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News from DCA - Current Press Releases

Sunday, September 27, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS BEGINS ACCEPTING LICENSE APPLICATIONS FOR PEDICAB BUSINESSES AND PEDICAB DRIVERS
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today announced it will begin licensing its newest industry: pedicabs. New Yorkers who currently own a pedicab business – or who wish to start a pedicab business – must obtain a Pedicab Business license from DCA by submitting a complete license application by Friday, November 20. Under the newly enacted pedicab law, DCA cannot accept Pedicab Business applications after November 20, therefore, limiting the number of licensed pedicab businesses to the number of applications received by that date. Each Pedicab Business applicant can seek registration for up to 30 pedicabs. Once a Pedicab Business submits a completed business license application, DCA will schedule an inspection of the business’ pedicabs to ensure each pedicab meets the City’s safety requirements.




Thursday, August 27, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS OFFERS NEW YORKERS “HOMEWORK” TIPS FOR SMART BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING
Ready or not, back-to-school time is fast approaching for New York City students. Before families begin to spend their hard-earned money on back-to-school needs, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz is providing pointers on how to be smart spenders.




Monday, August 17, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS’ OFFICE OF FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT AWARDS $180,000 TO COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TO MONITOR AND ANALYZE FINANCIAL EDUCATION EFFECTIVENESS IN NEW YORK CITY
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) today awarded more than $180,000 to 16 community-based organizations that provide financial education to New Yorkers in need. The 2009 Evaluation Improvement Awards will help these organizations improve the data collection and evaluation processes of their financial education services by tracking basic data including the number of people the organizations serve and any critical milestones achieved by clients, such as opening a bank account, reviewing a credit report or completing a screening for public benefits. For the first time, organizations also will be reporting basic demographics of those using financial education services, providing insights into which communities are most in need of additional help. Such important information has never before been reported in a consistent way or at such a citywide scope, and will assist OFE in its work to increase the impact of financial education for New Yorkers. Award recipients will submit reports to OFE on financial education classes, workshops, counseling sessions and telephone hotlines on a quarterly basis for two years.




Thursday, August 6, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS RELEASES REPORT REVEALING NEW YORKERS WITH LOW INCOMES CAN AND WILL SAVE WHEN GIVEN THE RIGHT BANKING PRODUCTS
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today released the first-year results of the City’s $aveNYC Account Program pilot, which found that, contrary to commonly held beliefs, individuals with low and very low incomes can and will save when given simple and safe banking products. The Department’s evaluation of the pilot program, entitled The $aveNYC Account: Innovation in Asset Building, revealed that despite an average annual household income of roughly $15,000, 61 percent of program participants contributed at least $500 to their $aveNYC Account, totaling more than $73,000 in savings by the end of the first year. As part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s aggressive anti-poverty strategy implemented under the Center for Economic Opportunity, DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) launched the $aveNYC Account to examine how the City could encourage savings – a predictor of financial stability – in communities with low incomes through a privately funded City matching program. Families earning less than $45,000 and individuals earning less than $20,000 were eligible to open a $aveNYC Account when filing their taxes at participating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. Individuals who left the initial deposit in the accounts for one year received a 50 percent match, up to $250, in addition to the 2 to 3 percent interest the savings accounts earned. The program is funded through private donations made to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.




Wednesday, July 29, 2009
STATEMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ON THE CITY COUNCIL’S AMENDMENT TO LOCAL LAW 19
“Today the City Council voted in favor of an amendment to the City’s pedicab law that, at long last will allow this Department to hold this industry accountable for safe and fair operations for New Yorkers and tourists alike. DCA now will be able to begin the speedy but careful process of inspecting each and every pedicab that would operate on the City’s streets, as well as make sure that drivers and companies are properly insured and licensed.”




Tuesday, July 21, 2009
NEW YORK OFFICIALS ‘NAIL’ UNLICENSED HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTORS IN DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS’ THIRD ANNUAL COORDINATED MULTI-COUNTY ENFORCEMENT SWEEP
New York officials today announced 1,524 inspections, 468 violations, 17 criminal summonses or arrests, and 175 seizures of vehicles owned by unlicensed home improvement contractors during a 10-week, multi-county enforcement sweep in New York City and Nassau and Westchester counties. Unlicensed home improvement contractors put homeowners at risk for shoddy workmanship, unfinished projects and expensive mistakes. Regional officials also reclaimed $8.6 million in restitution for consumers.




Wednesday, July 15, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS' UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION SHUTTERS DALIA'S SERVICE AGENCY IN BROOKLYN
The Department of Consumer Affairs today announced it shut down Dalia's Service Agency (1670 East 17th St., Room 3D, Brooklyn, NY 11229) after finding it had continued to charge illegal fees to customers. DCA revoked owner Dalia Hen's license to operate the employment agency and barred her and her husband Nissim Hen from operating or working at an employment agency in New York City for four years. In addition, DCA secured $83,000 in consumer restitution, fines and costs during its investigation of the employment agency and will provide refunds to job seekers from as far back as 2005.




Thursday, July 2, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS REFUNDS MORE THAN $40,000 IN RESTITUTION TO NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS SCAMMED BY UNSCRUPULOUS EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES
As part of an ongoing and in-depth investigation of the employment agency industry, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today announced it is reaching out to thousands of New York City residents who have used employment agencies that charged illegal fees and, therefore, may be entitled to, in some cases, as much as a $100 refund. Consumers who receive a letter from DCA about a refund should fill out the forms enclosed and return them to the Department to determine the amount of their refund. The Department estimates thousands of consumers may be eligible for refunds.




Wednesday, July 1, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS KEEPS CLOSE WATCH OVER GAS STATION ACCURACY
With the summer driving season getting underway, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced a 98 percent compliance rate for the City’s gas pumps. Under the City’s Weights and Measures law, DCA tests all gas pumps for accuracy to ensure that New York City consumers are getting every drop of gas that they pay for. In the past year, DCA has performed more than 1,800 gas station inspections, checking more than 12,000 individual gas pumps throughout the five boroughs. During its inspections of the City’s gas stations over the past year, the Department condemned 227 gas pumps for inaccurately dispensing fuel. On average, DCA’s gas squad inspects each gas station in the City approximately twice a year.




Monday, June 29, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ OUTLINES ROAD TO PEDICAB LICENSING
Commissioner Mintz Details Timing of Next Steps and Implementation of Safety Requirements in Testimony at City Council's Hearing on Local Law 19



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