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What’s Your Financial Literacy 411?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
DISB will mark its fourth straight observance of Financial Literacy Month by urging residents to use the entire month to find accurate information to help them deal with their money matters.

Washington, DC — The District of Columbia will mark its fourth straight observance of Financial Literacy Month by urging residents to use the entire month to find accurate information to help them deal with their money matters, and the financial-services industry.

The DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) believes that financial literacy is an ongoing skill set that people will use every day to make better financial decisions for themselves and their families. It is about the ease of accessing financial information particularly for those who cannot afford a financial adviser.

“DISB believes that this journey toward becoming financially literate is not confined to any one month,” said DISB Commissioner Gennet Purcell. “Achieving financial wellbeing is a continuous journey that is well worth the trip. But we want residents to take a pause, check insurance policies, or review financial statements to see if you are being charged fees that are overly excessive. We want residents to know that DISB is eager to assist in their financial efforts.”

DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty issued a proclamation declaring the month of April 2010 as Financial Literacy Month, which encouraged residents to engage in programs and activities that encourage financial literacy. Also, the District of Columbia is close to naming the nine-member board of the city’s first Financial Literacy Council, which should be operable by next year. DISB had spearheaded the effort with other city leaders. This council will serve as a conduit for all financial-education programs in the District, from programs focused on the unique financial needs of high school students to programs for residents over the age of 50.   

“The agency believes that financial education is key in establishing healthy habits, and with the many ‘plain English’ resources available today, anyone can increase his or her financial literacy,” Commissioner Purcell added. “I encourage District residents to take advantage of the great free resources the District of Columbia and others have made available to learn about the appropriate use of credit, reducing debts, and the basics of saving and investing.”

DISB will take part in several events during Financial Literacy Month. Some include:

  • WHUR’s Tony Is Taking It To The Streets. DISB Commissioner Gennet Purcell’s interview with Tony Richards on WHUR’s Tony Is Taking It To The Streets morning show, will air Tuesday, April 6 at 8:12 a.m. and 8:43 a.m. She will discuss how DISB continues to protect residents’ financial interests and how they might be able to become more financially literate.
  • Bank On DC. DISB will be part of the launch of Bank On DC, which features DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Valerie Santos and DISB Commissioner Gennet Purcell. Bank On DC is a public-private partnership to promote financial wellness by ensuring everyone in the District has a bank account, which will help residents protect, manage and save their money. It is Wednesday, April 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Credit Union House, 403 C St., NE.
  • High School Career Fair. DISB will use the Spingarn STAY Senior High School’s career fair to reach out to young people about the benefits of becoming financially literate; as well as to provide insight into future career choices. The event will be Thursday, April 8, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., 2500 Benning Rd., NE. 
  • The 3rd Annual Financial Fair, sponsored by the Capital Area Asset Builders. This annual free event will be open to the public where DISB will be on hand to discuss financial literacy and respond to questions about residents’ financial issues. It will be Saturday, April 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Reeves Center, 2000 14th St., NW.
  • Department of Transportation Financial Education Fair, sponsored by the federal government agency, DISB staff will use the opportunity to discuss ways employees might become more financially literate, while discussing DISB’s consumer protection programs. It will take place on Wednesday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  at the U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE (West Atrium).
  • Credit Card Seminars, DISB is working with the Community Services for Aging to offer five seminars on the new credit card law and its impact on seniors. The seminars will be from 11 a.m. to noon, from April 12 to April 30. More information will be placed on the agency’s Web site.
  • Money Track Series, DISB encourages residents to view the PBS program Money Track, which started its third season in March. The series presents information about savings and investment through real-life examples. It is produced with support from the Investor Protection Trust in collaboration with DISB. It will be aired on WHUT, Channel 32, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 1 and successive Thursdays at 6 p.m.
  • Through its Speakers’ Bureau, DISB will offer financial-education presentations to District associations, ANC meetings, senior centers, and universities throughout the year, upon request.
  • Weekly press releases will be issued by DISB during April focusing on various timely financial topics including information on health and credit.

In 2009, DISB added a new online library to its site, completely devoted to Financial Literacy Month to highlight the many resources that are available. Website resources include an assortment of financial literacy informational links and brochures, fraud prevention tips, and links to sites on such topics as DISB’s “Consumers’ Guide to Frequently Asked Questions,” preventing financial fraud and foreclosure help. DISB has also linked the Federal Trade Commission’s Money Matters education module, which offers short, practical tips, videos and links to reliable resources for more information on topics like credit repair, debt collection, job-hunting and jobs scams, vehicle repossession, managing mortgage payments, and foreclosure rescue scams. Also, DISB’s Facebook page will continue to be updated with new information. Follow DISB’s Tweets at twitter.com/DCDISB.

DISB recently launched its first edition of the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Market Report newsletter. It is a collective of the work that brings together the resources of each office at the agency to continually protect consumers’ financial interests. Follow the link at the bottom for an online version. It is also available in hard copy at the agency at 810 First St., NE, Suite 701, Washington, DC 20002.

For more information on any of these activities, or to schedule a high school, senior citizen, civic association, ANC, corporate or collegiate presentation, please call Public Affairs Specialist Lucy Drafton-Lowery or Supervisory Public Affairs Specialist Michelle Phipps-Evans at the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking at (202) 727-8000. All presentations will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.