Consumer Connection – April 2022
Student Loan Borrowers – There’s Help!
The DFPI is continuing to work with state and federal agencies as well as local nonprofits to inform and empower federal student loan borrowers about their rights and upcoming federal deadlines, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver that expires on Oct. 31, 2022. The DFPI is hosting a free webinar, “Student Loan Borrower Rights and Repayment Options” on Tuesday, April 26 at noon. This event is part of a series of webinars hosted by the DFPI to help student loan borrowers empower themselves as they navigate a complex loan repayment system. Attendees are encouraged to register for the Student Loan Borrower Rights and Repayment Options webinar.
The DFPI regulates student loan servicers and recently hired a Student Loan Ombudsperson to help triage complex student borrower issues. The Ombuds responds directly to student borrower complaints and works directly with student borrowers. For more information, contact Celina Damian, Student Loan Services Ombudsperson, at Celina.Damian@dfpi.ca.gov or call (619) 610-5679.
The DFPI has also created media resources to share with its community partners, including a Student Borrower Resources Webpage and Student Borrower Social Media Toolkit. We encourage you to share these critical resources with your networks an on social media. Upcoming Student Borrower events will be recorded and shared on the DFPI’s YouTube channel.
Student Loan Pause Extended to August 31
The U.S. Department of Education announced on April 6th an extension of the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections through August 31, 2022. The extension will provide additional time for borrowers to plan for the resumption of payments, reducing the risk of delinquency and defaults after restart. This includes provisions for student loan borrowers with delinquent or default conditions on their loans to receive a ‘fresh start’ on repayment by allowing them to reenter repayment in good standing, halting any prior collection efforts on these loans. The Department of Education will also continue to provide loan relief, including to borrowers who have been defrauded by their institutions and those eligible for relief through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Student loan borrowers are encouraged to prepare to transition back into repayment by verifying your repayment plan options and monthly payment schedule by contacting your student loan servicer. If you have questions, contact the DFPI at StudentLoanServicing@dfpi.ca.gov or call us at (866) 275-2677.
Recent and Upcoming DFPI Consumer Outreach Events
For more information about DFPI’s Education & Outreach programs, events calendar, and other consumer protection resources, please visit the DFPI Education & Outreach webpage. Recordings of select events can also be viewed on the DFPI YouTube Channel.
|April 11, 2pm||Senior Scam Stopper with the DFPI, Department of Insurance, and Office of Assemblymember Alex Lee. This is an in-person Town Hall to hear about fraud prevention. Senior Scam Stopper with Assemblymember Lee Registration|
|April 12, 10am||Free Cyber Fraud Webinar For National Financial Capability Month, the DFPI is hosting a FREE webinar highlighting the many financial empowerment resources available to consumers. Financial Capability Month Virtual Resources Fair Registration|
|April 22, 10am||Senior Scam Stopper with the DFPI, Contractors State License Board, and Office of Assemblymember Steve Bennett (AD37). To RSVP, visit Senior Scam Stopper with Assemblymember Bennet or call (805) 641-3700.|
|April 26, 9am||Senior Scam Stopper with the DFPI, Contractors State License Board, Office of Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD41), and City of Claremont. To RSVP or for more information, call the Josyln Senior Center (909) 399-5488.|
|April 26, noon||Learn About Student Loan Borrower Rights and Repayment Options This FREE webinar dives into the California Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights and provides information for borrowers on their many loan repayment options. Student Loan Borrower Rights and Repayment Options Registration|
|Protect Yourself from Fraud with the DFPI, hosted in partnership with the Midway City Community Center. To RSVP call (714) 492-4420.
|May 3, 10am||Financial Literacy for Veterans with the DFPI, hosted in partnership with the Small Business Administration Fresno District Office. To RSVP to this virtual event, call (559)487-5791.|
10am & 6pm
|Protect Yourself from Fraud with the DFPI, hosted in partnership with the City of Tracy Parks & Recreation. The event will be held at the Lolly Hansen Senior Center. To RSVP call (209) 831-6240.|
|May 17, noon||Learn About the PSLF Waiver, Loan Default, and Repayment Options In this FREE webinar, get help and information from government agencies, nonprofits, and legal firms on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver, loan defaults, and other student loan repayment options. Register for the PSLF Waiver, Loan Default, and Repayment Options webinar|
Join DFPI’s Free Cyber Fraud Webinar!
In honor of National Financial Capability Month (also known as Financial Literacy Month) the DFPI is hosting a FREE webinar on April 12 at 10am (PST). This popular annual event will highlight exhibitors and resources that promote financial empowerment and security for California consumers. Learn practical tools to better manage your money, tips for saving for the future, and safeguarding your personal and financial information.
This year, we have added an exciting cyber fraud roundtable discussion. Join Christina Tetreault, Deputy Commissioner of DFPI’s Office of Financial Technology and Innovation (OFTI), and special guest experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Consumer Action Education and Advocacy Center, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in a lively discussion about current cyber fraud trends, how to detect, as well as how to avoid online financial fraud and scams.
Highlighted exhibitors include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Social Security Administration, California State Controller’s Office – Unclaimed Property Division, and California State Treasurer’s Office – CalSavers Program. For the full agenda and a complete list of resources and community partners, visit the Financial Capability Resources Fair Webpage.
Register for the event on the Financial Capability Virtual Resource Fair Registration Webpage.
Tax Day is April 18 – Free Senior & Income Qualified Help Available
The deadline for filing your federal 2021 tax return is Monday, April 18, 2022. If you request a tax extension by April 18, 2022, your tax return will be due on Oct. 17, 2022. However, your tax bill will still be due on April 18, 2022. Getting a tax extension provides more time to file your tax return, but it does not provide more time to pay your taxes. For more information, visit the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Filing Guidelines. The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. To locate the nearest VITA or TCE site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool or call (800) 906-9887.
April is National Fair Housing Month
National Fair Housing Month is celebrated in April to commemorate the Fair Housing Act that passed on April 11, 1968. This law was designed to protect Americans from facing discrimination in selling or buying houses. The DFPI promotes awareness of housing discrimination and programs that support the elimination of housing discrimination through the following resources:
Housing is Key Program – the Housing is Key Program offers financial support for rental assistance, tenant eviction protection, and landlord mortgage relief especially for families and individuals financially effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To see if you qualify for benefits, visit the Housing is Key Website.
California Mortgage Relief Program – The California Mortgage Relief Program, which launched last year, uses federal Homeowner Assistance Funds to help homeowners get caught up on their housing payments. To learn more, visit the California Mortgage Relief Website.
Don’t be Deceived by the Messenger Offering Mortgage Help
Due to the pandemic, many homeowners are having trouble catching up with home mortgage payments and may be facing foreclosure on their homes. Homeowners should be cautious when solicited by phone, text message, or email from someone claiming to be their servicer/lender or housing counselor. If someone offers help for a fee or guarantees to save your home, homeowners should be cautious.
If you need help making payments or are facing foreclosure, reach out to your servicer directly and see if they can help lower your payments. Don’t forget to ask about eligibility requirements on mortgage relief programs.
If you need assistance with foreclosure/modifications, credit issues, and more, contact an approved U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) counselor. Find a HUD Housing Counseling Agency near you or call (800) 569-4287.
If you need help getting your finances back on track, consider using the DFPI’s Budget Worksheet.
Knowing your rights and seeking reputable resources is key. For more information, visit the DFPI’s Stay Safe and Avoid Scams Webpage and Foreclosure Protection and Relief Webpage or call us at (866) 275-2677.
If you’re a Nonprofit Offering Financial Education, Apply for our CalMoneySmart Grant!
The 2022-23 CalMoneySmart grant application is now available and proposals must be submitted via the CalMoneySmart Online Portal, where users can register and save their progress as they complete the application. The deadline to apply for the 2022-23 grant funding is April 29, 2022, at 5:00 pm PDT.
The CalMoneySmart Grant Program will award up to $2 million in grants to nonprofits providing free financial education for unbanked and underbanked consumers in California. For more information, visit the CalMoneySmart Website or email us at email@example.com
The DFPI hosted two informational webinars to familiarize prospective applicants with the grant program. The webinars covered the history of the program, information regarding eligibility, what to expect on the 2022-23 application, and additional questions from applicants. If you were not able to attend the webinars, they have been recorded and posted to the CalMoneySmart Webinar and Resources Webpage.
DFPI Marks Success in Implementation of New Consumer Protection Law
A year after implementing one of the most expansive consumer protection laws in the country, the Department announced it has collected close to $1 million in restitution for consumers, fielded hundreds of additional complaints related to the law, and launched more than 100 investigations using its expanded authority under the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL).
The DFPI released the 2021 California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) Annual Report on March 23 summarizing DFPI’s activities during its first year including major enforcement actions, consumer complaint statistics, and communications and outreach metrics.
Read the CCFPL Annual Report Press Release.
Read the 2021 CCFPL Annual Report.
April 22 is Earth Day
Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement that started in the 1970s. This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet,” specifically calling on businesses to play a role in addressing climate change.
What can you do to help? The financial services industry has a long-established reputation for generating massive amounts of paper waste. Make a stand against deforestation with the following actions:
- Use email and the internet for correspondence and research whenever possible.
- Switch to paperless billing and statement options when given the option.
- Ask companies you do business with to provide paperless options.
- Ask your employer to incorporate paper use reduction and recycling into its regular business operations.
Career Opportunities with DFPI
The DFPI is California’s primary regulatory authority overseeing financial services, products, and professionals. Its mission includes protecting consumers from potential abusive, deceptive, and unfair practices. If you are passionate about wanting to make a difference in protecting consumers from financial fraud, join our team! Find out more about available positions on the DFPI’s Careers Webpage.
Did you know?
More than 3,000 Californians fell victim to online romance scams last year, losing a total of nearly $184 million, according to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report. These online interactions, which can occur on dating apps, social media, or other websites involve scammers forming fake romantic relationships with victims in order to manipulate them and take their money. The report ranked romance scams (also known as confidence fraud) as the third highest ranking scam. The age group most vulnerable to romance scams are people over 60 years old, making up 32% of overall victims. Learn more: Online Scams and Romance in California: Tips to Avoid Fraud.
- Do you have any questions or comments about the Consumer Connection newsletter?
- Would you like to promote your organization’s programs and events in our newsletter?
- Would you like to make a request for a DFPI outreach professional to present at your event?
- The DFPI Education & Outreach team is eager to hear from you. Please contact us at Outreach@dfpi.ca.gov.
- For more information about DFPI’s Education & Outreach programs, events calendar, and other consumer protection resources, please visit the DFPI Education & Outreach webpage.