Office of Financial Empowerment
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Archived Press Releases

2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Mintz Announce More Than 25,000 New Yorkers Have Visited the City's Financial Empowerment Center Network
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner (DCA) Jonathan Mintz today announced the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers have provided free, one-on-one, professional financial counseling to more than 25,000 New Yorkers in the first five years of operations. The Centers’ financial counselors help clients with low and moderate incomes reduce debt, understand their credit reports, create budgets, improve their credit scores, open bank accounts, and start saving for emergencies and for the future. Since the program began in 2008, counselors have helped New York City residents pay down more than $14.7 million in debt and build more than $2.4 million in savings.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS LAUNCHES REPORT ON HOW CITIES CAN USE CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS TO BOOST CORE SOCIAL SERVICES FOR VULNERABLE CONSUMERS
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) today released the fourth 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. Strategy #4: Targeting Consumer Financial Protection Powers outlines how cities can leverage local consumer protection strategies, including consumer protection laws and advocacy through outreach and education, to protect and financially empower their residents.

Thursday, September 5, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS (DCA) LAUNCHES OFFICIAL INSTAGRAM PAGE
Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced the launch of the Agency’s official Instagram page. The Agency’s newest social media channel will use photos and videos to provide information on programs, services, events and tips on how to be an educated consumer and business owner. For its inaugural posting, the Department uploaded its first #tbt (throwback Thursdays) image of a mobile unit used forty years ago to provide information about markets, consumer services, weights and measures, and “kosher law enforcement.”

Friday, May 17, 2013
CITY HOSTS 6TH ANNUAL CITYWIDE SHRED FEST TO HELP NEW YORKERS PROTECT THEIR IDENTITY
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Associate Commissioner Kay Sarlin and the shred company Cintas Document Management will gather in Union Square this Sunday for the City’s sixth annual Shred Fest, a free paper- shredding event to increase public awareness about identity theft prevention. On Sunday, from 10am to 4pm, New Yorkers can visit one of 10 locations in all five boroughs 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 shredded securely. All shredded material is securely disposed of and recycled. Complimentary personal paper shredders, donated by Staples, will be given to the first five people to arrive at each location. 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. For a list of all locations and identity theft prevention tips, visit nyc.gov/shredfest or call 311. The event also received generous support from Staples, Cintas, LionCage Shredding, and Time Shred Services Inc.

Thursday, May 9, 2013
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND DEPUTY MAYOR GIBBS ANNOUNCE PILOT EXPANSION OF EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT AS NEW ANTIPOVERTY INITIATIVE
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Center for Economic Opportunity Executive Director Kristin Morse today announced a pilot program to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income single workers without dependent children, with the goal of increasing employment and earnings. The $11 million, four-year pilot will offer up to $2,000 for three years to participants earning $26,500 per year or less. Considered the largest and most successful antipoverty program in the United States, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit has significantly increased employment and earnings for low-income families, lifting 6.6 million people out of poverty nationally in 2011 alone and contributing to substantial increases in employment among single mothers. The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit for single-tax filers offers only up to $475, and research indicates that for single workers an enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit could potentially increase employment and incomes by as much as 12 percent. The pilot will feature a total of 6,000 participants, with 3,000 eligible to receive the supplement and 3,000 forming a control group. The program is the 64th antipoverty initiative launched by Center for Economic Opportunity, which was found in 2006 to explore innovative solutions to deeply entrenched poverty challenges.

Friday, April 19, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS RELEASES REPORT REVEALING BANKING NEEDS OF THREE OF NEW YORK CITY’S GROWING IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Office of Financial Empowerment today, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), released the Immigrant Financial Services Study Research Brief, which surveyed more than 1,300 immigrants from China, Ecuador and Mexico to deepen the City’s understanding of the financial service needs and behaviors of New York City’s diverse and vibrant immigrant community. It revealed that, while all three groups have savings, some have a longer pathway to banking than others, in part due to misperceptions about the process of opening a banking account and access to financial institutions. The Study is part of MOIA’s One NYC One Nation initiative to strengthen immigrant communities and was made possible by generous support from Citi Community Development and New York Community Trust.

Thursday, April 11, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND CENTER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY ANNOUNCE NEW RESEARCH CONFIRMING SAVEUSA’S INCENTIVE ENCOURAGES LOW-INCOME NEW YORKERS TO SAVE AT TAX TIME
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) Executive Director Kristin Morse today announced that low-income New Yorkers have accumulated more than $1 million in savings over the last three years by participating in the SaveUSA tax-time savings program. SaveUSA is a unique tax-time savings program that offers participants a 50 percent match up to $500 if they deposit at least $200 of their tax refund into a savings account and maintain the initial deposit for one year. With an average annual household income of just under $18,000, there have been nearly 1,700 SaveUSA participants in New York City. In 2013, 76 percent of 2012 account holders received the match, totaling more than $620,000 in combined savings plus match. This and other results of SaveUSA confirm that low-income households can and will save money when given the right opportunity were announced as a report issued by the research firm MDRC. Commissioner Mintz and Executive Director Morse also remind New Yorkers that Tax Day is Monday, April 15th and the City’s tax preparation services will be available throughout the weekend.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CFPB DIRECTOR CORDRAY ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP TO REPLICATE LOCAL CONSUMER PROTECTION AND FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT MODELS BASED ON NEW YORK CITY’S DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray today announced a partnership between New York City, the CFPB, and the Mayor’s Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) partners to help cities around the country enhance their local consumer protection and financial empowerment abilities. Building on its experience in nationally replicating the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund will work with the CFPB to help other cities leverage their enforcement and public awareness abilities to protect and empower consumers in the financial services marketplace, as well as to serve as key partners to inform and enhance the work of the CFPB on the federal level. The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund is the technical assistance and funding arm of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition, which was co-founded by Mayor Bloomberg, a group of municipal governments dedicated to using municipal powers and opportunities to help their residents with low incomes achieve financial stability. The partnership will leverage the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs, which enforces local consumer protection laws through licensing and other regulatory powers, and empowers consumers with low incomes through professional financial counseling, safe banking, and asset building programming. The Mayor and Director Cordray were joined at the announcement by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.

Friday, March 15, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ AND CENTER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MORSE REMIND NEW YORKERS TO FILE TAXES FOR FREE OR LOW COST AND CLAIM THEIR TAX CREDITS
With one month left until the April 15th tax deadline, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) Executive Director Kristin Morse encourage New Yorkers who made $57,000 or less to file their taxes using the City’s free or low cost filing options and claim important tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit. The City has also partnered with H&R Block to allow New Yorkers who live in Hurricane Sandy-affected zip codes and suffered the loss of their homes, household items, or vehicles to file the casualty loss form (Form 4684), which may reduce taxable income, for free at any H&R Block location in the City. City partners also opened Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in Far Rockaway and Red Hook.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS (DCA) NAMES DEBT COLLECTORS TOP COMPLAINT FOR THE FIFTH YEAR IN A ROW
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today announced debt collectors were the agency’s top complaint for the fifth year in a row. In 2012, DCA received more than 650 complaints about debt collectors and was able to erase more than $1.12 million in wrongful debt collection. In the past five years, more than 4,000 New Yorkers have filed complaints about debt collectors, often about debts they don’t actually owe. DCA 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 2013.

Monday, March 4, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS NAMES 'REMIND ME' APP WINNER OF THE 2013 FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT HACKATHON
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced Remind Me as the winner of DCA's first hackathon, where 25 participants created apps this past weekend at the DUMBO Loft. Remind Me automatically calls Financial Empowerment Center clients to remind them of their appointment and gives them the option to reschedule or cancel and get information like directions and what to bring. The app will be used by DCA to help New Yorkers manage their money and support the work of the Financial Empowerment Centers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS ANNOUNCES “FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT APP” HACKATHON TO HELP NEW YORKERS MANAGE THEIR MONEY
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today invited developers to create digital tools to help New Yorkers achieve their financial goals at DCA’s first hackathon, a collaborative technology design event.  The weekend event begins on March 2nd at the DUMBO Loft.  The team or individual who creates the winning app will receive $1,000 and two second place winners will receive $500 each.  Interested firms, as well as individual developers and designers, are invited to learn more and sign up to participate at nyc.gov/OFEHackathon.  The Financial Empowerment Hackathon is generously supported by Capital One and the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund.  Judges for the event include representatives from Capital One, Google.org, ideas42, LearnVest and DCA.  Space is limited to 150 participants and registration closes at 5p.m. on Friday, March 1.

Thursday, January 31, 2013
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER MINTZ AND CENTER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MORSE KICK OFF CITY’S ANNUAL TAX CAMPAIGN
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, and Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) Executive Director Kristin Morse today launched New York City’s 11th Annual Tax Credit Campaign. Tax season has begun and the IRS has now begun accepting 2012 returns. The City offers three different ways for eligible New Yorkers to file their taxes and claim their tax refunds for free or at very low cost, as well as a tax-time savings program called SaveUSA. The City’s online tax preparation and free tax sites are available now and the City-sponsored H&R Block coupon will be valid beginning Friday, February 1st.