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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The CFPB is 4 years old and has a lot to show for it! | Ed Mierzwinski

Tuesday, July 21, marks four years to the day since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors to protect consumers and make financial markets work. We've summarized some of the ways CFPB works for you on a new web page.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We Commend CFPB For Adding Consumer Stories To Public Complaint Database

Yesterday, the CFPB published the first batch (7,700) of consumer narratives or stories to the Public Consumer Complaint Database it began in 2011. We've used the database to publish five reports (so far) analyzing complaint trends in markets ranging from credit cards to student loans but we have also long urged the voluntary addition of stories to the data fields. Now, consumers can learn if what happened to them happened to anyone else. Now, researchers can track which banks are more responsive to particular problems and which ignore their customers. A good resource is now an excellent resource.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

The More I Hear About OPM Data Breach, The Less I Know, Except This: It's Bad | Ed Mierzwinski

Was it 4 million, 14 million or 18 million records breached (how many times) (likely) by Chinese hackers? Whose fault was it? The USOPM director says no one's. Really? Perhaps the worst data breach ever raises lots of questions, but I haven't heard any good answers. Federal employees, their families, their friends and their neighbors -- because all of them could be victims -- deserve better answers, just as they deserve better service than USOPM's credit monitoring provider is giving them.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Connecticut Drivers Are Driving Less

Connecticut commuters are driving less and utilizing public transportation more, especially in the state’s urban areas.

 

That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the Connecticut Public Research Institute.

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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Report Shows Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport-Stamford Residents Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More

 

A first-of-its-kind report by ConnPIRG Education Fund shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in Connecticut’s urbanized areas—including the Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport-Stamford areas —and greater use of public transit and biking. 

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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group’s 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report.  The survey of hazardous toys found that despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.

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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Food

Food Safety Scares 2013: How FDA Delays are Putting American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Food

 

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delays in implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act have put Connecticut lives at risk and cost the country $22 million in economic costs, according to a new report by the ConnPIRG Education Fund.

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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

New Report Identifies Most Troublesome Private Lenders to Students

Thousands of American students are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes about private student loans, 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 | Public Health, Food

Stop & Shop, label GMOs

A year ago, Whole Food’s committed to labeling GMOs by 2018.  But Whole Foods shouldn’t be the only store offering full GMO transparency.  That’s why we’re calling on Stop & Shop to label GMOs in their store brand products.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Increasing Recycling Through Regionalism

Today's meeting of Connecticut's Solid Waste Advisory Committee focused on regionalism.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Health Care Bill Weakened | Evan Preston

The Insurance and Real Estate Committee acted today to weaken a bill that would have lowered health insurance premiums for Connecticut consumers purchasing insurance through Access Health CT.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

ConnPIRG Supports Ratepayer Consumer Protection Bill | Evan Preston

There is a hearing today for a ConnPIRG supported bill that would provide important consumer protections on electric bills.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Online Voter Registration | Evan Preston

Yesterday, ConnPIRG staff joined Governor Malloy and Secretaty of the State Denise Merrill as they announced that online voter registration is now available in Connecticut.

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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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