By Liz Wood 

Recovering from crime

Program helps victims recover sense of self, financial identities

 


From the outside, the victim of a crime finds solace when a perpetrator is arrested. From the inside, it is a very different story. Their life has been shattered.

April 19-25 is National Crime Victims’ Right Week and this year’s theme is “Engaging Community: Empowering Victims”.

The Carbon County Sheriff’s Victim/Witness Program has a very important role in the victim’s recovery – from a violent crime or a monetary crime.

“It’s a long process, and an emotional one,” Loretta Hansen with the Carbon County Sheriff’s Victim/Witness Program. It is her job to help the victim through the process of recovering from a crime. Sometimes it’s emotional healing, other times it is physical healing or it is financial healing.

The legal process can take as long as two years, Hansen said. Hansen has been with the victim’s program for 18 years and she has people she served come back 10 years later to let them know how their life is going. Some are success stories and others have been victimized again.


Hansen is the coordinator for the victim’s program and she is fortunate to have volunteers in communities around Carbon County who help the victims through the challenges of preparing for trial, repairing their credit after their identity has been stolen or a myriad of other fraud crimes.

Fraud is a growing type of crime Hansen said. These types of crimes include stealing medical information or tax fraud. The victim’s program can help each victim go through the process of recovering their credit, which can take up to 600 hours or more, Hansen said.

Financial fraud is astounding, Hansen said. More than $50 billion per year is lost to financial frauds.

In many cases, the victim does not know the first step to take and that is where Hansen and her volunteers help the victim. Depending on how they are compromised, the victim has different paths they take to resolve the crime against them.

The first step is reporting the crime to the local law enforcement agency. From there, the victim’s program is notified to help the victim through the process.

Hansen said it does take a lot of work on the victim’s part, but they can guide them through the process and what needs to be done. For instance, if a victim’s social security number has been compromised dispute letters need to be written.

The crime can be exasperated when the victim doesn’t know their identity has been stolen until they are denied employment, or attempt to buy or rent a home. Hansen said that these crimes can be thwarted if people take the time to check their credit two times a year. Not just looking at the credit score, but looking through the details to see if anything is out of the ordinary.

Financial fraud can be emotionally draining, Hansen said. Victim suffer from depression, their stress level goes up and they can’t sleep.

Hansen said it is important to highlight the diversity of the communities, expand partnerships to serve victims and to empower crime victims as they pursue justice and recovery.

“This year, we recognize that by engaging the entire community, we are able to ensure that victims of all crimes, regardless of their background or the crime committed against them, will receive the support and services they deserve,” Hansen said.

Volunteers who are interested in helping with the victims are kept confidential. “It’s a calling for many of them,” Hansen said. To be a volunteer includes a screening process. Those interested in being volunteers can contact Hansen at 307-328-7713.

Hansen said the Carbon County Sheriff has a newsletter that focuses on the scams that are taking place. These newsletters are available at local senior centers.

 

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