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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House To Vote On Godzilla-Sized Rule Blocker, As Financial Committee Considers Smaller Rollbacks | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: REINS Approved, near party line vote. Today, the House Financial Services Committee takes up a package of smaller rollback bills, many of which are opposed by Americans for Financial Reform and the PIRGs. Meanwhile, the House will bring up the Godzilla of all anti-health and safety bills, the REINS Act. Fortunately, the President has promised a veto.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Over 7,000 Comments Submitted to Department of Labor

Every year, over $17 billion is lost from retirement savings to fees and charges, according to the Council of Economic Advisors. Today, we submitted over 7,000 PIRG member comments urging the U.S. Department of Labor to finalize a strong rule requiring retirement advisors to put the interests of their customers first. We also submitted a detailed expert comment of our own in the important "conflicted advice" rulemaking.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Top 10 List: How the CFPB Works for Consumers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turns 4 on July 21st. To celebrate and increase public awareness of the agency, U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a new webpage, “Meet the CFPB: Just Ten of the Ways It Works for You.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Democracy

Essex County Takes Stand Against Unlimited Special Interest Spending in Elections

On Wednesday, 3/27, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a resolution calling on Congress to stop the unprecedented flow of special interest money into elections. The Freeholders urged Congress to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Tax

New Jersey Receives a "C" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

New Jersey received a “C” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to the fourth annual report of its kind by the NJPIRG Law & Policy Center.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Budget, Tax

Senate Budget Debate Shows Bipartisan Support for Closing Offshore Tax Loopholes

A bipartisan group of senators agree that closing offshore tax loopholes, which allow large profitable companies to dodge billions in taxes, needs to be part of the budget. We applaud Sens. Levin (D-MI), McCain (R-AZ), and Whitehouse (D-RI) for proposing an amendment to the budget resolution that gives budget writers the authority to ‘end offshore tax abuses used by large corporations.’

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Saps $2.8 Billion from New Jersey’s Budget

NJPIRG, New Jersey Citizen Action, and the New Jersey Main Street Alliance came together at a Jersey City small business on 2/6/2013 to discuss a new NJPIRG study revealing that New Jersey lost $2.8 billion in state revenue due to offshore tax dodging in 2012.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection, Food

FDA Protects Public by Releasing Two Long-Delayed Food Safety Rules

Statement of Jennifer Kim, NJPIRG State Director, on the FDA’s proposed new rules for food safety.

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead

Privatized traffic law enforcement systems are spreading rapidly across the United States. As many as 700 local jurisdictions have entered into deals with for-profit companies to install camera systems at intersections and along roadways to encourage drivers to obey traffic signals and follow speed limits.

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Health Care

Making the Grade

When it comes to health care, there are few magic-bullet solutions for the many problems consumers face in the marketplace: insurers don’t compete for their business, leading to higher prices and lower quality. Important information about coverage is buried in the fine print, making it hard to know what’s really covered or which plan is right. And costs are continuing their unsustainable rise.

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget

Tax-Increment Financing

Tax-increment financing (TIF) has been a widely used tool for municipalities seeking private investment. TIF allows cities and towns to borrow against an area’s future tax revenues in order to invest in immediate projects or encourage present development. When used properly, TIF can promote enduring growth and stronger communities for blighted neighborhoods; but TIF can also end up wasting taxpayer resources or channeling money to politically favored special interests. 

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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Food, Health Care

Apples to Twinkies

The rise in childhood obesity has many causes, but one of the most important is the increased prevalence of high-fat, heavily sweetened junk food.  And shockingly, American taxpayers are spending billions to subsidize junk food ingredients, making the problem worse.

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Report | NJPIRG | Budget

Toward Common Ground

To break through the ideological divide that has dominated Washington this past year and offer a pathway to address the nation’s fiscal problems, the National Taxpayers Union and U.S. PIRG joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction measures. This report documents our findings.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Hurricane Relief

Hurricane Sandy hit our state hard on Monday and Tuesday, and many in our communities are suffering in the storm's aftermath. Let's work together to get our communities back on their feet by supporting hurricane relief efforts.

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Blog Post | Democracy

NJ Assembly Should Move Forward Resolution to Overturn Citizens United

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling has allowed secretive groups to freely and unaccountably spend millions of dollars to sway public opinion on behalf of a few anonymous individual donors and corporations. Wealthy individuals and other, often undisclosed spenders are gaining unprecedented influence in our elections.

Here’s the good news: New Jersey can send a powerful message to Congress that things have to change by passing a State resolution against Citizens United. Let’s get Big Money out of American politics before it drowns out the voices of average voters once and for all.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Financial follies update: Discover Card pays deceptive marketing penalty | Ed Mierzwinski

Discover Card has paid a $14 million civil penalty to the CFPB and FDIC, plus refunded over $200 million to ripped-off consumers, in the latest case involving useless, junk credit insurance and credit monitoring add-ons that consumers didn't buy, but pay for, to credit card bills. Read more for that and other weekend financial follies.

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Blog Post | Budget, Food

Farm Bill Still Giving Corporate Handouts to Big Ag

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2012 Farm Bill, and clearly it is still business as usual. The Farm Bill continues its bad habit of subsidizing a few commodity crops like corn and soy to the tune of billions of dollars. Current subsidies go to the largest agribusinesses, with three quarters of the subsidy payments going to fewer than 4% of U.S. farmers.

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Blog Post | Tax

Letter from Congressman Frank Pallone on the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act | Gideon Weissman

Letter from Congressman Frank Pallone to NJPIRG, announcing that he will become a cosponsor of H.R. 2669, the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.  This bill will close a tax loophole that costs the American public more than $100 billion every single year.  For more on NJPIRG's work on fair tax policy, see our tax issue page here: http://njpirg.org/topics/tax

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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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