Financial literacy training in Orange County

Published: Friday, February 12, 2010

Community agencies learn about rebuilding credit, identity theft and new credit card rules

The Orange County Financial Stability Alliance has wasted no time in its 2010 efforts to bring financial literacy resources to Orange County families facing economic and financial pressures. As busy as OCFSA is organizing and promoting free community tax-filing days, the alliance found time to introduce area non-profits to Consumer Action’s financial literacy educational materials.

OCFSA partnered with Consumer Action and Orange County’s Credit Union to provide a free financial literacy train the trainer workshop on Jan. 22. Training space was provided for free by Orange County’s Credit Union. Nelson Santiago from Consumer Action presented his organization’s MoneyWi$e modules on Rebuilding Credit and Identity Theft. Sahara Navarro, Orange County United Way Community Development Manager and member of OCFSA, also asked Santiago to explain the newest credit card protections set to take effect in late February.

Although the training coincided with day five of a storm-drenched week in Southern California, non-profit agency staff braved the unusual rain and hail to attend the half-day workshop. During the Rebuilding Credit session, Santiago walked participants through the module and emphasized that the exercises could be used to teach agency clients important financial literacy concepts. While covering credit, Santiago took the time to explain how participants can support Consumer Action’s advocacy efforts and keep up with credit-related legislation through its Take Action page.

Participants were eager to learn about the new credit card provisions. Santiago pointed out that very little educational material is currently available on the subject. He outlined the coming changes and provided participants copies of Consumer Action’s fact sheet on the C.A.R.D. Act and of the Federal Reserve’s about the new rules.

To help illustrate the new credit card provisions and to facilitate learning, Santiago presented the class with hypothetical scenarios involving consumers who were unsure of their rights in particular situations. For example, Santiago provided a scenario in which a consumer carrying a $3,000 credit card balance receives a notice from his bank advising him that in 45 days, due to market conditions, the interest rate on his balance will increase from 10% to 15%. “Will this be okay after February 22?” Santiago asked the class. Some participants were thrown off by the fact that providing 45 days notice suggests that the bank is complying with new advance notice requirements for changes in credit card terms. Santiago explained, however, that although new provisions allow creditors to raise interest rates due to market conditions, such market-based increases can only apply to future transactions—not to existing balances.

The half-day training came to a close sooner than most people would have wanted, since the subject of credit easily lends itself to multi-day discussions. Sahara Navarro of Orange County United Way assured participants that she would invite Consumer Action to return later in the year with more financial literacy education and resources, as well as advocacy updates from Consumer Action’s Washington D.C. office.

MoneyWi$e is a partnership between Consumer Action and Capital One Bank. The Orange County training was made possible by Consumer Action’s Managing Money Project, founded with a cy pres award from the Griego v. Rent-A-Center class action settlement.

 
 
 

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