Office of Financial Empowerment
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Increase Your Knowledge

In this section get information and resources related to key financial topics and keep up-to-date with relevant laws and regulations.    

Banking & Basic Financial Transactions

Choosing an Account

  • NYC DCA/OFE NYC SafeStart Account  
    New York City partnered with banks and credit unions to offer New Yorkers a safe starter bank account.

  • Find a Better Bank
    An easy-to-use survey tool that helps consumers find the best banks and switch.

  • Hidden Risks: The Case for Safe and Transparent Checking Accounts 
    Pew Health Group identified five checking account practices that put consumers at financial risk, potentially exposing them to high costs for little benefit. Based on their research, Pew recommends policy solutions to protect consumers, promote a competitive marketplace, and foster a level playing field among financial institutions.

Prepaid Debit Cards

Consumer Rights and Protections

Overdraft 

Read press releases on overdraft:
 Department of Consumer Affairs Announces Soundbite Communications Agrees Not to Sell Text Messaging Services for Overdraft Enrollment  

Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Mintz Warns Banks against Using Text Messaging to Enroll Customers into Overdraft Protection Services 

Department of Consumer Affairs Declares Deceptive Overdraft Enrollment Top Fraud of the Year   

Read press release from the Federal Reserve Board on overdraft rules

 

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy Basics

  • Bankruptcy Basics 
    This paper from the United States Courts’ Bankruptcy Judges Division provides in-depth information for consumers about bankruptcy in simplified language.

Assistance 

  • Financial Education Network ProviderNew York City Bankruptcy Assistance Project at Legal Services NYC
    Free assistance with bankruptcy filing and discharge for consumers who meet income eligibility. (646) 442-3630  

  • Financial Education Network ProviderCity Bar Justice Center’s Consumer Bankruptcy Project
    Assistance with bankruptcy filing and discharge for consumers who meet income eligibility. Wait time may apply. 
    (212) 626-7383 (Monday-Friday: 9am-1pm; Tuesday, Thursday: 3:30-5:30pm)  

  • Financial Education Network ProviderLawHelp 
    LawHelp helps low and moderate income people find free legal aid programs in their communities, and answers to questions about their legal rights. Referrals and information related to housing, work, family, bankruptcy, disability, immigration, and other topics is organized by state.

Counseling 

Businesses that advertise credit counseling services must inform consumers if they are not federally approved to provide bankruptcy counseling. DCA enforces this regulation.
Read Local Law 34 of 2006

Filing 

  • Filing for Bankruptcy: What to Know  
    Learn about filing for personal bankruptcy from the Federal Trade Commission including government-approved organizations for credit counselors and debtor educators.

  • Bankruptcy Information Sheet  
    The U.S. Department of Justice provides general information about what happens in a bankruptcy case. The information is available for download in 17 different languages.

Fraud 

Report Suspected Bankruptcy Fraud 
New York City residents can contact the United States Department of Justice Trustee Program to report fraud or get assistance through one of two regional offices:
Manhattan: (212) 510-0500
Brooklyn: (718) 422-4960

Benefits and Insurance

Government Benefits

  • NYCScreen for Government Benefits 
    ACCESS NYC is a free Web site where New Yorkers can screen for eligibility and get information for City, State and Federal benefits and programs.

  • Social Security   
    The U.S. Social Security Administration Web site allows consumers to apply for retirement and disability benefits, Medicare, and Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Get Social Security information in EnglishEspañol, or Other Languages.

  • New York State Community Action Association (NYSCAA) Helping Hands Tool Kit 
    The Helping Hands Tool Kit contains information on a broad range of community programs and tax credits that can assist your agency’s work with low-income clients. The Tool Kit outlines and explains the benefits, eligibility guidelines, and points of contact for a host of programs that help households meet the expenses of necessities such as health care, child care, utilities, and food.

  • Benefits Counseling and Enrollment  
    Single Stop helps struggling individuals and households get life-changing government cash and noncash benefits, and also provides financial advice and legal counseling.

Insurance 

  • NYCNYC Health Insurance Link 
    An unbiased resource, developed from a consumer perspective, providing detailed information about the costs and benefits of specific plans available in New York City to help consumers better understand and compare different plans.
     
  • Finding Affordable Insurance for Your Child or Teen 
    InsureKidsNow.gov provides information about Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) services for families who need health insurance coverage. CHIP provides free or low-cost health coverage for more than 7 million children up to age 19 and covers U.S. citizens and eligible immigrants.
    1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) 
    • Child Health Plus 
      New York State’s Health Insurance Plan for children. Visit for eligibility information, resources, and frequently asked questions.  
    • Family Health Plus 
      New York State’s health insurance program for adults who are aged 19 to 64 and have income too high to qualify for Medicaid.
       
  • Insurance Company Search 
    A database of companies maintained by the New York State Insurance Department.
    (800) 342-3736
     
  • HealthCare.gov 
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on health insurance coverage options and how the Affordable Care Act impacts you. Find information for individuals, families, senior citizens, people with disabilities, young adults, and employers.
     
  • Life Insurance 
    Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s LifeBridge Free Life Insurance Program offers a no-cost $50,000, 10-year term life insurance policy for income-eligible families. If the policyholder dies within the 10 years, the policy is used to cover children’s educational expenses.

Credit

Credit Cards

Credit Reports

Debt

Consumer Debt

DCA created the following materials regarding consumer debt. 
Five Loans to Avoid  
How to Read the Fine Print in Loans 
Consumer Alert: New Protections for Credit Card Users
An overview of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.  
Consumer Services Mediation  

Education Debt

Medical Debt

Consumer Rights and Protections

Debt Collection

Debt Settlement

Homeownership and Foreclosure Prevention Assistance

Homeownership

Housing 

  • NYCNYC Affordable Housing Resource Center
    Get information related to affordable apartments, public housing, Section 8 vouchers, and housing lotteries. Consumers can also call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC).

Foreclosure

Mortgage Loan Scams

Loan Modification Scam Alert
Immigrant Finance
  • NYC DCA/OFETranslated Consumer Tips and Guides
    A number of OFE’s financial education materials are available in multiple languages. 
     
  • NYCImmigrant Civic Engagement Zones  
    The City is establishing five Immigrant Civic Engagement Zones to provide tools to immigrant communities to better access City government, promote financial empowerment, enhance immigrant entrepreneurship, and help support college readiness opportunities for immigrant families.  
     
  • Financial Education Network ProviderBusiness Center for New Americans (BCNA)
    BCNA uses education and coaching to help refugees, immigrants, women, and other New Yorkers successfully establish and run small businesses, save money, and invest in their first home.  
     
  • Financial Education Network ProviderNYC Immigrant Financial Justice Project
    Visit the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project’s Web site to learn about the IFJ Network, Community Education, Organizing Support, Legal Assistance, and Resources, including the brochure Truth about Immigrants’ Banking Rights in English, Spanish, and Arabic.


Potential Predatory Pitfalls  

Taxes 

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number. Consumers can also call (800) 829-1040.
Learn more from the IRS 
Understanding Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
Find a New York Acceptance Agent

Investing & Future Planning

Investing 

Consumer Rights and Protections

Future Planning

Predatory Practices and ID Theft

Top Scams

Bankruptcy Fraud

  • Report Suspected Bankruptcy Fraud  
    New York City residents can contact the United States Department of Justice Trustee Program to report fraud or get assistance through one of two regional offices:
    Manhattan: (212) 510-0500
    Brooklyn: (718) 422-4960

Debt Collection and Settlement

Identity Theft

Identity Theft and Taxes

Clients who have not been able to file their taxes because their Social Security Numbers have already been used can call (800) 908-4490 to report the crime to the IRS’ Identity Protection Specialized Unit.

Mortgage Loan Scams

Other Potential Predatory Pitfalls

Research & Policy
Savings

Asset Building Programs

Savings Account Models

Children’s Savings Accounts

Employee Savings Accounts

  • NYC DCA/OFEEasySave Account
    **Available to New York City Employees Only**
    See III. OFE Financial Empowerment Strategies, Strategy 3 for information about EasySave. The City of New York pioneered an employee savings program that automatically diverts a set amount of post-tax wages into a Municipal Credit Union (MCU) savings account.
     
  • AutoSave
    A proposal to reverse America's savings decline and make savings automative, flexible and inclusive.
Small Business/Entrepreneurship

 

Taxes

Tax Preparation

New Tax Credits and Reforms to Existing Tax Credits

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number. Consumers can also call (800) 829-1040.
Learn more from the IRS 
Understanding Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
Find a New York Acceptance Agent
How to Become an Acceptance Agent for IRS ITIN Numbers

 


 Key 
This icon represents materials produced by OFE and/or other New York City government agencies.
This icon represents materials produced by a member of OFE's Financial Education Network (FEN).
This icon indicates that the resource has a fee.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Created by the Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment, Resources for Providers is an extensive reference tool for financial education professionals. DCA seeks to keep educational materials, referral information, and links up-to-date, accurate, and in accordance with current policy and financial industry practice, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Links to external Web sites are for informational purposes only. DCA does not endorse any organization or person, nor any products or services marketed on external Web sites.