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 2010

 

2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ OFFERS FINANCIAL RESOLUTIONS TO HELP NEW YORKERS TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR FINANCES IN 2011
Now that the holidays have past and all the gifts have been unwrapped, many New Yorkers are tackling their debt. Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz issues a list of financial resolutions that New Yorkers can make to protect their money in 2011.

Monday, November 29, 2010
NEW YORK CITY AWARDED NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES’ 2010 GOLD AWARD FOR MUNICIPAL EXCELLENCE
The National League of Cities (NLC) announced today that New York City has won a 2010 Gold Award for Municipal Excellence. The Award, in the category of cities with a population of more than 500,000, went to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Financial Empowerment Centers as an outstanding program that improves the quality of life in America’s communities. DCA’s network of more than 20 Financial Empowerment Centers provide free, one-on-one, multilingual professional financial counseling to New York City residents.

Friday, October 8, 2010
The Center for NYC Neighborhoods and NYC DCA Office of Financial Empowerment Receive $848,384 for Expansion of Services to Homeowners At Risk of Foreclosure
The Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (DCA’s OFE) have been awarded $848,384 by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to provide free financial counseling services and to extend CNYCN’s Call Center operations for at-risk homeowners.

Friday, September 3, 2010
NEW YORK CITY'S FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT CENTERS PROGRAM NAMED FINALIST FOR NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES' 2010 AWARDS FOR MUNICIPAL EXCELLENCE
The National League of Cities announced that New York City is a finalist for the 2010 Awards for Municipal Excellence. The Awards for Municipal Excellence recognize cities and towns for outstanding programs that improve the quality of life in America's communities. New York City was chosen for the Department of Consumer Affairs' Financial Empowerment Centers, which provide free one-on-one professional financial counseling to New York City residents.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS PROVIDES NEW YORKERS WITH PRACTICAL TIPS FOR SMART BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING
Parents Can Learn Additional Ways to Protect Their Money With Free, One-on-One Professional Financial Counseling at the City’s Network of Financial Empowerment Centers
With the new school year rapidly approaching, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz has issued “protect your money” pointers for families shopping for their kids’ back-to-school needs.

Thursday, July 29, 2010
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCE NYC FIRST ACCOUNT, A SAFE BANK ACCOUNT FOR YOUNG NEW YORKERS, TO HELP BREAK THE UNBANKED CYCLE
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav today announced the NYC First Account, a safe bank account designed to encourage young New Yorkers to open a bank account as they enter the workforce for the first time. The account is available to all DYCD Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) participants between the ages of 18 and 24. The NYC First Account is the next step in DCA's efforts to develop safe banking products and encourage New Yorkers to become banked.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF THE CITY’S FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT CENTERS SERVICES TO INCLUDE COUNSELING IN CHINESE, HOMEOWNERSHIP AND FORECLOSURE PREVENTION COUNSELING AND COUNSELING FOR HOMEBOUND NEW YORKERS
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced three new Financial Empowerment Centers which will offer free, one-on-one professional financial counseling to New York City residents. The new Financial Empowerment Centers, which are administered by DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) in partnership with Credit Where Credit Is Due (CWCID), Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City (NHS), offer specialized counseling to homeowners in need and, at AAFE, expand financial counseling services to Mandarin and Cantonese speaking New Yorkers. The new centers are made possible through a partnership with NeighborWorks America. The City’s network of Financial Empowerment Centers help clients with money management, budgeting, credit counseling, negotiating with creditors, finding affordable banking services, debt management, government benefit screenings and referrals to other services and organizations.

Monday, May 17, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG and CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ ANNOUNCE NEW DEBT COLLECTION REGULATIONS TO PROTECT NEW YORKERS FROM BEING HARASSED FOR DEBTS THEY DO NOT OWE
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced new debt collection regulations designed to prevent New Yorkers from being harassed about debts they don’t owe – a problem that has grown since the onset of the national recession in late 2007. Collectors, armed with a list of debtors, routinely attempt to collect from anyone in the five boroughs with the same name as a person on the list, regardless of whether the debt belongs to that person. Under the new regulations, any debt collection agency attempting to collect a debt from a New Yorker must provide proof the debt is owed at the consumer’s request. 
Descargue el comunicado de prensa 

Friday, May 14, 2010
CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ADDRESSES NEW YORK STATE CHECK-CASHING INDUSTRY BY CALLING FOR IT TO EXPLORE WEALTH BUILDING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
The following is the text of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz’s remarks as prepared for delivery at the Financial Service Centers of New York 18th Annual Conference & Exposition
“Thank you for inviting me to join you today. I’m here today to talk about the Bloomberg Administration’s approach to meeting the financial services needs of consumers with low incomes – a market that you all have long recognized for its potential, and that the many banks have long ignored. There are over 825,000 adults in New York City who live in households where no one has a checking or savings account – and hundreds of thousands of others have banks accounts but primarily rely on check cashers like yourselves and other non-banks to conduct their core financial transactions.

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 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

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 9, 2010
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS DECLARES DECEPTIVE OVERDRAFT ENROLLMENT TOP FRAUD OF THE YEAR

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today declared deceptive enrollment in so-called “courtesy overdraft” protection a top fraud of the year. Banks who continue to automatically enroll customers into such costly services without their permission after July 1, 2010 will be violating federal law. Fees for these services, which average $27 per $20 purchase, cost Americans more than $38 billion in fees in 2009 alone and were assessed without most customers’ knowledge or permission. DCA cautions consumers about the deceptive marketing tactics that banks may use in upcoming months to re-enroll them in these nontransparent practices and calls upon banks to offer real-time overdraft choices instead. In an effort to provide New Yorkers with a safe banking option and no overdraft fees, particularly the 825,000 without mainstream bank accounts, DCA has also created NYC SafeStart Bank Account, the City’s first banking product available to all New Yorkers.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS ISSUES MORE THAN 2,000 VIOLATIONS IN CITYWIDE CRACKDOWN OF INCOME TAX PREPARERS

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced that during a month-long investigation of income tax preparers throughout the City, DCA inspected nearly 800 tax preparation businesses and issued 2,010 charges for violations including illegally advertising refund anticipation loans (RALs) as “instant” or “rapid” refunds. Total fines from the enforcement sweep could reach more than $1 million.

Thursday, February 25, 2010
MORE THAN 825,000 ADULTS IN NEW YORK CITY DO NOT HAVE BANK OR CREDIT UNION ACCOUNTS ACCORDING TO NEW CITYWIDE STUDY

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced 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. To help New Yorkers transition from using high-cost fringe financial services, DCA has created NYC SafeStart Bank Account, the City’s first banking product available to all New Yorkers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ KICKS OFF TAX SEASON BY ANNOUNCING THE CITY’S FIRST EVER FREE ‘TAX REFUND SUPER SATURDAY’ EVENT

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the City’s first ever free ‘Tax Refund Super Saturday’ event. ‘Tax Refund Super Saturday’ will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center (365 Fifth Avenue, between 34th and 35th Streets) on Saturday, January 23 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., kicking off the City’s 8th Annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition Campaign. The Saturday event will offer free tax preparation for New Yorkers who have dependent children and earn less than $50,000, and City residents who have no children and earn less than $18,000. Tax preparers will check if City residents qualify for the EITC, the NYC Child Care Tax Credit and other tax credits that could put money back in their pockets. The average EITC refund alone is $2,700. Tax preparation will be provided by Beehive, Food Bank for New York City, Ariva and the National Association of Black Accountants. The event will also include free one-on-one financial fitness check-ups in English and Spanish, free group workshops on credit, homeownership and other important financial topics, provided by the Financial Planner’s Association, Phipps Community Development Corporation, Credit Where Credit is Due, The Financial Clinic and Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.

Friday, January 15, 2010
STATEMENT OF NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JONATHAN MINTZ ON REPORTS OF INTEREST IN DOWNGRADING THE PROPOSED CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION AGENCY TO A NON-INDEPENDENT MISSION

“As the current financial crisis has proven, when consumer protection in the financial services marketplace is not the primary mission of a government agency, consumers are not protected. America’s need for an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency in which consumer protection is paramount is no less just because some in the Senate may have lost their zeal, as reported today.”