Victim Resource Center of the Finger Lakes Inc.
secure your credit report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.
You can request your credit report once a year from each of the credit bureaus
listed, but if you would like your credit score you will have to pay a
Assistance is for emergency situations and should never be
viewed as part of your long-term financial plan. It is a tool to use
when in crisis or emergency situations only.
1. Financial Abuse, Relationships
and Diverse Perspectives
a tactic used to
control relationships by preventing access to money or other financial
Financial Abuse may
-controlling how money is spent
living resources, medication or food
-not allowing a
partner to work or earn money
partner’s identity, money, credit or property
Decide what you want to do with your
Create a list of short-term goals.
Create a list of long-term goals.
4. Determine how much
time you will need to meet your financial goals.
Research your savings options.
Review your progress monthly or quarterly.
1. Always pay yourself
first. Place money in your savings account every month as if you were
paying a bill. Investigate the convenience and safety of direct
2. Start small and
build as your situation changes. Regularly saving $10 a
month will make a difference in your
3. A top priority should be the development of an emergency fund
that equals three-six months of your living expenses.
Steps to move
forward with regaining control of your financial life:
1. Learn strategies for
dealing with your financial fears.
2. Complete a financial inventory or assessment of your
resources, debts and other liabilities.
3. Research your living costs.
4. Identify and contact
organizations in your community to learn how to apply for
5. Develop a safety plan with assistance from your
6. Create a financial
safety plan with assistance from your advocate.
7. Learn how to protect
your privacy when using cell phones, email, and the
8. Get copies of financial records and important
Resources that may
be available in your community, and that you may qualify
- Emergency assistance funds
- Emergency shelter
- Temporary housing
- Utility assistance programs
- Food pantries
- Job placement programs
- Free or low-cost medical assistance
- Education assistance programs
- Childcare subsidies if you are working or attending school
- Free or low-cost financial management services
How to stay safe
before leaving an abusive partner:
· Dial 911 any time you or your children are in
· Plan for your safety while in the relationship, and if you decide
· Gather and hide your
photo identification, passport and social security card if you can do so
· Write down your
social security number and your partner’s social security
· Write down phone
numbers for your utility companies and creditors.
· Write down credit
account numbers or get a copy of your most recent credit
The 7 most
important documents to have when you leave:
Most recent bank statement
Insurance contacts (e.g. car and health
Vehicle registration, if you own a car
Most recent tax records
6. Original birth certificates for you
and your children
7. Social Security
cards for you and your children
· Discuss the impact
of your financial abuse and any additional challenges you might
· Talk with an
advocate to learn about community resources, including emergency assistance
funds, temporary housing, food pantries, job placement programs, educational
assistance programs and more.
· Obtain copies of all important financial documents and records.
· Research your partner’s assets.
· Consult an attorney and provide him or her with as much data as
possible if a divorce is likely, (e.g., tax returns, paycheck stubs
and employee benefits).
· Remember: after the
divorce you will be responsible for any joint debt that you and your partner
· Find an attorney
with solid credentials using state bar associations, attorney referral
services, domestic abuse victim service programs or personal
· Review your
health insurance coverage and consider extending your insurance
· Research other
health insurance options available in your community.
· Work with an
advocate to develop a financial safety plan and a strategy to protect your
privacy when using cell phones, email and the Internet.
Survivor strategies for moving ahead:
·- Make a list of your top three needs.
- Make a list of your top two financial concerns.
- Keep a financial journal as you go through the Moving
Ahead through Financial Management curriculum and document your
achievements. (This journal can help you decide which guidebook(s) to
review.) The Victim Resource Center may be able to provide
you with these materials.
- Talk to your
advocate about your needs and concerns and get suggestions about which
guidebook(s) or resource materials will be host helpful to
Steps to create a
- Identify your net monthly
This is the money
that comes into your household, after deducting taxes, social security
- Identify your monthly expenses.
Monthly expenses include rent and phone
bills, food, gasoline, electric, water, and heating bills, as well as those
that occur periodically, such as car insurance and medical
- Subtract your monthly expenses from your income.
The difference between your income and
expenses indicates whether or not you have any money to spare. If you
have extra money, you’ll need to decide whether to spend or save
it. Can you reduce expenses or earn more money to cover shortages? By
distinguishing between needs and wants, you can better identify areas where you
might be overspending.
support: financial support
paid by a parent for a child or children if the parents are separated, no
longer together, or divorced. Child support can be entered into voluntarily
or ordered by a court or an administrative agency, depending on each state’s
laws. Child support can include: medical support as well as the cost
Benefits of child
- At least one child for whom you are seeking support is under 18
years of age, in school or college, etc.
- You are the child’s custodial parent or guardian.
How to get child
- Work with your local child support enforcement
- Go to court on your own.
- Hire a private attorney if you need to increase, decrease,
enforce or terminate the payment of child support.
Office of Child
Children and Families
Department of Health and Human
Legal Services: many Legal
Aid Societies and other legal services agencies have collaborative agreements
with domestic and sexual violence advocacy programs to ensure the safety of
victims. They provide legal services to victims who are unable to
afford or access them on their own.
Custody and visitation orders
Protection orders, including stalking orders
Immigration and legal status
Paternity and child-abuse matters
How to find legal
· Your local domestic
violence advocacy program - Victim Resource Center, (315) 331-1171
Your state domestic violence advocacy
Your state domestic violence coalition
Your local Legal Aid Society
· Your state bar
· Battered Women’s Justice Project, defense office at
1-800-903-0111 ext.3 or 1-215-351-0010
· Taking control of
your finances can be frightening. Face your fears by becoming
informed, identifying worst-case scenarios and taking
· Explore options for
accessing child support, while addressing safety and privacy
· Carefully assess
your needs and wants and then develop a budget to help you manage your
money. Identify your income and expenses and determine how to manage
overspending and how to save more money.
· Review your assets
and liabilities to determine where you need additional support.
· Review your credit
report at least once a year and always before making a major purchase, such as
car or house.
· Review resources in
your community that provide free or low-cost services to assist you and your
· Be sure your housing
expenses do not total more than 30 percent of your
· Work with your
advocate to develop a plan to 1. Eliminate or reduce your liabilities. 2.
Access community resources to support you.
· Develop employment
and job strategies to plan for your financial stability and
3. Building a Financial
Pay bills on time
Use your credit sparingly
Correct any mistakes
Pay off old debts
Employment history - depending on the type of loan,
most lenders look for one to two consecutive years of employment within the same
industry. This shows employment stability and that you do not hop from
one job to another.
· Credit History - you must demonstrate that you can
manage credit responsibly. Lenders look for a history of on-time
Outstanding liabilities - the size of your income
dictates the amount of liability you can support.
Cash and assets reserves - this is particularly
important if you apply for a mortgage loan, as lenders may require that cash
and liquid assets be available to pay at least two monthly mortgage
Before you decide to file
Reduce your spending: if you reduce spending
you may be able to find the money to repay your
Talk with your creditors: creditors are often willing
to work out a payment plan to help you pay off what you
Talk with a nonprofit counseling agency: these agencies
can help you create a plan to handle all of your
Talk to an attorney: expert advice can help
you understand the consequences of declaring
Consider debt consolidation: to pay your debt you may
be able to borrow against your workplace retirement plan, stocks or other
securities, or the cash-value of your life-insurance policy.
Analyze the risk and consequences of this action
changing your identity:
Find a place to live
Protect your new social security number
Protect your new information from public
Establish a new credit history
Build your work history
Build education credentials
Illustrate proof of identity
Research address confidentiality programs
Use technology strategically
data savvy - be aware what information you are required to provide
for financial transactions.
- Find out about the data practices of your financial institution -
know what information your bank, credit union or credit card company
shares about you or your transactions.
- Take the time to learn how your financial institution is
protecting you - ask your financial institution about its data
security and how it protects your personal information.
- Read all privacy notices carefully - details about your
personal information and who has access to that information is embedded in the
- Shred everything - all documents containing personal
contact information or account numbers should be
- Opt-out financial institutions must offer you the right
to choose not to participate in their data-sharing processes with third
- Beware of email requests for your personal information -
never give personal information in response to an
- Change passwords and
PINs often- use a password that’s a combination of letters and
Types of Identity
1. Account takeover: a thief acquires your existing credit account
information and purchases products and services using the actual credit card or
the account number and expiration date.
2. Application fraud, also called true name fraud: when a
thief uses your social security number and other identifying information to
open new accounts in your name.
Victims of identity
Notify credit bureaus
Contact your creditors
Get a copy of your credit report
Report the crime to your local police or sheriff’s
Report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission
Call the Social Security Administration
Get a new ID or driver’s license number
Keep a log
If you are in the military, place an active duty alert on your
· Improve your
financial situation by using banks or credit unions rather than payday lenders
and check cashers.
· Manage your credit
so you will be eligible for credit at lower interest
· Develop a plan for
managing debt and working with credit counselors.
· Consult with a financial
counselor before you declare bankruptcy. Declaring bankruptcy should be a last
· Be sure your housing expenses do not total more than 30 percent
of your income.
· Work with your
advocate to identify traditional or federal housing opportunities in your
· Understand your
rights and responsibilities as a tenant and review the list of things to do
before you sign a lease.
· Explore the challenges
of an identity change.
· Guard against
4. Creating Long-Term Financial
Types of savings
Interest-earning savings accounts - each month you’ll
earn interest on your savings and receive a monthly statement online or in the
Money market accounts - these accounts pay higher
interest than savings accounts, but may require a minimum balance. You
can usually make as many monthly deposits as you like, but you can write only
three checks against the account each month.
Certificates of deposit - if you have monthly income
that can be tied up for three months to six years, certificates of deposit will
offer the highest interests rates, depending on the term you choose. There are
still penalties for early withdrawals.
Invest your savings
1. Make a copy of your credit report and circle every item you
believe is incorrect.
2. Write a letter to
the credit-reporting agency. Tell the credit-reporting company, in
writing, the information you feel is inaccurate. Include copies of documents
that support your position.
Send a similar letter to the creditor you believe reported
Send all materials by certified mail, return receipt requested,
so you have proof the information was received.
The reporting agency will initiate an investigation by contacting
creditors to verify the accuracy of the information.
If the investigation reveals an error, you have the right to ask
that a corrected version of your credit report be sent to everyone who received
the report during the past six months.
If an investigation doesn't resolve your dispute, ask that a
100-work statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future
Accurate negative information in your credit report generally stays
on the report for seven years.
· Auto insurance - can help you repair or replace your car if you
get into an accident and help protect you in the event of a
· Homeowner’s/renter’s insurance - pays to repair and replace your
home if damaged or destroyed. Renters need insurance to protect their furniture
and other personal property.
· Life insurance - can help provide your family with a stable
· Long-term care insurance - can help protect your family from
medical costs in the event of a lengthy illness.
Disability insurance - provides a portion of income lost due to a
total or partial disability caused by illness or
Fixed rate mortgages - the interest rate for a fixed-rate
mortgage never changes, so the monthly principal and interest payment always
stays the same, (if you plan to keep your home for a long time, this mortgage
will likely save you money).
Adjustable rate mortgages(ARMs) - the interest rate for an
adjustable rate mortgage changes along with the market rate, at daily or
three-five-or 10 month intervals.
*ARMS are popular because they usually start with a low interest
rate and low monthly payments. This can help qualify you for a longer
mortgage, but you are not protected if the interest rate
increases. This could double or triple your house
· Sub-prime or
high-cost mortgages - these loans are for people with blemished
credit. They have higher interest rates.
The general educational development (GED) - a way to obtain a
high school diploma. Most businesses, colleges and technical schools
recognize the GED equivalent of a high school diploma.
On-the-job training - can be provided at the work site. Training
ranges from a month to a year or more and is sometimes supplemented with
Community colleges - provide associate degrees and the
opportunity to transfer to a four-year college or
· Trade or vocational
schools - provide specialized training for many professions, including nurse’s
aide, plumbing technician, heat, ventilation and air conditioning technician,
truck driver, and more.
Certification programs - provide sufficient training to work in a
specific profession. Some certificate programs are administered by the state,
while others are offered by colleges, universities or professional
schools. Many certification programs may require a college degree in
addition to a standardized exam.
Online education - an alternative to trade schools, community
colleges and four-year colleges, and universities. Most online
education programs allow you to work at your convenience, as well as anywhere
you can access a computer.
Four-year colleges and universities - grant undergraduate,
masters and doctoral degrees.
· Don’t spend money to avoid feeling guilty or because you are
· Establish a regular savings habit. Saving regularly is more
important than the amount of money you save.
· Learn about options for saving and investing your
· Calculate how much
you need to save for retirement and begin a savings
Implement an estate plan to provide financial and emotional
stability for loved ones after you die.
· Protect your assets by purchasing adequate health/medical, life,
auto, rental/homeowners and other insurance coverage.
· If you want to buy a
home, work with a counselor to identify organizations that provide home buyer
· Compare the terms and features of mortgages to eliminate
predatory lenders and choose the one that is best for
· Learn about education and training options that can help you
qualify for greater job opportunities.
· Explore options to pay for education and training, including
financial aid or tuition reimbursement programs.
· Establish a college
savings program, including 529 plans, or prepaid tuition plans for your
5. Financial Strategies for
Immigrant and Refugee Women
to abused immigrants and refugees:
- Crisis counseling
and intervention programs
- Services and assistance related to child protection
- Adult protective services
- Violence and abuse prevention
- Services to victims of domestic violence or other criminal
- Treatment of mental illness or substance abuse
- Short-term shelter or housing assistance for the homeless,
victims of domestic violence and runaway, abused or abandoned
- Programs to help individuals during periods of adverse
- Soup kitchen
- Community food banks
- Nutrition programs and services for senior citizens requiring
- Medical, public-health, mental-health or substance-abuse
assistance necessary to protect life and safety
- Activities designed to protect the life and safety of workers,
children or community residents
- Nutrition programs and services for senior citizens requiring
- English as a Second Language Classes (ESL)
available in the U.S.:
- Protection Orders - available regardless of immigration
status. They can serve as evidence for abused women who are seeking
legal immigration status.
- Abusive partners who violate protection orders may affect their
own immigration status.
- Divorce - abused immigrant and refugee women may be eligible to
file for divorce in the U.S.
- Access to immigration relief - the Violence Against Women Act
offers options for relief and support to abused immigrant and refugee
women. (Un)documented immigrants who are abused by a spouse
or parent who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can apply for some
public benefits after filing a Violence Against Women Act
Self-Petition or I-130.
Violence Against Women
Act Self-Petition - contains provisions
that allow abused immigrant and refugee women to flee violent marriages without
being deported as well as providing the abused and refugee women with three
forms of relief:
Allows them to file petitions on their own
Addresses the cancellation-of-removal relief, as it applies;
3. Clarifies that
immigration authorities must accept “any credible evidence” submitted by an
abused immigrant who is filing a self-petition or requesting a “battered-spouse
waiver” if her abuser has filed immigration papers on her behalf.
Violence Against Women Act Self-Petition:
1: Spouse or child of abuser at the time of filing the
· Requirement 2:
Self-petitioner’s spouse or parent is a U.S. Citizen
or lawful permanent resident.
3: Self-petitioners reside in the U.S. with the U.S.
citizen or lawful permanent resident.
4: Self-petitioners must have resided in the U.S. with
the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in the
Requirement 5: Battery or extreme
Requirement 6: Good moral
· Requirement 8: Applicant married
in good faith.
Other avenues are
the U-Visa if the police have been called and you
are willing to participate in the prosecution of the perpetrator, and the
T-Visa for Trafficking
- Contact a local domestic violence hotline for information about
laws, shelters and other resources. Alert advocates to any language,
cultural or religious needs.
- Identifying your support systems by listing people who could
possibly help you, including family members, neighbors and advocates at
- Prepare a suitcase with important items and documents. Hide the
suitcase or keep it at another location with a trusted friend or
information to collect:
- Copy of protection order
- Immigration papers
- Identification for you and your children (i.e., photo
identification, social security cards, passport or student
- Love letters, marriage license cards, family
photographs with you and your husband (these will show proof
of your relationship with your partner)
- Papers that show you have lived in the U.S. (i.e., utility bill,
lease or mortgage payment book)
- Review the signs of abuse list to determine whether you are
experiencing financial abuse or other forms of abuse such as domestic, sexual,
or stalking violence.
- Research community assistance programs, which help all people
including undocumented immigrants or refugees.
- Learn about
protections offered by the U.S. legal system, including protection orders and
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) relief options for battered immigrant and
- Collect important documents, including copies of protection
orders, immigration papers, identification for you and your children and
- Develop a plan to ensure your safety (see Safety Plan this