Some of the information on this page may have been temporarily changed by governments and courts in response to Coronavirus.
Many crime victims have financial losses because of the crime. Their money, property, or important papers may have been stolen or damaged. Some victims may have to miss work – and lose a day’s pay – to talk to police and attorneys, or to go to court. If the crime victim is injured, they may have expensive medical bills, and need time off work.
The financial impact of crime can last a long time. For many, it can be overwhelming.
In our Money and Finance section, you can find resources that can help you deal with the financial impact of a crime, and get information about money-related crimes.
The Covid-19 health crisis and NYS Pause has made it is difficult for many New Yorkers to pay their bills.
In April 2020, the U.S. government sent “stimulus” check to working and non-working U.S. citizens and residents to help them during the Covid-19 health crisis. The amount of the check depends on your income, if you are single or married, and the number of children under age 17.
For information regarding the status of your stimulus check and availability of stimulus checks in 2021, visit Stimulus Payment Status.
On December 20, 2020, the U.S. government agreed to send another “stimulus” check. The agreement is expected to provide $600 to American adults earning up to $75,000 and an additional $600 for every qualifying child under age 17.
For more information, visit the IRS Economic Impact Website and Questions and Answers about the Second Economic Impact Payment.
NYS is protecting residents from utility and municipal shutoffs through March 31, 2021. If you are having trouble paying your utility bills due to COVID-19, please contact your utility company to let them know. For New York State guidance on utility terminations and disconnection, review the Department of Public Service Guidance.
If the utility company shuts off services,
- You can call the Department of Public Services Helpline at 1-800-342-3377
- You can File a Complaint.
- Call the Public Utility Law Project of NY hotline at 877-669-2572. They may be able to get you an immediate turn-on order.
For more information and resources, please visit the New York State website.
There are several financial scams related to Covid-19. Some examples:
- Testing scams: Scammers are selling fake at-home tests or going door-to-door performing fake tests for money. NOTE: The FDA has authorized at-home tests, but most require a prescription. On December 15, 2020, the FDA authorized the first coronavirus test that people will be able to buy at a local store without a prescription. The test will cost about $30 and be available by January. For more information go to FDA FAQs and NPR.org.
- Treatment scams: Scammers are selling fake cures and vaccines. NOTE: Right now, there is no cure for Covid-19. A vaccine has been developed and is at the early stages of delivery to the public. For vaccine availability, check with your medical care provider or pharmacist or Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). A few tips to be aware of:
- You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine sooner.
- Hang up if you get a call about the vaccine that asks for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number.
- Beware of people trying to sell you treatments or medications to prevent the coronavirus.
- Provider scams: Scammers, pretending to be doctors and hospitals, contact you demanding money for treating a sick friend or relative.
- Supply scams: Scammers set up fake shops, websites, email addresses, and social media accounts, claiming to sell medical supplies.
- Charity scams: Scammers seek donations for those impacted by Covid-19 but keep the donations for themselves.
For more information about Covid-19 scams and for help, please visit the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission websites, as well as the Empire Justice Center's Coronavirus Scams page.
Updated January 11, 2021
Types of Costs Crime Victims May Have
Crime victims may have expenses because of the crime. Here are some costs you may have:
- Medical costs
- Court costs, such as travel, child care and legal fees
- Higher insurance rates because of the crime
- Counseling costs
- Funeral or burial expenses
- Bills for things you did not buy
You may also have to:
- Repair damaged property
- Replace stolen possessions
- Fix damaged credit
- Install security devices
- Take time off work
You can have other costs, too:
- Victims of foreclosure home loan modification scams may lose the money they were saving to buy a house.
- Victims of property deed theft scam, may lose their home.
Crime Victim Compensation
If you are a victim of crime, you may be able to get crime victim compensation. The compensation can help pay for:
- Medical care
- Lost wages
- Replacing damaged or stolen property, like eyeglasses or clothes.
Financial compensation can be important to a crime victim’s recovery and survival.
Most crime victims don’t know that they have the right to ask for restitution. This is when the offender pays you money (restitution) for your injuries, losses, or damages. You can use the money to help pay your medical bills, counseling bills, and to replace lost wages and stolen or damaged property.
You can ask for restitution as part of a criminal case or a domestic violence case in family court.
Some crime victims may have problems making home mortgage payments. If this happens to you, you are at risk for foreclosure. That means you could lose your home.
How can I prevent foreclosure?
It is never too early or too late to ask for help. To get help:
- Visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a list of approved housing counseling agencies
- Call the Attorney General's Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) hotline at 855-466-HOME (855-466-3456)
What is HOPP?
HOPP is a network of housing counseling and legal services organizations that help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Call the HOPP hotline to find quality counseling or legal services in every county in New York. All services are free.
Reporting loan modification scams
It is scary to think about losing your home. Unfortunately, there are people who may use your fear to take advantage of you through something called a “foreclosure rescue scam.”
To learn more, see the Other Financial Fraud and Scams tab.
If you think you are a victim of a loan modification scam, you can submit a complaint to the NYS Attorney General’s Office.
For more information please visit Help for Homeowners.
Some victims of crime cannot work because of the physical or emotional impact of the crime. This can make it hard to pay for housing, food, utilities, transportation, and daily living costs. If this happens, you may be able to receive for government benefits called public assistance.
Who can get public assistance?
Public assistance is for people who are struggling to meet their basic needs. If you have always taken care of yourself and your family on your own, you may be embarrassed to ask for government help. But if you are a crime victim, you have the right to ask. If you qualify, you can get help when you need it most.
Below you can find information on the most common types of public assistance.
What is Temporary Assistance?
Temporary Assistance (TA) is short-term help for individuals and children in need.
TA may be able to help you if:
- You can’t work
- You can’t find a job or
- Your job doesn’t pay enough
TA may help you pay for:
- Your housing
- Health insurance
- Utilities and
- Other expenses
There are 2 major TA programs:
- Family Assistance, and
- Safety Net Assistance
Family Assistance (FA) provides cash assistance to families that have:
- A minor child living with a parent
- Two parents
- A caretaker relative
You can only get FA for 60 months total in your lifetime.
Safety Net Assistance (SNA) is for people who do not qualify for other programs. This includes:
- Single adults
- Couples with no children
- People who have received 60 months of benefits
If you have children, you might also qualify for child care benefits.
What is Emergency Assistance?
If you have an urgent need, you may qualify for emergency assistance.
Examples of an emergency include:
- Being homeless
- Having little or no food
- Being evicted from your home
- Having your utilities shut-off (or already shut off)
- Being a victim of domestic violence (or having a family member who is)
Emergency assistance can pay for:
- Temporary housing in a hotel or motel
- Past due shelter costs
- Past due utility bills
- Domestic violence shelter costs
You do not have to qualify for Temporary Assistance to get Emergency Assistance.
How do I apply for Temporary Assistance?
Anyone can apply for public assistance.
If you have an emergency, you will be interviewed the same day you apply.
To find more information, please visit the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance site.
What if I am a victim of domestic violence?
Domestic violence shelters can help you be safe. If you are fleeing abuse, alone or with your children, and enter a domestic violence shelter in New York State, you must apply for public assistance. Public assistance may cover the cost of your shelter stay.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you will get information and a notice about your rights. You also have the right to talk to a staff person called a “domestic violence liaison.”
The domestic violence liaison can help you:
- Find resources and public assistance programs
- Get excused from any program requirements that may put you in danger.
For more information about how the domestic violence liaison can help you, please see Public Benefits and Domestic Violence Fact Sheet.
Identity theft is different from other crimes. You may not even know you are a victim until you can’t get a loan, get calls from bill collectors, or your credit score drops.
Finding out that your identify has been stolen can be scary, and it can be stressful to try to fix it. Below is some information that can help.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission.
Identify thieves may use your:
- Social security number
- Credit card
- Bank account numbers or
- Medical insurance number.
The thieves may use your information to buy things, get benefits, file taxes, or pretend to be you.
Identity theft is a serious crime. It is important to stop the theft as soon as possible.
You may be a victim of identity theft if you:
- Can’t explain some withdrawals from your bank account.
- Don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Have charges on your credit or debit card statements for goods or services you didn’t buy.
- Get statements for credit cards you didn’t open.
- See errors or unfamiliar accounts on your credit report.
- Get bills for medical services you didn’t use.
- Get calls from debt collectors about expenses that are not yours.
- Get notice from the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
I think my personal information was stolen. What should I do?
There are things you can do as soon as you think that your personal information has been stolen.
First, report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) as soon as possible. You can go to identitytheft.gov.
The FTC will give you an Identity Theft Report and a recovery plan. The plan will show you how to fix the problems the identify theft caused. It may take time, but it guarantees you certain rights.
After you get an Identity Theft Report:
- Change all account passwords and PINs. Think about securing your passwords.
- Place a free fraud alert with any one of these 3 credit bureaus. They must tell the other 2.
- Get your free credit report. Read it carefully. Note any charges you don’t recognize.
- Put a credit freeze on your account. This means no one can see your credit report until you remove the freeze. Ask any of the 3 credit bureaus to do this.
- Replace stolen government-issued ID, such as driver’s license, social security card, or passport.
- Consider reporting the crime to your local police, especially if you know who stole your identity.
You can use the Federal Trade Commission sample letters to help you resolve your identity theft issues.
What are my rights as a victim of identity theft?
Federal laws protect identity theft victims. If someone steals your identity, you have the right to:
- Get an Identity Theft Report
- Free copies of your credit report
- Put a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report
- Put a 7-year extended fraud alert on your credit report
- Remove incorrect information from your credit report
- Stop creditors and debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts
- Copies of documents related to the identity theft
- Stop debt collectors from contacting you.
- Have your financial responsibility limited.
If the identity thief is tried in federal court, you have additional victim rights.
You can find more information about identity theft victim rights on the FTC website.
How can I protect myself from identity theft?
Identity theft can happen to anyone. To help lower your risk:
- Keep your personal information in a safe place. Be careful with your wallet, credit and debit cards, social security number, and PIN numbers.
- Do not give your personal information – by phone, mail or online – to anyone you don’t know. The IRS will not call and ask for your information over the phone.
- Always read your credit card and bank statements carefully. Contact your bank if you see a purchase that you didn’t make.
- Know when payments are due. If bills are late or you do not get them, contact the sender.
- Pick up your mail as soon as possible. If you are gone for a few days, ask the Post Office to hold your mail.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired credit cards, and other documents with your personal information before throwing them away.
- Review your credit reports at least once a year. Order a free report from Annual Credit Report.
- Make sure your personal information online, on your computer, and on your phone is safe. Use secure websites, firewalls, and anti-virus software. Create complex passwords that cannot be guessed.
Millions of people in the United States are victims of financial fraud crimes every year. The crimes happen when someone tricks you into paying for something you never receive. Anyone can be a victim of fraud crimes.
If you are a victim of financial crime, it may make you question your own judgment. It can also destroy your trust in others, especially if the offender is someone you know. You may be embarrassed to tell anyone what happened. You may worry that your friends or family will criticize you.
You are not alone, and there are resources to help you.
What is financial fraud?
Financial fraud happens when someone tricks you into paying for goods or services, but you never get them. That’s because:
- The person or business never meant to provide them, or
- The goods, services or financial benefits did not exist.
What are some common types of financial scams and fraud?
Most of the time, the fraud crimes happen over the internet, telephone, or by letters or brochures. They offer things, such as free vacations, or investment opportunities.
Examples of financial fraud include:
- Telemarketing fraud: You get a phone call selling fake goods or services, or saying you won a prize, money, or vacation.
- Mail fraud: Someone uses the mail to get your money or property.
- Identity theft: See Identity Theft tab.
- Bank fraud: Someone pretends be a bank to get your money.
- Embezzlement: Someone in charge of your money takes or uses it wrongly.
- Pyramid or Ponzi schemes: A company or person promises you a lot of money if you invest, but instead, they give your money to previous investors.
- Advance fee schemes: You pay money to get something more valuable but you get little or nothing back.
- Internet fraud: Someone uses the internet to trick you.
- Telephone con-artist scam : Someone pretends to be a family member who needs money right away, or says they are from the IRS and demands you pay a phony tax bill.
How are fraud crimes handled?
Fraud crimes are prosecuted at the state or federal level. It depends on:
- The type of fraud
- How much money was stolen
- The laws violated
- Where the crime happened.
For more information about common scams, visit the FBI website.
Where can I go for help?
If you are a victim of a crime, you can contact a crime victim advocate near you. Or contact the:
Other Types of Financial Fraud and Scams
Foreclosure Rescue Scams
Foreclosure is a when a bank or mortgage lender files a lawsuit to force the sale of a property. The bank does this to get back money owed when someone falls behind on payments. New York State has a network of not-profit organizations that provide free help to homeowners in foreclosure, and can negotiate with the lender.
Foreclosure rescue scam happens when a company promises to negotiate a loan modification for you but doesn’t. They usually charge fees first, promise great results, and offer a “money back guarantee.”
Other scams include:
- A lawyer who files a lawsuit without proof just to charge a fee
- Convincing a homeowner to transfer their deed to someone else
- Using fake documents to transfer property ownership.
How do I know if I can trust a mortgage assistance company?
If you are facing foreclosure, be aware of mortgage assistance companies that:
- Promise specific results
- Charge fees before they start your case
- Ask you to stop paying your mortgage and pay them instead
- Ask you to sign papers you don’t understand
- Ask you to give them (or someone else) your deed, or transfer ownership of your home
- Aggressively try to sell you their services
In New York State, it is against the law for mortgage assistance companies to charge fees before any work is done. And there is never a guarantee that you can get out of foreclosure.
Where can I get help that I can trust?
To get correct information and honest help, please visit HomeOwnerHelpNY.
What if I am a victim of a foreclosure scam?
- Call the Attorney General's Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) hotline at 855-466-3456.
- Visit HomeOwnerHelpNY
You can also:
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Contact the local U.S. Trustee Office if the scam involves bankruptcy.
- Find more information on Housing Scams.
Housing Rental Scams
A housing rental scam happens when someone pretends to be the owner of the rental property. The scammer lists the rental on Craigslist or other websites, but includes their own contact information, email, and phone number.
How do I know if I am a victim of a housing rental scam?
There are some warning signs that you may be involved in a housing rental scam. Be aware of a property owner who:
- Has ads and/or emails with spelling or grammar mistakes, or a lot of capital letters.
- Says they are overseas (for example, working as a missionary) or too busy to do business in person.
- Asks you to sign a lease before you see the property, or makes you pay a fee to see it.
- Offers the rental property at a much lower price than similar properties.
- Asks you for an unusually high security deposit.
- Asks you to email your completed application, but the application asks for a lot of personal information that can be used to commit identity theft.
What if I am the victim of a rental scam?
- Call the police.
- File a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Contact the publisher of the false ad. Let them know what happened.
For immediate help and to report a crime, call 911.
Need help paying for food, housing utilities, or child care? Do you need help with healthcare, disability, vocational or other services?
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - confidential support for people in distress: 1-800-273-8255.
Adult Protective Services: 1-844-697-3505.
The New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711) | Text 233733