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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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Report | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget

Following the Money 2015

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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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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- Buying homes, getting jobs and borrowing money will be easier after an agreement by the three biggest U.S. consumer credit reporting services with New York.[...] “It’s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints,” said [U.S. PIRG's Ed] Mierzwinski. “The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now. They’re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true.”

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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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News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health

Community, Public Health, and Labor Leaders Urge Federal Agencies to Prevent Chemical Disasters at Newark Hearing

Today, residents, community, labor, and environmental leaders gathered at a federal listening session to push the Obama administration to take bold steps to reduce the danger posed to millions of people by high-risk chemical facilities in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Financial Reform

Report: Mistaken Identity Tops Debt Collection Complaints

Debt collectors trying to collect debt from the wrong person were the top source of New Jerseyans’ complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to a report released today by the NJPIRG Law & Policy Center. The report also found that New Jersey consumers are 8th most likely nationwide to file complaints to the CFPB about debt collection, and that debt collection is a top source of complaints.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Transportation

University Campuses Like Rutgers Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, universities like Rutgers are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy, according to a new report released today. The report, titled, “A New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy,” was released by NJPIRG Student Chapters today.

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

NJ could save nearly $60 million with simple, proven method to curb offshore tax dodging, new study finds

New Jersey taxpayers could save $59.8 million from a simple reform to crack down on offshore tax dodging, according to a new report released today by the NJPIRG Law & Policy Center. The reform, which has already been proven effective in Montana and passed in Oregon, would require companies to treat profits booked to notorious tax havens as domestic taxable income.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health, Transportation

New Safety Recommendations a Good Step Forward

Statement of Jen Kim, NJPIRG State Director on new NTSB recommendations for oil transport on trains.

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland

The 2013 Trouble in Toyland report is the 28th annual NJPIRG survey of toy safety. In this report, NJPIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards. 

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Report | NJPIRG | Democracy

McCutcheon Money

This term, the Supreme Court is considering a challenge to aggregate contribution limits in a case called McCutcheon v. FEC. The current limit on what one person may contribute to all federal candidates, parties and PACs is $123,200. Absent this limit, one wealthy donor would be permitted to contribute more than $3.5 million to a single party’s candidates and party committees (plus a virtually unlimited amount to supportive PACs).

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Transportation

A New Way To Go

America is in the midst of a technological revolution … and a big shift in our transportation habits. Over the last 15 years, the Internet and mobile communications technologies have transformed the way Americans live and work.

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

After sixty years of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles Americans drive, since 2004 Americans have decreased their driving per-capita for eight years in a row. Driving miles per person are down especially sharply among Millennials, America’s largest generation that will increasingly dominate national transportation trends.

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Report | Public Health

The Danger In Our Backyards

Every day, millions of people live and work in the shadow of high risk chemical plants that store and use poisonous materials with the potential to harm millions of workers and residents.

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Blog Post | Health Care

What’s Next on Health Care Costs?

Now that the election is over, talk has turned to the need for cooperation in addressing a long list of serious issues facing the country. It’s a tall order, and on the polarizing issue of health care, working together may seem at first like an impossible task. But I am hopeful that we can make significant progress together. Of course there will be robust debate about the best ways to put solutions into practice, and about the pace at which these solutions are to be implemented. But given Americans’ fundamental agreement on the nature of the problem and on how to solve it, we ought to be able to put the most bitter of arguments behind us and chart this course together now.

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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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