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Video Blog | Consumer Protection

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The retirement industry is a minefield -- but here’s the answer

In this week’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver called out three main problems hurting consumers when it comes to retirement: First, financial advisers aren’t currently required to work in their clients’ best interest. Second, high fees compound over time. Third, actively managed investment funds aren’t the answer. 

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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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News Release | PIRGIM Education Fund | Consumer Protection

In Michigan, Experian Gets Big Complaints

A new report by PIRGIM Education Fund found that the most complained-about credit reporting agency in Michigan is Experian, and that Michigan ranks 38th nationally in credit report complaints per 100,000 residents.

The report used data collected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database, which was created to help consumers resolve problems with their credit reports. The report compared complaints against the three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), commonly referred to as credit bureaus, who were together responsible for 96% of all complaints about credit reporting.

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News Release | PIRGIM | Democracy

PIRGIM, Members of the Michigan Election Coalition Urge Supreme Court to Rule Against Removing Limits on Campaign Expenditures

PIRGIM joined pro-democracy groups Common Cause Michigan, Communication Workers of America and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, to urge the Supreme Court to rule against McCutcheon in MccCutcheon vs. FEC. The plaintiffs want the individual aggregate campaign contribution limit scrapped, so wealthy individuals and private interests can influence our electoral process even more. The court began hearing oral arguments on Tuesday, Oct 8.

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News Release | PIRGIM Education Fund | Budget

Michigan Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Michigan received an “A-” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fourth annual report of its kind by the PIRGIM Education Fund. 

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News Release | PIRGIM 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 Public Interest Research Group in Michigan’s 27th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

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Report | PIRGIM | Tax

Who Slows the Pace of Tax Reforms?

 U.S. PIRG conducted a simple investigation into some of the major corporations who have signed onto one or more of the PACE coalition's many letters to Congress, and looked at how they benefit from maintaining the status quo.

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Report | PIRGIM | Health Care

Michigan Small Businesses at Risk

America’s small businesses stand at the forefront of innovation.  Our entrepreneurs are the first to adopt new technologies and take new approaches in old industries.  As engines of job creation, small businesses are the leading edge that pushes our economy forward. They are also, unfortunately, on the front lines of the health care crisis.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Failing the Bailout

Following the collapse of major financial institutions Congress enacted a sweeping $700 billion taxpayer-financed bailout of the financial sector. However, months into the program and billions of dollars later, no one knows how the money was spent and no one is convinced that it’s achieved any of the intended results.

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Report | MASSPIRG | Safe Energy

The High Cost of Nuclear Power

Renewable energy sources can produce far more electricity than nuclear plants for less money, according to a new MASSPIRG Education Fund report, “The High Cost of Nuclear Power: Why America Should Choose a Clean Energy Future,” released today.

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Report | PIRGIM Education Fund | Transportation

Economic Stimulus or Simply More Misguided Spending?

This fall, Congress asked states to submit lists of “ready-to-go” transportation infrastructure projects that could be funded by the stimulus package. Lists from nineteen state departments of transportation (DOTs) show that the broader goals articulated by President-elect Obama will be undermined if Congress, the Administration, and the states do not establish forward-looking rules for spending stimulus funds. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Advances Consumer Protection, Attacks on CFPB Escalate | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the CFPB took a major step toward establishing a regulation restricting the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts, which give companies what the CFPB's director said was a "free pass from being held accountable by their customers." Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, powerful bank interests escalated their campaign to defund and defang the bureau, because it works for consumers, not them.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House holds stacked hearing to attack retirement savings rule proposal | Ed Mierzwinski

The House Financial Services Committee is holding a typically stacked hearing -- one consumer-side witness against four Wall Street-backed lobbyists  -- to attack the important retirement savings rule proposed by the Department of Labor. The rule simply requires retirement advisors to put the customer's needs  -- not their own compensation -- first.

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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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