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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

PIRGs, Others Ask CFPB & FTC To Investigate Experian/T-Mobile Data Breach

In a letter sent today, a number of state PIRGs and other leading privacy and consumer groups urged the CFPB and FTC to fully investigate the recent breach of an Experian subsidary that exposed 15 million T-Mobile customer and applicant records to the threat of new account identity theft. The letter asked whether the regulators could require Experian and the other two nationwide credit bureaus -- TransUnion and Equifax -- to give victims free security freezes to protect their credit reports.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Advances Consumer Protection, Attacks on CFPB Escalate | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the CFPB took a major step toward establishing a regulation restricting the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts, which give companies what the CFPB's director said was a "free pass from being held accountable by their customers." Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, powerful bank interests escalated their campaign to defund and defang the bureau, because it works for consumers, not them.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House holds stacked hearing to attack retirement savings rule proposal | Ed Mierzwinski

The House Financial Services Committee is holding a typically stacked hearing -- one consumer-side witness against four Wall Street-backed lobbyists  -- to attack the important retirement savings rule proposed by the Department of Labor. The rule simply requires retirement advisors to put the customer's needs  -- not their own compensation -- first.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Reinstates Case Against Bank That Aided Senior Citizen Fraud | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that had denied class action status to victims of a scheme targeting senior citizens who were suing Zions Bank and its payment processor affiliates for aiding the fraudsters. U.S. regulators led by the Department of Justice have been fighting this and similar schemes, yet powerful special interests have managed to create a false narrative in Washington, DC that has been picked up by opponents of consumer protection laws. They falsely claim that the government's target is "legitimate" payday lenders and gun dealers. Wrong, the target is financial crimes against consumers, many consumers.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the IRS has admitted that thieves accessed the personal information -- enough to allow them to take your tax refund -- of an additional 220,000 taxpayers, on top of the 114,000 reported in May. Meanwhile, we remain  concerned that Congress will use continued publicity about the Target breach and other breaches as an excuse to pass dangerous data security legislation. Dangerous? Yes, because it would only protect against limited financial identity theft harms, but eliminate stronger state protections against the harms posed by the IRS breach, the health insurance breaches and the OPM breach.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Public Health

Big Pharma’s Pay-for-Delay Deals Take a Hit

Big Pharma’s controversial “pay-for-delay” agreements took a hit today. In FTC v. Actavis, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FTC’s case against the payoff keeping generic AndroGel from the market can move ahead in the lower courts.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for 361,857 Student Loan Borrowers in Ohio Set to Double on July 1

COLUMBUS – Unless Congress acts, on July 1, the interest rate for 361,857 student loan borrowers in Ohio will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. According to an issue brief released today by Ohio PIRG, the rate increase would hike the cost of Ohio students’ loans by $322 million. That translates into a $290 increase in debt per student, per loan.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Public Health

New Report Documents a Decade of Safety Violations by Compounding Pharmacies

The contaminated drug that caused last fall’s fungal meningitis outbreak and sickened 20 Ohioans (killing one) and killed 55 people nationally is just the tip of the iceberg of an industry-wide problem, according to a new report released today by Ohio PIRG. The meningitis outbreak was simply the latest and deadliest in a long line of errors and risky practices by compounding pharmacies.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Reduction in Driving Likely to Continue

COLUMBUS ­­—As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the Ohio PIRG Education Fund finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. Baby Boomers are moving out of the phase in their life when they do the most commuting, while driving-averse Millennials move into that phase. These demographic changes will likely keep driving down for decades, according to the report, “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future.”

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Financial Reform

OHIOANS TELL SENATOR PORTMAN TO STOP CODDLING PREDATORY LENDERS AND BLOCKING CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION

 

That was the message of petitions delivered to Senator Portman today by the Ohio Public Interest Research Group (Ohio PIRG) and Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), both members of Americans for Financial Reform (AFR). The petitions, which call on the Senate to confirm Richard Cordray to a full term as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, bore the signatures of more than 160,000 people, including over 5,000 citizens of Ohio.

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Report | U.S. PIRG, Demos | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Post-Election Spending Analysis

A new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by U.S. PIRG and Demos shows how big outside spenders drowned out small contributions in 2012: just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving an average of $4.7 million each matched the $285.2 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates. 

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Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Bigger Banks, Bigger Fees

Over the last six months, state PIRG staff conducted inquiries at 250 bank and 116 credit union branches in 17 states and the District of Columbia and reviewed bank fees online in these and 7 other states.

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Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Eight Questions about the Future of the Ohio Turnpike

The State of Ohio recently spent $2.85 million to commission KPMG to analyze different possibilities for borrowing against future toll revenue to the Ohio Turnpike, including privatization. Will the study fairly portray the state’s options with the downsides and upsides? Here the Ohio PIRG Education Fund presents the eight questions Ohioans most need to ask.

 

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Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Total Food Recall

Over the past few years, Americans have grown accustomed to seeing headlines about tainted food being recalled and pulled off store shelves. This is unacceptable.

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Report | Ohio PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Million Dollar Megaphones

With presidential and senate campaigns heating up and Ohio named as a battleground state, millions in secret money is expected to flow into the state to influence the votes of Ohioans. Much about who funds these efforts and how this funding is spent remains a mystery, according to a report analyzing the latest campaign filings.This report provides a detailed analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) data and secondary sources on outside spending and Super PAC fundraising for 2012 election cycle.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Some Good, Some Bad in Obama Administration Plan to Protect Antibiotics | Sujatha Jahagirdar

Today, the National Task Force for Combatting Resistant Bacteria released a five-year action plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.  While the plan will take several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it will miss the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

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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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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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