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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Hill Threats to CFPB Escalate As CFPB Protects Consumers, Servicemembers | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the House Appropriations Committee, at the behest of both Wall Street and predatory lenders seeking to run amok, will vote to eliminate the CFPB's independence from the politicized appropriations process. Meanwhile, over at the CFPB, important work to protect consumers, including servicemembers, from unfair and predatory financial practices continues.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Data Breach Here, Data Breach There, Data Breach Everywhere! | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED 10 June Re DHS Breach: If you shop with plastic, have health insurance, pay taxes, work for the federal government, or (fill in blank) you’re at risk of a data breach. And with so much information about you already available on the Internet, it’s best not to select easy-search security questions like “Where were you born?” or answers like “Pizza.” What’s your best defense against identity theft? No, it isn’t credit monitoring, it’s a security freeze.

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How Companies Turn Your Facebook Activity Into a Credit Score

This story in The Nation explains our work challenging the way data brokers use "black box," or secret, algorithms to make scoring decisions that may violate the law and deny credit opportunities. This work was also the subject of our recent livestream event featuring Professor Frank Pasquale and his new book, "The Black Box Society." We've now posted an archive of that event, in 3 chapters on our Youtube page.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Event 5/11 re new book on black box decisionmaking & consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED TO CONFIRM CFPB Speaker. We are hosting an event Monday, 5/11, from 9am-noon ET to discuss a new book, The Black Box Society, with author Frank Pasquale. Click Keep Reading to RSVP to attend in person or to watch the livestream. While credit bureaus have long functioned as black box gatekeepers to opportunity, panelists will discuss the growing use of more and more, even less transparent black boxes to categorize consumers in the digital economy.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

PIRG Commends Supporters of Duckworth Amendment to Protect Our Troops From High-Cost Loans

Last night, on a 32-30 bipartisan vote, the House Armed Services Committee supported the Tammy Duckworth (IL) amendment to strike language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have delayed Pentagon-proposed improvements to the Military Lending Act of 2007. It's a critical victory for servicemembers, veterans and their families, although the fight to protect our troops from high-cost loans will continue.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health, Transportation

Chemical Security Getting On the Right Track

“The President’s Executive Order is a great step forward in modernizing the security of our chemical facilities.”

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News Release | NJPIRG | Public Health, Health Care

NJPIRG Urges Governor Christie to Invest in Outreach For New Healthcare Options

We are two months away from New Jersey’s health insurance exchange going live, and thousands of New Jerseyans who stand to benefit won't even know about their new, affordable options unless the Governor releases the funds for outreach and education.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

GOOD NEWS FOR CONSUMERS AND FIRMS THAT WANT TO PLAY FAIR

"Today’s confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB for a full term is good news for consumers, and for firms that want to play fair in the financial marketplace."  

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News Release | NJPIRG | Budget, Public Health, Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 20 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high-fructose corn syrup, at a rate that would buy 20 Twinkies for each taxpayer every year, according to NJPIRG's new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013: Comparing Taxpayer Subsidies for Fresh Produce and Junk Food.”

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Tax

Subsidizing Bad Behavior

BP’s recent $4.5 billion legal settlement with the Justice Department for its misdeeds in the Gulf oil spill was historic for being the largest ever criminal settlement. But it was historic for another reason as well—none of it is allowed to be tax deductible. Unfortunately, too many settlements for wrongdoing end up as tax deductions.

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Budget, Tax

What America Could Do with $150 Billion Lost to Offshore Tax Havens

Many corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—to avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes each year. To put this sum in perspective, this factsheet provides examples of how it could be used.

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2012

The 2012 Trouble in Toyland report is the 27th annual U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. In this report, U.S. PIRG 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 Law & Policy Center | Consumer Protection

Big 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. This report addresses the following questions: How easy is it for consumers to shop around for financial services? Are banks complying with current fee disclosure requirements? Can consumers still find free or low-cost checking accounts, or has free checking ended?

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Report | NJPIRG Law & Policy Center | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Post-Election Edition

Our new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources shows how big outside spenders drowned out small contributions in the 2012 election cycle: just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving on average $4.7 million each matched the $285.1 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

The Supreme Court and the High Cost of Prescription Drugs

Everyone knows prescription drugs cost more than they should. But many people are surprised to learn about one of the key ways drug companies keep prices high:  Paying off competitors to keep generics off the market. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case about this very practice.

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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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