VOCA (Victims of Crime Assistance)
What is VOCA?
The VOCA program offers free services to senior citizens and disabled residents of Snohomish and Island Counties who have become victims of financial crimes. Our services help reduce the effects of victimization by con-artists and identity thieves, burglars and car thieves, and debt collectors or retailers who violate consumer protection laws.
How does VOCA work?
For individual victims we provide telephone or in-person counseling on
- How to advocate for your rights
- Ways to complete and file reports
- Writing effective complaints letters to retailers
- Where to find help following financial victimization
- Options for obtaining legal assistance when necessary
We also provide advocacy services for financial crime victims on a case-by-case basis. We seek assistance for victims through the Vulnerable Adult Abuse Task Force for Snohomish County and the Snohomish County Hoarding Task Force.
Who provides VOCA services?
Staff and volunteers receive special training in assisting financial crime victims. Their 30-hour initial training covers basic crisis intervention, counseling skills, advocacy pointers, confidentiality and professionalism. On-going trainings offer refreshers and cover important assistance topics such as ways to spot financial abuse and details about navigating the legal system.
Why do clients need VOCA assistance?
In the past five years financial crimes against seniors and vulnerable adults have increased rapidly. Federal Trade Commission figures show that in 2005 about 11,000 Washingtonians lost $11 million to fraud; by 2008 the number of Washington State fraud victims doubled to nearly 22,000 and the amount lost tripled to $33 million. Most of these victims live in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, and over half the victims were senior citizens. Seniors seldom encounter crime and have little knowledge about dealing with criminals and legal systems. VOCA can point people in the right direction.
How can we reduce financial victimization?
As a preventive service we offer free community workshops for senior clubs and groups. Our sessions provide useful tips on:
- Becoming invisible to scammers
- Reducing susceptibility to ID-Theft
- Avoiding sham charities
- Combating consumer exploitation
The U.S. Department of Justice funds this program through a grant to the Office of Victims Advocacy, Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development
Senior Services of Snohomish County
Senior Information & Assistance
11627 Airport Rd., Suite B
Everett, WA 98204-8714