Thursday, September 15, 2016

Abigail Lootens
Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042

Consumer Affairs Announces New, Expanded Mission that Reflects the Agency's Work to Protect and Enhance the Daily Economic Lives of New Yorkers

Commissioner Salas to Embark on a Community Listening Tour to Hear Directly from the Communities it Serves about Issues they Face

NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the agency’s new, evolved mission—to protect and enhance the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. Under the de Blasio Administration, DCA’s work has expanded to include an increased focus on equitable enforcement coupled with business education, and—with paid sick leave, commuter benefits, the City’s new Office of Labor Policy and Standards, and today’s announcement of Fair Work Week legislation—ways to protect workers in New York City. DCA, which was established in 1969, has now evolved to stand at the nexus of consumers, businesses, and working families in New York City. With this added emphasis on the importance of communities, Commissioner Salas formally announced the new mission today at a City University of New York’s Center for Community and Ethnic Media Newsmakers Briefing.

“If you own a business, shop at a business, or work at a business, DCA touches your life nearly every day,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Because of our unique position and reach, we are able to protect and enhance the daily economic lives of New Yorkers in a profound way. We are grateful for Mayor de Blasio’s vision to see the agency’s mission to do more and to continue its history of pioneering the way local government can serve consumers, businesses, and working families, who are the backbone of our city’s economy.”

DCA’s new mission reflects the expansion of the agency’s work and builds on its historic efforts to “ensure a fair and vibrant marketplace for businesses and consumers.” These efforts, which remain priorities for the agency, have been concentrated on the licensing and regulation of businesses, as well as consumer protection and financial empowerment work. DCA’s commitment and ability to serve the needs of consumers, business, and working families is borne by the numbers:
  • In 2015, DCA secured $3.9 million in restitution for consumers, of which more than $2 million was obtained through mediation;
  • Since 2014, DCA has achieved and maintained a more than 50 percent reduction in fines levied on small businesses, averaging $15 million annually from a high of close to $32 million;
  • During the 2016 tax season, DCA, which has been operating the City’s annual Tax Credit Campaign for 14 years, helped more than 160,000 New Yorkers file their returns for free, resulting in $250 million in saved tax preparation fees and refunds going back into the pockets of hardworking New Yorkers; and
  • In the two years since DCA has been enforcing the Paid Sick Leave Law, the agency has secured nearly $4 million in fines and restitution for nearly 14,500 workers who were denied their legal right to sick leave.
To ensure that the agency is best equipped to address the emerging needs of our diverse communities, Commissioner Salas is embarking on a Community Listening Tour. The primary goal of the tour, which will take DCA to neighborhoods across the five boroughs, is to solicit input from consumers, businesses, and workers about how DCA can best help them tackle predatory business and workplace practices, comply with key laws and rules, as well as build their assets and obtain access to safe financial products. This tour is another example of the de Blasio Administration’s strong and consistent track record of putting local government tools to work for our city’s working families.

DCA was created on April 29, 1969 when City Council passed the landmark Consumer Protection Law that gave the agency its broad authority to protect the public from deceptive business practices, making it the first municipal agency of its kind in the country. It was at this time that the City’s Department of Markets, which included the City’s Weights and Measures division, merged with the Department of Licensing to form one unified Department of Consumer Affairs. In 2006, DCA again evolved with the changing marketplace with the creation of its Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), the first local government initiative in the nation aimed expressly at educating, empowering and protecting those with low incomes. DCA’s OFE has emerged as a national leader in the field of municipal financial empowerment and model of local government offering residents consumer protection and financial empowerment has been looked to by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for national replication. Now, with its expanded mission, DCA looks to pioneer the way that city government can protect and enhance the lives of all of players in the marketplace, including consumers, business and workers, and how that work ultimately fosters stronger, more sustainable, and thriving communities.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.