Office of Financial Empowerment
Translate This Page Printer Friendly Format Email A Friend Sign-up For Office of Financial Empowerment News Set Text Size Small Font midium Font Large Font
Archived Press Releases 2008



Archived Press Releases 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009
STATEMENT OF NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ON THE PASSAGE OF H.R. 4173 WHICH WOULD CREATE, IN PART, THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION AGENCY (CFPA)

“I congratulate Chairman Frank and the House of Representatives for passing landmark legislation today that would – for the first time – create a powerful federal agency focused solely on protecting consumers from unsafe products and predatory practices in the financial marketplace. If the Senate follows suit, President Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency will protect consumers across the nation who have every right to expect a fair playing field when navigating financial products and services like any other. As the nation’s largest and most aggressive municipal consumer protection agency, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure the enactment of the CFPA with the authority it needs to succeed.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009
STATEMENT OF NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ON NEW FEDERAL OVERDRAFT PROTECTION RULES

“This past Spring, the Department of Consumer Affairs recommended that the Federal Reserve create new overdraft rules to make sure consumers affirmatively choose, or ‘opt in’ to, fee-based overdraft protection services instead of being automatically enrolled into these costly so-called ‘courtesies.’ Consumer protection agencies like ours, which believe the most critical component of a free and fair market is consumer choice, know that today the Federal Reserve scored an important win for consumers.

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, June 24, 2009
WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ AT HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES HEARING ON CONSUMER FINANCIAL PRODUCTS REGULATION

Commissioner Mintz Proposes the Creation of a Federal Consumer Financial Products Ratings System

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
STATEMENT OF NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S PROPOSAL TO CREATE A CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION AGENCY

“The Obama Administration’s thoughtful and ambitious proposal for regulatory reform includes the creation of a far-reaching Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). The CFPA could ensure that consumers are both informed and protected, finally putting consumer protection in the financial services field into the broader context of what a sound and stable market requires.”

Monday, May 11, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG OPENS THREE NEW FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT CENTERS IN BROOKLYN, MANHATTAN AND QUEENS

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today opened three new Financial Empowerment Centers which will offer free, one-on-one financial education and counseling to low-income New York City residents. An important tool in the City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan, the new Financial Empowerment Centers located in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens follow the successful pilot center in the Bronx launched by Mayor Bloomberg last summer. At a time when many New Yorkers are finding it harder to make ends meet, the counselors at the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers will help with money management, budgeting, financial planning, credit counseling, negotiating with creditors, finding affordable banking services, government benefit screenings and referrals to other services and organizations. Counseling services are also offered in Spanish. The new Financial Empowerment Centers, administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment and part of the City’s anti-poverty strategy under the Center for Economic Opportunity, are part of the Mayor’s 18 initiatives announced last fall to provide targeted relief to the City’s most vulnerable populations during these difficult economic times.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
IN FINAL WEEK BEFORE THE APRIL 15TH TAX DEADLINE DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS JOINS C-TOWN IN A SUPERMARKET BLITZ TO REMIND NEW YORKERS TO FILE FOR THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT

With the April 15th tax deadline fast approaching, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today teamed up C-Town grocery stores in throughout the City to distribute thousands of tax credit flyers and palm cards reminding New Yorkers to file their taxes and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The City estimates that more than 150,000 City residents never claim their EITC, totaling more than $160 million.

Thursday, April 2, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ TESTIFIES BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE BANKING DEPARTMENT AT ITS HEARING ON THE BANKING DEVELOPMENT DISTRICTS PROGRAM

Commissioner Calls for New Approach to Ensure Banks Serve Needs of New Yorkers with Low Incomes

Thursday, April 2, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ ISSUES MONTH LONG FINANCIAL FITNESS CHALLENGE IN CELEBRATION OF FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today kicked off Financial Literacy Month at the City’s first Financial Education Institute by challenging City residents to use the City’s free and low-cost financial education and counseling services during the month of April.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
STATEMENT BY MAYOR BLOOMBERG ON NEW YORK CITY RECEIVING EIGHT NOMINATIONS FOR THE INNOVATIONS IN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AWARDS FROM THE JOHN F. KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY

DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment one of eight New York City initiatives nominated.
Read press release issued by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ TESTIFIES BEFORE THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND PROPOSES SOLUTIONS TO MORTGAGE FRAUD SCAMS

Commissioner Mintz Calls for Federal Ban on Fee-for-Service Foreclosure Prevention Businesses, Creation of National Enforcement Task Force to Coordinate Local Tips, and Utilization of 311 and 211 Services Across the Country as the Single Conduit for Legitimate Mortgage Refinancing Services.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ CALLS FOR OVERDRAFT PROTECTION REFORM

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today announced it formally submitted recommendations to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on behalf of New York City consumers to demand the elimination of automatic enrollment into overdraft protection programs by implementing real-time, opt-in opportunities to make overdraft choices at point-of-sale transactions.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION TO EXPAND OVERSIGHT OF DEBT COLLECTION AGENCIES TO PREVENT ILLEGAL AND UNFAIR PRACTICES

Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
“The fourth bill before me is Introductory Number 660-A, sponsored by Council Members Garodnick, Comrie, Mendez, Mark-Viverito, Barron, Brewer, Fidler, Gennaro, Gentile, Gerson, Gonzalez, Jackson, James, Koppell, Liu, Martinez, Nelson, Palma, White, Seabrook, Avella, Recchia, Vann, Sears, Baez, Eugene, Sanders and Weprin. Introductory Number 660-A expands the licensing of debt collection agencies to include buyers of delinquent debt who seek to collect such debt by, among other things, filing law suits.

Monday, March 9, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES MORE THAN 50,000 NEW YORKERS CLAIMED CITY CHILD CARE TAX CREDITS TOTALLING MORE THAN $30 MILLION IN THE PROGRAM’S FIRST YEAR

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that in its inaugural year, more than 50,000 New Yorkers claimed the City’s Child Care Tax Credit, one of the first municipal child care tax credits in the nation. The Child Care Tax Credit which is designed to help more families afford child care and help more parents work full-time, is just one of many successful innovations under the Center for Economic Opportunity which oversees the City’s ambitious anti-poverty strategy. The Mayor was joined by Center for Economic Opportunity Executive Director Veronica White; Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz; and Food Bank for New York City President & CEO Dr. Lucy Cabrera at the St. Mark’s A.M.E. Church in Jackson Heights, Queens, an emergency food program which hosts one of 12 of the City’s Tax Prep Plus sites where eligible New York City residents can have their tax returns professionally prepared by a Tax One professional for only $20.

Thursday, February 5, 2009
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS ANNOUNCES CITYWIDE ENFORCEMENT SWEEP OF INCOME TAX PREPARERS
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the results of the Department’s comprehensive investigation into advertising and sales practices of the City’s income tax preparers. During the first four weeks of the sweep, which began last month and will continue through tax season, Consumer Affairs inspectors examined more than 430 tax preparation businesses and issued more than 1,200 violations. Top violations included deceptively advertising refund anticipation loans (RALs) as “rapid” or “instant” refunds. Refund anticipation loans are high-interest, predatory loans secured by a taxpayer’s estimated refund and are designed to offer customers quicker access to their refund.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ LAUNCH THE $AVENYC ACCOUNT
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the launch of the $aveNYC Account program, a special savings account to help low income New Yorkers make the most of their tax refund by building savings through a privately funded City matching program.