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July 24, 2007

Blagojevich Administration Partners with UAW Leadership to Offer Consumer Protection Training

SPRINGFIELD - Representatives of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) today met with leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW) retiree chapters from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, to train them to help their members deal with financial planning, health care quality, and other consumer issues.

In 2004, Governor Blagojevich created the state's first one-stop consumer protection agency to give Illinois families a place to go for help with the professionals they rely on for financial advice, for medical care, and for the hundreds of other services that depend on professional assistance.  That agency, IDFPR, regulates financial institutions, real estate transactions, health care professionals and all types of insurance. 

"Financial planning for seniors on fixed incomes can be particularly stressful.  Every time the cost of gasoline, electricity or health care rises, retirees feel the impact immediately," said Dean Martinez, Secretary, IDFPR.  "The leadership team at the Region 4 Retirees Summer School will be able to warn their members about the pitfalls seniors face when unscrupulous salespeople or health care providers take advantage of retired workers.”  

The program focuses on options available to seniors who need additional income, either for themselves or their families.  By providing information and reference materials about reverse mortgages, fixed and variable annuities and other tools designed for retirees, seniors can better protect themselves and money.

“As leaders, we know that our members sometimes need a little extra help when faced with a healthcare or financial crisis,” said Wayne Hungerford, UAW Region 4 Retiree Representative. 
“Learning what state agencies can and can't do to help provides our members with the information and resources they will need down the road.”
The program also covers IDFPR's role in making sure that Illinois retirees get the best possible health care available.  As the agency that regulates medical and health care professionals as well as oversees private health insurance programs, IDFPR offers senior citizens a one-stop-shop for checking the backgrounds of licensed professionals and filing complaints if health care services fail to meet expectations.

Finally, UAW leadership will hear about mortgage flipping schemes, short-term lending deals and other potential pitfalls seniors can face while trying to make limited incomes stretch to meet rising costs.

IDFPR recently uncovered a mortgage flipping scheme that preyed on retirees who owned their own homes, but didn't have enough money to maintain the properties.  The workshop will allow UAW members to learn about other options offered by State and local governments as well as non-profit agencies in communities across the state.

Today’s meeting is part of an ongoing series of workshops and seminars offered to senior organizations across the state. In the past year, senior staff members of IDFPR have met with dozens of senior organizations to address similar issues.  Organization leaders may call 1-800-280-4140 to request a workshop for their organization.

UAW Region 4 hosts two annual summer schools at the Pat Greathouse Education Center in Ottawa.  The July session is for 140 retirees serving in leadership positions at their local chapters.  Region 4 has approximately 77,000 retired UAW members.


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