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Housing outreach for National Consumer Protection Week
Consumer Action attended a Consumer Education Fair organized by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs during National Consumer Protection Week.The 18th annual Consumer Information Fair at Evans Community Adult School provided Consumer Action Outreach Manager Nelson Santiago an opportunity to reach several hundred adult school students with educational materials on buying a home, improving credit scores, and avoiding predatory loans among other topics.
The event, now expanded to two days, was held on Wednesday, March 4, and Saturday, March 7. Santiago provided information to a diverse student body of new immigrants enrolled in the school's ESL programs and to other adult students pursuing high school diplomas or vocational education. Students picked up materials at Consumer Action's resource table and asked Santiago lots of questions ranging from tips on foreclosure prevention to where to find the best interest rates for mortgages.
One student talked to Santiago about how she had recently decided to close her bank accounts after accidentally overdrawing her checking account when she thought she was accessing her savings account. "I got confused and decided to close them," she said. After talking it over with Santiago she agreed that having a bank account was valuable, and said she would look into reopening her accounts after reading Consumer Action's Banking Basics and Tracking Your Money brochures.
Santiago was also invited to speak in the school's classrooms on both days of the fair. During the classroom sessions, Santiago and the students discussed the importance of establishing good credit for their success as new Americans. "Good credit will help you on so many levels," Santiago explained, "you'll be able to rent your own apartment, easily pass pre-employment credit screenings, and achieve the American dream of owning your own home while securing the best available interest rates." During the workshops, Santiago also engaged the class in role playing activities in which students tested their skill at spotting and avoiding predatory loans.
The annual fair is organized by the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs. The Department's Director, Pastor Herrera, Jr. said that he was honored to have Consumer Action at the fair. "You're one of the few agencies with materials translated into multiple languages," he told Santiago. "There is a heightened awareness of the need for consumer protection right now, and school administrators really appreciate our involvement," Herrera added.
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