NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Releases Report Marking 1st Year of ‘Freelance Isn't Free Act’

 

If you are a freelancer in New York City, your chances of getting paid in a timely fashion for your work have improved during the past year, posits Victory State Bank. The only community-based business bank on Staten Island points to Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas’ announcement of a recently released report: “Demanding Rights in an On-Demand Economy: Key Findings from Year One of NYC’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act.”

The report by the DCA’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) summarizes key findings from the Office’s work implementing the law in its first year. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, the first law of its kind in the country, took effect May 15, 2017 – giving freelance workers the legal right to written contracts, timely payment, and freedom from retaliation.

In its first year, DCA received 299 inquiries about the law and 264 complaints from freelancers. The most common allegations were for payment violations (98 percent), including late payment and non-payment for services. To date, DCA has assisted freelancers in recovering $254,866 in lost wages.

The report’s findings show that freelancers who filed complaints report a high level of satisfaction with the Navigation Program, which serves freelancers who inquire about the law or seek to assert their rights under it.

Freelancers cite navigators’ quick responsiveness, high level of knowledge about the law, and their sense of caring and support. DCA will use the report’s findings to strengthen outreach and education of this critical workplace law to workers and hiring parties alike.

“I am proud of the success DCA’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards has had securing lost wages for freelance workers while empowering them to take action and seek help,” said DCA Commissioner Salas. “Our report shows that making it clear to those that hire freelancers that there is oversight of new requirements, including issuing written contracts and making timely payment has been a successful safeguard for workers, leading them to being paid on time and in full. DCA will use the findings from this report to better inform our educational outreach to ensure that all New Yorkers’ rights at work – whatever kind of work it is – are protected.”

 

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE REPORT INCLUDE:

  • The majority of freelance workers who use the Navigation Program secured payment from their hiring parties.

Findings show the Navigation Program is highly effective in securing payment for freelancers. Of the 259 complaints for payment violations DCA received since May 2017, 37 percent of freelancers were paid within 30 days, 54 percent within 60 days, and 61 percent within 90 days. Additionally, 90 percent of these freelancers received the full amount owed by their hiring party.

DCA assists freelancers in exercising their rights through the Navigation Program in a number of ways including:

1)      Fielding general inquiries about the law, so both freelancers and hiring parties are well-informed about their rights and obligations;

 

2)      Conducting initial consultations with freelancers who believe their hiring party may have violated the law;

 

3)      Attempting to resolve workers’ complaints against hiring parties by sending a notice of complaint to the hiring party and communicating the hiring party’s response to the freelancer;

 

4)      Preparing freelancers to and guiding them through the process of pursuing their claims in civil court; and

 

5)      Developing and distributing materials and training and education to help freelancers exercise their rights and hiring parties fulfill their obligations.

 

  • The majority of complainants who secured payment did not need to pursue their claim in court.

The report indicates that 21 percent of workers who filed a complaint with DCA received payment following the initial consultation with a navigator, 77 percent received payment after a navigator sent a notice of complaint to the hiring party, and 2 percent were resolved after the freelancer filed a suit in civil court.

The law includes several provisions designed to make it easier for freelancers to initiate and win lawsuits alleging breach of contract for failure to pay for services. This includes a requirement mandating hiring parties to pay double damages and attorneys’ fees when a freelancer prevails in their suit for non-payment, making relatively small cases more viable for a freelancer to pursue. Because of these added protections – hiring parties are more likely to settle outside of the courtroom, saving freelancers’ time while increasing their ability to collect lost wages sooner.

  • Complainants come from a wide range of industries and occupations, tend to be young, English-speaking, and highly educated.

While 72 percent of freelancers who filed a complaint with DCA worked in the arts and entertainment industry, individual occupations varied drastically, with the most common occupations including photographers (11 percent), film and video editors (9 percent), and journalists (8 percent).

While freelancers between the ages of 18-29 made up only 9 percent of the freelancer population in New York City, they represented 46 percent of all complaints received. Complainants also had higher levels of education (86 percent held a bachelor’s or higher compared to 49 percent of all freelancers in New York City), greater incomes ($47,500 median annual income compared to $30,000) and were far more likely to report English as their primary language (97 percent compared to 50 percent).

DCA will continue to develop and pursue strategies to reach more workers who can benefit from the law, including paid advertising and social media campaigns. DCA will use the information gathered during the first year of the law to recommend ways to improve the Freelance Isn’t Free Act.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

 

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let the Funeral Notification Scam Fool You

 

 

Scam artists have no heart when it comes to tricking their victims. Victory State Bank is pointing to a ruse that may shock and sadden, as well as rob, the victim: The “funeral notifications” scam.

In this email hoax, as described by the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection, the term "funeral notification" is written in the subject line. The intention is to deceptively inform recipients of an upcoming farewell ceremony in remembrance of a friend or loved one.

These emails appear to be sent from legitimate funeral homes and instruct recipients to click on a link for “more detailed information.” 

Beware the link – it sends victims to a third-party website where malware, or “malicious software,” is downloaded. The software causes computer havoc and allows scammers to gain access to the user’s computer information, which can then be used in fraudulent activity.

If you receive such an email, delete it immediately.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANKVSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

8 Common Types of Fraud that Target Seniors

 

 

Criminals often see seniors as an easy mark for scams. Being aware of the variety of frauds that are commonly perpetrated against seniors is a vital step in protecting yourself, Victory State Bank says.

To assist in your anti-fraud efforts, Staten Island’s only community-based commercial bank issharingthe following list from the U.S. General Services Administration’s “Consumer Action Handbook,” which highlights eight types of fraud that are commonly committed against seniors:

§  Caregiver fraud

A staff member at a nursing home, friend, or family member steals your money.

§  Funeral and cemetery fraud

You pay unnecessary charges for funeral and burial services.

§  Health care or health insurance fraud

You receive bills for medical services or equipment that you never received or ordered.

§  Housing fraud

Real estate professionals attempt to gain access to the equity from your property. They may also fail to explain repayment requirements on reverse mortgages.

§  ID theft

Scam artists use your personal information to apply for loans, file taxes, or get medical care.

§  Internet fraud

Emails, online ads, pop ups, and search results may be designed to trick you into sending money and personal information.

§  Investment schemes

Seniors may fall victim to advanced fee schemes, pyramid schemes, and other financial crimes.

§  Telemarketing fraud

Scammers call, selling bogus products and services over the phone.

WHERE TO REPORT FRAUD

To report fraud, contact your state consumer protection office or the relevant federal agency listed here:

§  Financial Fraud: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Phone: 1-855-411-2372

Online: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint

§  Housing Fraud: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Phone: 1-800-669-9777

Online: www.hud.gov/complaints_home

§  Identity Theft: Federal Trade Commission

Phone 1-877-382-4357

Online: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

§  Internet Fraud: Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Online: www.ic3.gov

§  Investment Fraud: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Phone: 1-800-732-0330

Online: www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml

FINRA Phone: 1-844-574-3577

§  Medicare Fraud: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General

Phone: 1-800-447-8477

Online: https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/

§  Not Sure What Type of Complaint

If you are uncertain about the fraud category, contact the Senate Special Committee on Aging Fraud.

Phone: 1-855-303-9470

Online: www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline

 

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ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Credit Card Travel Protections

 You May Not Know About

 

As the summer vacation season nears, some Staten Islanders may already be thinking about their travel plans. When using your credit card for travel purchases, make sure you’re aware of additional safeguards the card may offer, advises Victory State Bank.

To help ensure you take best advantage of such perks, the only community-based business bank on Staten Island is sharing the following information from USA.gov:

Your credit card may offer you some protections that are not typically advertised.

For example, when using your credit card for travel purchases, your credit card issuer may offer you travel insurance in certain situations:

 

§  Your trip is delayed.

  

§  You need to cancel your trip because you or a family member becomes ill.

  

§  Your luggage gets lost during travel.

 

If you rent a car, you may be offered auto insurance coverage as part of the rental. Some credit card networks even offer return assistance programs that extend the window for returning unused merchandise.

Keep in mind: The rules vary between cards and the issuers.

 

FIND YOUR CREDIT CARD AGREEMENT

Check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) credit card agreement database to find your credit card agreement and learn which additional protections you have. 

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Report: Consumers Continue to Carefully Manage Credit Card Debt

 

As an advocate of financial literacy and responsibility, Victory State Bank – Staten Island’s only community-based business bank – stresses the importance of using credit wisely. When it comes to the use of credit cards, in particularly, a newly released report indicates American consumers are maintaining manageable levels of debt.

According to the American Bankers Association’s latest quarterly Credit Card Market Monitor, Credit card use continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2017 on the back of a strong holiday season for consumer spending. On an annual basis, monthly purchase volumes rose 3.9 percent for prime accounts and 5.1 percent for super-prime accounts, but fell 3.0 percent for subprime accounts. Since mid-2015, monthly purchase volumes for prime and super-prime accounts have increased 16 and 19 percent respectively, but are up just 2.9 percent for subprime accounts over the same period.

The April 2018 Monitor, which consists of credit card data from October through December 2017, also found that the number of new accounts (those opened in the previous 24 months) declined compared to the previous quarter for the first time in nearly five years (though new account opens rose slightly on a year over year basis). The total number of open credit card accounts expanded in the fourth quarter, but at the slowest pace in nearly three years.

Credit card credit outstanding as a share of disposable income increased 13 basis points to 5.73 percent in the fourth quarter, consistent with seasonal spending patterns. This metric remains well below pre-recession levels and is essentially unchanged from where it stood in late 2011 and early 2012.

 “Consumers have worked hard to ensure credit card debt remains at manageable levels,” said Jess Sharp, executive director of ABA’s Card Policy Council. “Even as spending levels increase, credit card debt as a share of disposable income remains low by historical standards.”

 Consumers Continue to Carefully Manage Credit Card Debt

Data from the fourth quarter also show that credit card users were slightly more active, with the share of Dormant accounts falling 0.6 percentage point. Meanwhile, the share of Transactors (those who pay their monthly balance in full each month) increased 0.4 percentage point to 29.5 percent of all accounts, while the share of Revolvers (those who carry a monthly balance) rose 0.3 percentage point to 44.0 percent — the same level at which it started 2017.

Average credit lines among all accounts rose across risk tiers compared to the previous quarter, but remain well below post-recession highs, particularly for prime (26 percent lower) and subprime (23 percent lower) accounts. Among new accounts, average prime and subprime credit lines increased to levels not seen since 2010, while super-prime credit lines are now above 2008 levels.

“The economy is performing well, and consumers are benefitting,” Sharp said. “The strong labor market is helping to drive consumer confidence levels near all-time highs, and card issuers are responding by judiciously expanding credit access to new and existing customers.”

 The full report with detailed charts and statistics is available here.

ABOUT THE CREDIT CARD MARKET MONITOR

The American Bankers Association Credit Card Market Monitor is a quarterly report that provides key statistics on industry trends and relevant economic factors affecting the industry.  The credit card data used in the report is taken from a nationally representative sample provided by Argus Information Services LLC.  Credit card data are presented as national averages for all accounts based on actual credit card account information.  No individual account holder’s information or specific financial institution’s data can be identified from the data set.  Other data used in the report are taken from various public and private sources, including the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Federal Reserve.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.