FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2020
Saint Paul, MN – Mayor Melvin Carter announced today the launch of a local consumer financial protection planning effort in partnership with the national nonprofit organization the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Saint Paul will begin planning a communications campaign to raise consumer awareness of and protect residents from COVID-19 related scams and continue planning in the coming months for broader consumer financial protection capabilities within the City.
“We need a marketplace free from scams, fraud, and deceptive practices, especially amid this pandemic,” said Mayor Carter. “This effort will support vital consumer protections for our community as we continue our work to ensure no one is left behind during this public health and economic crisis.”
ABOUT CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION PLANNING EFFORT
The City of Saint Paul joins Chattanooga, TN; Detroit, MI; Philadelphia, PA; and Shelby County, TN 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 of Saint Paul 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, and outreach and education.
The City of Saint Paul 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 Carter 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 4 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 SAINT PAUL OFFICE OF FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT
Mayor Carter launched the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) in March 2019. The OFE works to ensure Saint Paul residents are economically secure and have pathways to community wealth building. The OFE advances economic justice strategies including CollegeBound Saint Paul, the city’s college savings account program, fines and fees justice, and fair housing, among other economic empowerment approaches.
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, visit www.cfefund.org.