Office of Financial Empowerment
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DCA Issues Top 10 Financial Resolutions for 2011
To help you protect—and grow—your money in the new year, DCA offers 10 "resolutions."
Read the press release with top 10 tips
Watch DCA 2011 Financial Resolutions on NYC TV
Learn about important tax credits
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
Open an NYC SafeStart Account 
 
NYC Wins National League of Cities' 2010 Gold Award for Municipal Excellence
DCA's Financial Empowerment Centers recognized for improving New Yorkers' quality of life
Since Centers opened in June 2008, financial counselors have conducted more than 13,000 counseling sessions and helped New Yorkers pay down more than $3 million in debt.
Read the press release
Watch video about Financial Empowerment Centers
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
View a list of our generous Financial Empowerment Center supporters
 

DCA's Office of Financial Empowerment and Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) Awarded $848,384 by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal
Funding supports new pilot program placing Financial Empowerment Center counselors within the CNYCN Network of housing counseling agencies in underserved communities.
Read DCA's press release


 

FREE on October 23: Financial Literacy & Planning Help
Take advantage of two FREE events where you can speak one-on-one with a professional about your specific financial issues and attend educational workshops.
Are you an artist? Learn about The Art of Money: Personal Finance Resources for Artists offered in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs
Learn about NYC Financial Planning Day
Need help now? Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you 

 

City's Financial Empowerment Centers Named Finalist for National Award
New York City is one of 44 finalists for the National League of Cities (NLC) 2010 Awards for Municipal Excellence. NLC selected New York for DCA's Financial Empowerment Centers which provide free one-on-one professional financial counseling to City residents. Winners will be announced at NLC's Congress of Cities & Exposition, to be held November 30 - December 4, 2010 in Denver.
Read DCA's press release
Read NLC's press release
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
 

Attention: Parents and Students
Get Tips to Protect Your Money This Back-to-School Shopping Season

Assignment #1: Read DCA's quick lessons about receipts, credit cards, refunds, and electronics to boost your shopping IQ.
Assignment #2: Read DCA's smart money lessons to show kids how to make smart financial choices.
Extra Credit for Parents: Get free one-on-one financial counseling at an NYC Financial Empowerment Center and learn additional ways to protect your money.
Read the press release
Read Quick Lessons for Back-to-School Shopping (In PDF) (en español)
Read Smart Money Lessons for Your Kids (In PDF) (en español)
Read Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Moneys
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you

 

City Announces Creation of NYC First Account for Young New Yorkers Getting Started with Bank Accounts
More than 2,000 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) Participants Open Account

Created in partnership with banks and credit unions both large and small, the Department of Consumer Affairs' NYC First Account is the City's latest banking product designed to encourage New Yorkers to become safely banked. Offered to the Department of Youth and Community Development's SYEP participants aged 18 to 24, NYC First Account is a safe "checkless" checking account. The account has no minimum balance or monthly fees, and is designed to protect participants from overdraft and other hidden fees, preventing even the marketing of overdraft services to youth.
Read the press release
Learn about the NYC SafeStart Account
Get banking basics
 
City Urges Reform of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)
Seeks More Targeted Service Test Guidelines to Encourage Banks to Meet the Retail Product and Service Needs of Low- and Moderate-income Communities

In testimony before federal agencies in Washington, DC, Commissioner Mintz recommended strengthening and clarifying the CRA service test and improving CRA ratings to ensure banks offer and actually market safe, affordable retail banking products in underserved communities. The Commissioner also proposed a new product ratings system to help consumers differentiate low-risk products and services from more complex or expensive options.
Read Commissioner Mintz's testimony 
 
City Expands Financial Empowerment Center Services
Expansion Includes Free Financial Counseling in Chinese

Commissioner Mintz announced the opening of three new Financial Empowerment Centers, now bringing free, one-on-one professional financial counseling services to 20 sites Citywide, including a Center in Chinatown that offers counseling in Mandarin and Cantonese. The three new Centers will also offer specialized financial counseling to homeowners in the midst of foreclosure prevention counseling. Additionally, DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment, partnering with VNS CHOICE, an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, is making good on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s promise to pilot, for the first time, phone-based financial counseling to homebound New Yorkers.
Read the press release
Download the flyer in English and 中文
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
 
Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz Announce New Debt Collection Regulations to Protect New Yorkers from Wrongful Collection Attempts
With debt collection harassment ranking as the top consumer complaint category for the second year in a row, the City announced new debt collection regulations that will hold debt collectors responsible for obtaining proof of a consumer’s original debt. Other new consumer protections include a mandate to provide live debt collection operators who can assist consumers on the telephone with questions about their case within 60 seconds.
Read the press release (en español)
Download Consumer Guide to Debt Collection
File a complaint against a debt collection agency
Need help managing debt? Get free one-on-one counseling at a Financial Empowerment Center
 

Commissioner Mintz delivers remarks to NY Check Cashers Association
Calls upon industry to explore wealth building products and services

At the Association’s 18th Annual Conference & Exposition, Commissioner Mintz discussed the City’s mission to help New Yorkers with lower incomes achieve financial stability and growth and discussed the 825,000 New Yorkers who remain unbanked. Mintz presented research showing that New Yorkers with low incomes frequently choose to use expensive check cashing services instead of mainstream banking products. To encourage wealth-building, Mintz informed check cashers that the City continues to offer safe and affordable financial products and services, including free financial counseling at 20 Financial Empowerment Centers and NYC SafeStart, a safe bank account with no overdraft fees.
Read Commissioner Mintz’s remarks
Open an NYC SafeStart account
Get free financial counseling and coaching at a Financial Empowerment Center
Attention Financial Service Providers: Contact OFE to learn about potential partnerships in serving unbanked communities 

 

Make the Most of Your Tax Refund!
For good advice on how to make the most of your tax refund, visit one of DCA's Financial Empowerment Centers for FREE one-on-one counseling and read our tips. Late filers who make $58,000 or less can file online at nyc.gov/OnlineFreeTaxPrep until October 15, 2010.
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you
Get tips to make the most of your refund in
English Español  中文  Русский
Got an extension to file your taxes? File your taxes for free online or find a free tax assistance site 
Learn more about the City's Tax Credit Campaign  
 
Only Two Weeks Left to File Your Taxes and Get Your Refunds
Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz urge New Yorkers earning less than $58,000 to file their taxes using the City’s first ever online free tax preparation service, nyc.gov/OnlineFreeTaxPrep. With an April 15 deadline around the corner, it is the fastest, greenest, and most accurate way to get your refund. Don’t have internet access? Visit more than 70 free tax sites where certified volunteers will prepare eligible New Yorkers’ returns and help them claim tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Read the April 1, 2010 press release
Find a free tax assistance site near you
Access online free tax preparation
Learn more about the City's Tax Credit Campaign
 

DCA Advises Consumers to Beware of Banks’ Use of Text Messaging to Enroll Them into Expensive Overdraft Protection Services
After July 1, it will be illegal for banks to automatically enroll consumers in overdraft protection programs without their express permission. Commissioner Mintz sent letters to a marketing firm cautioning against aggressive text-message marketing and to the Federal Reserve urging them to prohibit banks from using text messages to obtain consumer consent for overdraft protection enrollment. To protect consumers, DCA continues to monitor banks’ marketing practices in the months ahead.
Read the press release
Read DCA’s Open Letter to Providers of Overdraft Opt-In Consulting and Services
Read DCA's Letter to Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System including Request for Interpretation
Read DCA’s letter to SoundBite Communications
Learn about the NYC SafeStart Account, an ATM-based starter account without overdraft fees 
 

More Than 825,000 Adult New Yorkers Don’t Have a Bank Account, According to New Citywide Study
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz released findings that more than 825,000 adult New Yorkers do not have bank accounts, but instead use fringe financial services like check cashers to pay bills, cash payroll checks, buy money orders and conduct other financial transactions. The Citywide Financial Services Study, which for the first time quantifies the number of unbanked adults in New York City, was commissioned by DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE).
Download Findings from the Citywide Financial Services Stud
Download complete New York Financial Environment presentation
Download Banking Profiles for each Community District
NEW: Download Credit and Debt Profiles for each Community District
Download detailed methodology 
 

DCA Issues More Than 2,000 Violations to Income Tax Preparers during Citywide Crackdown to Protect Filers
Commissioner Mintz announced that DCA inspectors examined more than 800 tax preparation businesses during a month-long investigation and issued violations on their deceptive marketing of expensive, high-interest Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) as “instant” or “rapid” refunds. DCA urges New Yorkers to avoid RALs and instead use the City's online free tax preparation service or visit a free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site to file returns safely.
Read the press release
Access online free tax preparation
Learn more about tax credits and find a VITA site near you
What you need to know about Refund Anticipation Loans
 

More Than 825,000 Adult New Yorkers Don’t Have a Bank Account, According to New Citywide Study
City Creates NYC SafeStart Account, a Safe, Affordable Bank Account for All New Yorkers
Commissioner Mintz released key findings from a Department-commissioned study, among them that New Yorkers are more likely than the rest of the country to be unbanked. DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment partnered with five banks and five credit unions to offer the NYC SafeStart Account to all New Yorkers. The account has no overdraft fees and no monthly fees if clients maintain a minimum balance of $25 or even less depending on the financial institution.
Read the press release
Download Findings from the Citywide Financial Services Study (in PDF)
Learn more about the NYC SafeStart Account

 

New Credit Card Rules Take Effect
Beginning Feb. 22, credit card companies must put into action the consumer protections that President Obama signed into law as part of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act).
Read about five key protections
Read the information sheet Consumer Alert: New Protections for Credit Card Users (in PDF)
Read DCA’s 8/08 comments regarding credit card and bank practices (in PDF)
Read DCA’s 7/08 comments regarding credit card products (in PDF)

 

City Launches Local Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign to Connect At-Risk Homeowners to Free, Safe Foreclosure Prevention Services
The City partnered with NeighborWorks America to help New Yorkers recognize fraudulent foreclosure rescue firms seeking to scam homeowners. Homeowners can access free counseling by calling 311.
Read the press release
Visit the Center for NYC Neighborhoods Web site to learn more about free foreclosure counseling
Learn about free financial counseling at the City's Financial Empowerment Centers
Learn more about the campaign

 

The Art of Money: Personal Finance Resources for Artists
March 6, 12pm to 5pm
Dwyer Cultural Center
258 St. Nicholas Avenue (at 123rd Street)

DCA/OFE, in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs, is hosting a day of FREE one-on-one financial counseling and workshops designed to help working artists and arts administrators in all disciplines, as well as independent workers reduce debt and manage credit.
Learn more

 

It's Tax Time. Go Get Your Refund!
City’s Free Filing Opportunities Now Include an Online Tax Preparation Service
New Yorkers earning less than $58,000 can file their taxes online for free using a program provided by The Beehive. Assisted online tax preparation is also available at certain free sites. At more than 60 free sites Citywide certified volunteers will prepare eligible New Yorkers’ returns and help them claim credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Select sites offer the $aveNYC Account, a limited-time opportunity to use refunds to build savings.
Access online free tax preparation
Read the press release
Learn more about tax credits and free tax assistance
Learn more about the $aveNYC Account

 

City Launches Safe, Affordable Account That Is the First of Its Kind in the Nation
Available as a special opportunity through the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, the NYC SafeStart Account has no overdraft fees and no monthly fees if you maintain a minimum balance of $25 or even less depending on the financial institution. Five banks and five credit unions are offering the NYC SafeStart Account with convenient locations across the City.
Learn more
Find a Financial Empowerment Center near you

 

FREE Tax Refund Super Saturday
January 23, 11am-3:30pm
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan

The Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment is holding the City’s first-ever FREE Tax Refund Super Saturday to provide free tax preparation and more, including free one-on-one “Financial Fitness Checkups” in English and Spanish and group workshops on credit, homeownership, and investments.
Learn more
Read the press release
   
 
 

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