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News Release | U.S.PIRG | Consumer Protection

Strong National Payday Rule Could Save Consumers Billions

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its draft high cost small dollar lending (payday and auto title) loan rule for public comment. 

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LATimes: Obama's consumer protection legacy defined by aggressive agency

[This weekend, the Los Angele Times chronicled President Obama's consumer protection record, with heavy emphasis on the history and fight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):]

"[...] Launched in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the bureau is one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments. [...] “I think you have to consider him a tremendous president for consumers,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group."

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Blog Post | Transportation

A World Without Carbon Pollution – Closer Than You Might Think | John Olivieri

For many, a world without carbon pollution seems like a distant utopia. To some, this even seems unobtainable. The size and scope of the challenge before us can be daunting, yet, there is good news -- a world without carbon pollution is closer than you think.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Escalates Drive Toward Protections, Study Finds CFPB Enforcement Works | Ed Mierzwinski

This month the CFPB issued its proposed rule prohibiting class action bans in small-print mandatory arbitration clauses; in June it is expected to release its high-cost small dollar lending (payday and auto title loan) proposed rule. Meanwhile, as CFPB's industry opponents hide behind astroturf front groups and Congressional opponents use backdoor attacks, a law professor has released a major report finding that "from its inception [in 2011] through 2015 the agency had a 122-and-0 track record in its publicly announced enforcement actions" and that 93% (over $10.5 billion) of funds recovered for consumers have been for deceptive practices -- "[f]ar from a novel legal theory."

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Blog Post | Transportation

Why Is Our Infrastructure So Terrible? | Sean Doyle

America is facing a $1.4 trillion infrastructure funding crisis. This isn't some distant problem; it's already having a real effect on everyday Americans.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Budget

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

Columbus, Ohio – 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 Ohio PIRG’s new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013.”

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Health Care

Twenty Top Generic Drugs Delayed By Industry Payoffs

Ohioans with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and other conditions have been forced to pay an average of 10 times more than necessary for at least 20 blockbuster drugs, according to a report released today by the Ohio Public Interest Research Group (Ohio PIRG) and Community Catalyst.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for 361,857 Student Loan Borrowers in Ohio Double

Columbus, Ohio – Due to Congressional inaction, the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled on July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The change will affect 361,857 students in Ohio, and increase student debt by $890 per student, per loan.  However, because most new student loans are issued in August and September, Congress can still pass a retroactive fix. 

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Democracy

Sens. Udall, Tester Introduce Constitutional Amendments to Overturn Citizens United, Get Big Money Out of Elections

We applaud the efforts of Senators Udall and Tester to correct the dangerous misinterpretations of the First Amendment in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo decisions.

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News Release | Ohio PIRG | Public Health

Big Pharma’s Pay-for-Delay Deals Take a Hit

Big Pharma’s controversial “pay-for-delay” agreements took a hit today. In FTC v. Actavis, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FTC’s case against the payoff keeping generic AndroGel from the market can move ahead in the lower courts.

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Report | Ohio PIRG | Consumer Protection

Chemical Insecurity

Across the United States, thousands of industrial facilities use and store hazardous chemicals in large quantities that pose major risks to their neighbors. More than 100 of these facilities would each put at least one million people at risk of injury or death in the event of a chemical release.

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Report | Ohio PIRG | Transportation

Road Work Ahead

Why are America’s roads and bridges in such terrible shape? And who or what is to blame? 

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Report | Ohio PIRG | Financial Reform

Tax Shell Game

Many corporations operating in the United States funnel money through offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying billions in U.S. taxes. In fact, an independent study found that nearly two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes at all. Goldman Sachs, which received a $10 billion taxpayer bailout, managed to get their effective tax rate down to one percent by utilizing maneuvers they describe as “changes in geographic earnings mix.”

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Foreclosures, Failed Banks and Fees

While the financial crisis is global in scope, Ohio is one of its flashpoints. Ohio lives and families have been shattered and homes and neighborhoods shuttered due to unfair and predatory lending practices. The solution is to enact a strong federal Consumer Financial Protection Agency that reinstates federal law as a floor not a ceiling of protection and has as its primary responsibility the enforcement of consumer protection laws.

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Report | Ohio PIRG | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland: 24th Annual Toy Safety Survey

The 2009 Trouble in Toyland report is the 24th annual Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety.  This report provides safety guidelines for parents 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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Reinstates Case Against Bank That Aided Senior Citizen Fraud | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that had denied class action status to victims of a scheme targeting senior citizens who were suing Zions Bank and its payment processor affiliates for aiding the fraudsters. U.S. regulators led by the Department of Justice have been fighting this and similar schemes, yet powerful special interests have managed to create a false narrative in Washington, DC that has been picked up by opponents of consumer protection laws. They falsely claim that the government's target is "legitimate" payday lenders and gun dealers. Wrong, the target is financial crimes against consumers, many consumers.

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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How the CFPB’s Data Keeps Getting Better and Better | Mike Litt

As the CFPB turns 4 years old on July 21, here is some information on how it works for you and how we at PIRG use its data to produce reports, such as our new report on mortgage complaints to the CFPB. We've also got some photos from the Americans for Financial Reform "CFPB at 4" event.

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Defend the CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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