Updates

FTC settles claim with Rx monopolist CVS Caremark

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced (news release) that CVS Caremark Corporation (pdf of the complaint) will "pay $5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented the prices of certain Medicare Part D prescription drugs – including drugs used to treat breast cancer symptoms and epilepsy – at CVS and Walgreens pharmacies."

WSJ: Bank of America Ponders Retreat

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Today's Wall Street Journal offers the story "Bank of America Ponders Retreat." It discusses a BofA emergency plan for retrenchment that would include further branch shrinkage than currently-expected reductions.

Justice Department: Recess appointments to CFPB, NLRB were legal

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Here's a link to a Reuters story that links to the Justice Department memo that confirms the president's legal authority to do last week's recess appointments of Rich Cordray to head the CFPB and three others to sit on the NLRB.

Free tax prep at Walmart? It isn't really free, for some 84% or so of you

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

I've been quoted recently (Reuters via Baltimore Sun)  warning consumers that getting your taxes done for "free" in an HR Block kiosk at Walmart and then getting your tax refund on a Walmart prepaid card comes with pitfalls, including (1) fees and (2) the chance that you'll just dump the money on the card into impulse purchases at Walmart, which "is not your friend."

Professor's paper on "Industry's Misguided Quest to Undermine the CFPB"

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Last fall, U.S. PIRG co-hosted, with Americans for Financial Reform and the Consumer Federation of America, an academic symposium featuring a discussion of a forthcoming paper by Professor Art Wilmarth of George Washington University Law School,  perhaps the nation's leading bank law scholar. I am pleased to report that a close-to-final draft of Professor Wilmarth's paper -- The Financial Services Industry’s Misguided Quest to Undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- is now available for review at the AFR website and will be published in the Spring 2012 issue of the Review of Banking and Financial Law at Boston University Law School.

Yesterday the Supreme Court, Inc. - with only Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting -- took away consumer legal rights in Compucredit vs. Greenwood. The court said disputes needed to be resolved in arbitration proceedings -- not court. The company issues subprime "fee harvester" credit cards with upfront fees that swallow the teeny credit limits. It's previously been sued by both the FDIC and the FTC.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

A Lower Standard for Lead Poisoning

U.S. PIRG applauds the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning and Prevention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their important decision to protect the safety and well-being of our littlest consumers: children. The Panel recommended the government lower the threshold of lead in blood that qualifies as lead poisoning in children.

Obama's New Consumer Finance Chief Can Lower Student Debt

By | Rich Williams
Higher Education Advocate

President Obama took a bold and important step this week, standing up for student consumers by making a recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The president's action means that the CFPB now has all its powers to protect students from unfair financial practices that pile on student debt, including lenders offering dangerously expensive private student loans and aggressive credit and debit card marketing.

Media Hit | Higher Ed

CNN: Consumer Bureau: Now, It Can Do Something

Rich Williams, a higher education advocate for U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) said he's looking forward to the consumer bureau's work with student loans, as well as credit cards and debit cards issued on campus. With a director, the bureau can now set rules of the road for all providers of student loans, not just those issued by banks.

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