Office of Financial Empowerment
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Archived Press Releases

2012

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.

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).

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.

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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS DECLARES PREDATORY SCHOOLS TOP FRAUD OF THE YEAR
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today declared predatory schools the top fraud of the year. Unlicensed and unaccredited schools and some GED, certificate and associate degree programs lure potential students by making false promises such as guaranteed job placement or internships, and six-figure incomes. Some also fail to disclose whether or not credits will transfer or that the financial aid that students receive are actually loans, which and can total tens of thousands of dollars and must be paid back with interest. DCA cautions consumers about these schools and encourages them to know their rights and to contact 311 or visit nyc.gov if they have had a negative experience and would like to file a complaint. 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 2012.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS ANNOUNCES TAX TIME ENFORCEMENT SWEEP RESULTS: ISSUES VIOLATIONS TO ONE IN THREE TAX PREPARERS
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the results of a two-week long enforcement sweep of income tax preparers throughout the City. DCA conducted close to 850 inspections Citywide and issued violations to one in three income tax preparers for violations of consumer protection laws. The Department issued more than 1,000 violations to tax preparers who misrepresented their qualifications, violated consumer rights, or illegally advertised refund anticipation loans (RALs) as “instant” or “rapid” refunds. Total fines from the enforcement sweep could reach close to $1 million. Commissioner Mintz also encouraged New Yorkers to take advantage of the many options available for filing their taxes for free or very low cost.

Monday, January 30, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ AND CENTER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY DIRECTOR WHITE ANNOUNCE SAVEUSA PARTICIPANTS ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE SAVED CLOSE TO ONE MILLION DOLLARS IN FIRST YEAR OF MULTI-CITY PROGRAM 
New Yorkers Encouraged to Sign up for a 2012 SaveUSA account at Free Tax Prep Sites
Social Innovation Fund, led by the Center for Economic Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, Provided Matching Funds for 1,662 Accounts in Four Cities
In New York City, Residents with an Average Income of $16,000 Built up $250,000 in Savings

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Center for Economic Opportunity Executive Director Veronica White today announced the results of the first year of SaveUSA, a multi-city program that encourages low-income residents to build savings. In its first year, participating residents of the four cities opened more than 1,600 SaveUSA accounts with close to $1 million in savings.

Thursday, January 26, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS (DCA) LAUNCHES YOUTUBE CHANNEL WITH PROTECT YOUR MONEY VIDEO SERIES
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the launch of the Agency’s official YouTube channel with the release of three new videos in its Protect Your Money video series. DCA’s Protect Your Money videos offer tips and information in English and Spanish about City programs and services available to help New Yorkers protect their hard-earned dollars.