BOSTON, Feb. 24 -- The Massachusetts Office for Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation issued the following news release:
The Massachusetts Division of Banks today kicked off its participation in the 2014 America Saves Week (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/government/oca-agencies/dob-lp/america-saves-week/) campaign, occurring February 24 to March 1. The campaign serves as an opportunity for financial institutions, non-profits and other organizations to inform consumers about savings programs and encourage them to make positive changes to their financial behavior.
"We encourage consumers to use the America Saves tips not just this week, but all year," said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR). "The '18-65' law allows Massachusetts consumers who are 18 or younger or 65 and older to take advantage of a free checking and free savings account at any Massachusetts state-chartered bank. This kind of bank account is a perfect teaching tool to encourage younger consumers to learn about savings and to help elder consumers actually save money."
The Division encourages the financial community to participate in America Saves Week by actively informing consumers about saving programs at their institutions and providing them with helpful information about financial literacy so consumers can make well-informed decisions about their banking options. To further this mission, the Division has collaborated with various organizations to promote safe banking practices. Homebuyer workshops and financial awareness events are being held at Oak Hill CDC (http://oakhillcdc.org/) in Worcester, Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership (http://www.mvhp.org/) in Lowell, and Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (http://noahcdc.org/) (NOAH) in East Boston.
Individual and first-time homeownership centers offer programs to train and counsel potential homebuyers about both the financial and physical aspects of homeownership. Financial education courses teach potential buyers about budgeting and savings plans, credit and debt management, shopping for and negotiating a loan. Other courses provide information about lead paint issues, home maintenance and repair, permits and codes and landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities.
Through partnerships with the Massachusetts Credit Union League and Metro Credit Union, the Division will also participate in a small business fair to encourage savings and financial goal setting for entrepreneurs. The fair will be held on February 25, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30p.m. at Metro Credit Union, 365 Broadway Street, Chelsea, Mass.
"We want to get the message of 'savings' out to as many groups as possible, and America Saves Week is an ideal time to come together to promote savings and financial education," said Commissioner of Banks David Cotney. "These initiatives can help more consumers onto a path of savings."
Since America Saves Week was founded in 2007, over 350,000 people have made a personal commitment to save nearly $22 million. Consumers have increased their savings for education, emergency funds, investment savings and homeownership, while also strengthening their financial security.
Through state-chartered banks, the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council hosts a program called "Basic Banking (http://mcbc.info/basic_banking)," which offers low-cost checking an d/or savings accounts at nearly 130 financial institutions across the Commonwealth. Basic Banking checking accounts cost no more than $25 to open, charge a $3 monthly fee, and give the consumer at least 15 free withdrawals and 8 free checks per month.
The Division of Banks urges consumers, financial institutions and non-profit organizations to join in the America Saves week campaign. For more information about the campaign, visit the Division's website (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/government/oca-agencies/dob-lp/america-saves-week/america-saves-week-for-consumers.html). Consumers are encouraged to visit www.americasavesweek.org, follow @AmericaSaves (https://twitter.com/americasaves)on Twitter and join the America Saves Week conversation using #ASW2014.
The Division of Banks is an agency within the OCABR and oversees state-chartered banks and credit unions, check sellers, debt collectors, foreign transmittal agencies, mortgage lenders and brokers. Visit the Division of Banks website at www.mass.gov/dob.
The OCABR is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog (http://blog.mass.gov/consumer/), on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/massconsumer/) and on Twitter @Mass_Consumer (http://www.twitter.com/mass_consumer).
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