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Office of Financial Empowerment
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News from DCA - Current Press Releases

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
CITIES FOR FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT (CFE) COALITION OBJECTS TO NEW IRS BARRIERS TO FILING TAX RETURNS
New Regulations Require Immigrants without Social Security Numbers to Mail Original Identification, Leaving Them without Proof of Residency
The Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Coalition today, on behalf of its members’ more than 19 million residents, announced objection to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) changes to procedures for issuing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). The ITIN program was created in 1996 so that anyone without a Social Security number is still required to pay taxes–an important step for immigrants to establish good standing and a pathway to becoming a U.S. citizen. The IRS policy change now requires new ITIN applicants to submit their original documents, which forces immigrants without Social Security numbers to comply with a rule that causes them to be without critical documentation for months. CFE Co-chairs Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, and José Cisneros, Treasurer of the City and County of San Francisco, submitted a formal objection to the IRS about the recent changes, which undermine cities’ efforts to improve the financial security of their residents, on November 20, 2012.




Friday, November 16, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ ANNOUNCE DEPARTMENT WILL EXPEDITE LICENSING OF ADDITIONAL HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTORS
More than 13,200 Home Improvement Contractors Currently Licensed by DCA – Unlicensed Contractors Will Now Have Applications Processed in Only 2 Days
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced that the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) will expedite additional Home Improvement Contractor licenses. In an effort to get unlicensed contractors or contractors who normally work outside of New York City licensed and working on repairs for homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, Consumer Affairs will be expediting fingerprinting and licensing procedures so approved applicants will receive their license in only two days. Agency staff is also contacting homeowners door-to-door and through the mail in areas throughout the City with information about using licensed home improvement contractors, and partnering with the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s, the National Association of Remodelers/Home Improvement Contractors of Staten Island, PortSide NewYork, and Sherwin Williams to distribute information flyers to consumers and contractors.
(En español)




Thursday, October 11, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS LAUNCHES YOU CAN TACKLE YOUR DEBT, A PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN TO ENCOURAGE NEW YORKERS TO GET FINANCIAL COUNSELING AT THE CITY’S FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT CENTERS
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the launch of You Can Tackle Your Debt, a public awareness campaign that highlights how the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers can help New Yorkers take control of their debt, deal with debt collectors, improve their credit and create budgets. The campaign, which is the fifth in DCA’s “Protect Your Money” series, emphasizes personal experiences: “You can negotiate with your creditors,” “You can answer your phone without worrying it’s a bill collector,” and “You can sleep through the night.” Campaign ads will run on subway cars and buses, bus shelters and telephone kiosks. The campaign’s website features video testimonials of eight New Yorkers who highlight how the free, one-on-one financial counseling at the City’s Financial Empowerment Center helped them.




Thursday, September 20, 2012
CITIES FOR FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT COALITION—CO-CHAIRED BY NEW YORK CITY—HONORED FOR ADVANCING INNOVATIVE PROGRAMS THAT HELP FAMILIES WITH LOW INCOMES SAVE AND BUILD WEALTH
The Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Coalition, a group of municipal governments – including New York City – that is dedicated to helping residents with low incomes achieve long-term financial stability, was presented today with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) Assets & Opportunity Award.  The award, the only one of its kind, honors groups and individuals who are advancing the field of asset building in the United States and increasing the use of financial products and services that allow families with low incomes to buy a home, pursue higher education, start a business and move up the economic ladder.  In conjunction with the award, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) announced the release of Strategy #3: Integrating Safe and Affordable Bank Accounts, the third report in the Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs series.




Thursday, August 23, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK ANNOUNCE REPORT ABOUT THE PROFESSIONALIZATION OF FINANCIAL COUNSELING
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) today released the second report in its Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs series about the “supervitamin effect” of integrating financial empowerment and asset building strategies into core social services. This report focuses on the importance of professionalizing the field of financial education and counseling and examines OFE’s efforts to standardize professional training by developing credit-bearing training courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in partnership with City University of New York (CUNY) and Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW).




Wednesday, July 18, 2012
CONSUMER AFFAIRS SHUTS DOWN NEW YORK OPERATIONS OF DEBT COLLECTION AGENCY INTEGRATED ASSET RECOVERY FOR ILLEGAL AND PREDATORY PRACTICES
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced that it has entered a settlement order with Integrated Asset Recovery, a debt collection agency previously known as Forster and Colmes LLC. DCA charged the company with collecting debts from City consumers without a license, trying to collect on an illegal payday loan by threatening a consumer with arrest, and harassing the consumer’s family about the debt. Under the order, Integrated Asset Recovery and its principals are banned from acting as a New York City debt collection agency for three years. The company must also notify the credit reporting agencies to correct the consumer’s credit report and pay almost $15,000 in fines and restitution. DCA also outlined strict and far-reaching conditions that the company must adhere to if they become licensed after the three-year ban, including obtaining documentation of the original debt prior to attempting to collect, investigating disputed debts and correcting errors with credit reporting agencies if a debt is not valid.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS (DCA) INSPECTS 386 HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTORS AND FINDS ONE IN FIVEOPERATING ILLEGALLY AND SEIZES 72 VEHICLES
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced that during the first two months of its enforcement sweep, DCA conducted more than 380 inspections and caught one in five home improvement contractors operating without a license. During the sweep DCA seized 72 vehicles throughout the City, targeting aggressive enforcement in Staten Island and Queens. The contractors could face between $175,000 and $250,000 in fines to the City. Illegal contractors put homeowners at risk for unsafe workmanship, unfinished projects and excessive expenses. Today DCA also debuted a new video in English and Spanish in its how-to series on YouTube to guide New Yorkers in hiring and working with a home contractor.




Sunday, May 20, 2012
CITY KICKS OFF FIFTH ANNUAL FREE SHRED FEST TO HELP NEW YORKERS PROTECT THEIR IDENTITIES
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Deputy Commissioner Fran Freedman and representatives from Staples and the shred company Cintas Document Management gathered in Union Square this morning to kick off the City’s fifth annual Shred Fest, a free paper-shredding event to increase public awareness about identity theft prevention. Today, from 10am to 4pm, New Yorkers can visit one of 14 locations throughout the City to shred personal documents such as bank statements, paycheck stubs and credit card applications. Documents are shredded in industrial shredders mounted with TV monitors so consumers can verify for themselves that their materials are being shredded securely and then securely disposed of and recycled for free. Complimentary personal paper shredders, donated by Staples, were given to the first four people to arrive at each location and the first person to tweet a photo of the event to @NYCDCA using the hashtag #ShredFest. Shred Fest is hosted by the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator in cooperation of the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Department of Sanitation and the Municipal Credit Union.




Tuesday, May 1, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS FINDS ONE IN THREE FUNERAL HOMES VIOLATE NEW YORKERS’ RIGHT TO PRIVATELY REVIEW PRICING INFORMATION WITHOUT HIGH PRESSURE SALES TACTICS
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced that after conducting more than 400 in-person and 50 undercover telephone inspections of funeral homes, DCA found that one in three were violating New Yorkers’ right to privately review pricing information without high pressure sales tactics. The two-month investigation focused on compliance with City laws that give consumers the right to compare funeral prices and services either without having to leave their homes or talk face-to-face with anyone. Funeral homes in New York City must provide all prices by phone upon request and make full price lists readily available at the entrances to funeral homes. DCA issued more than 325 violations, 94 percent of which were for violating these consumer rights. The funeral homes could face close to $400,000 in fines to the City.




Friday, March 16, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ ENCOURAGES NEW YORKERS TO CLAIM THEIR EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT REFUNDS WITH APRIL 17TH TAX DEADLINE FAST APPROACHING
With one month left until the April 17th tax deadline, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz encourages New Yorkers who make less than $49,078 and haven't yet claimed their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refunds to file their taxes using the City's free or low cost filing options.



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