Thursday, December 21, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Releases Report on the Ways Neighborhoods Influence Residents' Financial Health
The Report Defines Neighborhood Financial Health and Offers a Set of Goals and Indicators for a Financially Healthy Neighborhood
NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today released the “How Neighborhoods Help New Yorkers Get Ahead” report, which defines and creates a framework for understanding and addressing how neighborhoods influence the financial health of individual residents. Over the past year, with the support of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Citi Foundation, DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) has undertaken the Collaborative for Neighborhood Financial Health project to engage with New Yorkers at the community level to understand what factors influence a neighborhood’s financial health. OFE engaged hundreds of East Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood residents and stakeholders in interviews, focus groups, and interactive community workshops to learn more about neighborhood conditions and the ways those conditions support or limit individual financial health. Using this feedback, DCA created a definition of neighborhood financial health, goals for what makes a financially healthy neighborhood, and a set of practices and tools for working with communities to understand and improve their neighborhood’s financial health. OFE plans to use the information to develop strategies, programs, and interventions that could improve financial health outcomes for all New York City communities and their residents.
Friday, December 15, 2017
New Yorkers' Student Loan Outcomes Vary Widely by Neighborhood with the Greatest Delinquency and Default Rates in Areas with Relatively Low Loan Balances
Department of Consumer Affairs and New York Fed Release First Neighborhood-Level Report on Student Debt; DCA to Launch Student Loan Clinics in Targeted Neighborhoods to Aid New Yorkers
NEW YORK, NY—The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York today announced the findings of Student Loan Borrowing Across NYC Neighborhoods (the Report), the first neighborhood-level examination of student loan outcomes. The Report’s findings show that although New Yorkers’ delinquency and default rates are slightly lower than the national average, certain NYC neighborhoods are experiencing significantly higher rates of delinquency and default despite the fact that their residents have low average loan balances. These higher levels of student debt delinquency and default also tended to be among older borrowers and those in lower- income neighborhoods. In January, OFE will launch student loan clinics in targeted neighborhoods to offer resources for New Yorkers concerned about their student debt.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Settles Charges with Luxury Bedding Company Brooklinen for Deceptive "SUBWAY" Promo Code with $25,000 Fine
NEW YORK, NY—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced a settlement agreement with NYC-based luxury bedding company Brooklinen for violations of the City’s Consumer Protection Law, including misleading subway advertisements that failed to disclose a minimum purchase requirement to use a promotional code. Brooklinen, which has reported to have generated more than $50 million in sales since 2014, has been advertising a “SUBWAY” promotional code on New York City subway cars and subway station walls offering $20 off a purchase plus free shipping, without disclosing any restrictions or limitations. In the course of its investigation, DCA discovered that when a consumer attempts to use the “SUBWAY” code on Brooklinen’s website, an error message is displayed stating that the consumer must meet the $100 minimum required for the code to work. The failure to disclose this limitation in their advertisements is a clear violation of the Consumer Protection Law.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Secures More Than $300,000 from Financing Companies for 50 Victims of Predatory Lending at Brooklyn Used Car Dealerships
Victims of USA1 Auto Sales, Lenden Used Car Sales, D&A Guaranteed Auto Sales, and Linden Used Cars’ Predatory Lending Are Encouraged to File Complaints Before March 11, 2018 to be Included in the Settlements and Potentially Receive Restitutions
NEW YORK, NY—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced settlement agreements with three financing companies—Credit Acceptance Corp., Clover Commercial Corp, and Westlake Financial Services—that financed subprime auto loans as high as 24.9 percent through a group of Brooklyn used car dealerships; in total, DCA secured $311,260.57 in restitution for 50 consumers. In May 2017, DCA charged the dealerships—USA1 Auto Sales, Inc., Lenden Used Car Sales, Inc., D&A Guaranteed Auto Sales, Inc., and Linden Used Cars, Inc.—and their owners, with deceptive and unlawful trade practices, including misleading consumers about the price of automobiles, concealing and misrepresenting the terms of sale and financing, and failing to inspect the automobiles. DCA encourages all consumers who were harmed by these dealerships to file a complaint before March 11, 2018 so that they can potentially be included in the settlements and receive restitution.
Monday, November 27, 2017
City's Fair Workweek Laws Are Now in Effect and Give Workers in Fast Food and Retail the Right to Predictable Schedules and Paychecks
Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Office of Labor Policy and Standards (OLPS) to Focus on Education for Both Workers and Employers with Launch of Resources and a Series of Education Days and Trainings
PHOTO OP: On Tuesday, November 28 from 11a.m. – 12 p.m. (rain or shine), DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas will be available for interviews before our Brooklyn Business Education Day, which starts at 395 Flatbush Avenue at the intersection of Flatbush and Fulton
New York—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced that NYC’s Fair Workweek and Fast Food Deductions laws are in effect as of yesterday, November 26, 2017. These new laws end unfair and inconsistent scheduling practices in the fast food and retail industry and ensure workers are able to make direct contributions to nonprofit organizations of their choice through their employer. These laws apply to all covered employees–regardless of immigration status. DCA will be focusing on education first to ensure that workers and employers are aware of the new requirements. The first in a series of business education days will take place tomorrow, November 28, 2017, in Brooklyn and DCA will conduct business walks in all five boroughs before the end of the year. OLPS will also conduct additional trainings about the laws. The required notices (Predictable Schedule: Fast Food, Predictable Schedule: Retail, Deductions: Fast Food), overviews of the laws (Fair Workweek: Fast Food, Fair Workweek: Retail, Deductions), FAQs, and complaint forms (Fair Workweek: Fast Food, Fair Workweek: Retail, Deductions) are now available at nyc.gov/dca. Materials will soon be available in additional languages. The Rules to implement these Laws were sent to the City Record for publication today and will be effective once they are published, which is expected to be tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Mayor Announces Changes to Laundry License Application Requirements
Responding to industry concerns, the City streamlines licensing requirements to comply with new law
New York—Mayor de Blasio announced changes to the City’s laundry licensing requirements today in response to industry concerns. DCA is changing its application requirements so businesses can apply for new laundry licenses without providing a physical copy of a Certificate of Occupancy. As required by the Administrative Code, businesses must certify compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and rules, including those from other City agencies, as part of the application process. DCA will also be issuing six-month temporary licenses to businesses with circumstances that prevent them from certifying compliance; if at the end of the six months these businesses are not able to certify compliance, DCA will revisit the situation and, if warranted, issue an extension.
Friday, November 17, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Issues Holiday Shopping Tips
New York—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today issued the following Holiday Shopping Tips to protect consumers’ identity and money during the holiday season. This annual effort is set to kick off the holiday shopping season and make consumers aware of their rights – including gift card protections, help them spend wisely, and protect them from scams.
Monday, November 13, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Launches Online Scheduling Service for Free Financial Counseling
New Yorkers Can Now Book Appointments Directly Online for Free One-on-One Financial Counseling
New York—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the launch of online scheduling for the NYC Financial Empowerment Centers, which provide free, one-on-one financial counseling. DCA’s Financial Empowerment Centers are located in all five boroughs with more than 20 centers and professional counselors that speak multiple languages. New Yorkers can visit DCA’s website to find one near them and to schedule a free and confidential appointment with a counselor to help tackle debt, save for the future, open a bank account, improve credit, and much more.
Monday, November 6, 2017
Paid Safe Leave: New York City Expands Paid Leave to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Trafficking Survivors
New York—Mayor de Blasio today signed Intro. 1313-A that expands paid leave to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking survivors. This new law will allow the nearly 3 million New Yorkers eligible for paid leave to attend to immediate safety needs without fear of penalty or loss of income. The bill was introduced by the Mayor, First Lady McCray and Council Member Julissa Ferraras-Copeland in October 2016.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
New York City Becomes First in Nation to Enforce Salary History Ban
In major step toward achieving pay equity for women and people of color, NYC employers will no longer be allowed to inquire about an applicant’s salary history before extending an offer of employment
New York—New York City today became the first municipality in the nation to enforce a law prohibiting all employers in New York City from inquiring about job seekers’ salary history during the hiring process, including on job applications and in interviews. By removing questions about an applicant’s previous earnings, the law allows applicants who have been systemically underpaid, particularly women and people of color, to negotiate a salary based on their qualifications and earning potential rather than being measured by their previous salary. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill into law in May. First Lady Chirlane McCray, Public Advocate Letitia James, Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis and other key NYC leaders held a rally today at City Hall to celebrate the law going into effect.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
New Jobs Plus Center Creates Career Opportunities and Financial Stability for Public Housing Residents
Located at Penn-Wortman Houses, the Jobs Plus Center is the first federally funded site in New York City.
The Jobs Plus center will serve hundreds of public housing residents, offering career and financial opportunities.
New York, NY—Today, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator (HUD) Lynne Patton hosted a ribbon cutting to open the first New York City HUD funded Jobs Plus center. The new center will serve residents who live at NYCHA’s Pennsylvania Avenue-Wortman Avenue Houses.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Used but No Longer Abused: Mayor Bill de Blasio Signs New Legislation to Combat Predatory Sales and Financing Practices in the Used Car Industry
New York, NY—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today joined Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall as he signed Introduction 1539 and 1540 to combat predatory practices in the used car industry. These new laws require used car dealerships, which DCA licenses, to post a Consumer Bill of Rights and disclose information about financing and pricing, provide all required notices to the consumer be in the language used to negotiate the contract, and provide consumers with the option to cancel their contract within two days of the sale. This package of legislation was introduced by Council Member Rafael Espinal, Jr., Chair of the Council Committee on Consumer Affairs, Council Member Dan Garodnick, and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams following a public hearing hosted by Commissioner Salas and Council Member Espinal.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Better Promote Construction Site Safety, Clean Air and Government Efficiency
New York, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio today held public hearings for, and signed, twelve pieces of legislation into law. Intro. 139-C adds non-tobacco shisha to the City’s Smoke-Free Air Act; Intro. 1075-A requires hookah bars to post signage warning of the dangers of hookah smoking; Intro. 1076-A raises the minimum age for purchasing shisha; Intro.1031-A requires DOT to study specific traffic congestion; Intro. 1292-A requires all city agencies, to accept electronic invoices; Intro. 1375-A requires DOT to notify certain stakeholders when it issues a permit to open any street or intersection that has been reconstructed or resurfaced within the previous 5 years; Intro. 1539-A establishes additional rights and protections for customers who are purchasing second-hand automobiles; Intro. 1540-A requires second-hand automobile dealers to display and provide consumers with a bill of rights; Intro. 934-A, which creates a real-time enforcement unit within DOB; Intro. 1359-A requires HPD to audit buildings receiving tax-exemptions to ensure compliance with affordability requirements; and Intro. 1366-A requires HPD to audit certain buildings receiving tax-emptions to ensure compliance with rent-registration requirements. Intro. 1447-C, which increases safety training requirements for construction workers.
Friday, September 29, 2017
City Hall in Your Borough: Department of Consumer Affairs Temporarily Closes Four Manhattan Stores for Illegally Selling Tobacco Products
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the temporary closing of four Manhattan businesses – 602 Washington Heights Deli Corp (602 West 180th Street), Brooklyn Deli & Cigar King Corp (288 8th Avenue), Inwood Convenience Store Inc. (630 West 207th Street), and Sham’s Grocery Corp (132 East 125th Street), – for illegally selling tobacco products. After repeated violations of the law in the last year, including selling tobacco products to individuals under the age of 21, selling flavored tobacco products, selling loosies, selling under the price floor, and selling without a DCA license, these businesses will be closed for five days. This tobacco enforcement announcement is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative to reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 over the next three years and his commitment to aggressively enforce the laws related to the sale of tobacco. The announcement was made as part of City Hall in Your Borough: Manhattan.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Departments of Housing Preservation and Development and Consumer Affairs Announce Renewal of "Ready to Rent" Program
City Program Receives New Round of City Council Funding After Demonstrated Success in Helping New Yorkers Apply to Affordable Housing Lotteries
New York, NY—New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas announce the renewal of “Ready to Rent,” a program providing New Yorkers free one-on-one financial counseling and assistance with affordable housing applications. The City Council-funded Ready to Rent: Financial Counseling for Affordable Housing program was created from an earlier pilot program conducted by HPD and DCA with the support of Citi Foundation and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Department of Consumer of Affairs and Credit Acceptance Agree on Restitution for Consumers Who Fell Victim to Predatory Financial Practices within the Used Car Industry
New York, NY—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced a settlement agreement with Credit Acceptance Corp. The financing company has agreed to issue restitution to consumers affected by the predatory sales practices of several Brooklyn used car dealerships – USA 1 Auto Sales, Inc., Lenden Used Car Sales, Inc., D&A Guaranteed Auto Sales, Inc., and Linden Used Cars, Inc.– that DCA charged with deceptive and unlawful trade practices. DCA alleges that these dealerships concealed and misrepresented the terms of sale and financing, including the actual sale price, even refusing to give consumers copies of their sales documents until weeks after the sale so they can conceal the price and high interest rates from consumers. These dealerships used three finance companies—Credit Acceptance Corp., Clover Commercial Corp, and Westlake Financial Services—to complete these predacious sales. Credit Acceptance has agreed to pay restitution to the victims of these illegal practices as requested by DCA.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Department of Consumer of Affairs' Office of Labor Policy & Standards Releases Report and Survey Results on the State of Workers' Rights in New York City
The Report Highlights the Many Challenges Facing Today’s Workforce and Reviews City’s Innovative Policy & Enforcement Approaches to Help NYC Workers Realize a New Generation of Workplace Protections
New York, NY—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the release of a report by its Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) titled “The State of Workers’ Rights in New York City,” which details emerging gaps in labor protections and offers policy solutions to these growing concerns. Accompanying the report is: “Working in NYC: Results from the 2017 Empire State Poll,” a joint collaboration between OLPS and the Worker Institute at Cornell's ILR School to survey New Yorkers on a range of issues related to inequality, working conditions, and the role of city and local government in protecting immigrants and defending worker rights. Together, these materials provide critical insight into the growing need for OLPS to develop innovative policies that raise job standards and expand its educational resources to workers and employers alike.
Friday, September 8, 2017
City Holds Day of Action to Bring Information and Resources to NYC's 30,000 Dreamers
More than 200 volunteers fanned out across 31 neighborhoods to bring New Yorkers timely information on DACA and free legal help
New York, NY—Today, the City hosted a Day of Action on the DACA program, providing information and resources for New York City’s 30,000 Dreamers. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, the NYC Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit worked alongside over 200 volunteers in 31 neighborhoods with high-density immigrant populations. Volunteers were joined by Bitta Mostofi, Acting Commissioner of MOIA, Carmelyn P. Malalis, Commissioner and Chair of CCHR, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca to assist in flyering in all five boroughs.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
City Wins Legal Battle to Make Car Wash Industry More Fair for Consumers & Workers
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the City‘s victory in the legal battle to license and regulate the car wash industry. Following a successful court ruling, the Car Wash Accountability Law, which provides DCA licensing and regulatory authority over the industry will go into effect when the judgment is entered. The ruling provides the City with another tool to protect consumers and ensure a safe marketplace for all New Yorkers. The bill, Intro. 125-B, sponsored by Speaker Mark-Viverito, was signed into law by the Mayor on June 29, 2015. The bill was originally heard in the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, chaired by Council Member I. Daneek Miller.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Mayor de Blasio Signs Sweeping Legislation to Curb Smoking, Tobacco Usage
New laws will help reduce number of smokers in NYC by 160,000 by 2020
New York, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed a series of bills to help reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 by 2020. While smoking rates in New York City have declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.3 percent in 2015, the city still has more than 900,000 smokers. These new bills will help decrease the smoking prevalence to a historically low rate of 12 percent by 2020.
Monday, July 31, 2017
Department of Consumer of Affairs Puts Home Healthcare Industry on Alert with Paid Sick Leave Investigations
City Urges Workers Who Have Been Denied Paid Sick Leave to Come Forward
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced that its Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) has launched investigations into nearly 40 home healthcare agencies across the city that represent upwards of 33,000 workers.
Friday, July 21, 2017
City Hall in Your Borough: Department of Consumer of Affairs Finds New York City Airport Scales Accurate
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the results of the Department’s enforcement sweep of every airline luggage scale used at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens to protect travelers from luggage overcharges. DCA inspected 754 scales at the two airports and found 98 percent were accurate.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
City Hall in Your Borough: Department of Consumer of Affairs Announces Half of All Licensed Used Car Dealerships Receive at Least One Violation in Enforcement Sweep
New York, NY—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the results of an enforcement sweep of all licensed secondhand auto dealers, half of which received a violation. Over the past year, DCA conducted inspections of all licensed secondhand auto dealers and issued more than 750 violations. Nearly one in five dealerships received a violation for failing to properly display prices for automobiles and add-on products such as warranties and service agreements. Licensed dealerships were also frequently charged with parking vehicles on the public sidewalk, failing to properly disclose the dealership’s duty to certify the safe condition of every car, and failing to properly display warranty information on the vehicle buyer’s guide. With a total of 275 used car dealerships, Queens is home to the largest concentration of licensed used car dealerships in the city. Since 2016, nearly half of all complaints received about this industry have been about Queens based dealerships. This enforcement sweep comes as a result of DCA’s continued efforts to combat predatory practices in the used car industry.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
City Hall in Your Borough: Department of Consumer of Affairs Announces VIP—the Visiting Inspector Program—to Help New Licensees Understand the Law and Avoid Fines
Thousands of New Brick-and-Mortar Businesses to Receive Free Educational Inspections to Learn about DCA Laws and How to Avoid Violations
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced VIP, or the Visiting Inspector Program, which will provide new brick-and-mortar DCA licensees with a free, educational inspection so they can better understand the DCA laws that apply to their business and how to avoid fines. More than 3,500 businesses each year—from electronic stores and cigarette retail dealers to employment agencies and sidewalk cafes—that receive a new license in dozens of industries licensed by DCA will now be able to schedule an educational inspection within three months of receiving their license. The program was announced at one of the City's small business walks in Jamaica during Mayor de Blasio’s City Hall in Your Borough.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
CHIYB: Mayor Announces New Storefront Upgrades for Jamaica & New No-Fine Inspection Program for Small Businesses
DCA’s new Visiting Inspector Program will provide 3,500 new businesses with free no-fine inspections to learn about the law without penalties; Jamaica Now Action Plan takes hold with SBS $500,000 storefront improvement program
NEW YORK—As part of City Hall in Your Borough, Mayor de Blasio today announced two new initiatives to help small businesses increase foot traffic and avoid costly fines during a tour of businesses in Jamaica, Queens. Joined by Borough President Melinda Katz, the Mayor announced the launch of a new storefront improvement program that will provide $20,000 grants to dozens of businesses in Jamaica to upgrade signs and window displays, part of the ongoing $153 million Jamaica NOW Action Plan of 26 strategic action items. The Mayor also unveiled DCA’s new Visiting Inspector Program, or VIP, which will offer each of the agency’s 3,500 new brick and mortar licensees each year with a free educational inspection that will help them get into compliance with City laws without incurring any penalties. Small business fines are down 40 percent since the Mayor took office, putting more than $6 million annually back into the pockets of neighborhood businesses.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Mayor de Blasio Announces Record Pace Building and Protecting Affordable Housing
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that his administration secured 24,293 affordable apartments and homes in Fiscal Year 2017, the highest overeeprall production since 1989. The 10-year Housing New York plan to create or preserve 200,000 homes has financed a total of 77,651 affordable homes since January 2014, including the highest three-year streak of affordable housing production in the City’s history.
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Files Charges Against Organization and Its President for Deceptive "ID4ICE" Card
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced charges against A New Beginning for Immigrants Rights, Inc. (NBIR) and its president, Carlos Davila, for engaging in deceptive and illegal practices to profit from immigrant consumers. NBIR, a former nonprofit corporation, and Mr. Davila have been preying on the desperation and fear of immigrants by falsely advertising“ID4ICE” cards as a “National identification card” that provides immigrants with protection against deportation and immunity from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. In reality, these identification cards, which range from $50-$200, offer no such protections and serve only as a scam to collect hundreds of dollars from vulnerable New Yorkers desperate to find a legal way to stay in the United States. DCA’s charges, which will be heard at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), allege numerous violations and seeks more than $1.3 million dollars in fines.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Settles Charges with Icon Quik Park for Charging Customers "NYC Living Wage Assessment" Fee
Consumer Affairs’ Settlement Agreement Requires Parking Garage Chain to Refund $1.2 Million to Monthly Customers
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced a settlement agreement with Citizens Icon Holdings, LLC (“Icon”), the parent company of 296 entities, each of which operates an Icon or Quik Park parking garage in New York City. Starting in January 2017, just after the state’s new minimum wage went into effect, Icon began charging its monthly customers a $30 “NYC Living Wage Assessment” fee. The City’s Consumer Protection Law prohibits statements that may mislead consumers. In this instance, Icon used the phrase “NYC Living Wage Assessment” even though it increased its employees’ wages to comply with the New York State minimum wage increase, not in response to New York City Law or to reach a living wage. Icon also did not notify its customers of the fee in a timely manner.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Consumer Warning: Department of Consumer Affairs Warns Immigrant New Yorkers about the "10-Year Visa Scam"
Immigration Service Providers and Immigration Lawyers Misleading Immigrant New Yorkers into Believing that they Can Obtain a Visa or Green Card Based on 10 Years of Residency within the United States
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today issued a warning to consumers about an immigration scam called the “10-Year Visa Scam.” Preying on fears and desperation to find a legal way to stay in the United States, some immigration service providers and immigration lawyers are telling immigrants, through word-of-mouth and deceptive advertising, that they can obtain a visa or green card if they have lived in the U.S. for 10 years. The scams are sometimes advertised under the banner “easy way to obtain a green card!” What these individuals fail to disclose is that, as part of the process for obtaining a green card or visa based upon residency, the immigrant must first enter deportation proceedings. They also often fail to explain the other requirements for this so-called “10-year visa,” including that the immigrant must prove “extreme, unusual, and exceptional hardship” to their family members, which is not “easy” to do. In at least one example, an immigrant paid a provider approximately $25,000. As a result of this scam, these consumers are left paying high costs for a service that they have been deceived into believing is safe and easy – when in fact the opposite is true.
Monday, June 5, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Launches Public Awareness Campaign to Help Consumers Avoid Predatory Lending in the Used Car Industry
New York, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the launch of a public awareness campaign to educate current and prospective used car owners about the rise of predatory lending in the used car industry. The multilingual campaign ads will be running on targeted bus shelters, telephone kiosks, and LinkNYC, as well as in community and ethnic newspapers, on radio and online. DCA is also doing neighborhood marketing and conducting outreach events to educate New Yorkers.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito Announce That New York City Is The Largest City To End Abusive Scheduling Practices In The Fast Food And Retail Industries
Predictable schedules and predictable paychecks are now a right, not a privilege, in these low-wage industries
NEW YORK—Today, Mayor de Blasio, City Council members, advocates, and workers held a rally at City Hall to mark the “Fair Workweek” package of bills becoming law. This package will ensure that predictable schedules and predictable paychecks for fast food and retail workers in New York City will be soon be rights, not privileges.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Files Charges Against Brooklyn Used Car Dealerships for Deceptive Financing and Illegal Sales Practices
For the First Time, Consumer Affairs Seeks Consumer Restitution from Financing Companies who Provided Loans through the Used Car Dealerships
New York, NY—The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced charges against multiple used car dealerships in Brooklyn, which are all under the same ownership, and their owners for engaging in deceptive and unlawful trade practices that preyed on New Yorkers. Three of the dealerships—USA1 Auto Sales, Inc., Lenden Used Car Sales, Inc., D&A Guaranteed Auto Sales, Inc.— are currently in operation in East New York and two others—Linden Used Cars, Inc. and Mosulei Group, Inc.—have DCA secondhand auto dealer licenses but are not currently in operation. DCA’s complaint document, which will be heard at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), alleges numerous violations and wide-ranging consumer harm, and seeks nearly $1.2 million in fines and restitution ($600,000 in fines and $577,000 in restitution) for 75 consumers. DCA is also seeking to revoke all of the dealerships’ licenses. In response to the growing auto lending crisis, DCA will also for the first time be seeking consumer restitution from the financing companies—Credit Acceptance Corp., Clover Commercial Corp, and Westlake Financial Services—that were involved in the subprime lending that saddled the dealerships’ consumers with interest rates as high as 24 percent.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
City Hall in Your Borough: Mayor de Blasio Announces Small Businesses Seeing Fewer Fines, Opening Faster
BRONX, NY—Meeting business owners on The Bronx’s Arthur Avenue, Mayor de Blasio released a “Small Business Progress Report” outlining a 40% reduction in fines, a three-month reduction in the time it takes to open a restaurant, and a surge in certified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).
Thursday, May 18, 2017
De Blasio Administration Announces New Calorie Labeling Rules
New York City is the first in the nation to require chain food retailers and restaurants to post calorie counts and full nutritional information
NEW YORK, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that all New York City chain food retailers offering prepared foods, or "restaurant-type foods," will be required to post calorie counts on menu boards. In addition, chain restaurants and retailers will be required to have full nutritional information – not just calories – for standard menu items available on site, and they will have to post a statement about the daily recommended caloric intake of 2,000 calories. This rule is required for all chain restaurants with 15 locations or more nationwide, affecting approximately 3,000 restaurants and about 1,500 food retailer chains.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Freelancers Aren't Free: Mayor Announces First in Nation Protections for Freelance Workers
DCA, Freelancers Union celebrated access to written contracts, timely payment, and freedom from retaliation for roughly 500,000 freelance workers
NEW YORK, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, the first law of its kind in the country, is now in effect. To mark its implementation, the Department of Consumer Affairs conducted a Day of Action with various partners to educate New Yorkers, launched a social media campaign, and co-hosted a launch event with Freelancers Union at LMHQ, a collaborative workspace in Lower Manhattan. The Law gives freelance workers the legal right to written contracts, timely payment, and freedom from retaliation. Under the Law, freelance workers can now file a complaint with DCA’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards, which will also provide court navigation services to freelance workers pursuing their claims in court and survey freelance workers about their experiences pursuing their claims under the Law in court. There are an estimated 500,000 freelance workers that will benefit from this legislation, based on a 2013 study by DOF of New Yorkers receiving 1099-MISC tax forms (a common income tax form for individuals operating as contingent “freelance” workers).
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Departments of Housing Preservation and Development and Consumer Affairs Launch "Ready to Rent: Financial Counseling for Affordable Housing" Program
New City Program Aims to Improve Financial Preparedness for New Yorkers Applying to Affordable Housing Lotteries
NEW YORK, NY—New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the launch of the “Ready to Rent: Financial Counseling for Affordable Housing” program. This new program, in partnership with the financial counseling provider Ariva and HPD’s Housing Ambassadors, will provide free one-on-one financial counseling and additional assistance to those seeking affordable housing.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs' Office of Labor Policy and Standards, with New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, Host Public Hearing on the State of Workers' Rights in New York City
Public Hearing is one of City’s Office of Labor Policy & Standard’s Initiatives to Build New Generation of Workplace Protections for New York City
NEW YORK, NY—The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS), in collaboration with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), tonight will convene a public hearing on the state of workers’ rights in New York City at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. DCA’s OLPS is the largest municipal labor standards office in the country with a robust staff of attorneys, investigators, outreach and education specialists, as well as research and policy analysts. Set up in 2016 to be a dedicated hub in City government for workers’ issues, the Office will author a report following the hearing that sets forth policies the City can pursue, particularly in light of the lack of commitment from the presidential administration to workers’ rights. Building on its record of effective enforcement of municipal labor laws, tonight’s hearing and the report that will follow is one of OLPS’ many initiatives as a leader among local governments around the country that are seeking to step into the gap on strengthening workplace protections.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Better Promote Environmental Justice Through the Work of City Agencies
Signs legislation to better protect consumers from immigration services fraud, and holds a hearing to prohibit employers from asking for candidates’ salary history
NEW YORK, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio today held public hearings for and signed seven pieces of legislation into law – Intro. 564-A in relation to reviewing the feasibility of establishing online applications for all permits, licenses, and registrations issued by city agencies; Intro. 1112-A in relation to requiring the Parks Department to post on its website information relating to various tree maintenance activities; Intro. 1454, in relation to establishing the New Dorp Business Improvement District in Staten Island; Intro. 886-A in relation to identifying and addressing environmental justice issues; Intro. 359-A in relation to an environmental justice and online portal; Intro. 746-A in relation to imposing stricter guidelines for providers and further protect customers against immigration services fraud and unauthorized practice of the law; Intro. 708-A in relation to establishing a disconnected youth task force; and held a hearing for Intro. 1253-A in relation to prohibiting employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s salary history.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
De Blasio Administration, City Council Members and Elected Officials Announce Sweeping Legislation to Curb Smoking, Tobacco Usage
Proposals will reduce number of smokers in NYC by 160,000
NEW YORK, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a series of legislative proposals to reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 over the next three years. While smoking rates in New York City have declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.3 percent in 2015, the city still has more than 900,000 smokers, including 15,000 youth. There are also 174,000 adults and 42,000 adolescents using e-cigarettes. These new proposals will decrease smoking rates to a historically low rate of 12 percent.
Monday, April 17, 2017
TLC Will Initiate Rulemaking on Tipping in FHV Industry
One step in a larger process to ensure TLC-licensed drivers earn a livable wage while working for-hire
Following a recent hearing on industry economics where dozens of professional drivers gave testimony about their struggle for a decent livelihood, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) plans to initiate rulemaking in regards to tipping options in the For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) industry. The proposal, which will be introduced in the coming months, will be one step in a greater process to ensure that TLC-licensed drivers earn a livable wage while working for-hire.
Friday, April 7, 2017
Just Over a Week Until Tax Day: Department of Consumer Affairs Reminds Eligible New Yorkers to File Their Taxes for Free
New Yorkers Earning $64,000 or Less Can File for Free Online and at In Person Sites Citywide
NEW YORK, NY –Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas reminds New Yorkers that with just over a week left to file taxes before the April 18 deadline and the last weekend before the Passover and Easter holidays, they should file soon. New Yorkers who earned $64,000 or less in 2016 can file for free using NYC Free Tax Prep online or at one of the in person sites citywide. Additional hours and appointments continue to be added to accommodate last-minute filers. New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/taxprep to find the most convenient location and its hours.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Used But No Longer Abused: Mayor, Department Of Consumer Affairs And Council Members Espinal, Garodnick, And Williams Announce New Legislation To Combat Predatory Sales And Financing Practices In The Used Car Industry
Department of Consumer Affairs and Council Member Espinal release report on their public hearing on predatory lending in the used car industry
NEW YORK, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas, Council Member Rafael Espinal, Jr., Chair of the Council Committee on Consumer Affairs, Council Member Dan Garodnick, Chair of the Council Committee on Economic Development, and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams today announced a package of legislation to combat predatory practices in the used car industry. The legislation would require used car dealerships, which DCA licenses, to post a Consumer Bill of Rights and disclose information about financing and pricing, provide all required notices to the consumer be in whatever language used to negotiate the contract, and provide consumers with the option to cancel their contract within two days of the sale. The legislation comes as a result of the public hearing hosted by Commissioner Salas and Council Member Espinal last October to explore predatory lending in the used car industry. DCA and Council Member Espinal also issued a report on the public hearing that includes findings and recommendations.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Strong And Fair Economy: Three Years After Paid Sick Leave Expansion, Unemployment At Historic Lows
Department of Consumer Affairs Nearly Triples Paid Sick Leave Restitution for Nearly 16,000 New Yorkers
NEW YORK, NY – Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas and New Yorkers celebrated the third anniversary of New York’s Paid Sick Leave Law, which created the legal right to sick leave for 3.4 million private and nonprofit sector workers, nearly 1.2 million of whom did not previously have access to this vital workplace benefit. Last month, New York City recorded its lowest unemployment rate since 1976, continuing a strong expansion of new jobs that has coincided with new protections for employees. Over the past three years, DCA secured restitution for nearly 16,000 New Yorkers, and this past weekend the agency filed charges on behalf of nine JetBlue ground crew and flight attendants against JetBlue for violating the law.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Inauguration of the Financial Education Week 2017 and 3rd Anniversary of the Window of Financial Counseling
NEW YORK, NY—This past Monday March 20th, the inauguration of the VI Financial Education Week 2017 took place in the Consulate General of Mexico in New York in collaboration with various partner organizations and institutions; among the 50 consular representations in the United States, the Consulate in New York was selected to be the official inauguration.
21 de marzo de 2017
Se Inaugura En Consulado De México En Nueva York La VI Semana De Educación Financiera (SEF2017) Y Se Celebra El III Aniversario De La Ventanilla De Asesoría Financiera (VAF)
Nueva York, NY—El pasado 20 de marzo, el Consulado General de México en Nueva York, junto a representantes de organizaciones e instituciones asociadas, dieron oficial inicio a la Sexta Semana de Educación Financiera 2017; en toda la Red Consular de la Unión Americana, Nueva York fue la sede seleccionada para su lanzamiento nacional.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Files Charges to Put the Brakes on Major World's Deceptive Financing and Sales Practices That Result in Predatory Lending Targeting Low Income and Immigrant New Yorkers
Consumer Affairs Calls on Other Potential Victims of Major World’s Deceptive Practices to Come Forward
NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced extensive charges against several used car dealerships that together comprise Queens-based Major World (Major World Español). The company’s three dealerships and their owners are being charged with using deceptive and illegal practices to profit from vulnerable low-income and immigrant consumers. DCA’s complaint document, which will be heard at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), alleges numerous violations and wide-ranging consumer harm, and seeks more than $2 million dollars in consumer restitution and fines (approximately $770,000 in restitution and $1.7 million in fines). DCA is also seeking revocation of the company’s three DCA secondhand auto dealer licenses (Major World Chevrolet (43-40 Northern Boulevard), Major World Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (50-30 Northern Boulevard), and Major Kia of Long Island City (44-11 Northern Boulevard) and the creation of a trust fund for any unidentified consumers who have been harmed. DCA also encourages any consumer who feels Major World lied to them about the price of their car to contact the agency by calling 311, or by filing a complaint at nyc.gov/dca.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
HPD Announces New and Enhanced Resources to Help New Yorkers Access the Housing Lottery
HPD launches a new informative video series and enhances its Housing Ambassador program
NEW YORK, NY—he New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer today announced enhanced resources for housing lottery applicants. HPD launched a new informative video series on the affordable housing lottery process. The first video in the series, “Applying to a New York City Affordable Housing Lottery: Video Guide”, gives an overview of the application process. HPD is also enhancing its Housing Ambassador program thanks to $195,000 in recent funding from New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. HPD’s Housing Ambassador Program is a network of community-based service providers New Yorkers can rely on for help finding and applying to affordable housing.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
One Month Until Tax Day: Department of Consumer Affairs Reminds Eligible New Yorkers to File Their Taxes for Free
New Yorkers Earning $64,000 or Less Can File for Free at More Than 200 Sites Citywide or Online
NEW YORK, NY—Today, on Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Awareness Day, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas reminds New Yorkers that there is just a little over a month left to file taxes before the April 18 deadline. Commissioner Salas encouraged New Yorkers who earned $64,000 or less in 2016 to file for free, using NYC Free Tax Prep available at more than 200 sites citywide or online.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Launches First-of-its-Kind 'Paid Care Division' to Focus on the Needs of Low-wage Domestic and Home Care Workers
DCA Releases NYC Cares for Care Workers: An Overview of Rights and Resources for Paid Care Workers
NEW YORK, NY—The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has officially launched its new Paid Care Division within its Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) with the first in a series of events to bring together paid care workers, including home care and domestic workers, as well as workers’ rights organizations, policy experts, and legislators. On March 4, DCA along with the City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), and the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), convened more than a hundred home care workers, nannies, caregivers, and housecleaners and partners to discuss strategies for safeguarding workers’ rights in the face of new threats to immigrant and other vulnerable workers. DCA also announced the release of NYC Cares for Care Workers: An Overview of Rights and Resources for paid care workers.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
In Response to Growing Subprime Auto Lending Crisis, Department of Consumer Affairs Announces New "Getting Your Finances in Gear to Buy a Used Car" Guide
National Consumer Protection Week: DCA Warns New Yorkers about the Dangers of Used Car Debt Traps
NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced DCA’s new Getting Your Finances in Gear to Buy a Used Car guide, in response to the growing national subprime auto lending crisis. The guide informs New Yorkers of rights they have under the City’s Consumer Protection Law and also provides tips for what to watch for when purchasing a used car. DCA made the announcement at a press conference with federal, state, and city consumer protection agencies, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving Metropolitan New York, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
City Agencies Join Forces with Leading Muslim-American Organizations for #OneNewYork Day of Action: Protecting Our Muslim Communities
Consumer Affairs, Human Rights, Immigrant Affairs, Community Affairs Unit, Elected Officials, Leading Muslim-American Organizations and Community Partners Reassure and Educate Muslim New Yorkers about City Protections and Resources
NEW YORK, NY—Today, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), and Community Affairs Unit (CAU) hosted their #OneNewYork Day of Action: Protecting Our Muslim Communities to remind fellow New Yorkers, especially those hailing from Muslim communities, that the City is committed to protecting the rights of all New Yorkers where they live, work and shop, and also offers a variety of services to those in need, regardless of immigration status or ethnicity. Teams from the City, as well elected officials and volunteers from the Arab American Association of New York, Council on American-Islamic Relations – New York, Muslim Community Network, Council of Peoples Organization, Make The Road New York, New York Immigration Coalition, and other community partners, visited 12 subway stations to distribute information in multiple languages during the morning rush hour.
Monday, January 30, 2017
Consumer Affairs Commissioner Salas, BP Adams, and Grow Brooklyn Announce NYC Free Tax Prep Opening at Brooklyn Borough Hall
Local Leaders and Taxpayer Advocates Remind 1.1 Million Eligible New Yorkers to Claim Refund-boosting EITC, More Brooklyn Filers Eligible Than Any Other Borough
BROOKLYN, NY—Today, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, and Grow Brooklyn, the largest non-paid tax preparer in the borough, officially opened the NYC Free Tax Prep site at Brooklyn Borough Hall, reminding the roughly 1.1 million eligible New Yorkers to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). With around 325,000 returns claiming the EITC in 2015, according to the IRS and Brookings Institution, Kings County has more residents claiming the credit than any other county in New York State and is amongst the highest in the nation. EITC is a Federal, State and City tax credit for qualifying families, non-custodial parents (NYS EITC only), and singles who work full time or part time or are self-employed. For working families in New York City, federal EITC claims average $2,411 ($2,484 in Brooklyn) and can be worth as much as $8,463 when combined with state and City credits. DCA Commissioner Salas and Borough President Adams also encouraged New Yorkers who earned $64,000 or less, especially the 74 percent of EITC filers in Brooklyn who have previously paid a tax preparer, to file for free using NYC Free Tax Prep..
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Department of Consumer Affairs Kicks Off the Tax Season with Continued Expansion of NYC Free Tax Prep
City Expands Services to New Neighborhoods and Languages and, with Support from Citi, Launches Eligibility Screening and Texting Program and Pilot Queue Management System
New Yorkers Earning $64,000 or Less Can File for Free at More Than 200 Sites Citywide or Online
NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today kicked off the tax season with the launch of the Agency’s 15th annual tax time campaign and encouraged New Yorkers who earned $64,000 or less to file for free using NYC Free Tax Prep. Commissioner Salas also announced the Agency’s continued expansion of NYC Free Tax Prep with the addition of services in neighborhoods and languages previously underserved, as well as an eligibility screening and texting program and a pilot queue management system. The announcement was made at Chhaya Community Development Corporation in Jackson Heights, one of the new neighborhoods served with multiple new languages.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Consumer Affairs Release Study on Improving Access to Affordable Housing Opportunities
Agencies Create New Guide on Steps to Take to Apply for Affordable Housing and Putting Together a Strong Application
NEW YORK, NY—Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been and Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the release of a study, Improving Access to Affordable Housing Opportunities, that explores the experience of affordable housing applicants and recommends ways to further support applicants through an outreach and education strategy that incorporates financial empowerment services. Based on the initial findings of the study, the agencies also released a new guide, Ready, Set, Apply: Getting Ready for Affordable Housing in NYC (Spanish) to help New Yorkers best prepare for and navigate the housing application process. This project is part of the City’s OneNYC commitment to raise New Yorkers out of poverty and, specifically, to improve the fairness and efficiency of the allocation of affordable housing, a key goal of the Mayor’s Housing New York plan.
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Menin and NYC Kids Rise Announce Queens Public School District to Pilot the First NYC Child Savings Account Program, Helping Thousands of Students Save for College
New savings initiative will give participating families the opportunity to create a long-term savings plan and make higher education more achievable for NYC public school students
NEW YORK, NY—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Commissioner of Media and Entertainment Julie Menin, Chair of the newly formed charitable nonprofit organization NYC Kids RISE, the Gray Foundation’s Mindy and Jon Gray, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced that School District 30 in Queens – encompassing Astoria, Ditmars, East Elmhurst, Hunter’s Point, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside – will launch NYC’s Child Savings Account initiative in the fall, helping thousands of New York City public school children save for college.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Consumer Alert: Department of Consumer Affairs and New York City Taxpayer Advocate Warn New Yorkers about Tax Refund Delays and Paid Preparers Who Promise "Express" or "Anticipation" Refunds
City Encourages New Yorkers Earning $64,000 or Less to File for Free with NYC Free Tax Prep
NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas and New York City Taxpayer Advocate Eunkyong Choi today issued a warning to New Yorkers about predatory tax preparer tactics, in particular advertising for and selling “express refund advances” or “refund transfers.” The announcement was made at the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, which is one of the City’s NYC Free Tax Prep sites and also an NYC Financial Empowerment Center that provides free, one-on-one financial counseling.