Office of Financial Empowerment
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Advocacy and Policy


OFE advocates for policies and practices to protect consumers and their money from unfair and deceptive practices.



DCA Comments to the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) on Proposed Amendments to Court Rules Governing Consumer Credit Actions
DCA submitted recommendations to OCA to establish specific documentation standards to protect consumers, provide needed clarity to New York State courts, and establish clearer criteria for original creditors, debt buyers, and the collection industry. DCA additionally urged OCA to issue revised proposed rules to allow stakeholders another opportunity to comment on court rules before their adoption.
Read comments (December 4, 2013) 

DCA Comments Regarding Private Education Loans and Private Educational Lenders
DCA submitted comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Docket No. CFPB-2011-0037) regarding the experiences of New Yorkers with the private education loan market.
Read comments (January 17, 2012) 

DCA Comments to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
DCA submitted formal comments urging OCC to amend proposed preemption rules to comply with the intent of the Dodd-Frank Act.
Read comments (June 27, 2011) 

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, DCA 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. DCA also proposed a new product ratings system to help consumers differentiate low-risk products and services from more complex or expensive options.
 Read testimony (July 19, 2010)

DCA Comments to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on Safe Bank Account Template  
DCA submitted formal comments to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on FDIC’s proposal for templates for savings and checking accounts. The comments include a case study of the NYC SafeStart Account, a safe and affordable "starter" account, and Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Coalition recommendations that would further strengthen FDIC’s proposed template.
 Read comments to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on Safe Bank Account Template (June 6, 2010)

DCA Delivers Remarks to NY Check Cashers Association
Calls upon industry to explore wealth-building products and service

At the Association’s 18th Annual Conference & Exposition, DCA 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. DCA 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, DCA 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 remarks (May 14, 2010)

DCA Comments to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
DCA submitted formal comments to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve on proposed rules that would set standards for reasonable and proportional penalty fees in the credit card industry and give credit issuers guidelines for the review of accounts every six months after interest rate changes.
 Read comments to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (April 14, 2010)

DCA Advises Consumers to Beware of Banks’ Use of Text Messaging to Enroll Them into Expensive Overdraft Protection Services
Law Prohibiting Automatic Enrollment Takes Effect July 1.

After July 1, it will be illegal for banks to automatically enroll consumers in overdraft protection programs without their express permission. DCA 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 (March 17, 2010)
 Read DCA's Open Letter to Providers of Overdraft Opt-In Consulting and Services (March 15, 2010)
 Read DCA's Letter to Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System including Request for Interpretation (March 15, 2010)
 Read DCA's letter to SoundBite Communications (March 15, 2010)

Testimony on Community-Based Financial Institutions and Their Impact on Community Development
In comments to the City Council, OFE cited the importance of community-based financial institutions (CDFIs) in offering simple and safe financial products. Because State law bans city governments, school districts, authorities, and other local government entities from making deposits into many CDFIs such as savings banks, credit unions, and savings and loans institutions, OFE urged the City Council to issue a Home Rule Message requesting authority from the New York State Legislature to enact legislation that would permit deposits into CDFIs.
 Read testimony to the City Council (December 15, 2009)

Proposals to Regulate Foreclosure Rescue Businesses
In comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), DCA recommended banning both up-front fee and fee-for-service foreclosure assistance services, and also encouraging the use of municipal 311 and 211 systems as one-stop and tamperproof public referrals to legitimate providers.
 Read comments to the FTC (July 15, 2009)

Proposals to Improve Consumer Banking Products
In testimony before the New York State Banking Department, DCA urged changes to its Banking Development Districts program. Proposals include: ensuring that financial institutions offer safe, affordable financial products that meet the needs of underbanked consumers and expanding program eligibility to include credit unions.
 Read testimony (April 2, 2009)
 Read DCA/OFE's Neighborhood Financial Services Study

Proposals to Fight Foreclosure Rescue Scams
To stem the rising tide of foreclosure and mortgage scams nationwide, DCA, in testimony before Congress, called for a three-step plan of attack: 1) use cities' 311 and 211 systems to connect homeowners to legitimate resources; 2) create a national task force to share data and coordinate enforcement efforts; and 3) ban fee-for-service foreclosure prevention businesses.
 Read testimony before the House Judiciary Committee (April 1, 2009)

Stand on Reform of Overdraft Regulations
DCA/OFE submitted comments to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System urging an end to banks' automatic enrollment of consumers in costly overdraft protection programs without their consent and ensuring that consumers themselves choose this service. DCA/OFE made additional recommendations to increase consumer protection, including real-time alerts when a transaction will result in a negative account balance.
 Read DCA/OFE's comments (March 30, 2009)
 Read CFE Coalition's comments to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (March 30, 2009)
 Read DCA/OFE's Neighborhood Financial Services Study

Stand on Disclosure Requirements in Lender Advertising
DCA/OFE urged the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to strengthen significantly disclosure requirements for banks and credit card companies marketing overdraft protection and other financial products to consumers.  
 Read DCA/OFE’s comments regarding overdraft fees (July 18, 2008)
 Read DCA/OFE’s comments regarding credit card products (July 18, 2008)

Stand on Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs)
After filing taxes with an income tax preparer, many consumers are offered a high-cost refund anticipation loan (RAL). Unfortunately, consumers sign up for these loans without knowing the complete facts. DCA seeks to stop income tax preparers from violating the laws that govern them.
Read annual press releases on this issue: 2010   2009   2008   
Download the Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers in
English (in PDF)   Español (in PDF)   Bengali (in PDF)   Chinese (in PDF)   Russian (in PDF )
Are you a tax preparer? Know NYC law

Stand on Exempt Income Protection
Banks routinely freeze the accounts of New York City consumers that contain money that should not be frozen. DCA urged the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to strengthen its guidelines, requiring banks to comply with federal law exempting federal benefit funds - such as Social Security and Veterans' payments - from garnishment orders and account freezes. In addition, DCA's OFE promotes the passage of the Exempt Income Protection Act.
Read OFE letter to OCC (November 2007)