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Office of Financial Empowerment
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2014  
   
It’s Tax Time. Go Get Your Refund!
City Encourages New Yorkers to Take Advantage of Free Filing Options, Including Drop-off Tax Preparation Service
The City's filing options include:
   •  Free tax preparation by a certified volunteer.
      At some sites, you can drop off your tax documents and
      pick up the completed return later! Some sites offer
      SaveUSA, a limited tax time savings opportunity.
   •  Free online tax preparation.

Read the press release
Learn more about tax filing options
Learn more about SaveUSA
Learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit
Learn about the NYC Child Care Tax Credit
   
  It’s Tax Time. Go Get Your Refund!
Subway Ads Alert New Yorkers about City’s Free Tax Filing Options
Learn how you can file your taxes for free and claim refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and NYC Child Care Tax Credit (NYC CCTC). Filing options include:
   •  Free tax preparation by a certified volunteer
       Annual income $52,000 or less (with children) or $18,000
      or less (no children)

   •  Free online tax preparation
      Annual income $58,000 or less
Learn more about tax filing options in
  English   Spanish  Chinese  Haitian Creole  Korean  Russian

Learn which tax documents you need
Learn about the EITC
Learn about the NYC CCTC

Pedicab Registration Plate Lottery
Application Period: January 30 – February 28
DCA must receive completed applications for the pedicab registration plate lottery by 5 p.m. on February 28.
Learn more

   
2013
   
OFE Releases Four-Year Report Highlighting Achievements and Strategies to Expand Financial Empowerment and Poverty Reduction Efforts
Covering the years 2010 through 2013, OFE’s progress report details our work—both locally and nationally through replication efforts—developing, implementing, testing, and integrating programs and products in four critical areas:
   •  Financial counseling and education
   •  Access to banking
   •  Asset building
   •  Consumer protection
Read the report
Learn more about OFE
Learn more about the CFE Coalition
   
DCA Releases Final Report in Supervitamin Series
Strategy #5: Integrating Asset Building, the last report in the series “Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs,” describes the Department’s efforts to integrate short-term savings opportunities in public programs to help households take a crucial step toward their long-term savings goals and ultimately achieve—and sustain—financial stability.
Read the report
Learn more about the Supervitamin Series
   

DCA Bans Metro Tow from Licensing Transactions
Three-Year Investigation Finds Fraud and Corruption in Towing Industry
Commissioner Mintz issued the final report of DCA’s investigation of the Metropolitan NY Towing, Auto Body & Salvage Association, which:

  • Documents fraudulent and illegal activities by Metro Tow and towing companies participating in police towing programs in New York City
  • Outlines DCA actions, which include barring Metro Tow from conducting business with DCA, revoking 65 tow industry licenses, providing the report and evidence to prosecutors and other government agencies
  • Recommends future action

Read the report
Read the press release

   
DCA Urges Stronger Court Rules for Collectors Seeking Default Judgments against Consumers in New York State
DCA submitted recommendations to the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) to establish specific documentation standards to protect consumers, provide needed clarity to courts, and establish clearer criteria for original creditors, debt buyers, and the collection industry.
Read Commissioner Mintz’s comments
 
Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Announce City’s Financial Empowerment Centers Have Helped More Than 25,000 New Yorkers
Since 2008, counselors at the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers have helped clients pay down more than $14.7 million in debt and build more than $2.4 million in savings. Free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling is available to all New Yorkers at almost 30 Centers Citywide.
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
Watch video on how New Yorkers tackle their debt
Read the press release 
Learn about national Financial Empowerment Center initiative
   
Savvy Shopping Tips for the Holidays
DCA kicks off the holiday shopping season with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and announces 10 tips to help you protect your money. 
Read the press release for 10 savvy shopping tips 
Read 10 Things Every Consumer Should Know 
Watch video with 10 Things Every Consumer Should Know
Learn about the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership’s “23 Days of Holiday Cheer”
   
DCA Launches “Consumer Affairs Has Your Back.”
Campaign Features Ads, Videos, and Handy New Pocket Guide

DCA’s newest education campaign features real people who filed complaints against a business with DCA and got help. Ads urge New Yorkers to visit our web and social media sites to learn more and to get “10 Things Every Consumer Should Know.” Since the start of the Bloomberg administration, DCA has served more than 2 million consumers and secured nearly $77 million in consumer restitution.
Get Consumer Resources (including how to file a complaint, Search for DCA Licensee)
View campaign ads and videos
Read 10 Things Every Consumer Should Know
Read the press release
    
DCA Releases New Report in Supervitamin Series 
Strategy #4: Targeting Consumer Financial Protection Powers, the latest report in the series “Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs,” outlines how cities can use consumer protection regulations, outreach and education, and advocacy to protect the most vulnerable consumers in the financial marketplace while enhancing the effectiveness of public programs.
Read the report
Read the press release
Learn more about the Supervitamin Series
 
DCA Process Server Open House
On August 21, DCA staff discussed rules and regulations governing process servers, answered questions, and distributed key publications and educational materials to more than 100 attendees. We encourage process servers to visit the Process Server Web page frequently to keep up to date on new templates, legal interpretations, decisions and other important information. DCA's Open House series reviews industry-specific rules and regulations so businesses can do right by their customers and updates them about the Department's business-friendly services. 
Visit the Process Server Web page
Check DCA's event calendar for upcoming events
   
DCA Offers Back-to-School Money Lessons for Kids of All Ages
The back-to-school shopping season is a perfect opportunity to help kids learn how to be responsible with money. DCA is promoting lesson plans—with fun activities—for preschool through high school grade levels that parents can use with their children. Do you have back-to-school money lessons to share? Tweet @NYCDCA or post to our Facebook page.
Get Back-to-School Money Lessons
Parents: Need budgeting help? Get free financial counseling at a Financial Empowerment Center
   
DCA Releases 10 Things Every Business Should Know Video to Help Businesses Follow the Law
Based on DCA’s 10 Things Every Business Should Know guide, the video features real NYC business owners sharing 10 important tips that every business selling goods and services should know to avoid violations and do right by their customers.
Read the press release
Watch 10 Things Every Business Should Know video
Read 10 Things Every Business Should Know in English and Español (Spanish) বাংলা (Bengali) 中文 (Chinese) Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole) 한국어 (Korean) Русский (Russian)

Go to Business Toolbox
View “Good for Customers. Great for Business.” campaign ads
   
DCA Inspects Airline Luggage Scales and Retail Stores at NYC Airports to Protect Travelers from Overcharges and Deceptive Practices
DCA inspected all 733 luggage scales used by airlines at JFK and LaGuardia airports, initially condemning 28 scales until they could be properly calibrated. Overall compliance has now been raised to 99%. DCA also inspected 168 retail stores, issuing 109 violations, which included failing to post refund policies and prices.

Read the press release
Consumers: File a complaint
Businesses: Submit a Scale Inspection Request Form online
   
Congressman Serrano and 20 Co-Sponsors Introduce "Financial Security Credit Act"
Bill Builds on SaveUSA, NYC's Tax Time Savings Incentive Program
Under proposed legislation, tax filers with low and moderate incomes could build savings to meet their short- and long-term needs. Filers would:
   •  Apply for the refundable Financial Security Credit on their federal income tax form
   •  Directly deposit part of their tax refund in eligible savings products, including a basic savings account
   •  Open an eligible account on the tax form, if needed
   •  Receive a 50% match – up to $500 – on savings they maintain for eight months

Read Congressman Serrano's press release
Watch PBS video about SaveUSA
Read SaveUSA Program Implementation: Insights from the Field
Read MDRC Policy Brief about SaveUSA
Read University of North Carolina Study about $aveNYC
   
  Sunday
May 19, 2013
10 am – 4pm
 
Shred Fest is a free annual City event to help New Yorkers prevent identity theft. At Shred Fest you can safely shred papers containing personal information using shredding trucks and get tips. The event is from 10 am to 4 pm on May 19 at 10 locations Citywide.
 
Learn more
Read press release
   
DCA Charges Nine Used Car Dealers with Deceptive Advertising and Illegal Sales Tactics
Responding to over 200 complaints, DCA charged nine dealerships in Brooklyn and Queens with violations for forcing customers to pay more than advertised prices, sign incomplete contracts, and only use financing provided by the dealership. DCA seeks more than $950,000 in consumer restitution and fines and license revocation for dealers’ licenses.
Consumers: Watch the video Tips on Buying a Used Car [English Español (Spanish)]
Used Car Dealers: Read Inspection Checklist to comply with the law

Read press release and get tips

     
University of North Carolina (UNC) Study Confirms Success of $aveNYC in Encouraging Taxpayers with Low Incomes to Save   University of North Carolina (UNC) Study Confirms Success of $aveNYC in Encouraging Taxpayers with Low Incomes to Save
The UNC Center for Community Capital released "The Importance of Tax Time for Building Emergency Savings: Major Findings from $aveNYC," which concluded that taxpayers with low incomes will save money when offered an incentive, an easy enrollment process, and a safe account. A matched savings program, $aveNYC has been replicated in several cities as SaveUSA. The research supports a change in federal policy to implement tax time savings match programs for filers with low incomes. 
Download Study
Read UNC press release
Learn about the SaveUSA program

   
Harvard University Names DCA's Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) an Innovations in American Government Award Finalist   Harvard University Names DCA's Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) an Innovations in American Government Award Finalist
In recognizing OFE as one of the nation’s Top 25 public sector programs, Harvard cited the Office’s work connecting New Yorkers with low incomes with financial education counseling and asset building services. 
Read Harvard’s announcement
View all finalists
Learn about OFE initiatives

   
 

DCA and Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Release Immigrant Financial Services Study Research Brief
Study Reveals Gaps in Financial Services for Immigrant Households with Low Incomes and Identifies Opportunities for Public-Private Partnerships and Financial Institutions to Provide Financial Access
This Study is one of NYC’s first field research initiatives to look specifically at the financial needs and practices of recent immigrants in three communities: Chinese, Ecuadorian, Mexican. Among key findings:

  • 57% of Mexican, 35% of Ecuadorian, and 5% of Chinese participants in the Study sample did not have a bank account.
  • 80% of immigrant survey participants who make less than $300 a week report having savings.
  • High incidence of money transfers back to home countries represents a significant market opportunity for mainstream financial banking institutions.
The Study received generous support from Citi Community Development and The New York Community Trust.
Download Study in:
  English   Español (Spanish)   中文 (Chinese) 
Read press release
Get free financial counseling
Open a direct deposit account
   
  Attention: Pedicab Businesses and Drivers
The new law regarding pedicab fares, signage, and receipts takes effect April 13.
Get important information 
     
DCA's 10th Annual Business Education Day Informs Businesses about Live Chat, Inspection Checklists, and Other Resources to Help Them Avoid Violations   DCA's 10th Annual Business Education Day Informs Businesses about Live Chat, Inspection Checklists, and Other Resources to Help Them Avoid Violations
Go to Business Toolbox
Read 10 Things Every Business Should Know in English and Español (Spanish)   বাংলা (Bengali)   中文 (Chinese)   Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole)   한국어 (Korean)   Русский (Russian)
 
Read the press release
View “Good for Customers. Great for Business.” campaign ads

   
  NYC Announces Partnership with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund to Replicate Nationally DCA's Work in Consumer Protection and Financial Empowerment
Mayor Bloomberg, CFPB Director Cordray, and Commissioner Mintz announced a partnership with the CFE Fund to help municipal governments across the country protect consumers in the financial services marketplace using the DCA model, which combines regulatory powers like licensing and enforcement and innovation in public programs, including free financial counseling, safe banking products, and other asset building programs. Through this partnership, the CFE Fund will inform and enhance locally the work of CFPB at the federal level.
Read City Hall press release
Watch the video announcement
Visit CFE Fund Web site 
   
  City’s Two Bills to Further Reduce Smoking Rate Introduced in City Council Today
The “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement” bill would combat illegal cigarette smuggling. The “Tobacco Product Display Restriction” bill would keep tobacco products out of sight in retail stores to further reduce the youth smoking rate. DCA’s Youth Tobacco Enforcement and Prevention Program pairs inspectors and undercover teens to prevent illegal cigarette sales to minors. Compliance is at 91 percent.
Learn more about DCA’s efforts to prevent teen tobacco use
Cigarette Retail Dealers: Print required signage
Read the press release 
     
U.S. Treasury Department’s Ready.Save.Grow. Initiative Makes Saving Easier than Ever   U.S. Treasury Department’s Ready.Save.Grow. Initiative Makes Saving Easier than Ever
Did you know that you can buy a savings bond for just $25 and other U.S. Treasury securities starting at $100? You can buy and manage these affordable, safe, and convenient investments either online or through payroll direct deposit. 
Go to Ready.Save.Grow. Web site for more information
Learn about NYC Direct Deposit
Schedule a free financial counseling appointment at an NYC Financial Empowerment Center
   
  Tax Day is April 15.
Go Get Your Refund!
You may be eligible to file your taxes for free at a City-sponsored tax site or online or for only $49 at a participating H&R Block location with the City coupon. Ask your tax preparer about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and NYC Child Care Tax Credit (CCTC) which, combined, could give you up to $9,600 in refunds! If you live in a Hurricane Sandy-affected ZIP code, you can visit any H&R Block, where a tax professional will prepare Federal Form 4684 (Casualties and Thefts) for free, regardless of your income.
Learn how to file your taxes for free or low cost
Read Tax Credit Fast Facts
Get important tax information for individuals and families affected by Hurricane Sandy
Read the press release 
   
 

Debt Collectors are DCA’s Top Consumer Complaint for Fifth Year in a Row
Home Improvement Contractors and General Retail, Furniture, and Electronics Stores are Also Top Complaints in 2012
  
In 2012, DCA received more than 650 complaints about debt collectors and successfully erased over $1.12 million in wrongful debt collection, including attempts to collect debt that New Yorkers did not owe. DCA urges New Yorkers struggling with debt to schedule a free, one-on-one financial counseling appointment at a New York City Financial Empowerment Center.
Read the press release and get tips 
Read DCA’s Consumer Publications which include debt collection information
Get important information about home improvement contractors
Check if a business is licensed by DCA
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you to take control of your finances 

     
  DCA Announces "Financial Empowerment App" Hackathon Winners
DCA awarded the top prize totaling $1,000 to Andrew Jiang, Xinzhao Liang, and Rachel Tsao for Remind Me, an app that automatically calls Financial Empowerment Center clients to remind them of their appointments and offers additional options. Runners-up, who were awarded $500, include Alexandros Hatzakis and Noel Hidalgo for MoneyHack Map and Jeffrey Novich for Pay Yourself First. Twenty-five designers and developers participated in the Hackathon to create digital tools to help New Yorkers achieve their financial goals.
Read the press release
Learn more about the winning apps 
     
  City Waives Fees for Special Sales License, Tow Truck Replacement Inspection, Pedicab Inspection for Businesses Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy
Your business must file required license applications, but you can request a waiver for certain fees.
Read City Hall press release
Apply for fee waiver
Learn about Special Sales license
Learn about Pedicab Business license 
     
  DCA Helps Businesses with City’s First Live Chat Opportunity and Provides Inspection Checklists as part of Education Campaign, “Good for Customers. Great for Business.”
Ads Featured in Subways, Bus Shelters, and Phone Kiosks
To make it as easy as possible for New York City businesses to understand the laws they need to follow and do right by their customers, DCA’s newly expanded and even more comprehensive Business Toolbox makes available:
   • The checklists our inspectors use
   • Online chat for questions from businesses
Read the press release
Visit Business Toolbox 
Read 10 Things Every Business Should Know 
     
  DCA to Host First “Financial Empowerment App” Hackathon March 2-3 at DUMBO Loft in Brooklyn
Online Registration Closes 5 p.m. on March 1
DCA invites firms and individual developers and designers to create digital tools to help New Yorkers achieve their financial goals. The winning team or individual will receive $1,000. Two second place winners will receive $500 each. Space is limited to 150 participants. The Hackathon is generously supported by Capital One and Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund.
Read the press release
Learn more and sign up for the event 
   
  Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Alert New Yorkers about Free or Low-cost Tax Filing Options, Plus a Special Opportunity for Filers Affected by Hurricane Sandy
Eligible New Yorkers can prepare their own taxes online for free, get their taxes done in person for free at more than 90 sites throughout the five boroughs, or get their taxes done at a participating H&R Block for only $49 with the City coupon. This tax season, residents in Hurricane Sandy-affected ZIP codes can visit any H&R Block location, where a tax professional will prepare Federal Form 4684 (Casualties and Thefts) for free regardless of filers’ income.
Read the press release
Find out which tax filing option is best for you
Get important tax information for individuals and families affected by Hurricane Sandy 
   
  Period to Apply for Pedicab Registration Plate Lottery is January 15 through February 13
Read the news alert
Learn more about the application process 
   
2012    
     
    Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Announce Expedited Licensing Procedures
Approved applicants will get their Home Improvement Contractor license in only two days. The expedited process will make available additional DCA-licensed contractors to work on repairs for homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Read City Hall press release (En español)

Go to DCA's Home Improvement Contractors page
     
    DCA's Resources directory includes Key Contacts and specific services you may need, including recovering financially, tips on hiring home improvement contractors and how to avoid buying flood-damaged cars, and more.
Download DCA's Resources directory
Get additional Hurricane Sandy information
     
 New Yorkers Share Their Financial Counseling Experiences in DCA's   New Yorkers Share Their Financial Counseling Experiences in DCA's "You Can Tackle Your Debt" Campaign
Eight New Yorkers share their stories about taking control of their finances with the help of one of the City's free Financial Empowerment Center services. Since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg launched the first Center in 2008, our professional financial counselors have conducted more than 32,000 individual sessions, helping over 17,000 New Yorkers reduce their debt by more than $7.5 million. DCA urges New Yorkers to schedule a free one-on-one counselor appointment at one of the City's nearly 30 Financial Empowerment Center locations across the five boroughs. Share your stories by tweeting @NYCDCA using #YouCan or post to our Facebook page.
Read the press release
Visit the Protect Your Money Web site to watch videos, view campaign ads, and learn more
     
 DCA Launches “YOU CAN TACKLE YOUR DEBT” as Part of “Protect Your Money” Campaign Series   DCA Launches “YOU CAN TACKLE YOUR DEBT” as Part of “Protect Your Money” Campaign Series
YOU CAN TACKLE YOUR DEBT empowers New Yorkers to take control of their finances with the help of a counselor at one of the City’s FREE Financial Empowerment Centers. Since Centers opened in 2008, our professional financial counselors have helped tens of thousands of New Yorkers reduce their debt by millions of dollars.
Visit the Protect Your Money Web site to view ads and learn more
     
Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Coalition Receives Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) Assets & Opportunity Award    Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Coalition Receives Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) Assets & Opportunity Award
CFE Coalition Co-Chair Commissioner Mintz Accepts Award for NYC; Announces Release of Third Report in DCA’s "Supervitamin" Series
At its biennial Assets Learning Conference in Washington, D.C., CFED honored the 12 CFE Coalition member cities for their work advancing innovative programs that help families with low incomes save and build wealth. In conjunction with the Award, Commissioner Mintz announced the release of Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs, Strategy #3: Integrating Safe and Affordable Bank Accounts. The Report details DCA’s efforts to increase access to mainstream banking for the City’s more than 825,000 unbanked adults, including the availability of on-site direct deposit enrollment.

Read press release
Download Report #3
Download the Compilation (Reports #1, #2, #3)
Visit CFE Coalition Web site
 DCA Held Open House for Tow Truck Company Licensees on August 29   DCA Held Open House for Tow Truck Company Licensees on August 29
Approximately 120 people attended DCA’s Open House exclusively for Tow Truck Company licensees. DCA staff discussed rules and regulations governing the industry, provided a training on the new electronic recordkeeping requirement, answered questions, and distributed key publications and materials. DCA's Open House series educates licensees about the Department's business-friendly services, and helps them do right by their customers.
Download Roster of Drivers
Download Tow Truck Company Electronic Recordkeeping Compliance Affirmation
Visit DCA's Business Toolbox for important information and resources
Visit DCA's Event Calendar
 
   
 DCA Releases New Report in   DCA Releases New Report in "Supervitamin" Series
Second Report Focuses on Professionalizing the Field of Financial Education and Counseling
DCA’s efforts to provide high quality, consistent and demonstrably effective financial counseling at scale and professionalize the field itself are highlighted in Report #2. The Report also details DCA's partnerships with The City University of New York and Columbia University School of Social Work to create comprehensive financial counselor trainings that can serve as models for national accreditation. Other efforts toward professionalization include standardizing the approach to financial counseling as well as outcomes measurements, and developing a network of
practitioners.

Read the press release
Download Report #2
Download Report #1
Learn more about the City's Financial Empowerment Centers
Visit Cities for Financial Empowerment Web site to read about Financial Empowerment Initiative
     
 DCA Offers Back-to-School Money Lessons for Kids of All Ages   DCA Offers Back-to-School Money Lessons for Kids of All Ages
The back-to-school shopping season is a perfect opportunity to help kids learn how to be responsible with money. DCA is promoting lesson plans—with fun activities—for preschool through high school grade levels that parents can use with their children. Do you have back-to-school money lessons to share? Tweet @NYCDCA or post to our Facebook page.
Get Back-to-School Money Lessons
Watch NY1 Money Matters report
Visit Money as You Grow, a Web site developed by The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability
     
 DCA Releases New “How To” Videos to Help Consumers Protect Their Money   DCA Releases New “How To” Videos to Help Consumers Protect Their Money
DCA's video series offers tips and information about City programs and services that are available to consumers and businesses. Videos are availalbe in English and Spanish with additional captions in other languages. Video titles include:
  • *NEW* How Can Consumer Affairs Help You Today? 
  • *NEW* New York City Financial Empowerment Center 
  • *NEW* Know Before You Enroll 
  • *NEW* What You Should Know about Employment Agencies 
  • *NEW* What You Should Know About Working with a Home Improvement Contractor 
  • Introduction from Commissioner Mintz 
  • It’s Tax Time. Go Get Your Refund! 
  • Know Your Rights about Debt Collection 
  • Tips on Buying a Used Car 
  • Consumer Rights when Shopping
  • File a Complaint with DCA
View videos on the DCA YouTube Channel
Visit the Protect Your Money Web site
     
 DCA Shuts Down NYC Operations of Debt Collection Agency for Illegal and Predatory Practices   New Yorkers Urged to Know Their Rights, Avoid Illegal Payday Loans, and Get Free Financial Counseling
Charged with unlicensed activity and illegal tactics including false claims and harassment as the result of a consumer complaint, Integrated Assets Recovery, formerly Forster and Colmes LLC, agreed to enter a settlement order which bans the business and its principals from acting as an NYC debt collection agency for three years. The business must also contact the credit reporting agencies to correct the consumer's credit report and pay nearly $15,000 in fines and restitution.
Read the press release and get consumer protection tips
Download DCA’s Debt Collection Guide
Check if a debt collection agency is licensed
File a complaint against a debt collection agency
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
Apply online for a debt collection agency license
     
 DCA Inspects 386 Home Improvement Contractors and Finds One in Five Operating Illegally    DCA Inspects 386 Home Improvement Contractors and Finds One in Five Operating Illegally
Department Releases New Educational Video about Working with a Home Improvement Contractor
DCA conducted more than 380 inspections and seized 72 vehicles during targeted enforcement in Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn over the past two months. The contractors could face between $175,000 and $250,000 in fines to the City. In the last year, DCA has conducted more than 755 inspections Citywide, issuing nearly 400 violations, seizing 134 vehicles, revoking or suspending more than 60 licenses, and securing more than $3.6 million for consumers. DCA urges homeowners to use only licensed contractors to protect themselves and their money.
Read the press release and get tips for hiring a contractor
Watch video (English Español)

Check if a home improvement contractor is licensed
Read DCA’s Model Contract
Download Home Improvement Consumer Guide (in PDF)
File a complaint against a home improvement contractor
Apply online for a home improvement contractor license
     
 DCA Releases New “How To” Videos to Help Consumers Protect Their Money   DCA’s Newest “Protect Your Money” Campaign Highlights How Agency Can Help Consumers and Businesses
”How Can Consumer Affairs Help You Today” Features Real Staff Advising Businesses and Consumers about Essential Services
Consumer Affairs staff shares ways DCA serves businesses and protects consumers, including:

   • Helping businesses get or renew a DCA license
   • Mediating consumer complaints against a business
   • Educating businesses through DCA’s online Business
      Toolbox, evening Open Houses, and annual Business
      Education Day
   • Inspecting businesses to ensure customers are treated fairly
   • Helping New Yorkers take control of their finances through
      the City’s free Financial Empowerment Centers

Want to ask Consumer Affairs how we can help you?
Tweet @NYCDCA using #HiDCA or post to our Facebook page. The Protect Your Money campaign series educates New Yorkers about City services to help them manage and protect their money.

View the ads and learn more about our Protect Your Money campaigns
     
 DCA Finds One in Three Funeral Homes Violates Consumers' Rights to Privately Review Pricing Information Without High Pressure Sales Tactics   DCA Finds One in Three Funeral Homes Violates Consumers' Rights to Privately Review Pricing Information Without High Pressure Sales Tactics
DCA conducted more than 400 in-person and 50 undercover telephone inspections during a two-month investigation of funeral homes. Funeral homes are legally required to honor New Yorkers’ rights to receive full pricing and other information over the telephone or through front-door price lists. DCA issued over 325 violations, 94 percent of which were for violating these consumer rights. Potential fines could total nearly $400,000. DCA wants New Yorkers to know their rights and to file a complaint against funeral homes that don't honor them.
Read the press release and get tips
Download DCA’s Funeral Planning Guide
Consumers: File a complaint
Businesses: Get quick tips from DCA
     
Commissioner’s Town Hall Held on April 30 in Staten Island    Commissioner’s Town Hall Held on April 30 in Staten Island
Commissioner Mintz and First Deputy Commissioner Pico discussed City rules and answered questions from local business owners that primarily focused on the home improvement and locksmith industries. The Town Hall was co-hosted by the Business Outreach Center of Staten Island/West Brighton LDC, the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation.
Visit DCA's Business Toolbox for important information and resources
Visit DCA's Event Calendar
     
 Shred Fest is May 20   Shred Fest is May 20
5th Annual Free City Event Helps New Yorkers Prevent Identity Theft
Shred your papers containing personal information safely and for free at one of 14 Shred Fest locations throughout the City. Get DCA’s identity theft prevention tips and the first four people to arrive with their papers at each site will receive a free personal shredder, donated by Staples.
Find a free Shred Fest location
Get identity theft prevention tips for consumers and businesses
     
 DCA and Center for Economic Opportunity Release SaveUSA Program Implementation: Insights from the Field   DCA and Center for Economic Opportunity Release SaveUSA Program Implementation: Insights from the Field
This brief documents findings from Year 1 of SaveUSA, a national tax time matched savings program designed by DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment that received federal funding for replication and testing in New York and three additional cities. In the first year of the program, participants with an average income of $18,000 opened more than 1,600 SaveUSA accounts with close to $1 million in savings, confirming that families with low incomes can, and will, save if presented with the right opportunity. SaveUSA is an initiative of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and Center for Economic Opportunity Social Innovation Fund, and was implemented in New York City, Newark, San Antonio, and Tulsa.
Download the brief
View Research Publications
Learn about the Social Innovation Fund
     
 Cities for Financial Empowerment Rings The Opening Bell on April 11 as NYSE Euronext Commemorates Financial Literacy Week (April 9-13)   Cities for Financial Empowerment Rings The Opening Bell on April 11 as NYSE Euronext Commemorates Financial Literacy Week (April 9-13)
Watch video
Visit CFE Web site
     
 Tax Day is April 17. Go Get Your Refund!   Tax Day is April 17. Go Get Your Refund!
New Yorkers who earn $57,000 or less a year can claim refunds by filing for free at City-sponsored tax sites or online or for only $29 at H&R Block with the City coupon. DCA’s Tax Credit Campaign Web pages offer information on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and NYC Child Care Tax Credit (CCTC). New Yorkers should ask their tax preparers how to claim these credits and get money back!
Read the press release
Learn how to file your taxes for free or low cost
Read Tax Credit Fast Facts
View DCA’s Tax Time video for Protect Your Money video series
View DCA's Tax Time public service announcement for Inform NYC video series
     
 DCA Held First Commissioner’s Town Hall for Businesses on March 7 in Washington Heights   DCA Held First Commissioner’s Town Hall for Businesses on March 7 in Washington Heights
Commissioner Mintz and First Deputy Commissioner Pico discussed City rules and answered questions, in English and Spanish, from local business owners on issues including general vending, sidewalk café regulations, and pawnbroker business practices. The Town Hall was co-hosted by the Washington Heights BID and the Washington Heights-Inwood Chamber of Commerce. DCA staff distributed key DCA educational materials for business owners.
Visit DCA's Business Toolbox for important information and resources
Visit DCA's Event Calendar
     
 Protect Your Money: Know Before You Enroll Ad Campaign   DCA Declares Predatory Schools Top Fraud of the Year
Commissioner Mintz highlighted predatory school scams as top consumer complaint during a press conference with the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and other Federal and State agencies and organizations. Citing the "Protect Your Money: Know Before You Enroll" campaign, Commissioner Mintz urged consumers to take advantage of City services and programs to:
   • Research training programs
   • Find free and low-cost adult education and job training options
   • Get help understanding school contracts
   • File a complaint about a predatory school
   • Get free help with school debt and budgeting at an NYC Financial
      Empowerment Center

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Visit the Protect Your Money Web site to view ads and learn more
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
     
 DCA Issues Violations to One out of Three Tax Preparers during Citywide Sweep to Protect Filers   DCA Issues Violations to One out of Three Tax Preparers during Citywide Sweep to Protect Filers
Illegally Marketed Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) among Top Violations; New Yorkers Urged to Use the City’s Safe Free or Low-Cost Tax Filing Options
Over a two-week period DCA conducted close to 850 inspections, issuing more than 1,000 violations to tax preparers who:
   • deceptively advertised high-interest RALs as "fast cash"
      or "instant refunds”
   • violated consumer rights
   • misrepresented their qualifications
Total fines could reach nearly $1 million.

Read press release and get tips
Learn how to file your taxes for free or low cost
What you need to know about RALs
View DCA's tax time public service announcement for Inform NYC video series
     
 Commissioner Mintz Discussed the “Supervitamin Effect” on February 22 at Washington University in St. Louis   Commissioner Mintz Discussed the “Supervitamin Effect” on February 22 at Washington University's George Warren Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis
In a lecture titled “Developing Financial Capability in New York City,” Commissioner Mintz discussed findings from DCA’s recent report, Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs, and answered audience questions. The lecture was organized and supported by the Brown School’s Center for Social Development and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
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 DCA Held Open House for Garage and Parking Lot Licensees on February 8   DCA Held Open House for Garage and Parking Lot Licensees on February 8
Approximately 40 people attended DCA's Open House exclusively for garage and parking lot licensees. DCA staff discussed rules and regulations governing the industry, answered questions, and distributed Administrative Hearings—A Guide for Businesses and other key materials. 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
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 Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Urge Eligible Filers to Sign Up for SaveUSA Matched Tax Time Savings Program and Announce 2011 Results   Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Urge Eligible Filers to Sign Up for SaveUSA Matched Tax Time Savings Program and Announce 2011 Results
10th Annual Tax Credit Campaign Includes Free or Low-Cost Filing Options
Filers across four cities, including NYC, opened more than 1,600 SaveUSA accounts, with total savings close to $1 million. At select free tax sites in NYC, eligible filers can open the SaveUSA account and earn a 50 percent match—up to $500—when they save part of their refund for one year. Eligible New Yorkers can also file their taxes online for free or get their taxes done at a participating H&R Block for $29.

Read the press release
Learn how to file your taxes for free or low cost
Learn about the SaveUSA program
Get information about tax credits, including Earned Income Tax Credit
View DCA’s Tax Time video on YouTube
View DCA's tax time public service announcement for Inform NYC video series
     
 DCA Launches YouTube Channel with Three New Protect Your Money Videos   DCA Launches YouTube Channel with Three New Protect Your Money Videos
Visit DCA on YouTube to view the latest releases in the Protect Your Money video series. Featuring agency staff who offer straightforward tips and information on how to protect your hard-earned dollars, videos include:
    • Introduction from Commissioner Mintz
    • It’s Tax Time. Go Get Your Refund!
    • Know Your Rights about Debt Collection
    • Tips on Buying a Used Car
    • Shopping Tips
    • File a Complaint with DCA
Videos are available in English and Spanish.

Read the press release
Visit DCA’s YouTube channel
Visit the Protect Your Money Web site