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Office of Financial Empowerment
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News from DCA - Current Press Releases

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ CELEBRATE THE 10,000TH FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT CENTER CLIENT
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz joined the City’s Financial Empowerment Center’s 10,000th client today at a ceremony at Gracie Mansion. The City’s Financial Empowerment Centers have provided free, one-on-one, professional financial counseling to thousands of New Yorker for the last two years. Since 2009, the Centers’ financial counselors have conducted more than 18,700 counseling sessions, reviewed more than 7,100 credit reports, created more than 5,200 budgets, helped New York City residents pay down more than $4.2 million in debt and build more than $367,000 in savings.




Wednesday, April 6, 2011
COMMISSIONER MINTZ URGES LENDERS TO ENSURE REFUND ANTICIPATION LOAN PROVIDERS ARE COMPLYING WITH THE LAW
“Last week, I joined Mayor Bloomberg to announce that during our 2011 Tax Time Sweep, the Department of Consumer Affairs issued violations to one in three tax preparers in New York City, principally for deceptively advertising Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs). After our enforcement sweep announcement, Republic Bank contacted us to request a list of all of the tax preparers who had received RAL violations to 'take corrective actions with the offending offices.' Particularly given how dangerous and costly these sometimes 500 percent interest rate loans can be, I await the results of Republic Bank’s and other lenders' who partner with RAL providers efforts to ensure that those tax preparers offering these loans comply with the law.”




Wednesday, March 30, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF CITYWIDE CRACKDOWN ON FRAUDULENT TAX PREPARERS – ONE IN THREE RECEIVE VIOLATIONS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the results of an investigation into income tax preparers to ensure that with the April 18th tax deadline approaching, New Yorkers filing their taxes are protected against fraud. The Department of Consumer Affairs conducted more than 1,200 inspections citywide and found that one in three income tax preparers violated consumer protections laws. The Department issued over 1,600 violations to 439 income tax preparers for misrepresenting tax preparers’ qualifications, violating consumer rights and illegally advertising Refund Anticipation Loans as “instant” or “rapid” refunds. The Mayor also encouraged New Yorkers to take advantage of the many options available for filing their taxes and claiming tax refunds for free or low cost.




Friday, March 18, 2011
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS & CITI ANNOUNCE EXPANSION OF THE CITY’S FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT CENTER NETWORK IN CENTRAL AND WESTERN QUEENS
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today joined Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Microfinance; Brandee McHale, Chief Operating Officer of Citi Foundation; Mae Watson Grote, Executive Director of The Financial Clinic; and Mary Abbate, Associate Executive Director for Community Services of the Queens Community House to celebrate the opening of a new Financial Empowerment Center and two mobile locations in Central and Western Queens. The City’s network of Financial Empowerment Centers provides free, one-on-one, multilingual professional financial counseling to New York City residents.




Thursday, March 17, 2011
ONLY ONE MONTH LEFT TO APRIL 18 TAX DEADLINE: DCA URGES ELIGIBLE NEW YORKERS TO FILE THEIR TAXES NOW AND SIGN UP FOR A SAVEUSA ACCOUNT FOR A 50 PERCENT SAVINGS MATCH
With tomorrow marking just one month left until the April 18th tax deadline, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz encourages New Yorkers, who make less than $57,000 and haven’t yet filed their taxes, to use the City’s free or low cost filing options and for eligible filers to sign up for a SaveUSA account, a tax-time savings program that can offer participants a 50 percent “match”—up to $500—when they save part of their refund for a full year. These special accounts are going quickly and there are only 300 still available.




Wednesday, March 9, 2011
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS DECLARES DEBT SETTLEMENT TOP FRAUD OF THE YEAR
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today declared debt settlement the top fraud of the year. Debt settlement companies lure people struggling with debt by claiming that they will convince creditors to settle debts for less than what’s owed. However, it rarely works. Companies charge high fees and counsel consumers to ignore their debts, which can cause lasting harm. DCA cautions consumers about these services and encourages them to know their rights and the latest rules about debt settlement. In an effort to provide New Yorkers with a safe way to deal with debt, the City offers a network of Financial Empowerment Centers, which provide free, professional one-on-one financial counseling. Commissioner Mintz made the announcement at a press conference with the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and other Federal and State agencies and organizations in order to alert New York area consumers to the top consumer complaints of the past year and to educate them on how to avoid becoming victims of these and other scams in 2011.




Thursday, February 24, 2011
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS ANNOUNCES 97 PERCENT COMPLIANCE RATE FOR CITY’S GAS PUMPS
With gas prices 58 cents per gallon higher than this time last year and expected to continue rising into the spring and summer, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced a 97 percent compliance rate for the accuracy of the City’s gas pumps, which are inspected under the City’s and State’s Weights and Measures law. To ensure that New Yorkers are getting what they pay for, in the past year, DCA has performed more than 1,800 gas station inspections throughout the five boroughs, checking 10,850 individual gas pumps and condemning 345 of them. DCA’s gas squad inspects each gas station in the City at least once a year, and intensifies inspections during peak travel periods. Commissioner Mintz was joined by Ralph Bombardiere, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops.




Friday, February 11, 2011
COMMISSIONER MINTZ APPLAUDS FDIC CHARGE THAT REPUBLIC BANCORP’S REFUND ANTICIPATION LOANS ARE UNSAFE AND UNSOUND WITHOUT THE IRS’S DEBT INDICATOR
“The combination of the IRS’ elimination of the debt indicator and yesterday’s FDIC action means the days of predatory Refund Anticipation Loans (RAL’s) are numbered, which is great news for the millions of Americans who deserve every penny of their tax refunds,” said New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. “The IRS can deliver refunds in about a week, which is why costly RAL’s are unnecessary and, as we find in New York, tax preparers often have to lie about these high interest loans to sell them.”




Thursday, February 3, 2011
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS LAUNCHES OFFICIAL FACEBOOK AND TWITTER PAGES
Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the launch of the Agency's official Facebook and Twitter sites. The Agency's social media sites will provide information on programs, services, events and tips on how to be an educated consumer and business owner.




Wednesday, January 26, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ AND FINANCE COMMISSIONER FRANKEL ANNOUNCE THAT NEW YORKERS MAKING LESS THAN $57,000 HAVE MORE OPTIONS THAN EVER TO CLAIM THEIR TAX REFUNDS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, and Department of Finance Commissioner David M. Frankel today launched a new city-sponsored discount tax preparation program with H&R Block as part of New York City's 9th Annual Tax Credit Campaign, which offers New Yorkers more ways than ever to file their taxes and claim their tax refunds for free or at very low cost. Last year's Tax Credit Campaign helped over 72,000 New Yorkers file their taxes for free and claim more than $117 million in tax credits and refunds.



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