Consumer Protection

PROTECTING CONSUMER SAFETY—Toys should not be toxic or dangerous for children to play with. Our food should not make us sick. The terms for banking and credit accounts should be clear and easy to understand.

LOOKING OUT FOR CONSUMERS

U.S. PIRG’s consumer program works to alert the public to hidden dangers and scams and to ban anti-consumer practices and unsafe products.

TROUBLE IN TOYLAND

For 27 years, U.S. PIRG’s "Trouble In Toyland" report has surveyed store shelves and identified choking hazards, noise hazards and other dangers. Our report has led to at least 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years.

Get our tips for buying safer toys.

BIGGER BANKS, BIGGER FEES

In April, U.S. PIRG released a report in which we surveyed more than 350 bank branches and revealed that fewer than half of branches obeyed their legal duty to fully disclose fees to prospective customers, while one in four provided no fee information at all. We also found that despite widespread stories about the “death” of free checking, free and low-cost checking choices are still widely available, if consumers shop around.

Find out how to beat high bank fees.

SEE ALL CONSUMER RESOURCES

Issue updates

An error in your credit report? Complain to the feds

A mistake in your credit report can have serious consequences. It can hurt your ability to get a credit card, qualify for a loan, rent an apartment or even be hired for a job.
Find an error in your file and you want it corrected – quickly. But that doesn’t always happen. What do you do then? Complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Retailers appeal swipe fee settlement with Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, big retailers filed an appeal of last month's announced final settlement order in an antitrust case involving price-fixing by Visa and Mastercard. PIRG backs the merchants because non-negotiable swipe fees force all consumers, including cash customers, to pay more at the store and more at the pump.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection, Higher Ed

U.S. PIRG Applauds CFPB Call for Greater Disclosure

Washington, DC — Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) called on financial institutions to publicly disclose all of their card agreements with colleges and universities. Currently, institutions only need to disclose agreements regarding credit cards, but not debit, checking, or prepaid cards.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB getting results for consumers this week | Ed Mierzwinski

Last week, a senior bank industry lawyer said he was "amazed" at the amount of work the CFPB had accomplished "in such a short amount of time." This week, the CFPB stepped up its game another notch, when it returned $34 million to consumers who'd been deceived by a medical debt credit card pitched by their doctors and dentists and their receptionists and also took a big step toward ending forced arbitration in consumer contracts. Had any victims of the medical credit card wanted to go to court because they'd been ripped off, they couldn't, since the small print on that card, like the small print on most others, would send them instead to arbitration, no better than a kangaroo court.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Advocates Decry Harm Done to Consumers by Forced Arbitration

On date of CFPB field hearing in Dallas to release report on forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, U.S. PIRG, Americans for Financial Reform, National Consumer Law Center, National Association of Consumer Advocates and Public Citizen issue joint release. From the release: “Unfair arbitration clauses encourage unfair corporate practices and sloppy customer service,” said Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. PIRG. “If your customers cannot take you to court, why should you care about their complaints? We urge the CFPB to act quickly to ban forced arbitration clauses in financial products and services contracts.”

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Food

House Committee Approves Cut to Agriculture Subsidies

Every year, billions of taxpayer dollars are directed toward agribusiness -- artificially driving down the cost of fats and sugars by subsidizing commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Meanwhile, the prices of fruits and vegetables, grown with relatively little government support, have steadily increased by nearly 40% in the past 20 years.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Consumer and Privacy Groups Warn Online Tracking at "Alarming Levels"

Warning that “tracking and targeting of consumers online have reached alarming levels,” a coalition of 11 consumer and privacy advocacy organizations today sent a letter to Congress outlining the protections any online privacy legislation must include.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Three Groups Urge FTC to Investigate “Wild West” of Online Data Collection

Three consumer protection organizations on Thursday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), demanding the commission investigate growing privacy threats in the “Wild West” online.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Amendment Would Thwart FCC's Proposed Rules for an Open Internet

Despite the commitments made by the FCC and the President, Republican members of the Senate have introduced a measure that would prevent FCC action on Network Neutrality and leave consumers on the Internet vulnerable to unfair and discriminatory practices.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Lawmakers Should Support a Broadband Plan Which Serves the Public Good

On the eve of One Web Day, public interest groups are urging Congress to support the National Broadband Plan.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Ancient English football club Man U to launch "ugly" IPO under new US law for "emerging" companies | Ed Mierzwinski

The venerable English football club Manchester United, founded in 1878, is expected to file an IPO today under a new U.S. law, the JOBS Act, that passed overwhelmingly because it was intended to help newer, smaller companies go public. Over at The Motley Fool, they say: "Thank the JOBS Act for the Ugliest IPO of the Year."

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Emergency-room debt collector pays penalty but says no patient had "problematic interaction"? | Ed Mierzwinski

Last week, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson settled her case with Accretive Health, the debt collector that allegedly acts as a gatekeeper to obtaining emergency-room treatment. The AG's legal filing has  affidavits from 60 victims but in a press release, the debt collector says "the Attorney General did not and could not identify a single patient in Minnesota who experienced a problematic interaction with an Accretive Health employee." Hunh?

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Privacy Hawks Demand Info From Data Brokers | Ed Mierzwinski

A bi-partisan group of members of Congress, led by the political odd couple of Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX), have sent detailed information demands to a number of virtually unregulated data brokers. The firms buy and sell information gleaned from public record databases, social network sites and other sources; but unlike the Big Three credit bureaus, no one really knows what they are up to.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

OCC To Payday Lenders: "We don't want you here (paraphrase)." | Ed Mierzwinski

Good news from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the nation's national bank safety regulator, which in testimony today rejects a proposal by payday lenders to hide out at the OCC to avoid regulation by the CFPB or states. The OCC says it doesn't want to charter payday lenders, because they are "focused on consumer credit products of the very nature and character that the OCC has found unacceptable."

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

For its own first birthday, CFPB sends gifts to consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

Tomorrow, Saturday, July 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns one year old. To celebrate its own birthday, the CFPB sent consumers some gifts this week.

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