News Release

New Jersey Department of
Banking and Insurance
Commissioner Holly C. Bakke

For Immediate Release:   July 30, 2003

For Further Information::  Mary Caffrey or
Ellen Lovejoy - (609) 292-5064


CAMDEN - New Jersey Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly C. Bakke today opened the Department's new Camden Consumer Center, a satellite office where consumers can seek help with problems in banking, insurance or real estate.

The satellite office, which is located at 101 Haddon Ave., will also serve as an education center for consumers.

"We want consumers to know that we are here to help," Commissioner Bakke said. "Today, we are giving them one more place to get that help.

Commissioner Bakke noted that the Camden Consumer Center is in a downtown location easily reached by public transportation. She noted that it will be easier for many South Jersey residents to go to the new office instead of having to travel to Trenton.

"We want to make it more convenient for consumers who need us," Commissioner Bakke said.

The department in September opened the Newark Consumer Center on Halsey Street to provide a more convenient source of help for residents who live north of Trenton.

Department staff will be in the office to answer questions, help solve problems, or take formal complaints.

Residents can learn how to shop for auto insurance, what rights they have when dealing with health insurers, or whether a lender or real estate broker has a current license. The center also features a computer for those who lack access to the Internet and the Department's website.

In the future, the Camden Consumer center, like the one in Newark, will offer programs on how to avoid insurance and Medicare fraud, identity theft, predatory lending and home-repair scams.

"These problems ultimately lead to higher insurance and banking costs for everybody, but they hit the urban residents the hardest," Commissioner Bakke noted. "We already present these programs to civic groups and senior citizen associations, but having a permanent South Jersey center will help us reach more people."

Since opening in September, the Newark Office has received about 8,000 calls.

In addition to Commissioner Bakke, other speakers today included Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts of District 5, Sen. Wayne Bryant of District 5, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald.

Also joining Commissioner Bakke were several members of the Camden City Council and leaders of several community organizations, including the NAACP, as well as heads of banks, credit unions and insurance companies.

Other Department staff that joined Commissioner Bakke included Banking Director H. Robert Tillman, Insurance Director Donald Bryan, Assistant Commissioner Rolando Torres, Assistant Commissioner Mary Caffrey, and the heads of the Department's enforcement divisions.

The phone number at the center is 856-614-2958.