We focus on ensuring laws are in place to protect consumers’ financial well-being, such as preventing predatory lending, and on opening doors to the financial mainstream. We particularly work to help disenfranchised communities gain access to financial products and services to close opportunity gaps and promote economic mobility.
With a grassroots-centered approach to outreach and education, we assist consumers with their financial literacy by teaching the importance of bank accounts and credit ratings, effective ways to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud, proactive approaches to financial management, and avoidance of predatory lending practices that ensnare consumers with promises of easy money or debt elimination but often result in hefty fees and additional debt.
Georgia Watch’s financial protection advocacy seeks to provide low-wealth individuals and communities the tools they need to attain and improve financial literacy, and gain access to financial products and services to close opportunity gaps and promote economic mobility.
Georgia Watch works to educate and empower consumers by:
- Providing tailored workshops designed to encourage proactive approaches to financial management, debt elimination, managing bank accounts and credit ratings, and avoiding predatory lending products, such as payday and title pawn loans.
- Conducting in-depth research on priority issues related to consumer finances.
- Training intermediaries and advocates on how to assist clients with identifying, preventing and reporting identity theft, scams and fraud.
- Providing commentary on proposed legislation at the federal and state level that has the potential to impact consumer protections around financial services or products.
FINANCIAL PROTECTION RESOURCES:
|Credit Freeze||You have the right to ask the consumer reporting agencies that operate on a nationwide basis to freeze your credit files and lift the freeze, whenever you want, at no charge.||Freezing Your Credit|
|Predatory Lending||An in-depth look at the types of small-dollar loans permitted in Georgia, how they are regulated, and who predatory lenders target. This paper also provides some recommendations for changes to state law that will protect consumers from predatory lenders.||Making Small-Dollar Lending Safer for Georgians|
|Credit Reporting||Each year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) releases a list of consumer reporting companies. This list includes the three nationwide consumer reporting companies as well as other smaller companies that focus on certain market areas and consumer segments. The list provides tips to help determine which company may be important to you.||CFPB 2018 List of Consumer Reporting Companies|
|Identity Theft||A brief guide about how to protect yourself from identity theft.||Avoiding Identity Theft|
|Identity Theft||Some tips about how to protect your personal and financial information in light of the Equifax breach.||What You Need to Know About Equifax Breach|
|Military Consumer Protection||Free app designed to help Georgia-based servicemembers, veterans and their families be more informed consumers.||Basic Training App|
|Tax Preparation||Learn about free tax preparation assistance, as well as how to avoid the unnecessary expense of paid preparers, keep more of your tax refunds, and choose your tax preparer wisely.||Preparing for Tax Season|
|Military Consumer Protection||A set of infographics offering useful tips about how to protect yourself in the marketplace.||Military Consumer Protection Tips|
|Military Consumer Protection||A guide containing pertinent information regarding key consumer issues as well as state and federal legal protections for military personnel in the marketplace.||Georgia Military Consumer Protection Guide|
|Crédito||También conocido como un bloqueo de seguridad, esta herramienta le permite restringir el acceso a su informe de crédito.||Congelar su Crédito: Preguntas Frecuentes|
|Consejos para Evitar las Estafas para Los americanos de mayor||Los americanos de mayor edad son uno de los grupos más grandes sujetos a fraudes. Las personas de la tercera edad generalmente tienen buen crédito y un patrimonio que los ladrones intentan robar. Los estafadores cuentan con que las personas mayores son demasiado respetuosas para hacer preguntas especificas o decir que “no”.||Consejos para Evitar las Estafas (Spanish)|
|Payday Lending||Georgia consumers have been spared the crippling cost of paying tripledigit interest on payday loans. Georgia has saved its families over $350 million in hard earned income since banning payday lenders in 2004.||Payday Lending Report|
|Foreclosure||Part II of a Financial Protection Program report outlining policy reform to curb reckless lending in the State of Georgia.||Georgia Foreclosure Crisis Report: Part II|
|Foreclosure||Part I of a Financial Protection Program report outlining the rippling effects of reckless lending in Georgia.||Georgia Foreclosure Crisis Report: Part I|
|Debt Settlement||Debt settlement companies target financially distressed people and offer to negotiate with creditors on their behalf in an attempt to reach a lump sum settlement for less than the full amount owed. BUT, the practice exposes consumers to substantial financial risks.||What is Debt Settlement?|
|Senior Scams||Tips for avoiding and reporting incidents of identity theft and scams, specifically for older adults.||Avoiding Senior Scams & ID Theft|
|Credit||What is a credit freeze? Find out how freezing your credit can protect your assets, and the credit of those you love.||Credit Freeze FAQs|
READ OUR LATEST UPDATES ON FINANCIAL PROTECTION:
- Support legislation to protect Georgians from predatory “car title” loans
- Support protections from garnishment of wages and bank accounts by debt collectors
- Support adoption of an “equity impact tool” to measure proposed legislation or regulation
- Support appropriation of funding to establish an All-Payer Claims Database (APCD)
- Support appropriation of funding for a state certification and training process for CHWs