Stalking and Violent Crime Victims not Informed of ACP Address Confidentiality Program Shortcomings Endangering Lives
Survivors in Action
December 2, 2011
Special thank you to the many stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, and victims of violent crimes who continue to share their experiences with crime victim resources to help bring about awareness of the dire need for DV Reform domestic violence victim resource and public policy reform.
The email below depicts the realities faced by victims who utilize ACP- Address Confidentiality Programs also known as Confidential Address Programs and in California it is known as Safe at Home. There is nothing worse than being re-victimized by the same system that is supposed to help victims, and for those utilizing ACP program’s there is much at stake if this information is not shared and if this resource does not provide clear warnings of the shortcomings to victims who seek this program as a privacy protection tool in the United States today. Blindly referring victims to this and other programs is putting lives at risk and Survivors In Action continues to promote awareness of these shortcomings to ensure homicides are prevented.
Reforming ACP programs and the process to change social security number for victims of stalking and domestic violence is long over due.
Email from domestic violence victim sharing her experiences with ACP which stands for Address Confidentiality Program:
I am a DV survivor. I read your blog and attempted to respond, but my post was too long.
I declined the DV professionals’ suggestion to change my name and SS#. Instead, I opted for the Address Confidentiality Program. I think I took the more difficult route.
Here is what I counsel other victims:
Address Confidentiality Programs, The REAL Story…………
CAUTION! The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) is VERY unlikely to work! Unless of course you have the energy, the resources, the commitment and the vast amount of perseverance to attempt a successful inclusion. Don’t bet your life on it. This is what you should be prepared for:
1. Renewing your Drivers License: Even with the legal documentation of your ACP participation, you will probably be met with ignorant stares. If you show them the state statute exempting your address from public records, they will probably become rude and abusive. After you call the governor’s office five times, the DL Bureau will call you back and apologize.
2. Registering to vote: Voting rolls are public records, but most states’ statutes exempt ACP participants from public records. But the elected Supv of Elections is not mandated to take the training of the statutes defining their own processes. So, they won’t register you with protected status. Your choice: Vote OR stay alive. Take your pick. This participant called the governor’s office and said, “Hi. I’ve been denied the right to register to vote.” It got fixed.
3. Any utility account you will open will become public record on any people search engine in less than 60 days. There are a few utility agencies that have a program for ACP members to get bogus name accounts, but it will take a minimum of 20 discussions and one month to set up. Most don’t. You will die in 60 days.
4. Library cards. Some library professionals can read statutes and have a program set up for ACP participants. For the rest, call your county or city commissioner, explain the problem and ask them to intervene for you. Or forego library privileges.
5. Contact your elected official. No chance. They will not communicate with you unless you are in their district. But your legal address is outside their district and if you give your real physical address to them so that you can communicate with them, it becomes public record. What kind of flowers do you want at your funeral?
6. File a police report about anything. Police reports are public records. In my state, ACP participants’ addresses are exempt from public record – by law. But confirm with your local law enforcement that they have heard of this law, much less abide by it. I just tried to make a report of a burglary at my home. The local law enforcement did not recognize the ACP concept, name, statute or implementing authority. They would treat my address like any other – public. Report and die. What was stolen is not worth my life. I did not report.
7 Get car insurance. In most states it is a felony to “Misrepresent your garaged address” to your auto insurer. Your garaged address determines your risk and premiums. However, when a friend called my auto insurer, pretended to be me, and asked to confirm the address change, the office read the real physical address to the caller without verifying identity. Auto insurance workers, like anyone else that knows your real address, can also be bribed for the information. Give it to NOBODY. The auto insurer now thinks I garage in a drawer in the state capital, hundreds of miles away. For that, I am committing a felony and likely invalidating any coverage I am paying for – just to stay alive.
8. Few banks know that the US Treasury came out with a ruling in 2009 that states banks may honor the ACP state addresses and the bank will remain in compliance with the bank’s obligation for Homeland Security laws. Instead the banks will demand your local physical address until YOU provide them with THEIR professional updates. Are you willing to bet your life that the low paid teller won’t take a bribe or your assailant won’t hack into their server? But, if you have the energy to take on the responsibility of educating the banking professionals also, give them this: http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/pdf/fin-2009-r003.pdf
There is more, but I’m tired just surviving.
Therefore, until the paid DV professionals help us out by demanding accountability of the governing bodies implementing these programs, we are all dead ducks.
The above email is from a real victim who is enrolled in an ACP program in the United States today. There is no excuse for this life saving information not being disclosed to victims of violence in the U.S. who are “blindly referred” to this and other similar programs who are not aware of the shortcomings and relying on this program without being informed.