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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB Criticizes Banks Re Account Opening and Overdrafts, Offers Consumer Tips | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB is holding a field hearing in Louisville on problems consumers face when opening bank accounts. It finds that big banks frequently offer consumers expensive accounts where they risk overdraft fees instead of affordable accounts. Further, the CFPB finds that the practices of specialty "bad check" credit bureaus make it harder to open accounts. The CFPB issued warnings to both the banks and credit bureaus while providing consumers with new tips and advice.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Debating trade and consumer protection in Brussels today | Ed Mierzwinski

I am in Brussels today debating consumer protection and the proposed US-European trade treaty known as the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. Today's public event, and a second public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday with live webstream 9am-noon DC time) comparing the CFPB to its European counterparts, are sponsored by the PIRG-backed TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

The foundation is crumbling | Bill Wenzel

What was missing from President Obama's visionary plan for medical progress? 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

House Tees Up VW Bailout and Other Attacks on Public Protections, Consumer Rights | Ed Mierzwinski

(Updated 8 January to add vote results): You've probably heard that the House is soon planning to again repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That bill will certainly be vetoed. But the House has other anti-consumer, anti-environmental bills scheduled for floor action this week and next. The bills take aim at agency health, financial and safety regulations and also consumer rights to band together as a class to take their grievances against corporate wrongdoers to court. That last bill would immunize Volkswagen from having to compensate VW Diesel owners for being deceptively sold cars designed to "defeat" air pollution requirements.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

Progress in 2015 and hope for the new year | Anya Vanecek

This was a big year for the fight to save antibiotics. Now we’re looking to the future and looking forward to continuing our efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming.

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News Release | PIRGIM | Tax

New Legislation Would Close Corporate Tax Loopholes, Save Taxpayers $155 Billion

“The CUT Loopholes Act, introduced by Senators Carl Levin and Kent Conrad, goes a long way in making sure corporations play by the same rules as ordinary taxpayers."

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

House Transportation Bill is a Step Backwards, Lacks a Serious Funding Mechanism

“America needs serious transportation reform. While the recent Senate transportation bill failed to move the ball forward on needed transportation reform, today’s House bill takes big strides in the wrong direction."

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News Release | PIRGIM Education Fund | Safe Energy

Nuclear Power Plants Threaten Drinking Water for 1.5 Million Michiganders

The drinking water for over 1.5 million people in Michigan could be at risk of radioactive contamination from a leak or accident at a local nuclear power plant, says a new study released today by the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan Education Fund and the Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center. 

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Media Hit | Tax

MLive.com: Three Fortune 500 companies in Michigan spent more on lobbying than they paid in taxes

Three Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Michigan spent more on lobbying in recent years than they paid in federal taxes, according to a new study released today by the Public Interest Research Group.

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News Release | PIRGIM | Tax

Thirty Fortune 500 Companies Paid More to Lobby Congress Than They Did in Federal Income Taxes, PIRGIM Study Shows

With the second anniversary approaching of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case – which opened the floodgates to corporate spending on elections – PIRGIM, with allies from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, revealed 30 corporations that spent more to lobby Congress than they did in taxes—including three companies headquartered in Michigan.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Higher Ed

Cutting Interest Rates, Lowering Student Debt

In 21st century America, a college education is critical for individual success and the strength of our nation.  Higher education is associated with better health, greater wealth and more vibrant civic participation, as well national economic competitiveness in today’s global environment.  As the need for a college degree has grown, however, so has the cost of obtaining that education.  The result is rising student debt.

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Report | PIRGIM | Consumer Protection

Policing Privacy

This report summarizes interviews PIRGIM held with Michigan law enforcement officers from September 2003. These officers are on the front lines of the efforts to slow the identity theft crime wave. Their unique and often unheard perspective results from their contact with every aspect of the crime, as well as the multiple players involved-the victims, the credit lenders, the thieves and the prosecutors.

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Report | PIRGIM Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Body of Evidence

Manufacturers of common household products add Deca to plastics or fabrics to make them resist the spread of fire. A growing body of evidence shows that exposure to Deca may cause adverse health effects, including damage to the nervous system and impaired motor skills.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Adds Consumer Stories to Public Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB took a step to make its excellent public database of consumer complaints even better, by adding complaint narratives (stories), but only with the consumer's consent. It's a step we've long urged. It will enrich our research into the marketplace, help consumers make choices and help good-actor firms avoid bad practices by others.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

As NY Brings Credit Bureaus To Heel, CFPB Arbitration Study Paves Way Toward New Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Two big consumer stories so far this week offer hope to consumers victimized by credit bureau errors and, more generally, by an inability to take credit bureaus, credit card companies, banks or payday lenders to court when harmed. On Monday, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Big Three credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. Then today, the CFPB released a report finding that consumer legal rights are infringed by small-print forced arbitration clauses in credit card and other contracts.  The CFPB will hold a webcast public hearing at 11am Eastern time today (Tuesday) to discuss the report's findings and next steps.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB's sixth semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee, whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency. Americans for Financial Reform, joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national, state and local groups, sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Anthem Customers and Others: Some Advice On Steps To Take After Data Breach | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED (9 Feb.) Retail store data breaches make a mess, but an easy one to clean up and the few consumers who become fraud victims are quickly made whole. The Anthem hackers, on the other hand, reportedly obtained a mother lode of information that could be used to commit a variety of serious frauds, including obtaining your tax refund. Read our tips here. Here's the first: Don't click on any emails claiming to be from Anthem; some may be malicious.

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DEFEND THE CFPB

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