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News from DCA - Current Press Releases

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
STATEMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ON JPMORGAN CHASE’S DECISION TO QUIT REFUND ANTICIPATION LOAN BUSINESS
“JPMorgan Chase’s decision to pull out of the refund anticipation loan (“RAL”) business, along with a growing list of others in the financial services industry, will ideally herald the ultimate and long-overdue demise of these predatory and unnecessary loans,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. “In New York, our enforcement agents find year after year that tax preparers generally need to lie about these terrible loans to sell them, misrepresenting them as “rapid refunds” rather than costly loans that drain much-needed dollars from those who can least afford it. And because these high-priced RALs go to low-income wage-earners, it siphons taxpayer dollars away from the Earned Income Tax Credit, which Congress specifically intended to help working individuals with low and moderate incomes. It’s time to ban these loans once and for all so taxpayers get every penny of the tax refunds our elected officials intended them to receive.”




Thursday, April 15, 2010
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ REMINDS LAST MINUTE TAX FILERS AND THOSE WITH EXTENSIONS TO USE FREE ONLINE SERVICES
With the April 15th tax deadline just hours away, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz urges New Yorkers to take advantage of the City’s free tax preparation services. Services include both free online filing at nyc.gov/OnlineFreeTaxPrep, as well as free drop-in sites across the City. New Yorkers who earn $58,000 or less annually, of which there are an estimated 2.7 million, qualify to electronically file their federal and state tax returns for free online or at assisted online drop-in locations. Families earning less than $50,000 and individuals earning less than $18,000 qualify to have their tax returns prepared and filed for free at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout the City; location and hour information can be found by calling 311 or visiting nyc.gov/ofe. In addition, New Yorkers with an extension can continue to file for free online through October 15.




Wednesday, April 14, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION ENHANCING THE REGULATION OF PROCESS SERVERS
Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
“The second bill before me today is Introductory Number 6-A, sponsored by Council Members Garodnick, Brewer, Gonzalez, James, Koslowitz, Lappin, Palma, Seabrook, Vallone, Barron, Mendez, White, Jackson, Lander, Williams, Sanders, Levin, and Vann. Introductory Number 6-A enhances the regulation of process servers.




Tuesday, April 13, 2010
STATEMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ON MUNICIPAL DEPOSIT CHOICE LEGISLATION
“New York State’s century-old law preventing municipalities from depositing city dollars into credit unions and savings banks is more than just outdated – it’s counterproductive. These financial institutions, like banks, are federally regulated and insured, and often provide competitive rates of return for taxpayer dollar deposits. As Mayor Bloomberg called for in his State of the City address, and as leaders from across the state have said today, Albany must lift this indefensible ban and allow municipalities to have the full range of choices when it comes to depositing their own dollars. Mayor Bloomberg has even promised to deposit $25 million in City tax dollars into credit unions upon the overturning of this law, a move that would strengthen credit unions’ abilities to continue to serve the banking and lending needs of residents and small businesses for neighborhoods in need across New York.”




Thursday, April 1, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ ANNOUNCE NEW YORKERS CAN FILE TAXES FOR FREE BEFORE THE APRIL 15TH DEADLINE ONLINE OR IN PERSON AT THE CITY’S FREE TAX SITES
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz announced today that, with two weeks left before the April 15 deadline to file taxes, more than 2,100 New Yorkers have already used the City's first ever free online tax preparation site to file their 2009 tax returns. Using the free tool, New Yorkers can claim refunds like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Care Tax Credit (CCTC). Of the 2,100 users, over 900 have filed directly through the City's website www.nyc.gov and 1,200 have used the City's drop-in locations, which provide free assistance from certified tax specialists. New Yorkers who earn $58,000 or less annually - about 2.7 million people - qualify to electronically file their federal and state tax returns for free on the City's new online tax preparation service. In 2008, New Yorkers claimed approximately $2.3 billion in total EITC tax credits. During the 2009 tax season, the City's 311 phone system fielded more than 35,000 EITC-related inquiries.




Monday, March 29, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES NEW NYC SERVICE INITIATIVE TO PROVIDE FREE LEGAL SERVICES TO HOMEOWNERS IN DANGER OF FORECLOSURE
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford, Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo and Commissioner of Department of Consumer Affairs Jonathan Mintz today launched a new NYC Service initiative to provide free legal support for New Yorkers at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. The program will increase the availability and effectiveness of free legal representation for those facing foreclosure by training and dispatching 300 volunteer attorneys to expand legal services provided by non-profit organizations. The free legal services program is a component of Mayor Bloomberg’s 2010 State of City pledge to launch the most ambitious home foreclosure prevention effort of any city in the nation. The program will be implemented by NYC Service, the City’s comprehensive initiative to promote a new era of service in New York City and direct volunteers toward the areas of greatest need. The Mayor also was joined at the announcement at the Queens County Supreme Court by Justice Fern A. Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts, who is responsible for access to justice issues; Michael Hickey, Executive Director for the Center for New York City Neighborhoods; and Hilary Gingold, an attorney who will be participating in the program and has extensive experience working on a pro bono basis on foreclosure proceedings.




Thursday, March 25, 2010
STATEMENT OF MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ ON PROGRESS TOWARD LIFTING STATE-WIDE BAN ON MUNICIPAL DEPOSITS IN CREDIT UNIONS
City Council Passes Resolution 17 Encouraging the State Legislative to Enact Municipal Depository Choice, Giving Cities Across the State the Opportunity to Make Deposits in Local Credit Unions




Tuesday, March 23, 2010
NEW YORK CITY CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ AND ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCE LEGAL ACTION TO RECOUP RESTITUTION FOR NEW YORKERS SCAMMED BY BUS TOUR COMPANY
New York City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that both offices notified Brooklyn-based Crosby Tours, Inc. and its principals of pending legal action for charging more than 130 consumers for tour bus services that were never provided and then failing to provide refunds after the company closed.




Wednesday, March 17, 2010
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ WARNS BANKS AGAINST USING TEXT MESSAGING TO ENROLL CUSTOMERS INTO OVERDRAFT PROTECTION SERVICES
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today warned firms not to undermine new federal regulations with aggressive solicitations to enroll New Yorkers into overdraft protection services. This message comes after the Department learned the marketing firm SoundBite Communications has promoted its “text message solution” to financial institutions that will need to obtain consent from their customers beginning July 1 before enrolling them into overdraft services. In a letter to the firm, Commissioner Mintz cautioned against aggressive marketing strategies that defy new federal regulations of overdraft protection and threaten the financial security of consumers. In a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Commissioner Mintz also asked that the Federal Reserve to prohibit financial institutions from using text messages to obtain consent from their customers before enrolling them into overdraft services, a tactic that would eliminate the consumer’s opportunity to make informed choices about overdraft protection services.




Tuesday, March 16, 2010
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS FUNERAL HOME SWEEP UNCOVERS MANY FUNERAL HOMES DENYING CONSUMERS LEGALLY MANDATED PRICING INFORMATION
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the results of a two-month long investigation of the sales practices of funeral homes throughout New York City. In the comprehensive enforcement sweep, which included undercover investigations, DCA completed 579 funeral home inspections and issued 275 charges to 87 businesses that received violations for a compliance rate of 85 percent. The charged funeral homes could face more than $230,000 in fines to the City.



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