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What’s Your Financial Literacy 411?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
DISB marks fifth annual Financial Literacy Month in April.

The DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) will mark its fifth straight observance of Financial Literacy Month by focusing on bringing more people into the financial mainstream through education and consumer empowerment. As part of the agency’s goal to increase economic development in the city, DISB will be augmenting the way in which it provides information on financial products and services; which will provide unbanked and underbanked residents the opportunity to join mainstream institutions. Literacy and empowerment are only small components of a long-term strategy the agency will implement to continually enhance the city’s attractiveness to national audiences. “If residents have a fairly good understanding of financial products across the board, that will assist DISB in surpassing its three overarching goals for 2011 and beyond,” said Acting Commissioner William P. White who recently mentioned the goals on April 1 during his confirmation hearing with the Council of the District of Columbia. “The goals are to strengthen our consumer protection through shared information and revamped enforcement; economic development that increases the amount and availability of financial services and products across the District; and establishing the agency as a subject-matter expert and resource for financial services information.” Much of this revolves around financial literacy and education, which help lead toward financial wellbeing—a continuous journey. The Acting Commissioner is encouraging residents to take time to check insurance policies, review financial statements, update beneficiaries, and look at investments to see if they are being charged overly excessive fees or to make changes based on their current life stages. As part of Financial Literacy Month, DISB will Tweet daily tips on Twitter with the hashtags #financialliteracymonth or #finlit to urge residents to seek accurate information from financial-services providers who are licensed through DISB to help them deal with building wealth and eliminating debt. Beyond social media, DISB will also present One City Insured Seminars: The Impact of PPACA on seniors at three senior wellness centers during April. Medicare has changed due to the one-year-old health reform law or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and DISB will engage several seniors at these seminars to assist them in understanding these changes. There are plans to host more One City Insured Seminars targeting specific life-stage groups in the city. “DISB sees financial literacy as an ongoing skill set that people will use every day to make better financial decisions for themselves and their families,” Acting Commissioner White said. “It is about the ease of accessing financial information particularly for those who cannot afford a financial adviser.” Below are some of DISB’s activities during Financial Literacy Month 2011: One City Insured Seminars: The Impact of PPACA on Seniors. DISB’s Health Policy Analyst will attend three senior wellness centers to discuss the impact of the health reform law on seniors. Monday, April 11, 11 am to noon, Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center, 324 Kennedy St., NW. Tuesday, April 19, 11 am to noon, Ward 1 Senior Wellness Center, 3531 Georgia Ave., NW. Tuesday, April 26, noon to 1 pm, Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center, 3500 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE.  Total Fitness Fair. DISB will use this financial fitness fair, hosted by the Capital Area Asset Builders, to educate attendees about their financial choices and concerns at the Benning Road Library, 3535 Benning Road, NE, on Saturday, April 9, from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm.   Parks and Rec Spring Senior Expo, sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation, at the Hillcrest Recreation Center, 3100 Denver St., SE, on Wednesday, April 12, 10 am to 2 pm. DISB will use the opportunity to introduce the agency’s new acting commissioner and to update attendees on financial literacy components at the agency.   Fourth Annual State of Ward 4 Senior Address, sponsored by Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser. DISB staff will discuss ways seniors can become more financially literate, while discussing DISB’s consumer protection programs. It will take place on Thursday, April 28, from 9 am to 1 pm, at the Riggs LaSalle Center, 501 Riggs Road, NE.  Through its Speakers’ Bureau, DISB continues to be available to offer financial-education presentations to District associations, ANC meetings, senior centers, and universities throughout the year, upon request. Visit the agency website at www.disb.dc.gov.   Daily Tweets on Twitter will be issued by DISB during April focusing on various timely financial topics including information on health and credit. Hashtags #FinancialLiteracyMonth or #FinLit.  In 2009, DISB added a new online library to its site, completely devoted to Financial Literacy Month to highlight the many available resources. Web site 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. The website may be found at http://disb.dc.gov/disr/cwp/view,a,1300,q,643394.asp, and it will be updated regularly. Also, DISB’s Facebook page will continue to be updated with new information at http://www.facebook.com/pages/DC-Department-of-Insurance-Securities-and-... 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 B. Phipps-Evans at the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking at (202) 727-8000. All presentations will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.