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GOVERNOR HOCHUL SIGNS LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE TO EMPOWER VICTIMS OF CRIME

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Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package to empower victims of crime. This sweeping package of bills expands what qualifies as documentation of identity theft and expands the eligibility of victims of unlawful dissemination of intimate images, as well as reckless endangerment. These bills will help to lift up victims of these heinous acts and give them the opportunity to seek justice.

“In New York we believe strongly in protecting and uplifting all victims,” Governor Hochul said. “This legislative package allows victims that have not been physically injured to still obtain compensation for other impacts of various crimes – taking an important step to help victims seek the justice they deserve.”

Legislation (S.9359/A.7487) expands which documents can be used to show identity theft in certain circumstances relating to debt collection. These materials can now include Federal Trade Commission and Law enforcement reports, as well as criminal and family court documents. This increases protection for victims of identity theft by requiring creditors to cease collection activities until completion of their review of certain information. Under existing law, victims of identity theft must have filed a police report for a creditor to cease collection, with there being no alternative if a police report was not filed. This will allow more victims of identity theft to put these heinous acts behind them.

State Senator Kevin Thomas said, “Identity theft impacts New Yorkers from all walks of life, and can happen to any of us. Under current law, creditors can only halt collection activities if identity theft victims file a police report documenting the alleged theft, with no acceptable alternatives. Certain victims who may not feel safe turning to law enforcement to report such activity have a harder time proving the legitimacy of their claims. My legislation expands protections in New York by now including family court filings, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ID Theft Victim form and more as acceptable documents needed for debtors to cease collection efforts until completion of their review. Affording these alternate ways to properly report such victimization is the right thing to do – and I thank Governor Hochul for protecting consumers by making it easier to access financial relief.”

Assemblymember Charles Fall said, “I along with many New Yorkers who have been impacted by identity theft, especially from someone they may know, thank Governor Hochul for signing my legislation today. Affording victims, especially of domestic violence and elder abuse an alternate way to report such victimization in order for debtors to pause collection efforts while other factors are considered is the right thing to do.”

Legislation (S.8975/A.7489) expands the eligibility of victims of unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image as defined in section 245.15 of the Penal Law (Revenge Porn). Under current law, to be eligible for reimbursement for certain crime-related expenses, one must be a physically injured victim of a crime. This bill allows uninjured victims of unlawful dissemination of intimate images to be reimbursed. This gives more power to victims of revenge porn acts and allows them to collect damages for what they endured.

State Senator Julia Salazar said, “These bills expand the list of offenses the crime victim can receive compensation for. This helps fill the gaps the previous law has left wide open. We want to make sure victims of all offenses, regardless if there is physical injury or not, are protected and compensated accordingly.”

Assemblymember Monica Wallace said, “The crime of revenge porn leaves emotional and psychological scars that are just as painful and enduring as the scars suffered from a physical assault. This legislation therefore allows victims who have had their intimate images unlawfully disseminated to receive the same services and compensation as victims of other crimes, including access to mental health counseling and relocation expenses. I thank Governor Hochul for her support of this legislation and for providing victims of revenge porn with the tools they need to heal.”

Legislation (S.8976/A.7502) expands the eligibility of victims of the crimes of reckless endangerment in the second and first degree. Under current law, to be eligible for reimbursement victims must be physically injured by reckless endangerment. This bill allows victims the ability to obtain compensation without having been physically injured, giving victims more power.

Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar said, “With this new law, New York State gives crime victims the support they need to get back on their feet. Victims have needs after crimes of gross reckless endangerment, such as when a gunman shoots but misses them, or a speeding car nearly kills them on a street. Though these crimes don’t cause physical injuries, the mental and emotional trauma caused can be just as real and debilitating as physical trauma. With the signing of this legislation, our state commits to providing crime victims with the comprehensive help they need.”