 8, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. c.t. to discuss ways to prevent elder financial exploitation.
Funding Opportunity: FY 2018 Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has released the FY 2018 Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program solicitation. Through this funding opportunity, BJA, in partnership with OVC, seeks applicants to plan and implement comprehensive programs in response to the growing opioid epidemic.
This program is designed to—
support our nation's first responders and provide for the needs of crime victims,
support diversion programs for non-violent individuals who abuse illicit and prescription opioids,
implement and enhance prescription drug monitoring programs,
promote cross-system planning and coordination of service delivery, and
reduce the incidence of fatal overdoses associated with opioid use.
BJA expects to make up to 160 grant awards for varying amounts and performance periods.
Apply by June 18, 2018.
(Posted May 9, 2018; Updated June 6, 2018)
New Research Offers Recommendations to Assist Human Trafficking Survivors
Based on interviews with 80 survivors, this research offers recommendations for improving the service provision and criminal justice system response to victims.
The reports also present a tool to help practitioners engage with survivors throughout their recovery. Practitioners can employ the information to inform their daily work with survivors. Read more in the following online publications.
OVC-Supported Fellows Evaluate Elder Abuse in Iowa and Maine
Through the Elder Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship Program, OVC supports victims of elder abuse who often suffer in silence. This program provides comprehensive legal and support services for victims of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
The innovative program supports 30 legal fellows, many of them located in OVC-funded legal clinics across the country, to further promote the capacity of pro bono services.
Recently, fellows in the program helped to develop guides in Iowa and Maine that discuss the responses to elder abuse and what can be done to support victims in those states. The Iowa report serves as a general summary of elder abuse laws in the state, and the Maine report takes a deep dive into the financial exploitation of elders in Maine.
New Tool to Report and Recover from Tax Identity Theft
Tax-related identity theft happens when someone uses a stolen Social Security number to file a tax return and claim your tax refund.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have made it easier for consumers to report and recover from tax-related identity theft.
Now, consumers can report tax-related identity theft to the IRS online through the FTC's IdentityTheft.gov website. IdentityTheft.gov is the only website where consumers can report tax-related identity theft to the IRS electronically. The website also offers users with help to make an identity theft recovery plan, including information on how to create a fraud alert on your credit files and check your credit reports.
What Data Tells Us About Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services
Although significant strides have been made on behalf of crime victims in recent years, federal data reveal that there is still much work left to do to ensure that victims have access to appropriate services and support.
In a recent article for Police Chief Magazine, Heather Warnken, Visiting Fellow, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, discusses how federal data collection efforts illustrate the significant gaps that remain in accessing services for the majority of people touched by crime, including law enforcement-based victim assistance.
Using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, this article sheds light on law enforcement's current efforts in victim services, highlighting the work that can be done to reach more victims.
There are preventative, public safety benefits to enhancing law enforcement's response to victims that are integral to agency success. Looking to the future, law enforcement leadership should strive to ensure that victims of crime have access to evidence-based services and care. OVC supports groundbreaking initiatives that have the potential to transform the trajectory of law enforcement–based victim services.
Funding Opportunity: FY 2018 Programs and Services for Victims of Crime: Phased Evaluation Research
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is seeking applications for rigorous program evaluation of specific services for victims of crime, including housing, legal assistance, and technology-based services.
This funding opportunity supports the U.S. Department of Justice's priority of reducing victimization by examining interventions that may be effective in reducing revictimization and supporting victim needs.
Apply by May 4, 2018.
(Posted March 13, 2018)
National Consumer Protection Week is March 4–10
During the annual National Consumer Protection Week commemoration, we band together to help people understand their consumer rights, make well-informed decisions about money, and promote resources to help victims of crime recover from identity theft and fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission offers outreach materials in English or Spanish to help you in your public awareness campaign. Find online and print content on steps that consumers can take to minimize their risk of fraud and identity theft and resources for victims of these crimes.
One of the resources featured in the fact sheet is the ID Theft mobile app. Developed by ITRC with funding support from OVC, this free app can help victims track their ID theft cases and obtain assistance and resources.
The council's Victim Services Committee focuses on ensuring that services to trafficking survivors are comprehensive, meet the needs of all victims, and empower survivors. Last year, they met with OVC and other federal agencies to provide input on a new national housing initiative to support human trafficking survivors and to discuss victim identification.