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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Higher Ed

Safe Travel Information for College Students and Parents

As parents and students make trips across the country to return to college, you are probably wondering how to do so safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide will outline some of the safer options.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Higher Ed

Tips on what to pack for college during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a whole new situation for college students. This guide outlines items that students should pack when they return to campus.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Consumer Protection

Is your mortgage forbearance ending? | Teresa Murray

If the COVID-19 pandemic affects your ability to pay, here’s what you need to know

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Consumer Protection

If you’re behind on your mortgage payments, here are some tips | Teresa Murray

Good news: You may still be able to request a forbearance because of COVID-19

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Why we oppose U.S. Chamber's demand to shut courthouse doors, give corporations immunity from pandemic lawsuits | Ed Mierzwinski

Congress must reject demands from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to use the pandemic as cover to achieve one of their long-standing goals: making it nearly impossible for workers and consumers to hold companies accountable when they fail to use reasonable care to keep their operations safe. When America does return to work consumers and workers must have peace of mind that businesses are taking reasonable steps to protect them. The bottom line is that when nobody is accountable, nobody is safe. Congress must enact an additional Covid relief package to help struggling consumers, but shouldn't include the Chamber's corporate lawsuit immunity demand, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) continues to include in his latest proposed pandemic package.

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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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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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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 | MontPIRG Education Fund

NEW REPORT: Montana Receives "A-" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Montana received an “A-” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2015: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the sixth annual report of its kind by the Montana Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. Montana's grade improved since last year, jumping from a B to this year's A-.

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News Release | MontPIRG Education Fund | Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 21 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, enough to pay for 21 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to MontPIRG’s new report, Apples to Twinkies 2012. Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy one half of an apple per taxpayer.

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Blog Post

The Golden Arches just raised the bar for responsible antibiotic use in meat production'

McDonald's took a major step toward protecting our life-saving antibiotics.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Mulvaney Lobs One Last Softball To Industry Opponents of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

As the year 2018 came to an end, U.S. PIRG, Americans for Financial Reform and AFR members filed the last in in a seemingly interminable series of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Requests for Information. Although there was no clear intent to this "Data Collection" RFI, we, and allied academic scholars who filed a separate comment, both inferred it as another opportunity for industry opponents of the CFPB to attack the Bureau's consumer protection mission -- this time by challenging its collection and use of data to evaluate and respond to financial marketplace problems that harm consumers. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

EU NGOs Blast Google Locational Data Collection as US Groups Blast FTC on Privacy | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, 7 member groups of the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) asked each of their national Data Protection Authorities to investigate Google Android's smartphone locational data collection practices following an investigative report by the Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerrådet) finding that Google may be in violation of the new European GDPR privacy law. All the groups are members of the U.S. PIRG-backed TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue, which itself  followed up on the report and EU actions with a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Meanwhile, as the Senate prepared for an afternoon FTC oversight hearing today where Facebook may be a focus, we joined leading groups in a separate letter to complain to the FTC about its biased staff report that adopts unsubstantiated industry claims in defense of an FTC call to the administration for weak baseline privacy choices. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

2019 Fight Over Data Privacy Rights Heating Up Already | Ed Mierzwinski

Next year, a highly-anticipated privacy and data rights battle will occur in Congress. Powerful special interests from Google to Facebook are responding to the new European General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) by seeking to quash any similar effort to protect U.S. consumers while simultaneously seeking to preempt a new California privacy law before it takes effect in 2020. Will we continue as data collector products, not their customers, or will we gain control over our own financial DNA? The state PIRGs are in this one; guess which side we're on. Today we joined 34 leading groups in issuing shared Privacy Principles.

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Blog Post

You may be setting aside those cloth or surgical masks and shopping for some N95 masks or KN95s that are supposed to be widely available. But . . . there unfortunately are lots of counterfeit products out there too.
 

Blog Post

A major new CFPB report assails the Big 3 credit bureaus for a series of excuses, “deficiencies” and failures. CFPB found that “Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion routinely failed to fully respond to consumers with errors.” Wow.

Cover graphic “Epic Fail” by Dunk via Flickr, some rights reserved.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Following years of rollbacks, President Joe Biden began his term nearly a year ago amidst unprecedented environmental and public health challenges. Despite these obstacles, his administration has made significant strides toward restoring lost environmental protections and confronting daunting threats to our climate and public health, according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Following years of rollbacks, President Joe Biden began his term nearly a year ago amidst unprecedented environmental and public health challenges. Despite these obstacles, his administration has made significant strides toward restoring lost environmental protections and confronting daunting threats to our climate and public health, according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

Solid Waste

EPA’s National Recycling Strategy doesn’t go far enough

The EPA has finalized part one of its National Recycling Strategy, which seeks to build a more circular economy by allowing citizens easier access to recycling. But given that less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled, the plan fails to account for the reality that if we truly hope to get plastic pollution under control, we just need to use less to begin with.

 

Consumer Tips

Keep your family safe from gas stove air pollution with this new guide

The holiday season should be about making delicious meals with loved ones, not worrying about breathing in toxic pollutants from gas stoves while cooking. Our research partners at U.S. PIRG Education Fund have released a guide on how to avoid air pollution from gas stoves.

 

Consumer Protection

Not First Class

Our report highlights how flier complaints have soared as airlines cancel flights, deny refunds, and ruin plans. Find out which airlines have the most complaints and what you can do.

 

Public Health

Biden EPA takes crucial step toward slashing climate change emissions

Reducing methane emissions, which warm the planet with 28 times the strength of carbon dioxide, could be the Environmental Protection Agency's next focus. The EPA has proposed new rules to decrease methane emissions by 41 million tons through 2035, the equivalent of taking more than 200 million cars off the road for a year.

 

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