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Office of Financial Empowerment
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January-June 2013
July-December 2012
January-June 2012
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July-December 2010
January-June 2010   
December 2009 

City Expands Financial Empowerment Center Services

City Expands Financial Empowerment Center Services
Expansion Includes Free Financial Counseling in Chinese
Commissioner Mintz announced the opening of three new Financial Empowerment Centers, now bringing free, one-on-one professional financial counseling services to 20 sites Citywide, including a Center in Chinatown that offers counseling in Mandarin and Cantonese. The three new Centers will also offer specialized financial counseling to homeowners in the midst of foreclosure prevention counseling. Additionally, DCA's Office of Financial Empowerment, partnering with VNS CHOICE, an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, is making good on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's promise to pilot, for the first time, phone-based financial counseling to homebound New Yorkers.
Read the press release

Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you

Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Announce New Debt Collection Regulations to Protect New Yorkers from Wrongful Collection Attempts

Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Announce New Debt Collection Regulations to Protect New Yorkers from Wrongful Collection Attempts
The City announced new regulations that will hold debt collectors responsible for obtaining proof of a consumer's original debt. Other new protections include a requirement that collection agencies provide live telephone assistance to consumers within 60 seconds of their call.
Read the press release (en español)
Download Debt Collection Guide in English  Español    中文

File a complaint against a debt collection agency
Need help managing debt? Get free one-on-one financial counseling at a Financial Empowerment Center

Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Tightening the Regulation of Process Servers

Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Tightening the Regulation of Process Servers
Electronic records and other new provisions in the law are intended to end "sewer service," the illegal practice of verifying falsely that a process server actually and properly served court papers.
Read the press release
Download a copy of Local Law 7 of 2010 which becomes effective on October 11, 2010
File a complaint against a process server

DCA Advises Consumers to Beware of Banks’ Use of Text Messaging to Enroll Them into Expensive Overdraft Protection Services

DCA Advises Consumers to Beware of Banks' Use of Text Messaging to Enroll Them into Expensive Overdraft Protection Services
Law Prohibiting Automatic Enrollment Takes Effect July 1.
Read the press release
Read DCA's Open Letter to Providers of Overdraft Opt-In Consulting and Services
Read DCA's Letter to Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System including Request for Interpretation
Read DCA's letter to SoundBite Communications
Open an NYC SafeStart Account, an ATM-based starter account without overdraft fees

DCA Issues Fines That Could Total More Than $230,000 to Funeral Home Businesses during Citywide Sweep to Protect Consumers

DCA Issues Fines That Could Total More Than $230,000 to Funeral Home Businesses during Citywide Sweep to Protect Consumers
Commissioner Mintz announced that DCA enforcement teams inspected 579 funeral homes during a two-month long investigation and issued violations for their illegal practices of failing to have retail prices and price lists visible, failing to provide prices over the phone, and not disclosing that consumers may use or bring in a casket from a third party. DCA offers funeral planning tips and urges New Yorkers to file a complaint against a funeral home if it violates the consumer protection law.
Read the press release
Download DCA’s Funeral Planning Guide
File a complaint against a funeral home

DCA Names Banks’ Automatic Enrollment of Consumers in Costly Overdraft Protection Programs as Top Fraud of the Year

DCA Names Banks’ Automatic Enrollment of Consumers in Costly Overdraft Protection Programs as Top Fraud of the Year
DCA Commissioner Mintz warns consumers about deceptive marketing tactics that banks may use in the weeks and months ahead to get them to “opt-in” to expensive overdraft protection services. After July 1, it will be illegal for banks to continue to enroll consumers in overdraft protection programs without their express permission. DCA created the NYC SafeStart Account, an ATM-based starter account that does not have overdraft fees, now available to all New Yorkers. DCA also advocates better banking practices including real-time alerts when a transaction will result in a negative account balance. Other top fraud categories this year include debt collection agencies, home improvement contractors, furniture stores, and electronics stores, from whom DCA secured $9.9 million in consumer restitution.
Read the press release
Learn more about the NYC SafeStart Account
File a complaint against a business
Trouble managing your money? Speak with a Financial Empowerment Center counselor

DCA Issues More Than 2,000 Violations to Income Tax Preparers during Citywide Crackdown to Protect Filers

DCA Issues More Than 2,000 Violations to Income Tax Preparers during Citywide Crackdown to Protect Filers
Commissioner Mintz announced that DCA inspectors examined more than 800 tax preparation businesses during a month-long investigation and issued violations on their deceptive marketing of expensive, high-interest Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) as “instant” or “rapid” refunds. DCA urges New Yorkers to avoid RALs and instead use the City's online free tax preparation service or visit a free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site to file returns safely.
Read the press release
Access online free tax preparation
Learn more about tax credits and find a VITA site near you
What you need to know about Refund Anticipation Loans

City Creates NYC SafeStart Account, a Safe, Affordable Bank Account for All New Yorkers

More Than 825,000 Adult New Yorkers Don't Have a Bank Account, According to New Citywide Study
City Creates NYC SafeStart Account, a Safe, Affordable Bank Account for All New Yorkers
Read the press release
Download Findings from the Citywide Financial Services Study (in PDF)
Open an NYC SafeStart Account

New Credit Card Rules Took Effect February 22

New Credit Card Rules Took Effect February 22
Read about five key protections of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act
Read the information sheet Consumer Alert: New Protections for Credit Card Users (in PDF)
Read DCA's 8/08 comments regarding credit card and bank practices (in PDF)
Read DCA's 7/08 comments regarding credit card products (in PDF)

City Launches Local Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign to Connect At-Risk Homeowners to Free, Safe Foreclosure Prevention Services

City Launches Local Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign to Connect At-Risk Homeowners to Free, Safe Foreclosure Prevention Services
The City partnered with NeighborWorks America to help New Yorkers recognize fraudulent foreclosure rescue firms seeking to scam homeowners. Homeowners can access free counseling by calling 311.
Read the press release
Visit the Center for NYC Neighborhoods Web site to learn more about free foreclosure counseling
Learn about free financial counseling at the City's Financial Empowerment Centers
Learn more about the campaign

It's Tax Time. Go Get Your Refund!

It's Tax Time. Go Get Your Refund!
City’s Free Filing Opportunities Now Include an Online Tax Preparation Service
New Yorkers earning less than $58,000 can file their taxes online for free using a program provided by The Beehive. Assisted online tax preparation is also available at certain free sites. At more than 60 free sites Citywide certified volunteers will prepare eligible New Yorkers’ returns and help them claim credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Select sites offer the $aveNYC Account, a limited-time opportunity to use refunds to build savings.
Access online free tax preparation
Read the press release
Learn more about tax credits and free tax assistance
Learn more about the $aveNYC Account

DCA Warns Haitian New Yorkers to Avoid Immigration Scams

DCA Warns Haitian New Yorkers to Avoid Immigration Scams
DCA avèti Ayisyen k ap viv nan Nouyòk pou yo evite Mètdam Imigrasyon yo
Haitians applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) should use only reputable attorneys or nonprofit organizations with attorneys on staff.
Get resources and tips
Jwenn resous ak konsèy
Learn about TPS application clinics
Get information from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
File a complaint in English or Kreyòl

New York Health & Racquet Club Agrees to Reimburse Members Deceived by False Promotion

New York Health & Racquet Club Agrees to Reimburse Members Deceived by False Promotion
DCA reached a settlement agreement with NYHRC to pay the City $20,000 in fines and possibly more than $150,000 in restitution to members who joined or renewed memberships from March through May 2008 while NYHRC was advertising "free" yacht and golf club usage perks that were not free. NYHRC will be contacting as many as 5,600 affected members directly to submit a claim. If you do not receive a letter but believe you are eligible to submit a claim, call NYHRC at (212) 220-0758.
Read the settlement agreement
Download False Advertising: How to Spot It and Read the Fine Print (in PDF)