Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
Assemblywoman
Catherine
Nolan
Special
Report

SUMMER 2005


SPECIAL REPORT ON BANKING ISSUES

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to be able to send you this “Special Report on Banking Issues,” which I hope you will find helpful. It contains information on basic banking and consumer issues to help you decide which banking services are right for you and your family.

Speaker Sheldon Silver asked me to take on a leadership role and chair the Assembly’s Committee on Banks. Since that time I have focused the committee’s efforts on enhancing consumer banking protections and maintaining a competitive balance among financial institutions. I have successfully passed numerous new banking related laws including a new law to extend the retention period for ATM surveillance tapes in an effort to curb ATM fraud. Just as I was writing this letter, the Assembly passed a bill that I wrote to protect consumers from deed theft scams that result in the loss of their homes and the equity they have built up.

My efforts have centered on working with community groups to ensure that credible, consumer friendly financial services are available in our community. I have held public hearings and community meetings to discuss the necessity of expanding the variety of financial services available for residents of Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and Astoria Houses. Since then, I have been working with various financial services institutions in order to address this need.

As your representative, I rely on your input on issues. This report contains a questionnaire on banking issues. I hope that you will take a few minutes to answer the questions and return the form to my office. Your input on this important community issue is invaluable to me as we strive to obtain more banking services in the Long Island City/Astoria area. Thank you.

Sincerely,
signature
Catherine Nolan

District Offices Addresses
61-08 Linden Street, Ridgewood, NY 11385 (718) 456-9492
45-25 47th Street, Woodside, NY 11377 (718) 784-3194
e-mail:



FINANCIAL LITERACY FUNDS DELIVERED
TO LAGUARDIA COMMUITY COLLEGE

I am pleased to announce that I was able to obtain $250,000 in state funds to establish a financial literacy pilot program at LaGuardia Community College. This allocation is expected to be matched by the New York State Banking Department for a total of $500,000.

These funds will be used to create financial literacy classes and to explore steps needed to establish a certificate program in financial planning.

I have had the pleasure of working closely on the issue of financial literacy with LaGuardia’s President, Dr. Gail Mellow, as well as the Director of LaGuardia’s Small Business Development Center, Joyce Moy. We share the belief that gaining financial knowledge at any age is critical to building confidence and creating opportunities for success.

A community college, like Long Island City’s LaGuardia, has the ability to reach and educate a diverse range of community members. This program will empower community residents and give guidance to a growing number of entrepreneurs in our community.

I am thrilled to have been able to secure these funds for such an important program. I am excited for the pilot program’s potential in our community and confident in LaGuardia Community College’s ability to make it a success.




OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT:

photo Credit unions bring a wealth of accessible financial services to the communities they serve. I arranged a meeting between Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the New York State Credit Union League (NYSCUL) to discuss the group’s efforts to expand financial services to all Queens residents. Pictured above with me from left to right are Michael Lenotte, General Counsel NYSCUL, Amy Kramer, Government Affairs, NYSCUL, Borough President Helen Marshall, Brian Quiara, my Assembly Banks Committee Senior Analyst and Brad Nozick, management consultant, NYSCUL Metropolitan district.
Types of Banks
  • Savings Banks - are for-profit businesses that take deposits of money, invest that money and pay interest to the depositer out of the money generated from investments. They also may make credit available to those depositors.

  • Credit Unions - are non-profit cooperative financial institutions, owned and controlled by the people who use them. Members share something in common, such as where they work, live or go to church.

  • Commercial Banks – used to deal only with businesses but now also offer individuals most of the same services and benefits as savings and loans and credit unions.

  • Investment Banks – are companies that give investment advice. They buy and sell stocks and bonds.

Choosing an Account

There are different accounts from which to choose depending on your needs and your financial situation.

photo I recently hosted a meeting at Goodwill Industries to strategize on how to bring much needed financial services to the Long Island City/Astoria community. I am pleased to continue to work with Pastor Mitchell Taylor of the Center of Hope International on this project and I am extremely grateful for all of his efforts. Pictured above with me from left to right ate Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Pastor Taylor and Senator George Onorato.

* Basic Banking – All New York State banks are required by law to offer low-cost or “lifeline” accounts called Basic Banking Accounts. Basic Banking Accounts can be opened with less than $25, have a minimum balance of one cent, a minimum of eight free withdrawals and a maximum charge to you of $3 per month. If you want a Basic Banking Account, you cannot have any other transaction account at that bank or any other bank, and you must be a resident of New York.

* Savings – A savings account is a deposit account that earns interest. That interest is known as an annual percentage rate or APR. The APR is the amount your money will earn if left in the bank for one year.

* Checking – A checking account allows you to deposit money, withdraw money and write checks to pay for purchases and bills. Most banks will also provide a debit or ATM card or a checkbook to allow you to withdraw cash and make deposits at your bank’s ATM machines.




Decide what kind of account or
combination of accounts is right for you:

  • How much money do I need to open an account?
  • Is there a minimum amount of money that I need to keep in the account at all times to avoid fees?
  • How much interest will I earn?
  • Does this account include a debit or check card?
  • What are the charges for using my debit card at my bank? At another bank?
  • Can I bank online or by phone?
  • What fees are charged for bounced checks?
  • How many checks can I write each month without being charged a fee?
  • Are there any other fees that I should be aware of?



WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Frequently Asked Questions. . .


photo Neighborhood activists, community development administrators and elected officials came out to participate in the meeting I hosted at Goodwill Industries on enhancing financial services in our community. Many good ideas came together as a result of this gathering.

My bank statement showed a debit that I didn’t make – what can I do about it?

Call your bank immediately – report problems within 60 days of the date of the statement. Contact a customer service representative or a bank manager for assistance. They will take down the details of your complaint and initiate an investigation. The bank must let you know the outcome of the investigation.

What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

Making a purchase with a credit card is like taking out a loan that you must pay back later. You may charge up to the limit posed by the issuer and interest can be accrued. A debit card is an ATM card that allows you to make purchases. Debit cards look just like traditional ATM cards, but they are often confused with credit cards. Think of it as cash or immediate access to a checking account. The money is quickly deducted from your account. Debit cards do not carry the same consumer protection as credit cards. Federal law permits a maximum liability of $50 if the lost or stolen card is reported within two days of discovery. The liability increases to $500 after if reported within 60 days. After 60 days there is no limit on liability. Keep in mind that many banks do not allow you to stop payment on a debit card transaction.

The bank I went to would not cash my payroll check. Can they do that?

If you do not have an account at the bank, it has the right not to cash your check. However, your employer can make arrangements with the bank to cash payroll checks.

photo I enjoyed speaking with Carol Wilkins, President of the Ravenswood Residentsí Association and Dr. Simona Tait, Region 4, Department of Education about financial literacy programs.

How long is a personal check valid?

Six months. A bank is not obligated to honor the check after the validity date has expired.

What is the difference between overdraft protection and draft protection?

An overdraft occurs when the balance of your checking account is negative, resulting from writing a check or making a withdrawal for an amount totaling more than the amount in your account.

* Overdraft protection is an optional banking service. With overdraft protection, a line of credit or another account that you have at your bank is linked to your checking account so that, when an overdraft occurs, funds are automatically transferred to cover the negative balance.

* Bounce protection is a service that banks will sometimes automatically attach to your checking account. With bounce protection the bank covers overdrafts up to a certain limit and charges the account holder their standard insufficient funds fee for each overdraft. These overdrafts must be repaid or accounts brought to a positive balance within a set period of time, generally within 30 days. Some banks will charge a daily fee until there is a positive balance in the account. Some banks will include the bounce protection amount you have available when they give you your available balance.

I deposited a check but the bank has not credited my account. How long does it take for a check to clear?

Availability of funds generally depends on three things: where the check is drawn (a local or out-of-town institution), the amount of the deposit, and the issuer on the check. A check can take from one to five days for all of the funds that it represents to become available.




WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a few minutes and complete the survey below and mail it back to my office. Your input is invaluable to me as we work to obtain greater financial services for the Long Island City/Astoria communities.

Are you currently an account-holder of either a savings or checking account? (please circle all that apply)

savings account

checking account

If you are currently an account holder, is your account with a bank or a credit union? (please circle all that apply)

bank

credit union

If you are not currently an account holder, which of the following reasons apply to your decision not to have a savings or checking account? (please circle all that apply)

location

fees charged

minimum balance requirements

other (please describe)

Which of the following financial services do you currently use? (please circle all that apply)

bank

credit union

check cashing institution

ATM machine in a bank

ATM machine in a store

other (please describe)

How far must you travel to reach the following financial services?

bank


ATM machine in a store


credit union


ATM machine in a bank


money transmission service


Please describe your opinions about the financial services currently available in the Long Island City/Astoria area below by circling the appropriate response.

I am SATISFIED with the NUMBER of the following financial services in my community: (please circle all that apply)

banks credit unions ATM machines check cashing institutions money transmitters

I am SATISFIED with the LOCATION of the following financial services in my community: (please circle all that apply)

banks credit unions ATM machines check cashing institutions money transmitters

I am NOT SATISFIED with the NUMBER of the following financial services in my community: (please circle all that apply)

banks credit unions ATM machines check cashing institutions money transmitters

I am NOT SATISFIED with the LOCATION of the following financial services in my community: (please circle all that apply)

banks credit unions ATM machines check cashing institutions money transmitters

Which ONE of the following financial services would you most like to see added to the Long Island City/Astoria community? (please circle the appropriate response)

bank
credit union
ATM machine in a bank
ATM machine in a store
check cashing institution
money transmission service

Do you currently receive your paycheck in the form of a payroll card or debit card? (please circle the appropriate response)

yes

no

**Click here for a printable form**

Please place this page in a stamped enevelope and mail to:
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
Legislative Office Bldg. Room 424
Albany, NY 12248

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