2015 Press Releases

2015 Press Releases

Monday, December 28, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Enters into Settlement Agreement with Whole Foods
Whole Foods to Pay $500,000 and Adhere to Strict Preventive and Corrective Standards to Protect New Yorkers from Being Overcharged
Agreement Settles Investigation into the Company’s Overcharging for Pre-Packaged Foods
NEW YORK—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced a settlement agreement with Whole Foods.

Friday, December 18, 2015
City Releases Gender Pricing Study - "From Cradle To Cane: The Cost Of Being A Female Consumer"
NEW YORK— Mayor de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the results of “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” DCA’s first study of gender pricing disparities between goods sold in New York City. Through a comparison of nearly 800 products with clear male and female versions from more than 90 brands sold online and in stores at two dozen New York City stores, the City found that, on average, products for women cost seven percent more than similar products for men. In addition, across the entire sample, women’s products were priced higher 42 percent of the time.

Sunday, December 13, 2015
How Much Will You Save on Transit in 2016?
Council Member Garodnick, Riders Alliance, and Straphangers Campaign Help Commuters Calculate Savings

On Sunday morning, Council Member Dan Garodnick, Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, and the Department of Consumer Affairs set up shop in the Union Square subway station with a giant calculator and an oversized tax chart, which they used to help riders estimate how much they could save on transit as a result of the NYC Commuter Benefits Law.

Monday, November 30, 2015
Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation Creating an Office of Labor Standard
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed nine bills into law – Intro. 743-A, creating an Office of Labor Standards; Intros 898-A, 890-A, 900-A, 914-A, and 915-A, which strengthen and modify existing requirements related to open government data; Intro. 783-A, related to interest rates on emergency repair bills for residential buildings; Intro. 956-A, extending the Biotechnology Tax Credit; and Intro. 982-A, extending the current rate of hotel room taxes. The Mayor also held a public hearing for Intro. 314-A, which will be signed at a later date and is related to the establishment of the Department of Veterans Services.

Monday, November 23, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Announces 2015 Holiday Shopping Tips to Help Protect Consumers in New York City
NEW YORK—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today offered Holiday Shopping Tips to protect the identity and money of New York City consumers and visitors alike. This annual effort is set to kick off the holiday shopping season just in time for Black Friday to make consumers aware of their rights and what to look for when searching for the perfect gifts.

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Deputy Mayor Glen and Department of Small Business Services Announce New Services to Address Needs of Women Entrepreneurs in New York City
WE NYC Launches Educational, Mentorship and Networking Services to Respond to New Data Report, Funded by Citi
NEW YORK—In honor of International Women's Entrepreneurship Day, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, the Department of Small Business Services, and Citi today released an extensive analysis on the state of women’s entrepreneurship in New York City, and announced a corresponding set of tailored services for women entrepreneurs and small business owners as part of the City's WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs New York City) initiative.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Releases First Municipal Study on Mobile Technology and Money Management: New Yorkers Have High Mobile Phone Ownership and Mobile Banking Usage
New Yorkers Comfortable Receiving Text or Email Alerts about Banking but Privacy Concerns Exist about Sharing Personal Information
NEW YORK—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) today announced the findings of the New York City Mobile Services Study, the first study to examine mobile banking and cell phone ownership at a municipal level. The study’s findings show that New York City is a unique marketplace for mobile banking and money management innovation, as nearly all respondents owned a cell phone (96 percent), and approximately 80 percent of cell phone owners had a smartphone. These rates exceed the national averages of 87 percent and 71 percent respectively. Additionally, rates of smartphone ownership were particularly high among immigrant respondents, those who are younger (between the ages of 18 and 29), the underbanked, and those with higher incomes. The findings were released at a presentation and panel discussion today at Capital One Labs.

Monday, November 16, 2015
Consumer Affairs and Health Department Launch Public Awareness Campaign about the Dangers of K2
Campaign Launched at Half-Day Summit Addressing K2 as a Public Health Threat
NEW YORK—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett today announced the launch of the City’s public awareness campaign to educate users, potential users, caregivers, and retailers about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, drugs commonly known as “K2.” The campaign and the jointly-hosted summit are part of the City’s multi-agency strategy to combat the sale and use of K2, a dangerous drug that can have severe health effects, including death. The sale of K2 now carries stiff civil and criminal penalties in New York City.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Department of Investigation and Business Integrity Commission Issue Joint Report on Combating Fuel Delivery Fraud and Protecting Consumers
Multi-Agency Task Force Established to Recommend and Implement Lasting Policy and Procedural Changes
Today, Mark G. Peters, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”) and Daniel D. Brownell, Commissioner of the New York City Business Integrity Commission (“BIC”), issued a detailed Report on fraudulent schemes used by delivery companies that have cost the City, taxpayers, and private consumers millions of dollars annually. The Report comes in the wake of an extensive two-year investigation by BIC, the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), the New York County District Attorney’s Office and DOI. That investigation resulted in the indictments and arrests of 53 fuel delivery companies, principals, and truck drivers, as well as other fuel staff related to the shorting schemes, who are charged with routinely stealing heating oil from both private consumers and City agencies. Based on interviews with employees of the indicted delivery companies, recorded conversations, and other intelligence gathered during this investigation, it is believed that the theft comes at a cost of at least $18 million annually, with an estimated $4 million stolen annually from the City. This Report offers background on how these scams occur, warning signs for consumers, and details more than a dozen recommendations City agencies have already begun to take to deter further thefts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
District Attorney Vance: Nine Companies, 44 Defendants Indicted In Connection with Multimillion-Dollar Heating Oil Industry Fraud
Companies and Truck Drivers Allegedly Billed Customers for More Oil Than Delivered and Resold the Surplus on the Black Market
Defrauded Customers Include Residential, Commercial, and Municipal Buildings Citywide: Schools, Hospitals, Police Precincts, Churches, City of New York

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., New York City Police Department Organized Crime Investigation Division (“OCID”), New York City Business Integrity Commission (“BIC”) Commissioner Daniel D. Brownell, and New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”) Commissioner Mark G. Peters, in partnership with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (“NYSDTF”) today announced the indictments of nine companies and 44 individuals in connection with various schemes to defraud heating oil customers by shorting deliveries to residential, commercial, and municipal properties throughout New York City. The indicted heating oil transportation and retail companies include: F&S DISTRIBUTION, INC., G&D PETROLEUM TRANSPORTATION, INC., G&D HEATING OIL INC., CASANOVA FUEL OIL, INC., EXPRESS PETROLEUM, INC., 4th AVENUE TRANSPORT, INC., ALL-BORO TRANSPORTATION, INC., ENTERPRISE TRANSPORTATION, INC., and CENTURY STAR FUEL CORP. The indicted individuals include the principal owners of the indicted companies, three fuel depot dispatchers, and 29 truck drivers charged with taking part in the theft, resale, and purchase of stolen heating oil.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
City Secures $2.3 Million in Fines and Restitution from Nearly Two Dozen Debt Collection Agencies for Predatory and Illegal Activity
National Coalition Announces More Than 110 Actions to Combat Predatory Debt Collection Practices; 23 from NYC Department of Consumer Affairs
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin today announced that City investigations into debt collection agencies found nearly two dozen agencies were operating without a license or violating other consumer protection laws related to debt collection. In 2015, DCA entered into settlement agreements in all of the cases and secured more than $1 million in consumer restitution for nearly 4,800 consumers, as well as $1.3 million in fines. A court ruling also determined that DCA is authorized to regulate law firms that collect on debts in New York City.

Thursday, October 29, 2015
Mayor de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Menin Launch Groundbreaking Investigation into Illegal Sale of Secondhand Guns
Subpoena Sent to One of Nation’s Largest Online Firearms Marketplaces
Innovative Approach Targets Sellers, Not Website Itself

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin today announced an investigation into the possible illegal and unlicensed sale of secondhand guns in New York City. On October 19, DCA issued a subpoena to ARMSLIST, one of the country’s largest online firearms marketplace for classified ads, seeking to discover whether local sellers are using the website to advertise and illegally sell secondhand arms without DCA licenses and skirting City, State and federal laws in the process. While other investigations have focused on the website, DCA is focusing on the sellers who use the website.

Thursday, October 29, 2015
New York City Hosts National Paid Sick Leave Symposium
Leaders from Across the Country Convene to Discuss the Importance of and Best Practices for Implementing and Enforcing Paid Sick Leave Laws
NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Releases New Data: Approximately $837,000 Secured in Fines and Restitution for More than 6,000 Employees

NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today kicks off “Making Paid Sick Leave Work: Sharing Strategies,” a national symposium convening jurisdictions who are enforcing, preparing to implement, or considering paid sick leave laws. The two-day event, beginning on October 29, addresses the importance of paid sick leave laws, the challenges and best practices for implementing and enforcing these laws, and frames paid sick leave movement from a national perspective. Leaders from 16 jurisdictions across the country are expected to attend the event, which features keynote speakers, panel discussions, and practitioner workshops. The event, held at the Ford Foundation, is hosted in partnership with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for public policies and programs at the federal, state, and local levels to reduce poverty and create ladders to opportunity for all. At the event, DCA is announcing new data on its enforcement of New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law, which includes securing approximately $837,000 in restitution and fines for more than 6,000 employees.

Monday, October 26, 2015
City Gears Up for the Expansion of Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits with Launch of Public Education and Outreach Campaign
NYC Commuter Benefits Law Saves Employers and Employees Money; Straphangers Can Save up to Approximately $400 a Year on Monthly Metrocards using Pre-Tax Income
Campaign Ads Play on Humorous and Relatable Commuting Situations to Inform Employers and Employees that “There’s a Better Way to Work” with Commuter Benefits

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the launch of the City’s public education and outreach campaign to help employers and employees understand their responsibilities and rights under the NYC Commuter Benefits Law. The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2016, requires for-profit and nonprofit employers with 20 or more full-time employees in New York City to offer commuter benefits. Employers can save by reducing payroll taxes and employees can lower their monthly expenses by using pre-tax income to pay for their commute.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Mayor de Blasio Signs K2 Legislation into Law to Criminalize Sale and Production
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed into law three new bills to curb the use of K2 and increase violations for those who seek to sell or manufacture this chemical mixture. The three bills are part of a multi-agency enforcement, education and prevention strategy against K2. This strategy aims to reduce the presence and use of K2 by aggressively cracking down on suppliers while offering supportive services and treatment to users in need.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio Signs Legislation on Air Conditioning Regulation for Businesses and Package of Criminal Justice Bills
NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today signed nine pieces of legislation into law – Intro. 850-A, related to air conditioning systems; Intros 643-A, 706-A, 753-A, 758-A, 766-A and 768-A, require various reporting with respect to inmates in the custody of the Department of Correction; Intro. 784-A, which requires that new inmates are provided with a bill of rights; and Intro. 767-A, which requires the DOC to publicly post its use of force policies.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Releases New Reports: 1.14 Million Households in NYC are Unbanked or Underbanked; More Than Half of New Yorkers Don't Have Adequate Savings for an Emergency
70,000 More Households Have Bank Accounts; Use of Alternative Financial Services Increasing
Studies and Interactive Map Prepared by Urban Institute Offer First Glimpse at Perceived Financial Security and the Use of Banks on a Neighborhood Level across the City
NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the results of two new studies—Where Are the Unbanked and Underbanked in New York City? and How Do New Yorkers Perceive Their Financial Security?—that look at New Yorkers’ use of banks and their perception of financial security. The research shows that in 2013, 11.7 percent of households in New York City (360,000 households) did not have bank accounts, surpassing the national figure of 7.7 percent. An additional 780,000 households, or one in four, were underbanked meaning they had a bank account but also used alternative financial services. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of households without a bank account decreased but the number of underbanked households increased. Additionally, more than half of New Yorkers reported that they didn’t have enough savings to weather an emergency and one in three reported having too much debt. To better understand New Yorkers’ use of banks and sense of financial health and develop more effective future programming and products, DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) commissioned the Urban Institute to conduct the studies and develop the accompanying interactive map depicting the data. It is the first effort to capture and compare the unbanked, underbanked, and levels of perceived financial security in New York City’s 55 neighborhoods.

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Mayor de Blasio Announces Multi-Agency Strategy to End Sale and Use of K2, Linked to Recent Spike in Emergency Room Visits
Dismantled a citywide drug distribution ring in partnership with DEA, seizing over two tractor trailers worth of “K2” from processing facilities, arresting six suppliers, and conducting enforcement actions at over 80 bodegas
Administration partnering with City Council to criminalize the sale of K2
City to create public awareness campaign, uniform treatment protocols and targeted public health interventions to educate the public and ensure rapid and high-quality treatment

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a multi-agency strategy to reduce demand and supply for synthetic cannabinoids, often known by the brand name “K2.” To end the sale of a harmful drug that has led to a recent spike in emergency room visits, this multi-agency effort has already seized over 200 kilograms of the drug from sellers, is educating users and potential users about the dangers of using K2, and is working with the City Council to develop legislation to criminalize the sale of K2.

Thursday, September 17, 2015
De Blasio Administration Releases Mayor's Management Report for Fiscal Year 2015
Decreases in major felony crime, fire fatalities, traffic fatalities, police misconduct complaint, children entering foster care
Increase in immigration assistance for undocumented youth, small businesses, housing construction starts

NEW YORK—The de Blasio administration today released the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) for fiscal year 2015, an analysis of City agencies’ performance from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. In fiscal year 2015, 57 percent of indicators show improved or stable performance, compared to 59 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 53 percent in fiscal year 2013. For critical indicators, 57 percent show improved or stable performance, compared to 57 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 49 percent in fiscal year 2013. The MMR reports more than 2,000 metrics for city agencies, showing the City’s performance in providing services to New Yorkers.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Labor Rights Week: Department of Consumer Affairs Announces Initial Results of Its Multipronged Approach to Combat Predatory Employment Agencies
Consumer Affairs Releases Multilingual Job Hunter’s Bill of Rights
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the results of its multipronged and aggressive approach into predatory employment agencies as part of Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to reduce inequality in New York City. In the first year of the new approach, DCA initiated more than 225 investigations into licensed and unlicensed employment agencies, issued more than 400 violations, and secured more than $77,000 in restitution for 269 consumers who were charged illegal and predatory fees. The announcement coincides with Labor Rights Week, during which DCA has also released its new multilingual Job Hunter’s Bill of Rights, enabling New Yorkers looking for a job at an employment agency know their rights.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
NYC Department of Small Business Services and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Celebrate 3000th Business to Open Faster with Assistance from NYC Business Acceleration
City Launches Online Tool to Help New and Existing Businesses Avoid Top Violations, Penalties, and Fines

NEW YORK—The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, along with the Mayor's Office of Veteran's Affairs and the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC), today celebrated the grand opening of Bill Baker's, the 3,000th new business to open with the support of the Department of Small Business Services' NYC Business Acceleration services, as well as other free services available through the City and Chamber. NYC Business Acceleration helps businesses open their doors faster by guiding them through government licensing, permitting and compliance, and providing support, should any problems arise in the process. The program has helped more than 3,000 businesses to date, creating more than 44,000 employment opportunities. Businesses that have taken advantage of the program have opened an average of 33 percent faster, or 75 days earlier than businesses that did not use the service. 

Friday, July 31, 2015
De Blasio Administration Reduces Fines Assessed by Consumer Affairs on Businesses in Half, Cuts Violations Issued by One Third Over Past Year
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin today announced onerous fines assessed on small businesses have been cut in half, surpassing the Mayoral pledge to reduce fines by $5 million. Fines assessed have declined from $32.5 million to just over $15.7 million, and violations reduced from 19,409 to 11,923.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Encourages Businesses to "Shut the Front Door!" when the Air Conditioning is On
Hundreds of Volunteers Take to the Streets and Social Media to Ask Businesses to #BeCoolSaveFuel by Reducing Carbon Emissions While Also Saving on Electricity Costs
City and Council Work to Strengthen Existing Air Conditioning Law
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced a major education and outreach effort to encourage businesses to “Shut the Front Door!” when their air conditioning is on. Today more than 200 volunteers will visit nearly 45 business corridors throughout the five boroughs to educate businesses about the environmental and financial impacts of keeping their doors open while running the air conditioning. The campaign also includes efforts to strengthen the existing law, a multilingual informational flyer, social media engagement using #BeCoolSaveFuel, signs for businesses to post that they are proud to “Shut the Front Door!,” and advertisements on bus shelters and phone kiosks.

Monday, June 29, 2015
Mayor de Blasio Signs "Fair Chance Act"
NEW YORK – Mayor de Blasio today signed into law eight pieces of legislation – Intro. 318-A, in relation to prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s arrest record or criminal conviction; Intro. 125-B, in relation to licensing car wash businesses; and Intros 456-A, 723-A, 724-A, 725-A, 726-A, and 729-A, related to the City’s outreach and accessibility efforts for small businesses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Investigation Uncovers Systemic Overcharging for Pre-packaged Foods at City's Whole Foods
Expanded Investigation to Examine the Extent of the Chain’s Overcharging for Pre-Packaged Foods
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced an ongoing investigation into Whole Foods after finding that the company’s New York City stores routinely overstated the weights of its pre-packaged products – including meats, dairy and baked goods – resulting in customers being overcharged. DCA tested packages of 80 different types of pre-packaged products and found all of the products had packages with mislabeled weights. Additionally, 89 percent of the packages tested did not meet the federal standard for the maximum amount that an individual package can deviate from the actual weight, which is set by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The overcharges ranged from $0.80 for a package of pecan panko to $14.84 for a package of coconut shrimp.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Nearly $14 Million Settlement With NYC And Westchester Auto Dealerships For Deceptive Practices That Resulted In Inflated Car Prices
AG Investigation Uncovered Alleged Fraud At Paragon Dealerships, Two In Queens And One In Westchester; Agreement Returns $13.5 Million In Restitution To 15,000 Consumers
AG Announces Intent To Sue An Additional Eleven Auto Dealers Across New York City, Westchester And Long Island As Probe Continues
A.G. Schneiderman: Deceptive Tactics Used By Some Car Dealers Cheats New Yorkers; Cannot Be Tolerated
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a multi-million dollar settlement with three car dealerships, Paragon Motors of Woodside, Inc., d/b/a Paragon Honda; Worldwide Motors Ltd., d/b/a Paragon Acura; and Civic Center Motors Ltd., d/b/a White Plains Honda. The agreement, which returns more than $13.5 million in restitution to consumers, concludes an investigation into these dealerships for alleged unlawful sale of credit repair and identity theft prevention services, and other “after-sale” items to 15,000 consumers – items that in some cases added more than $2,000 in hidden costs and fees onto the sale or lease price of a single vehicle. The Paragon dealerships, which are jointly owned, claim to be the largest combined Honda dealership in the country. Under a consent order agreement signed by the company, they will also pay $325,000 in penalties, fees and costs to New York State.

Friday, May 15, 2015
De Blasio Administration Announces Multifaceted Effort to Address Labor Abuses and Health Risks at City's Nail Salons
Comprehensive advocacy and outreach efforts to businesses, workers and consumers is part of City’s dedicated efforts to protect vulnerable New Yorkers
Immediate steps include investigations of the industry’s products; May 21 ‘Day of Action’ to educate New Yorkers about their rights and responsibilities; letter to FDA and petition to salon industry to ban use of ‘Toxic Trio’ of chemicals in nail products; and more
City partnering with key elected officials to maximize outreach across the city
NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced an aggressive advocacy and educational initiative by the City to immediately address labor and health issues at local salons, support salon workers, and educate businesses and consumers.

Friday, May 15, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Announces Exclusive Data About Identity Theft in New York City as Part of the Inaugural Identity Theft Prevention Week
8th Annual Shred Fest Kicks Off its First-ever Identity Theft Prevention Week
Events to Address Identity Theft of Seniors and Victims of Domestic Violence

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced its first Identity Theft Prevention Week, which will commence on Saturday, May 16 with the 8th Annual Shred Fest and educate New Yorkers about how to protect their identities. As part of the announcement, DCA worked with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to compile never-before-released data about identity theft in New York City. DCA has also coordinated events with numerous partners to address identity theft for seniors and victims of domestic violence, two groups who are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of identity theft crimes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Warns New Yorkers about Advertising by Home Improvement Contractors that Claim Energy Savings
Consumer Affairs Settles Charges with Renewal by Andersen Garden State Custom Windows, LLC for Deceptive Advertising
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today issued a warning to New Yorkers about deceptive advertising by home improvement contractors that make claims about energy savings and offers of free goods or services without defining the conditions. A contractor cannot advertise claims about the energy efficiency of its work without provable facts if conditions are beyond their control. Also, as required by New York City law, a business that offers a “free” good or service must clearly state the conditions of the offer next to the word “free” and the condition must be at least half the font size of the word “free” in the ad. The warning comes on the heels of DCA’s settlement with Garden State Custom Windows, LLC (d/b/a Renewal by Andersen), a New Jersey-based contractor with a DCA home improvement contractor license to operate in New York City that also does work in Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and several New Jersey counties.

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Senator Klein, Assemblyman Moya, and Justice for Job Seekers Campaign Release Investigative Report into Employment Agencies
Results of Undercover Investigation Shows Shady and Fraudulent Practices of NYC Agencies Preying on Immigrants
New Legislation Would Crackdown on Illicit Activity by Agencies

NEW YORK – State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), together with the Justice for Job Seekers Campaign, State Senator Diane Savino (Staten Island/Brooklyn), NYC Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), immigrant rights advocates and community groups, released the results of an undercover investigation into the unscrupulous and fraudulent practices occurring at New York City employment agencies in lower Manhattan Thursday.

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Senators Klein & Savino Reveal Top Predatory Subprime Auto Lending Practices in New York
Investigative report proposes legislative remedies to tricky tactics, fraudulent practices and deceptive scams unscrupulous city car dealers are using to prey on financially vulnerable New Yorkers

Queens, NY— Independent Democratic Conference Leader State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) and State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) on Thursday released an investigative report, “Road to Credit Danger: Predatory Subprime Auto Lending in New York.” Senators Klein and Savino, joined by NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin, Queens District Attorney Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit Chief ADA Mary Lowenburg, consumer attorneys and predatory subprime auto lending victims, exposed top tactics currently employed in predatory subprime auto lending.

Monday, April 20, 2015
The Consulate General of Mexico, the Department of Consumer Affairs, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and Citi Announce Expansion of the Ventanilla De Asesoría Financiera to Bring Financial Counseling to Mexican Communities Across the Nation
The First Anniversary of the Financial Counseling Window Kicks Off the Consulate’s Financial Education Week 2015

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin, Consul General of Mexico Ambassador Sandra Fuentes-Berain, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) President Jonathan Mintz and Citi today announced the expansion of the Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera (Financial Counseling Window), which offers free, one-on-one financial counseling, to other Mexican Consulates across the United States as part of the first anniversary celebration of the Ventanilla. The celebration also kicked off the Consulate’s fourth Financial Education Week. Over the past year, the Ventanilla has offered financial empowerment resources to more than 26,000 people, one-on-one financial counseling to nearly 1,500 Mexican New Yorkers, and hosted workshops. The Ventanilla provides access to a broad network of services at the Consulate and helps Mexican nationals and families living in New York City achieve greater financial security. The program is made possible through generous support from Citi Community Development in partnership with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and counseling services are provided by ARIVA.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
City's Expanded Tax Credit Campaign Pays Off Big for New Yorkers
50 percent more of City’s eligible New Yorkers filed for free through network of tax prep sites, nearly $250 million in projected tax credits and tax-preparer-fee savings will go into pockets of hardworking families

New Yorkers who haven’t filed their taxes yet should visit nyc.gov/taxprep to get more information and find sites that are still open

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced that the City will help approximately 145,000 New Yorkers with low incomes file their taxes for free and claim important tax credits including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit – ultimately translating to nearly $250 million in refunds and savings for New Yorkers this season. This represents a 50 percent increase from 96,000 filers last year – more filers than any year since the campaign began 13 years ago.

Thursday, April 2, 2015
Mayor de Blasio and A.G. Schneiderman Announce Joint Task Force to Combat Immigration Services Fraud
Coordinated Enforcement Effort Will Hold Fraudsters Accountable and Encourage Victims to Come Forward
Part of Nationwide Effort to Support President Obama’s Immigration Reform by Combating Those Who Take Advantage of Vulnerable Immigrants

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the formation of a new joint task force to target those who prey on immigrants, while encouraging victims of fraud to come forward without fear.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
One Year Later, City's Paid Sick Leave Law Working for New Yorkers
Paid Sick Leave is a critical step in improving the lives of working New Yorkers, protecting the City’s public health, and setting a national example of how cities can be at the forefront of protecting vulnerable Americans

NEW YORK— New York City’s landmark paid sick leave law, which turns one year old today, has been implemented smoothly and effectively by the City, bringing this important worker benefit to millions of employees in the five boroughs. One of Mayor de Blasio’s first actions as Mayor was to strengthen and expand the City’s yet-to-be-implemented Earned Sick Leave Act (also known as the Paid Sick Leave Law), to include over 500,000 more New Yorkers who weren’t already covered. Mayor de Blasio accelerated the law’s implementation to April 1, 2014. He also expanded the law to include manufacturing workers who had been exempted, as well as the definition of covered family members to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.

Monday, March 23, 2015
NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Creates New Car Loan Initiative to Help Curb Predatory Subprime Loans and Abusive Dealer Financing Practices for Used Car Buyers with Low Incomes
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced a new initiative to create a safer loan product for qualified secondhand auto borrowers and to help them avoid financial ruin by predatory loans. Often, borrowers with low credit scores are targeted and sold predatory loans characterized by higher interest rates and less favorable terms. Studies show that these loans, which are similar to those that were blamed for the country’s mortgage crisis, are growing at a staggering rate of more than 130 percent in recent years. In addition, many consumers who obtain these loans believe the dealer has negotiated the best rate for them and are unaware they are actually paying to increase the dealer’s profit margin. Dealer markups provide an incentive to sell consumers unwanted add-ons to increase the amount of financing on a loan and the related mark-up.

Friday, March 13, 2015
Consumer Affairs, Citi and Parsons Launch Initiative to Improve Access to Free Tax Preparation Services for New Yorkers
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin, Citi’s Global Director of Community Development Bob Annibale, Parsons The New School for Design DESIS Lab Director Eduardo Staszowski, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City Executive Director Darren Bloch today announced the initial findings from Designing for Financial Empowerment, an initiative aimed at developing a new approach to free tax preparation services in New York City. During the first phase of the initiative, researchers uncovered factors that may explain why nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) choose to pay for tax preparation rather than take advantage of the City’s free tax preparation services.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
One Month Left Until Tax Day: Department of Consumer Affairs Reminds New Yorkers to File Taxes by April 15 and to Use the City's Free Services and Claim Tax Credits
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today reminds New Yorkers that this Sunday marks one month left to file taxes before the April 15 deadline. Commissioner Menin also encourages New Yorkers who made $60,000 or less last year to file for free with the City’s tax preparation services, which include nearly 200 in-person sites, drop-off sites and online preparation at nyc.gov/taxprep, to claim important tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit, and enroll in the City’s tax-time savings program called SaveUSA.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Consumers Beware! Department of Consumer Affairs Warns New Yorkers about 10 Worst Everyday Scams and How to Avoid Them
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Menin today, as part of National Consumer Protection Week, announced 10 scams that New Yorkers should beware of and offered tips to protect themselves and their families. DCA made the announcement at a press conference with the Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York, the New York State Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Thursday, February 26, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Finds One in Four New York City Tax Preparers Not Compliant with Consumer Protection Law
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the results of a three-week enforcement sweep of income tax preparers throughout the City. Out of the nearly 600 tax preparers inspected, one in four were in violation of the New York City Consumer Protection Law for failing to post qualifications, fees, and disclosures in all languages in which the preparer advertises, for failing to inform consumers that every return filed must be signed, and for not providing consumers with a copy of New York City’s Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
De Blasio Administration Announces 'Small Business First' To Reduce Regulatory Burden On City's Small Businesses
NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced Small Business First, a comprehensive plan to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses in New York City. Small Business First will simplify the regulatory landscape many small businesses confront in the establishment and ongoing operation of their businesses by improving communication between business owners and City government; streamlining licensing, permitting and tribunal processes; providing support and resources to help businesses understand and comply with City regulations; and ensuring assistance is accessible to all communities across the five boroughs. This is a $27 million dollar investment starting now through Fiscal Year 2019. Ultimately, the reforms outlined in Small Business First will make it easier to achieve compliance with City regulations, saving businesses time and money. The initiative is led by the Mayor’s Office of Operations and the Department of Small Business Services, with more than 15 partnering City agencies.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Food Bank For New York City and Citi Expand Integration of Financial Empowerment Services into School-Based Anti-Hunger Programs
Food Bank For New York City announced the expansion of an innovative pilot program designed to integrate free financial empowerment services into its signature hunger relief programs, enabling more low-income families across the city to access a suite of holistic financial coaching and food assistance services in a single location. With support from Citi, these free financial empowerment services – which are modeled after the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs’ citywide financial empowerment initiative – are now serving 18 schools in conjunction with its citywide network of food pantries and soup kitchens. Offerings include a range of services, such as debt management and reduction, household and food budgeting, bank accounts, tax preparation, SNAP (formerly food stamps) screenings and more. In addition, Citi announced a continuation of its support of the Financial Empowerment in Schools program with an additional $200,000 in 2015 to deepen the initiative’s work in the 18 operating schools, bringing Citi’s total commitment to the Food Bank on this and other related programs to $700,000.

Monday, February 2, 2015
Time to File Income Tax Returns – Tens of Thousands of New Yorkers Can Do It for Free!
NEW YORK, NY-City, state, and federal consumer advocates, backed by dedicated volunteers, gathered in Brooklyn today to kick off the tax season and spread the word that tens of thousands of taxpayers in the five boroughs can file their income tax returns for free at one of the city's nearly 200 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. The VITA program, an IRS initiative, provides free tax preparation to individuals and families with an annual income of $53,000 or less (with children) or $18,000 or less (no children).

Saturday, January 31, 2015
De Blasio Administration Launches City's Largest Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign, Invests City Money in Tax Prep Centers for First Time Ever
NEW YORK- Mayor Bill de Blasio and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the largest public education and outreach tax credit campaign in the City's history. Today is the first-ever Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day of Action, an extensive day of outreach where more than 2,000 volunteers are calling New Yorkers to encourage them to file their taxes for free and claim refund-boosting tax credits. As a service to eligible New Yorkers, the City will contact more than 270,000 New Yorkers through phone calls and automated calls. This year, the City is for the first time, funding the free tax preparation partners, which will allow for an expansion of the City's network of sites to nearly 200 locations citywide, 60 more than last year, as well as increased staffing at partnering sites. The City has also launched a wide-reaching, targeted advertising and social media and texting campaign to reach eligible New Yorkers, including the estimated one in five households who are eligible for EITC but don't claim it.

Monday, January 5, 2015
Department of Consumer Affairs Secures Nearly $1 Million in Consumer Restitution from Debt Collection Agency That Illegally Collected on Payday Loans
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced a record-breaking settlement with National Credit Adjusters (NCA), a debt collection agency formerly licensed by DCA that collected on illegal payday loans from New Yorkers. NCA agreed to pay $962,800 in consumer restitution to at least 4,663 New Yorkers, the highest amount of restitution ever secured by DCA through settlement. NCA must also notify eligible New Yorkers that they are owed money and submit requests to the credit reporting agencies to delete the negative information they provided for those New Yorkers. The agreement requires the company to stop collecting all debts in New York City. NCA is also banned from applying for a debt collection agency license in New York City for at least six years, and is ordered to pay $350,000 in fines.