Military Consumer Protection Month

July is designated as national Military Consumer Protection Month!

Make each day of this Military Consumer Protection Month a step forward on your path to being a smarter and safer consumer by exploring the resources below:

Military Consumer is a joint initiative by federal and state agencies, consumer advocates, and military support groups from around the country, to empower active duty and retired servicemembers, military families, veterans and civilians in the military community.

The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) is proud to support our troops who work hard every day to protect our freedoms. Visit DBO’s website for educational materials developed to inform troops about financial scams and predatory lending.

Avoid Summer Travel Scams

Planning a summer vacation? Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for scam-free travel …

Summer Study: Understanding 529 College Savings Plans

Another school year has come to an end. For many parents, it’s a time when they realize that their child is one year closer to going to college, which, in turn, means it is a year closer to having to pay for higher education expenses.

Read more:



June is Homeownership Month

June is Homeownership Month! This month-long national campaign reinforces the belief that owning a home remains one of the cornerstones of the American Dream. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, or facing foreclosure, learn important information and resources regarding homeownership and the home-buying process, loan modifications, foreclosure prevention, mortgage fraud, and mortgage-related scams. The California Department of Business Oversight’s (DBO) Path to Homeownership booklet is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. Remember, an educated borrower is better prepared for successful, long-term homeownership and overall financial stability. For more information, visit the DBO Mortgage Education Program. More consumer education and protection information is also available at the DBO Consumers page.

May is Older Americans Month

May is Older Americans Month, 2018

May is Older Americans Month, a campaign to raise awareness of vital aging issues across the country. The DBO has valuable information and resources to help alert and educate California’s older adults about investment fraud, unscrupulous sales practices, and financial scams. Check out the links below to learn more.

Protect Yourself From Fraud booklet:

More consumer education and protection information is also available at the DBO Consumers page:





My Departure… Please Don’t Stop! Keep Going…



As you may have heard, I’ll be leaving my position as director for education and outreach here at DBO, and my last day is coming up on Friday, April 13!

Starting Monday, April 16, I will serve as the assistant director of marketing and communications for the California Complete Count Census.

My email will be I also have a gmail account that is already available, We’ll have a website up soon ( but for now, you can learn about the 2020 Census and how you can partner to help the effort by visiting We’ll be on social media soon as well (Census 2020 – California Complete Count). I’ll be conducting convenings around the state, so please look for invitations to participate. I hope to see some of you there!

Before setting off, I wanted to reach out to you and let you know how great it’s been to work with you and for some, our work will continue. I have enjoyed collaborating with you on financial education activities. This has been a valuable career experience, a total of 18 years with DFI (2001-2014) and DBO (2014-2018). 

Together, we  launched California Financial Literacy Month in April 2001, we visited schools and classrooms, we conducted hundreds of events (and attended thousands!) to help consumers improve their financial futures, and we received awards and recognition for our web, marketing and outreach projects, including a GOLD Award for this blog from the State Information Officers Council.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. And if you need to reach DBO, please email


Alana Golden


FTC continues to crack down on student loan scams

A lot of us have student loans – and some of us have trouble paying them every month. Some companies claim to resolve that issue by saying they can help you pay them down quicker, cheaper or get them forgiven altogether. Be cautious – some of these companies are running scams.

Here are some tips to avoid student loan repayment scams:
•Never pay an upfront fee. It’s illegal for companies to charge you in advance before helping you to reduce or get rid of your student loan debt. Companies that make you pay upfront might give you no help and not give your money back.
•Only scammers promise fast loan forgiveness. Before they know your situation, scammers might say they can quickly get rid of your loans through a loan forgiveness program. But they can’t.
•A Department of Education seal doesn’t mean it’s legit. Scammers use official-looking names and logos and say they have special access to certain federal programs. They don’t.
•Don’t share your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID with anyone. Scammers could use it to take control of your personal financial aid information on U.S. Department of Education websites.

Last month, the FTC announced a lawsuit against American Financial Benefits Center (AFBC), Financial Education Benefits Center (FEBC), AmeriTech Financial, and Brandon Demond Frere as part of its crackdown against unlawful student loan debt relief practices, Operation Game of Loans. The FTC alleges that the companies charged illegal, upfront fees and failed to deliver on their promises to enroll people into a government program that they claimed would permanently lower monthly loan payments or result in total loan forgiveness.

The FTC also alleges the companies charged a monthly fee for the life of the loan (typically 10-25 years) and represented that the fee would go towards the student loan balance. But it didn’t.

You don’t have to pay for help with your student loans. There’s nothing a company can do for you that you cannot do yourself for free: federal borrowers can start with; private borrowers can start by talking with their loan servicer.

Spotted a scam? Let us know about it.

DBO Student Loan Consumer Advisory

To protect themselves from unaffordable repayment plans and damage to their
credit score, it’s important for student loan borrowers to be familiar with all
of the repayment options available to them. When they are approved for a
student loan, borrowers should review the loan type and know when they need
to start making payments. Borrowers should communicate regularly with their
loan servicer and utilize online account management tools to ensure their loan
is in good standing and their payments are recorded accurately.

BEWARE: Your student loan servicer may attempt to steer you away
from income-based repayment plans that have lower monthly payments
and into standard payment plans that are easier for them to service.

California’s Student Loan Market
54% of California students graduate college with student loan debt balances averaging more
than $22,000. As of January 2015, 4,156,000 student loan borrowers in California owed a
combined $112 billion in student loan debt. 41 million Americans owe a total of $1.2 trillion
in student loan debt, surpassing both auto loan and credit card debts.

Read entire advisory at

SAVE THE DATE! Financial Education Workshop in Sacramento

Financial Education Workshop

Speaker: Anita R. Johnson,
Financial Psychologist

Join Us!


March 14, 2018
Robertson Community Center
3525 Norwood Ave. Sacramento, CA 95838
6:00pm – 8:00pm

National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is a time to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money, credit, mortgages, retirement and learn how to avoid financial fraud and scams.

A representative from the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) will discuss the risks related to high-cost payday loans and how to avoid financial fraud and scams.

An interactive session with a financial behavior coach will help participants learn how to get out of debt, save for emergencies, buy a home and save for retirement.

Free materials


Financial Ed Flyer Sacramento Anita Johnson 2018

payday workshop sac 2018

FDIC Encourages Consumers of All Ages to Set and Achieve Savings Goals

America Saves Week

America Saves Week is February 26 – March 3, 2018

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today is encouraging people to use America Saves Week as an opportunity to develop, or review their progress toward, financial goals.

FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said, “During America Saves Week, financial institutions and their community partners collaborate to help people of all ages develop and achieve savings goals. Small steps in building a savings habit can make a big difference over time.”

The FDIC offers a number of resources to institutions interested in supporting savings and to individuals of all ages who are interested in learning more about saving. For instance, through the FDIC’s Youth Banking Network, financial institutions are working with schools and nonprofit organizations to teach financial education and offer students an opportunity to open a savings account—for many students, their first account.
Many organizations work together during America Saves Week to encourage consumers to make a savings commitment and then take steps to make savings automatic, such as setting up a regular transfer into a savings account. Developing this type of savings habit can help consumers withstand unexpected expenses and income disruptions.