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 30 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 avoiding dangerous 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

Blog Post | Public Health, Food

Whiter button mushrooms cannot forgo testing | Anya Vanecek

The FDA is likely to approve newly-developed GMO mushrooms without testing them for human health and environmental safety. For just an aesthetic change, this all seems rather foolish.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

You might not know this about overdraft fees | Kathryn Lee

Did your bank sell you on the idea that it’s embarrassing for you to have your debit card declined for a $3 cup of coffee, and that you should pay them $35 each time for “overdraft protection”? Those big fees are what’s embarrassing. Unless you say yes to allow fees, you cannot be charged for over-drafting your debit card.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Our new "CFPB Can Help" video is live | Ed Mierzwinski

Please like and share our new video short (it's less than a minute) letting consumers know how the "CFPB can help." The CFPB, of course, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established as part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Food, Health Care

Eight moms leading the fight to save antibiotics | Anya Vanecek

This Mothers Day, we’re thanking eight mothers working to stop superbugs in their tracks. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S.PIRG | Consumer Protection

Experts, Consumer Advocates, and Borrowers Release New Fact Sheet on Impact of Unregulated Payday Loans on Indiana Families

Indianapolis, IN. – National and in-state advocates released a new fact sheet today about the impact of payday lending on Indiana’s residents. Representatives from U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Indiana Catholic Conference, and Indiana Institute for Working Families (IIWF), a co-lead for the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network, participated in a joint press conference call.

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Mortgage settlement will send billions to struggling homeowners

Almost 4 million homeowners might receive cash compensation and mortgage relief in a multi-billion-dollar settlement with 10 major banks, government regulators announced Monday. [...] “The money is grossly inadequate for homeowners, and the program will require careful oversight to ensure that all homeowners harmed get a fair chance at benefits,” said Ed Mierzwinski, the consumer program director for U.S. PIRG, a nonprofit advocacy group.

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Wall Street Journal: Consumer Watchdog Readies to Bare Its Teeth

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is entering 2013 poised to flex its muscles more vigorously than ever before. [...] The CFPB is "going to be more confident and more aggressive," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-advocacy organization.

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

As Fall Financial Aid is Disbursed, Senator Issues Urgent Warning to Students Using Campus Debit Cards

Senator Sherrod Brown (OH), Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institution and Consumer Protection, issued an urgent warning to students receiving financial aid in the next two weeks that predatory bank fees can quickly cut into their college money.

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New York Times: Secret E-Scores Chart Consumers’ Buying Power

Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the United States Public Interest Research Group in Washington, worries that federal laws haven’t kept pace with change in the digital age. “There’s a nontransparent, opaque scoring system that collects information about you to generate a score — and what your score is results in the offers you get on the Internet,” he says. “In most cases, you don’t know who is collecting the information, you don’t know what predictions they have made about you, or the potential for being denied choice or paying too much.”

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Food

U.S. PIRG Applauds House Leadership for Dropping One-Year Farm Bill Extension that Included Billions in Wasteful Subsidies

In this current economic climate the reauthorization of the farm bill should be a straight forward opportunity to end wasteful subsidies.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Bumbo, CPSC Recall Baby Seat Linked To Skull Fractures | Ed Mierzwinski

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Bumbo, maker of a baby seat linked to at least 21 skull fractures, have announced a repair recall to install a free safety belt. U.S. PIRG and other consumer groups had pressured them to act.

> Keep Reading
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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