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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Begins Payday Regulation Push In Richmond | Ed Mierzwinski

We joined the CFPB in Richmond Thursday for a field hearing on a proposed rule to regulate payday lending and similar high-cost short-term loans. The CFPB's draft rule is comprehensive, covering a variety of loans, but it contains potential loopholes that we and other advocates will urge the bureau to close before it finalizes this important effort. Here's a short blog with some photos from Richmond.

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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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Report | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2015

Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible.

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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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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

ConnPIRG compiled evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. 

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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New Report Identifies Banks Consumers Complain About Most

Thousands of Americans are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes with their banks, according to a new report from the ConnPIRG Education Fund. The report highlights banks that generated the most complaints through their various banking services in each state.

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Media Hit | Higher Ed

Student loan deal a mixed blessing as rates to rise in future

"We think that is the wrong way to be making student loan policy," Scarr said. "It's not a good deal for the students in Connecticut or the country."

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Media Hit | Transportation

New Report Shows State Residents Are Driving Less

Citing federal statistics that show Connecticut motorists are driving fewer miles in recent years, ConnPIRG is suggesting that the state government shift some transportation spending from highways to mass transit.

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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Shows Connecticut Residents Are Driving Less

Connecticut Residents have cut their per-person driving miles by 3.45 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the ConnPIRG Education Fund. 

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Report | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

The creation of a new health insurance exchange offers our state the chance to build a better marketplace for health care.  The exchange can help individuals and small businesses by increasing competition and improving choices in the state’s insurance market.  By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

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Report | Tax

Tax Shell Game: How Much Did Offshore Tax Havens Cost You in 2010?

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Users of tax havens benefit from access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security, but pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system.

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Big Banks, Bigger Fees

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Safe Energy

Unacceptable Risk: Two Decades of “Close Calls,” Leaks and Other Problems at U.S. Nuclear Reactors

American nuclear power plants are not immune to the types of natural disasters, mechanical failures, human errors, and losses of critical electric power supplies that have characterized major nuclear accidents such as the one at Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Indeed, at several points over the last 20 years, American nuclear power plants have experienced “close calls” that could have led to damage to the reactor core and the subsequent release of large amounts of radiation.

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Report | Democracy

Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

State governments across the country have been moving toward making their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals – government-operated websites that allow visitors to see who receives state money and for what purposes. Forty states provide transparency websites that allow residents to access databases of government expenditures with “checkbook-level” detail. Most of these websites are also searchable, making it easier for residents to follow the money and monitor government spending.

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Blog Post | Ed's Blog

SOPA and PIPA stop innovation and freedom and harm consumers without stopping online piracy | Ed Mierzwinski

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and powerful music, film and publishing titans have gone too far in demanding that the Internet as we know it -- an engine of innovation, freedom, democracy, commerce, idea-sharing and entrepreneurship -- be throttled down so that their legitimate problems with offshore pirates can supposedly be solved. They think every problem is a nail but their only tool is a hammer, a sledgehammer. Their bills won't hammer the nail, but they will hammer you, me and the Internet.

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Blog Post | Ed's Blog

WSJ: Bank of America Ponders Retreat | Ed Mierzwinski

Today's Wall Street Journal offers the story "Bank of America Ponders Retreat." It discusses a BofA emergency plan for retrenchment that would include further branch shrinkage than currently-expected reductions.

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Blog Post | Ed's Blog

Free tax prep at Walmart? It isn't really free, for some 84% or so of you | Ed Mierzwinski

I've been quoted recently (Reuters via Baltimore Sun)  warning consumers that getting your taxes done for "free" in an HR Block kiosk at Walmart and then getting your tax refund on a Walmart prepaid card comes with pitfalls, including (1) fees and (2) the chance that you'll just dump the money on the card into impulse purchases at Walmart, which "is not your friend."

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

ConnPIRG Testifies in Support of S.B. 1176, “An Act Concerning Electric Rate Relief”

Jennifer Hatch, ConnPIRG Program Associate, testified before the Connecticut General Assembly Energy and Technology Committee in Support of S.B. 1176, “An Act Concerning Electric Rate Relief”.

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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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