PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Jim Kenney, City officials, and consumer advocates this week announced the establishment of the Mayor’s Consumer Financial Protection Task Force, via Executive Order 3-22.
The Task Force will convene organizations currently working to protect consumers from unfair, discriminatory, predatory, and fraudulent products, and leverage shared expertise to combat the consumer threats facing Philadelphia. The Task Force will identify issues that pose the most significant threat to Philadelphia consumers and propose appropriate litigation, legislation, or consumer awareness campaigns to address those threats.
“We have worked hard to build an inclusive economy that works for all Philadelphians, but those efforts are undermined as long as fraudulent and predatory actors are able to rob residents of wealth as quickly as they realize it,” Mayor Kenney said. “Philadelphia has a network of trusted individuals and agencies working to safeguard consumers, including the Attorney General’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and our legal services organizations. The Task Force will provide a mechanism to identify threats to consumers quickly, mobilize responses to prevent harm, and coordinate these efforts across agencies.”
The Task Force will consist of up to 13 members. The Mayor shall appoint up to 10 members who have experience in financial protection and predatory, unfair, and deceptive consumer financial products and practices. In addition, the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, the City Treasurer, and the City Solicitor, or their designees, shall be ex officio members of the Task Force and serve as its co-chairs.
“Predatory practices can take many forms, but they are most often designed to transfer wealth from low-income individuals, particularly our Black and brown communities, to higher-wealth individuals,” said Mitchell Little, Executive Director of the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO). “The ripple effect is that consumers are frequently left with blemishes on their credit or even less wealth, making it harder for them to access safe and affordable financial products. CEO looks forward to working alongside our government partners and consumer advocates to strengthen the City’s consumer protection safety net.”
The Task Force will develop annual reports and recommendations, and at the conclusion of three years, produce a final report assessing its progress, reviewing the dangers facing Philadelphia, and making recommendations for its continuation or modification.
“Consumer protections ensure that predatory practices don’t trap people who are struggling to get by into a lifetime of poverty. The Task Force will be an important new tool for working together to fight fraud, keep Philadelphians in their homes, and safeguard the money individuals need to support their families. We are honored to join in this important work,” said Kerry Smith, an attorney with Community Legal Services’ Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit.
Additionally, the Task Force will incorporate an equity assessment into its agenda and metrics to highlight threats that have a disproportionate impact based on race, gender, sexual orientation/identity, age, religion, familial status, disability, extent of English proficiency, and level of education; and design a community engagement mechanism to ensure that its work and solutions are informed by those facing consumer threats.
In the coming weeks, the mayoral appointees to the Task Force will be announced and a webpage will be launched to include resources for consumers and a way for the public to engage the Task Force.
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 can share in the city’s prosperous future. As the Community Action Agency (CAA) for the City of Philadelphia, CEO awards Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to more than 20 programs that serve thousands of low-income residents each year. More information is available at www.phila.gov/ceo.