Money and Finances
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.
Help Heating and Cooling Your Home
If you need help heating or cooling your home, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) may be able to help you.
HEAT: The Regular HEAP benefit opened on November 1, 2023 and the Emergency HEAP benefit opened on January 2, 2024, which can help you heat your home during a heat related emergency. To find out if you are eligible, please go to NYS HEAP.
COOLING: Starting April 15, 2024, eligible households can apply for a first-come first-served one-time Cooling Assistance Benefit to assist in keeping your home cool. You can use this benefit to help purchase and install a single air conditioner or fan. You can find information about eligibility requirements, allowable cooling equipment, and the benefit limits on the NYS HEAP website.
If you are having trouble paying your utility bills or received a disconnection notice, New York State is offering financial help and protections to help maintain your utility service and pay down your arrears. Eligible households can apply for help through the New York State Energy Affordability & Electric and Gas Bill Relief Program. To learn if you are eligible and how to apply go to Energy Affordability & Electric and Gas Bill Relief Program.
You can also contact your utility company to let them know you are having trouble paying your utility bills and ask them for help like a deferred payment plan or installment payment plan. You can learn more from the NYS Department of Public Service.
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.
Canceling Utility, Phone, Internet, Cable Contracts
If you are a domestic violence victim and share a contract with the person who is abusing you for any of these services,
- phone services
- internet services
- cable or satellite services
- utility services
you can cancel or opt-out of these contracts without paying a penalty or fee. You must provide an attestation (a signed document) stating that you are a victim of domestic violence. The provider cannot require you to share confidential information or details about your being a victim.
For more information, please see the legislation.
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.
Victim compensation can be important to a crime victim’s recovery and survival.
You can find information on how to apply online for victim compensation through our Victim Compensation Guide.
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 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.
Is there anything I can do if my application for benefits is denied, or if my benefits are reduced or cut off?
Yes, you can ask for a Fair Hearing. A fair hearing is a chance for you to have your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge. You can explain why you think the decision made by your local services agency is wrong. Many people are able to get benefits after a fair hearing.
For more information about fair hearings, you can go to the NYS website.
If you don’t have an attorney, please go to FairhearinghelpNY.org to learn what you can do to request and prepare for a hearing.
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 do I get creditors to stop calling me about debts I don’t owe from my identity theft?
To get creditors to stop collections activities against you, you can:
- give the creditor a police report OR
- if you are not comfortable going to the police, you can give the creditor
- a filed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Report WITH EITHER
- an FTC Identity Theft Victim Affidavit OR
- a statement written and certified by you explaining what happened. To see what the statement needs to contain read section 2 of the General Business Law604-A.
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.
Financial Fraud and Scams
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.
- COVID-19 scams: This can include scams related to fake COVID-19 charities, fake tests and vaccines, or scammers trying to steal insurance information.
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.
What can I do to avoid scams?
- Don’t share your personal or financial information via email, text message or over the phone.
- Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a link that does not seem normal, call them to ask if they sent it.
- Be cautious if you are being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
- Check on a charity by calling or looking at its actual website before donating.
- Remember, COVID-19 vaccines are available for free.
Where can I go for help?
You can contact a crime victim advocate near you. Or go to:
- Federal Trade Commission to report the fraud online or 1-877-FTC-HELP
- USA.gov to find the where to report the scam or call 1-844-CALL-USA1
- NYS website to report fraud, scams, and Identity theft
- Bureau of Consumer Frauds & Protection or call their Consumer Helpline at 1-800-771-7755
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or 1-855-411-2732
For more information, please go to:
- Federal Trade Commission "What to do if you were scammed"
- United Way, "Getting help if you've been a victim of a scam"
Mediation in a Financial Matter
Dealing with disagreements that involve money can be difficult. Instead of going to small claims or handling the matter through the court system, you can consider mediation.
Please go to the Alternative Dispute Resolution section of this website for more information about mediation and CDRC.
How can mediation help?
Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRC) have mediators who can help you with problems such as:
- Car and equipment loans
- Unpaid bills
- Third party loans
- Damaged property
- Concerns about the quality of repairs or other services
Can a CDRC help if I have a problem with a family member or neighbor that involves money?
Yes. They can help with matters that involve:
- Consumers or merchants
- Friends, family members, acquaintances, or neighbors
How much does mediation cost?
CDRCs are funded by NYS Unified Court System to provide free or low-cost services.
Developed with assistance from NYS Unified Court System, Office of ADR Programs
Updated July 29, 2021
Help With Other Needs
For immediate help and to report a crime, call 911.
Need help understanding legal terms? Please see the NY Court Help Glossary.
Need help paying for food, housing utilities, or child care? Do you need help with healthcare, disability, vocational or other services? Visit findservicesNY.gov or visit the NYS Social Programs website.
Visit the Hotlines page for national and New York State resources.