Keep the Information Flowing
Small contributions go a long way. Your donation to Consumer Action, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, can help us cover the cost of research, writing, and translation of our materials. To keep our services free for those who need them. Select an amount to give.
MoneyWi$e educates young adults and shelter residents
Audrey Perrott, Consumer Action’s associate director of outreach and training, in October shared financial literacy know-how at an emergency homeless shelter and a youth job-readiness program using Consumer Action’s MoneyWi$e financial education materials.
Sharing the Basics, and much more
Visiting Ruby’s Place, Inc., Perrott presented banking basics and tips for avoiding and repairing identity theft to shelter residents and case management staff. Ruby’s Place is a 42-bed shelter offering housing, support and services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence, homelessness or human trafficking.
Perrott presented excerpts from the MoneyWi$e Banking Basics and Identity and Account Fraud modules and engaged the shelter’s Life Skills group in interactive activities. She discussed the difference between a bank and a credit union, how to select a financial institution, what specialty reports are and how to obtain them, how to open an account and how to keep account costs down. She encouraged participants to review the sample ChexSystems report and savings account application contained in the lesson plan. (ChexSystems provides account verification services to financial institutions to aid them in identifying account applicants who may have a history of account mishandling. Many banks won’t open new accounts for consumers listed in ChexSystems’ database.)
Perrott also provided the case managers with a directory of financial institutions that participate in the Bank On initiative. Bank On is a nationwide program designed to help unbanked and underbanked Americans—even some with a negative history in ChexSystems—find low-cost, no-cost, and “second-chance” bank accounts. Bank On is a collaborative effort between state governments, financial institutions and community organizations.
Perrott said the ChexSystems report generated a lot of discussion on past experience with attempting to open an account and questions about using debit cards. She also distributed the MoneyWi$e Banking Basics: You can bank on it brochure, as well as Consumer Action’s Specialty Consumer Reports: What’s on file about you? and Understanding Debit Cards: Plastic with a difference.
Perrott covered the various forms of identity theft, ways that information is compromised, prevention tips, Internet safety and ID theft cleanup. Some participants indicated that they had never requested a copy of their credit reports. Perrott explained that it was easy to get free copies by phone at 877-322-8228 or online at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Ruby’s Place bilingual case manager Brenda Landeros said, “The women at the shelter were so grateful for the information that was presented, they now have knowledge on Identity theft and so much more. We all appreciate your time and effort in making this happen for the women at the shelter.”
At the end of the training, Perrott hosted a drawing for a paper shredder to reinforce the message to shred or thoroughly destroy papers containing personal information before they are discarded.
Ramping up for success
At RAMP-SF’s site at Fort Mason in San Francisco, Perrott shared information about building, or rebuilding, good credit with participants and case managers. RAMP-SF, run by the San Francisco Conservation Corps (SFCC), is a job readiness program that helps San Francisco young adults (18-24 years old) connect with career opportunities that match their individual goals and needs.
Perrott combined a mix of lecture and interactive activities from the MoneyWi$e Good Credit and Rebuilding Good Credit lesson plans. “I love the way the workshop was run and I know the class was very beneficial for the students,” said Emma Hyatt, RAMP program coordinator.
Perrott discussed the difference between good and bad credit, what’s in a credit report, how to obtain a copy of one’s credit report, consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and how to file a dispute about inaccurate information in one’s credit report. The Consumer Action trainer asked participants to evaluate sample credit profiles from the lesson plans, which generated a lot of questions and discussion. To encourage participation, she gave out financial education games and prizes to participants who answered questions.
From the Rebuilding Good Credit module, Perrott covered how a consumer finds out that they have poor credit, collection agencies, how to handle collection calls, credit repair companies, loan consolidation, credit counseling agencies, steps to rebuilding credit and ways to protect one’s credit. Using the sample ads in the “Classified Ad” classroom activity from the module, she sought feedback on whether the ads were legitimate or fraudulent.
Later, the class participated in Consumer Action’s “Secured Credit Cards” classroom activity. Perrott said it was important for the class to do this exercise because some participants may be in the market for a secured credit card and the exercise could help them evaluate card offers and identify unfavorable terms and conditions.
Consumer Action provides trainings for community groups to help them better educate their clients on how to assert their rights in the marketplace. In addition, Consumer Action provides free multilingual educational materials to community groups for their education programs. To learn more about our outreach and training activities, visit our Outreach & Training page.