No April fools to be found at last month’s Financial Education Week

Consumer Action participated in the Financial Education Week in April

Published: Friday, May 03, 2019

Financial Education Week, or Semana Financiera, kicked off on April 1 at the Mexican Consulate’s office in San Francisco. Consumer Action participated in the event, co-organized by the consulate and Mission Asset Fund (MAF). (Consumer Action network members might recognize MAF as a fellow network member whose credit building tools were showcased at one of our national conferences and written about in Consumer Action News.)

Consumer Action Community Outreach Manager Nelson Santiago staffed an exhibit table at the consulate featuring some of Consumer Action’s most popular and newest publications, including those related to disaster insurance and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance, micro business, banking and credit, and credit freezes. Santiago also made several short presentations to consulate visitors throughout the day.

“There were so many organizations providing valuable information for consumers on the exhibitor floor!” Santiago exclaimed. “I brought back much to share with our INSIDER readers, and will incorporate these excellent new resources into my regular outreach and education work.” (Santiago travels the country educating community-based organizations and service providers on how to best help their low-income and limited-English-speaking clients navigate the marketplace and improve their finances.)

One exhibitor, the Social Security Administration (SSA), alerted attendees to a rise in scam callers purporting to be from the SSA. The scammers have been asking consumers to reveal their Social Security numbers, bank account information and other personal information under the pretext of trying to “fix” issues with the consumers’ Social Security benefits. The scammers may claim the consumer is “in trouble” or that there is “suspicious” activity on their account. An SSA representative explained that consumers are sometimes lulled into trusting the scammer when the scammer provides a so-called “employee ID number.” The representative explained to Santiago that SSA never makes these types of calls, and its employees don’t have ID numbers.

A representative from Wells Fargo was among the exhibitors. In discussing some of the bank’s financial education resources, including its Hands on Banking curriculum, the rep explained to Santiago that the bank continues to offer secured credit cards to consumers regardless of whether they have Social Security numbers or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs).

Visitors to the consulate also received information on starting and running a small business. One local provider, the Small Business Administration (SBA)-funded Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, delivered information about small business classes offered throughout the Bay Area on topics ranging from writing a general business plan to running financial projections for a food-based business. Jon De Andrés Garay, a Renaissance programs fellow, explained that what holds most people back when they set out to start a business is a lack of information and a lack of self-confidence—an issue Renaissance regularly helps clients overcome.

Noah Brod, an SBA economic development specialist, also participated in the consulate event. He reminded Santiago that May 6-11 is San Francisco Small Business Week. The event provides attendees an opportunity to participate in workshops and network with one another. Brod noted that the Bay Area has a significant number of Mexican-owned businesses and that many who want to join the ranks of entrepreneurs contact the consulate for guidance in creating start-ups. Brod recommended Bay Area entrepreneurs (at all levels of experience) visit SBA.gov for local resources.

In addition, Consumer Action’s own, newly-revised, Micro Business: Preparing for success resource is available for download and bulk order in five languages (English, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish). Upon viewing the resource, Brod deemed it “accessible, well designed and clear.” Check it out!

 

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