(Washington, DC) The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking is helping District residents and small businesses protect their money and other financial interests in observance of National Consumer Protection Week March 3-9. The Department will promote consumer guides and alerts throughout the week on topics that include advance fee scams, payday loans, reverse mortgages and identity theft. To get tips directly, visit disb.dc.gov, follow us on Twitter @DCDISB or like us on Facebook.
Also, the Department will conduct a consumer protection road show—the Department’s Consumer Protection Advocate will visit community centers and senior wellness centers in all eight wards to engage with residents and share information on financial education topics that include renters’ insurance, financial exploitation and personal finance.
“The Department is committed to educating and protecting District residents about the many ways they can avoid financial pitfalls and improve their financial health,” said the Department’s Commissioner Stephen C. Taylor. “Our programs and services support Mayor Bowser’s vision to put more District residents on pathways to the middle class by empowering them to make sound financial decisions.”
National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is an annual week-long education campaign that promotes the importance of people understanding their consumer rights and making well-informed decisions about money. NCPW is sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission and is supported by federal, state and local governments and other organizations dedicated to consumer protection.
This week, the Department is encouraging District residents to consider alternatives to tax refund anticipation loans (RAL)—loans offered by many tax preparation companies to people against their income tax return. These loans typically have high interest rates at 200 percent or more.
Electronically filing your taxes can provide you with a refund in as little as two weeks. If you have a bank account, you can have the money automatically deposited in an even shorter period of time. The need for these loans is no longer necessary. If you do not have a bank account, you may consider the Department’s Bank on DC program, which partners with a number of banks and credit unions to offer accounts with low minimum balance requirements, and no or low-cost monthly fees.
The Department supports the District’s EITC campaign through a contract with Capital Area Asset Builders. If an individual worked last year and had income of less than $54,884, they should check out their eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a special tax break designed specifically for low- and moderate-income workers. People who qualify for the EITC will pay less in taxes or even get cash back. To be eligible, individuals must have earned income or certain disability income.