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Your Money, Your Goals: Financial empowerment tools for social services

August 18, 2014 Comments off

Your Money, Your Goals: Financial empowerment tools for social services
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Many people feel overwhelmed by their financial situations, and they may not know where to go for help. For many low-income Americans, frontline staff of nonprofit and public social services programs are in a unique position to provide that help.

Their clients already know and trust them, and in many cases, they’re already sharing financial information with them. Social workers and case managers know, however, that the financial stresses clients face may interfere with their progress toward other goals, like finding and keeping secure housing, staying in school, or even landing a job. As they make progress toward those goals, financial missteps can often erase their hard-fought gains.

That’s why social services programs across the country are taking steps to integrate financial empowerment into the work they do each day with their clients. To support their efforts, we’ve developed and field-tested a toolkit for financial services programs called Your Money, Your Goals.

The toolkit helps frontline staff understand when and how to introduce clients to financial empowerment concepts. It equips them to help consumers when it comes to:

  • Making spending decisions that help them reach their goals
  • Avoiding tricks and traps as they choose financial products
  • Ordering and fixing credit reports
  • Making decisions about repaying debts and taking on new debt
  • Keeping track of their income and bills
  • Deciding if they need a checking account and understanding what they need to open one
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Consumer advisory: Virtual currencies and what you should know about them

August 12, 2014 Comments off

Consumer advisory: Virtual currencies and what you should know about them
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

You may have heard about virtual currencies like Bitcoin, XRP, and Dogecoin. But what are virtual currencies? What’s this “to the moon!” business on the internet about? And, as a consumer, what risks should you be aware of?

While virtual currencies offer the potential for innovation, a lot of big issues have yet to be resolved – some of which are critical, including:

  • Virtual currencies are targets for hackers who have been able to breach sophisticated security systems in order to steal funds
  • Virtual currencies can cost consumers more to use than credit cards or even regular cash once you take exchange rate issues into consideration
  • Fraudsters are taking advantage of the hype surrounding virtual currencies to cheat people with fake opportunities
  • If you trust a company to hold your virtual currencies and something goes wrong, that company may not offer you the kind of help you expect from your bank or debit or credit card provider

Data point: Checking account overdraft

August 12, 2014 Comments off

Data point: Checking account overdraft
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Our data point reports are prepared by our Office of Research to provide an evidence-based perspective on consumer financial markets, consumer behavior, and regulations to inform the public discourse. This third data point provides analysis of consumers’ experience with checking account overdraft.

Helping build financial capability across America

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Helping build financial capability across America
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

We just published our second annual financial literacy report to Congress. It outlines our strategy and what we’ve done over the past year to enhance financial literacy and capability. In the report, you’ll find out about the tools and information we provide to help consumers navigate financial choices. You’ll see how we collaborate with organizations that reach consumers where they are, and how we research effective approaches to financial education.

Financial literacy is gaining attention worldwide. For the first time, a study of educational achievement has compared the financial literacy of young people across the globe. The results show that 15-year-olds in the United States are in the middle of the pack, compared to their peers in 17 other nations and regions that participated in the study.

We’ll put these results to work—collaborating with other government and educational agencies to look at promising solutions, innovative approaches, and scalable strategies for educating the next generation of young Americans.

CFPB — Ensuring equal treatment for same-sex married couples

July 11, 2014 Comments off

Ensuring equal treatment for same-sex married couples
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

On June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. This decision has important consequences for our work.

In order to fully implement this decision, we took steps to clarify how the decision affects the rules that we are responsible for. Recently, Director Cordray issued a memo to staff clarifying that, to the extent permitted by federal law, it is our policy to recognize all lawful marriages valid at the time of the marriage in the jurisdiction where the marriage was celebrated. This aligns our policy with other agencies across the federal government.

This policy applies to all of the laws, regulations, and policies that we administer, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). That means that when it comes to administering, enforcing, or interpreting the laws, regulations, and policies within our jurisdiction, we use and interpret the terms like “spouse,” “marriage,” “married,” “husband,” “wife,” and any other similar terms related to family or marital status to include lawful same-sex marriages and lawfully married same-sex spouses.

CFPB — Community partnership guidebook for libraries: How libraries can build relationships to create financial education programs for their communities

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Community partnership guidebook for libraries: How libraries can build relationships to create financial education programs for their communities (PDF)
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
From website:

We want to partner with libraries interested in helping patrons make more informed decisions about money. The information below can be used to build and promote financial education programs in your library. Plus, we’ve included lists of materials you can order or link to from your website.

We’re helping long-term care facilities protect older Americans from financial exploitation

June 20, 2014 Comments off

We’re helping long-term care facilities protect older Americans from financial exploitation
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

We’ve heard a lot of stories about vulnerable adults falling prey to con artists, family members, fiduciaries, and professional advisers who steal their nest eggs and threaten their financial security.

A son steals $315,000 from his elderly mother’s retirement accounts and frequents casinos. When he doesn’t pay his mother’s rent, she’s evicted from her assisted living facility.

The pastor of a 77-year-old man with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases makes 130 withdrawals from the man’s bank account but fails to make nursing home payments on his behalf for nine months. The man was nearly discharged from his nursing home.

These stories are all too common. We’d like to equip assisted living and nursing facility staff with the know-how to prevent and spot the warning signs of abuse, so we’re releasing a guide to protecting residents from financial exploitation.

Our action-oriented guide gives staff the tools to:

  • Prevent financial exploitation and scams by educating staff, residents, and family members about warning signs and precautions
  • Recognize, record, and report financial abuse as early as possible using a model protocol and a team approach
  • Get help from first responders in the community
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