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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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News Release | PennPIRG | Consumer Protection

PennPIRG Demands Real Penalties for Volkswagen and Full Rebates for Customers

Today, PennPIRG demanded that Volkswagen be held fully accountable for its “defeat device” scheme to trick EPA pollution tests. The group also called for full rebates to the nearly 500,000 customers deceived into joining the scheme by VW’s false promises of “clean” diesel cars.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Boosting the Impact of Small Donors

What if our campaign finance system encouraged candidates to raise money from everyday citizens making small contributions? This report examines how the 2016 fundraising picture would look if a small donor campaign finance system were in place, where small contributions were matched with limited public funds for candidates who agree to turn down large contributions.

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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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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps with bank complaints

Since it started accepting complaints about banks 18 months ago, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has helped thousands of irate customers settle disputes over their accounts, with roughly 1 out of 4 complaints resulting in monetary relief, a just-released analysis by a consumer group shows.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

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 PennPIRG Education Fund. The report highlights banks that generated the most complaints through their various banking services in each state.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Shows Pennsylvanians Are Driving Less

Pennsylvanians have cut their per-person driving miles by 10.4 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from PennPIRG. This decline is significantly higher than the national average of 6.87%. Pennsylvania is one of 9 states and the District of Columbia to have a double digit reduction in per-person driving miles.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Public Health

Advocates Call On EPA for Increased Chemical Safety, Security

Activists gathered outside the EPA Region 3 offices in Philadelphia to release “Danger In Our Backyards: The Threat of Chemical Facilities to Millions,” a report that highlights two Philadelphia-area plants as posing significant threats to public safety. More than five million people live near a high-risk Pennsylvania chemical plant.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for 374,328 Student Loan Borrowers in Pennsylvania Set to Double on July 1

According to an issue brief released today by PennPIRG, the upcoming increase in the student loan interest rate would hike the cost of Pennsylvania students’ loans by $358 million. That translates into a $956 increase in debt per student, per loan.

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Report | PennPIRG, PennEnvironment | Democracy

Elections for Shale

Fracking corporation EQT and the rest of the industry spend millions on electoral politics at the state and federal level, elevating their interests and making it more difficult for ordinary citizens to have their voices heard. Concurrently, the industry exploits loopholes to pay extremely low taxes, receives thousands of permits to drill on public lands, and is exempted from many basic environmental standards.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Following the Money 2013

Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts with private entities for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, grants, and other forms of spending. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that state funds are well spent.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Tax

The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the federal government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Ultimately, taxpayers must pick up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increased national debt.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Transparency in City Spending

Following our earlier studies of government spending at the state level, this report evaluates the progress of America’s 30 largest cities toward “Transparency 2.0” – a standard of encompassing, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

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Report | PennPIRG | Democracy

Elections Confidential

“Elections Confidential” describes how secret donors poured hundreds of millions into the 2012 election through “social welfare” non-profits that are really political vehicles and via shell corporations formed as conduits to hide a funder’s identity.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Data Breach Here, Data Breach There, Data Breach Everywhere! | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED 10 June Re DHS Breach: If you shop with plastic, have health insurance, pay taxes, work for the federal government, or (fill in blank) you’re at risk of a data breach. And with so much information about you already available on the Internet, it’s best not to select easy-search security questions like “Where were you born?” or answers like “Pizza.” What’s your best defense against identity theft? No, it isn’t credit monitoring, it’s a security freeze.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Event 5/11 re new book on black box decisionmaking & consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED TO CONFIRM CFPB Speaker. We are hosting an event Monday, 5/11, from 9am-noon ET to discuss a new book, The Black Box Society, with author Frank Pasquale. Click Keep Reading to RSVP to attend in person or to watch the livestream. While credit bureaus have long functioned as black box gatekeepers to opportunity, panelists will discuss the growing use of more and more, even less transparent black boxes to categorize consumers in the digital economy.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

U.S. House Considers Delay To Financial Protections for Servicemembers, Veterans | Ed Mierzwinski

(UPDATED 30 April): Last year the Department of Defense proposed needed improvements to the 2007 Military Lending Act, since high-cost lenders were exploiting loopholes to evade the law's 36% APR cap on loans to servicemembers to make loans at 400% APR or more, harming military families and threatening unit preparedness to defend the nation. Now, days before a committee vote, predatory lenders have succeeded in convincing House Armed Services Committee leaders to insert language into the National Defense Authorization Act that would delay the DoD regulations up to a year while needless, redundant studies are prepared. Only in Washington.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Two Years After West Disaster, Are Communities Any Safer?

Two years ago, a fertilizer plant explosion devastated West, Texas. There have been over 350 other preventable chemical accidents sincer, yet the EPA has failed to take action to protect our communities from future preventable chemical disasters.

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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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