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Office of Financial Empowerment
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January-June 2013
July-December 2012
January-June 2012
July-December 2011
January-June 2011
July-December 2010   
January-June 2010   
December 2009 


Top Ten Financial Resolutions for 2012

Top Ten Financial Resolutions for 2012
DCA issues important tips to help you protect your money and be a savvy consumer in the new year.
Read the press release with top 10 New Year’s financial resolutions
Learn about important tax credits
Visit the Protect Your Money Web site

Commissioner Mintz Announces Results of Holiday Gold Buying Sweep

Commissioner Mintz Announces Results of Holiday Gold Buying Sweep
Undercover Investigations Reveal Deceptive Weighing Practices and Widely Variable Pricing Valuations;
3 out of 4 Gold Buyers in Violation of Local Laws
To protect consumers, DCA proposed a package of new regulations requiring greater disclosures during the weighing and valuation of gold. DCA urges New Yorkers to check that a gold buyer is licensed and to shop around for the fairest price.

Read the press release and get tips
Watch Good Morning America’s exclusive look at DCA’s investigation
Check if a gold buyer is licensed as a secondhand dealer or pawnbroker
File a complaint

DCA and CUNY Celebrate First Full Semester of New Course in Financial Counseling

DCA and CUNY Celebrate First Full Semester of New Course in Financial Counseling
Formal Training Program Required for Financial Empowerment Center Counselors Now Available For Social Service Providers
Developed by DCA and CUNY, Consumer and Personal Finance is a three-credit course offered through CUNY's School of Professional Studies. The course is designed to give service providers across all fields the practical skills and knowledge to help their clients protect their money by focusing on the fundamentals of managing personal finances.
Read the press release
Download the course flyer
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you

DCA Releases Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs

DCA Releases Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs
Initial Report of Series Details "Supervitamin Effect" of Improved Social Service Outcomes When Integrating Professional Financial Counseling
This first report documents DCA's work embedding one-on-one professional financial counseling within several City services, including homeless prevention, workforce development, domestic violence interventions, and the promising results. The series builds the case that fully integrating financial empowerment and asset building strategies into public programs will lead to more effective service delivery, improving outcomes while potentially saving money.

Read the press release
Download the report
Learn more about the City's Financial Empowerment Centers
Visit Cities for Financial Empowerment Web site

DCA Held Open House for Sidewalk Café Licensees on December 6

DCA Held Open House for Sidewalk Café Licensees on December 6
More than 40 people attended DCA's Open House exclusively for sidewalk café licensees. DCA staff discussed rules and regulations governing the industry and answered questions. Representatives from the Buildings and Fire departments discussed how to obtain and install sidewalk café heaters. DCA's Open House series educates licensees about the Department's business-friendly services, and helps them do right by their customers.
Visit DCA's Business Toolbox for important information and resources
Visit DCA's Event Calendar

(l to r) DCA Commissioner Mintz, J & R Chief Executive Officer Rachelle Friedman, and Alliance for Downtown New York President Elizabeth H. Berger

DCA Issues Savvy Shopping Tips for the Season
Tips Kick Off Downtown Alliance’s Holiday Shopping Campaign
Commissioner Mintz released the top tips residents and tourists should follow to be smart—and safe—shoppers this holiday season, covering gift cards, refund policies, receipts, layaway, ID theft prevention, false advertising, deliveries, and more.
Read the press release and get tips
Download free Consumer Publications
Watch Shopping Tips, part of Protect Your Money video series

DCA Inspects All 766 Airline Scales and 138 Shops at NYC Airports to Protect Holiday Travelers

DCA Inspects All 766 Airline Scales and 138 Shops at NYC Airports to Protect Holiday Travelers
80 Stop-Use Orders Issued for Failing Scales
DCA conducted a three-week enforcement sweep of JFK and LaGuardia airports to protect travelers from luggage overcharges and deceptive business practices during the holiday travel season. Inspectors issued 109 violations; top violations included failure to disclose refund policies, unlicensed activity, and labeling violations.
Read the press release
Consumers: File a complaint
Businesses: Submit a Scale Inspection Request Form online

City Announces Launch of “Know Before You Enroll”

City Announces Launch of “Know Before You Enroll”
Newest “Protect Your Money” Ads Alert Adults to Predatory School Scams and Free and Low-Cost School Choices
Using the stories of real New Yorkers, the City reminds everyone pursuing degrees and training:
   •  Explore free and low-cost adult education and training options
   •  Check the quality of a school before enrolling and paying tuition
   •  Don’t enroll in unlicensed schools
   •  Get free, professional financial counseling

Read the press release
Visit the Protect Your Money Web site to view ads and learn more
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you

NYC Partners with Seven Financial Institutions to Offer Municipal Workers Free Checking Account as Part of NYC Direct Deposit

NYC Partners with Seven Financial Institutions to Offer Municipal Workers Free Checking Account as Part of NYC Direct Deposit
Program Provides Thousands Safer, Easier, and Cheaper Way to Get Paid
In two simple steps, municipal employees and individual vendors receiving payments from the City can open NYC’s free account and enroll in direct deposit. Additional account features include: no monthly or debit card fees; no overdraft option for debit card purchases or ATM withdrawals; no minimum balance requirements; free online banking and bill pay; free in-network ATM withdrawals.
Read the press release
Learn more about NYC Direct Deposit

DCA Shuts Down Deceptive Talent Agency and Orders Owner to Pay More Than $900,000 in Fines

DCA Shuts Down Deceptive Talent Agency and Orders Owner to Pay More Than $900,000 in Fines
Responding to more than 80 consumer complaints, DCA charged WMT Model & Talent Network Development, Ltd. with false advertising, failure to deliver promised services, and unlicensed activity. In addition to the fines and penalties, the judge barred business owner Bradley Poster from holding any DCA license in the future. DCA urges job seekers to check an employment agency’s license status and complaint history, and follow other consumer protection tips.
Read the press release and get tips
Check if an employment agency is licensed
Get Employment Agency Information and read about Scams
File a complaint against an employment agency

DCA Expands Protect Your Money Campaign to Include Video Series

DCA Expands Protect Your Money Campaign to Include Video Series
DCA Expands Protect Your Money Campaign to Include Video Series To help New Yorkers protect their hard-earned dollars, DCA launched a video series that currently includes:
   • Introduction from Commissioner Mintz
   • Shopping Tips
   • File a Complaint with DCA
Videos are available in English and Spanish. Launched in 2010, the Protect Your Money public awareness campaign encourages New Yorkers to take advantage of City services to take control of their own financial future. In June 2011, ads alerted New Yorkers to predatory services and scams and highlighted the successes of real people who got help from the City.

Visit the Protect Your Money Web site

DCA Brings Advice—Not Violation Books—to 29 Retail Areas Citywide as Part of Business Education Day

DCA Brings Advice—Not Violation Books—to 29 Retail Areas Citywide as Part of Business Education Day
More Than 1,600 Businesses Visited During 9th Annual Event to Help Retailers Do Right by Their Customers
Joined by elected officials and representatives from other City agencies and community and business associations, more than 100 DCA staff went door-to-door advising businesses about City laws, answering questions, and distributing publications in multiple languages. DCA’s business-friendly educational opportunities and enhancements include:
   • Industry-specific after-hours Open Houses to answer questions about regulations
   • Faster processing of license applications and Administrative Tribunal decisions
   • Expanded Business Toolbox to include online Scale Inspection Request Form

Read the press release
Visit DCA’s Business Toolbox to access online Licensing services
Get free Business Publications

DCA Charges Lafnac Digital Computers with Deceptive Trade Practices

DCA Charges Lafnac Digital Computers with Deceptive Trade Practices
Electronics Store Named in More Than 100 Consumer Complaints
DCA issued violations to Lafnac for unlicensed activity and illegal sales tactics, including fake “inventory sales,” selling used merchandise as new, adding “extras” to customers’ orders without their knowledge, overcharging, and misrepresenting warranty coverage. As part of the announcement, DCA distributed quick tips for shopping at electronics stores.
Read the press release and get quick tips
Check if a business is licensed
Download DCA’s guide Buying and Selling Electronics
File a complaint against an electronics store

Number of City Smokers Has Hit an All-Time Low at 14 Percent

Number of City Smokers Has Hit an All-Time Low at 14 Percent
DCA’s Youth Tobacco Enforcement and Prevention (YTEP) Program Key Part of City’s Multi-pronged Efforts
Mayor Bloomberg announced that nearly half a million New Yorkers have quit smoking since 2002, with smoking among City teens drastically lower than national numbers. DCA licenses cigarette retail dealers. Through its YTEP program, which pairs DCA inspectors and undercover minors, DCA inspects essentially every cigarette retail dealer every year to ensure they do not sell tobacco products to underage kids. Stores’ compliance has improved to 90 percent from 52 percent when the program began in 1998.
Read the press release
Learn more about DCA's efforts to prevent cigarette sales to minors

It's the Back-to-School Shopping Season
Your Assignment from DCA: Protect Your Money
 
  1. Click the links below to learn your rights regarding receipts, refund policies, and more, and get money management tips you can teach your kids.
  2. Visit DCA on Facebook and Twitter to share where you found the best deals and how you educate your kids about budgeting and saving.
  3. Get free one-on-one financial counseling at an NYC Financial Empowerment Center.
Read the press release
Read DCA's Quick Lessons for Back-to-School Shopping (English and Español)
Read DCA's Smart Money Lessons for Your Kids 
(English and Español
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you 

DCA Held Open House for Employment Agencies on August 24

DCA Held Open House for Employment Agencies on August 24
More than 65 employment agency representatives attended DCA's third Open House exclusively for licensees. DCA staff discussed a range of topics, including licensing requirements, fees agencies can and cannot charge, contracts and refund policies, and how to deal with customer complaints. DCA's Open House series educates licensees about the Department's business-friendly services, and helps them do right by their customers.
Visit DCA's Business Toolbox for important information and resources
Visit DCA's Event Calendar

Second Yearlong Crackdown on Supermarkets Reveals Even Lower Compliance

Second Yearlong Crackdown on Supermarkets Reveals Even Lower Compliance
In response to last year’s low compliance in the supermarket industry, and making good on Commissioner Mintz’s promise to double the number of inspections this year, DCA inspected almost 2,000 supermarkets and found that 59% failed. The Department issued approximately one million dollars in fines; top violations remain overcharges at the register, taxing items that are not taxable, failing to put price tags on individual items, and improperly weighing and packaging food products. DCA advocates new legislation, the Grocery S.H.O.P. Act, to give overcharged consumers ten times the amount of an overcharge and that product for free, as well as tripling City fines. DCA’s ongoing #nickeled&dimed outreach efforts on Facebook and Twitter, invite New Yorkers to share incidents of supermarket overcharges.
Read the press release
Visit DCA on Twitter
Visit DCA on Facebook
Download DCA’s guide Saving at the Supermarket
File a complaint about a supermarket overcharging

DCA Launches Investigation Into Debt Settlement Companies for Predatory Practices

DCA Launches Investigation Into Debt Settlement Companies for Predatory Practices
DCA Launches Investigation Into Debt Settlement Companies for Predatory Practices After declaring debt settlement the top consumer fraud of the year, DCA issued subpoenas to 15 debt settlement companies, including five located in the City. Commissioner Mintz warns New Yorkers to beware of fee-based companies that claim to eliminate or lower debt but instead leave consumers in financial ruin. Residents struggling with debt are encouraged to get free help at the City's Financial Empowerment Centers.
Read the press release
Learn your rights about debt settlement in
   English  Español   中文

Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you

Overcharged at the Supermarket? Share Your Experience on Twitter and Facebook
As part of DCA’s ongoing enforcement of illegal pricing practices at City supermarkets, the Department launched #nickeled&dimed on Twitter and Facebook to share consumer protection tips with followers and fans and to deputize New Yorkers as “secret shoppers” to report their experiences with overcharges. DCA will treat messages as enforcement tips. The Department’s rigorous inspections and industry outreach continue in an effort to encourage supermarkets to do better by New York City shoppers.
Read the press release
Visit DCA on Twitter
Visit DCA on Facebook
Download DCA's guide Saving at the Supermarket
File a complaint about a supermarket overcharging