The effort will begin with protection against financial predators and scams amidst COVID-19
PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia today announced the launch of local consumer financial protection planning efforts in partnership with the national nonprofit organization the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) and . The City will begin planning a campaign to raise consumer awareness of and protect residents from COVID-19 related scams. The partners will also continue planning in the coming months for broader consumer financial protection capabilities within the City.
“We know that when consumers fall victim to fraudulent schemes, it not only hurts them, but it drains wealth from our communities and our overall economy, as residents are often forced to turn to social services for assistance,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “It is critical that, as a City government, we do our best to protect the hard-earned assets of Philadelphians from these unscrupulous predators, and I’m excited to partner with the CFE Fund and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to enhance those protections.”
“Historically, communities of color have been the focal point of many of these fraudulent and predatory schemes, which has contributed to the wealth gap,” said Mitchell Little, executive director of the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO). “If we are going to address economic mobility and racial equity as a city and a country, we must first acknowledge these disparities and then come up with creative solutions to address them. This partnership will enable us to continue that work.”
The City of Philadelphia joins Chattanooga, TN; Detroit, MI; Shelby County, TN; and St. Paul, MN as the second cohort of the CFE Fund’s Local Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, which supports local governments across the country in developing and enhancing their capacity to offer their residents consumer financial protection and empowerment. The City will work with the CFE Fund to plan for the establishment of a local consumer protection agency, which will work to augment resident financial empowerment by protecting consumer assets through licensing, regulation, enforcement, mediation, outreach and education.
The City of Philadelphia has received a $10,000 grant, paired with a nine-month technical assistance engagement partnership, to begin planning for a local consumer financial protection initiative. This process will include a structured approach to identifying critical local consumer issues, convening key stakeholders, and surveying the legal landscape that will inform the development of an actionable strategic plan.
“It is an unfortunate reality that predatory actors look to take advantage of vulnerable people during times of crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of scams, frauds, deceptive advertising, and price gouging are already occurring across the country,” said Jonathan Mintz, CFE Fund President and CEO. “Local governments have a critical role to play in protecting residents’ hard-earned assets, and we are thrilled to partner with Mayor Kenney on this important work.”
In 2017, with the support of both the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the CFE Fund selected four cities through the Local Consumer Financial Protection Initiative to build out their own consumer financial protection offices within their mayors’ administrations. These cities (Albuquerque, NM; Denver, CO; Nashville, TN; and Salt Lake City, UT) have each successfully launched their efforts, developing consumer complaint infrastructure, identifying enforcement priorities, and pursuing legislative reforms.
About the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO)
CEO provides leadership on issues of economic justice by advancing racial equity and inclusive growth to ensure that all Philadelphians might share in the city’s prosperous future. It serves as the Community Action Agency (CAA) for the City of Philadelphia. As a CAA, CEO awards Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to more than 20 programs that serve an estimated 40,000 residents each year, with a focus on benefits access, financial empowerment, housing security, and other priorities that may emerge over time.
About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. The CFE Fund is currently working in over 80 cities, and has disbursed over $42 million to city governments and their partners to support these efforts. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.