Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) today issued financial tips for the New Year to help New Yorkers manage, grow and protect their money in 2022 and the years ahead.
DCWP encourages New Yorkers to take this important time to set goals for their personal finances.
It is always the right time to protect and grow your money but you can start the year off right by making it a priority to open a bank account if you don’t have one, create the right budget plan, and understand the solutions available for paying off debt,” said DCWP Commissioner Peter A. Hatch.“We urge New Yorkers to visit our Financial Empowerment Centers to help achieve the economic goals on their resolution list. Also, NYC Free Tax Prep offers free help preparing taxes and claiming the Child Tax Credit worth up to $3,600 per child.”
DCWP Financial Resolutions:
· Check your credit report and build your credit history. You are entitled to a free credit report every year at annualcreditreport.com. If you find any errors, file a dispute with the credit bureaus. Use your credit card only for purchases that you can pay off in full every month. Using a credit card responsibly will help you build your credit history and increase your credit score. A strong credit score means you will have lower interest rates and payments on any new loans you take out.
· Open a safe bank account. If you don’t have a bank account, start the New Year by opening one that’s safe, affordable and right for your needs. All New Yorkers can open an NYC SafeStart Account—the City’s FREE bank account with an ATM card, no overdraft fees, and no monthly fees if you have a minimum balance of only $25 or in some cases even less. Visit or call 311 and ask about the NYC SafeStart Account. Some banks and credit unions also accept IDNYC as the primary form of identification.
· Enroll in the best student loan debt plan for you. Federal student loan payments have been extended again to May 1, 2022 but it’s never too early to start planning how you will repay. The NYC Financial Empowerment Centers can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and navigate student loan forgiveness options as you determine the best repayment plan for you. Visit
· Develop and stick to a budget. Start by looking at your credit card and bank statements for the past quarter. If you are spending more than you are earning or aren’t able to save enough, then expenses should be reduced. Budgets are only as good as your ability to stick to them so you must be disciplined about following yours to get your finances in order.
· Make a plan to pay down your debt. Even if you have personal loans and home mortgage accounts, there is a way out of debt. A free financial counselor can help you negotiate with creditors, consolidate payments and create a payment plan. If you are being harassed by a debt collector, check that they are licensed, and demand written proof of the debt. To schedule an appointment at a Financial Empowerment Center or to file a complaint about a debt collector call 311 or visit .
· Enroll in an automatic savings plan. Even if it is a small amount, save on a regular basis so you are prepared in the case of an unexpected emergency such as a health problem or job loss. Consider what you will need to cover the down payment on a home, establish your children’s education fund and grow your retirement nest egg. An automatic savings plan helps you save effortlessly using direct deposit or automated transfers. Ask your employer if you can split your direct deposit to save each payday or set up automated transfers through your bank. Saving a little at a time can add up quickly.
- File your taxes for free and claim your refund, including important credits like the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. The American Rescue Plan made changes to tax credits which means more money for more people at tax time. The provides up to $3,600 for parents of children ages 0-17. Many families received half of the credit as advance payments in 2021 and need to file a tax return in 2022 to claim the remaining portion of the tax credit. Additionally, more workers without children are eligible for a more valuable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), including workers as young as age 19 and workers over age 65. NYC Free Tax Prep providers can help you understand your eligibility for tax credits and make sure you get the refund you deserve. Families with incomes below $72,000 and individuals or couples with incomes below $50,000 can work with a knowledgeable IRS VITA/TCE volunteer preparer to complete an accurate tax return in-person or online. For more information about these tax filing options, including site locations and requirements, call 311 and ask for tax preparation assistance or visit .
- Plan for retirement. If you have the opportunity to save for your retirement through a plan sponsored by your employer, you should budget to contribute a set amount each month, so you reach the maximum limit each year. You also can contribute to a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or Roth IRA. For those that face barriers to saving for retirement, myRA is available. MyRA is a simple, safe and affordable retirement account created by the United States Treasury. For more information, visit .
· Be an informed consumer. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Get contracts that are clearly written, make sure you understand them before signing and keep all receipts from your transactions. Before selecting a vendor, shop around, and get quotes and references. If you are buying a used car, hiring a home improvement contractor or going to an employment agency, check to see if they are licensed and get tips by visiting . You can also check licensees’ complaint histories by calling 311. If you have been taken advantage of, file a complaint with DCWP by calling 311 or by visiting .
- Protect yourself from identity theft. Create unique passwords for each online account and make sure they have capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Never share your password with others and change it several times a year. Also, avoid giving personal information online, by email or on social media sites. If you are the victim of ID theft, report it to your local police precinct and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or call 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338). Place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.
- Get financial counseling if you need help. New Yorkers can get free, one-on-one financial counseling by phone or in person at a Financial Empowerment Center where you can learn how to reduce debt, get help negotiating with your creditors, understand your credit report, create a budget, improve your credit score, open a bank account, and start saving for emergencies and the future. Call 311 and say “financial counseling” or visit to schedule an appointment or for more information.
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities.
DCWP licenses more than 59,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more.
By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance.
Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance.
DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities.