Consumer Action and Capital One announced the launch of Money Wi$e, a national financial literacy partnership. Money Wi$e is the nation’s first program to combine free, multilingual financial education materials with community training and seminars.
Survey Says: Americans Need More Financial Information
A recent survey* conducted for Capital One and Consumer Action showed that while nearly two-fifths (37 percent) of adults worry about being denied credit in the future, almost two-thirds (65 percent) have not obtained a copy of their credit report during the last year. Further, 60 percent of respondents are not aware of free community resources to help manage personal finances, but 45 percent said they would use them if made available.
“Unfortunately, most adults ‘learn as they go’ when it comes to handling personal finances,” said Diana Don, Director of Financial Education at Capital One. “This approach often results in missteps that can lead to lifelong financial problems. We’re delighted to be partnering with Consumer Action to help consumers learn how to better control their financial futures.”
According to Consumer Action Executive Director Ken McEldowney, the Money Wi$e program is designed to address consumers’ greatest needs. “Managing finances is a challenge for many individuals,” said McEldowney. “We’re thrilled that Capital One is willing to step up to give people the tools they need to make smart financial decisions.”
Survey results also reinforce a need for education among non-English speaking groups. For example, 62 percent of Spanish-speaking adults surveyed worry about being denied credit in the future, but only 25 percent have obtained a copy of their credit report during the last year.
Materials Focus on Top Problem Areas
The Money Wi$e series of simple, straightforward brochures is produced in five languages (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese) and will be made available to more than 6,500 community organizations nationwide, as well as directly to consumers at [http://www.consumer-action.org] and [http://www.capitalone.com].
The first brochures focus on the top problem areas: “Understanding Credit” (see below), “Money Management,” “Basic Banking,” and “Going from Bad Credit to Good Credit.”
“Providing information in multiple languages enables us to reach a wider circle of people,” said McEldowney. “For many of these individuals, education is especially important since they may be dealing with not only a language barrier but also with unfamiliar systems or practices.”
Top 5 Credit Tips
From “Understanding Credit,” a Money Wi$e publication
From Consumer Action & Capital One
Check it. Review your credit report at least once a year to check for errors or fraudulent activity. The three largest credit bureaus are: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
Fix it. Contact the three credit bureaus and your lenders to correct mistakes on your credit report.
Use it. Demonstrate wise use of credit — especially when you’re establishing credit for the first time. Make purchases regularly and pay your account.
Watch it. To maintain good credit, keep your balance well under your credit limit and pay your bills on time.
Control it. Moderation is key. People with good credit only have a few loans or credit cards. Don’t max out your credit.
Money Wi$e: Materials, Training and Seminars
The materials will be available directly to consumers online at [http://www.consumer-action.org] or [http://www.capitalone.com] , or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Consumer Action Money Wi$e, 717 Market Street, Suite 310, San Francisco, CA 94103. Consumers can find information about local counseling sessions and workshops by calling Consumer Action at 415-777-9635.
Trained by Consumer Action, and equipped with materials and a training/curriculum manual, Capital One employees will begin to volunteer near the company’s headquarters in Virginia to teach financial education to the public. Capital One will give associates two days off each year for volunteering their time to the Money Wi$e program.
About Capital One
Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE: COF) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products. Capital One’s subsidiaries collectively had 40.1 million customers and $38.5 billion in managed loans outstanding as of September 30, 2001. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 500 index.
About Consumer Action
Consumer Action is a non-profit, membership-based organization founded in San Francisco in 1971. Consumer Action serves consumers nationwide by advancing consumer rights, referring consumers to complaint-handling agencies and publishing multilingual educational materials. Consumer Action also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers and compares prices on credit cards, bank accounts and long distance services.
*Survey conducted by International Communications Research