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  • Student Consumer Action Network Updates | CALPIRG Students
    Chapter Full Time Jobs Campaigns Stopping Global Warming California Water Watch Don t Get Ripped Off Hunger and Homelessness Protect Our Beautiful Places New Voters Project Protect Public Health 21st Century Transportation Make Textbooks Affordable Newsroom Latest Updates Blog PIRG in the News News Releases Reports Donate Internships Work on important issues learn valuable skills get hands on experience and make a difference Get Info Students in Action Like Us

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/node/280/content (2016-04-29)
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  • Student Consumer Action Network Project Packet | CALPIRG Students
    Internships Start a PIRG Chapter Full Time Jobs Campaigns Stopping Global Warming California Water Watch Don t Get Ripped Off Hunger and Homelessness Protect Our Beautiful Places New Voters Project Protect Public Health 21st Century Transportation Make Textbooks Affordable Newsroom Latest Updates Blog PIRG in the News News Releases Reports Donate Internships Work on important issues learn valuable skills get hands on experience and make a difference Get Info Students

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/resources/student-consumer-action-network-project-packet (2016-04-29)
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  • CALPIRG: Apartment Hunting Guide | CALPIRG Students
    help you avoid getting ripped off by a bad landlord or experiencing unforeseen problems with renting In this guide you ll find Step 1 Preparing for the apartment hunt Step 2 The open house Step 3 Negotiating and signing a lease How to tell if the Building would be Unsafe in an Earthquake Open House Checklist What to look out for and questions to ask the landlord BEFORE you sign a lease Other resources in Berkeley Resource file download Download the report About Us Our Leadership Our Mission Accomplishments Frequently Asked Questions Campus Chapters UC Berkeley UC Davis UC Irvine UC Riverside UC San Diego UC Santa Barbara UC Santa Cruz UCLA USC Get Involved Take Action Volunteer on Campus Campus Internships Start a PIRG Chapter Full Time Jobs Campaigns Stopping Global Warming California Water Watch Don t Get Ripped Off Hunger and Homelessness Protect Our Beautiful Places New Voters Project Protect Public Health 21st Century Transportation Make Textbooks Affordable Newsroom Latest Updates Blog PIRG in the News News Releases Reports Donate Internships Work on important issues learn valuable skills get hands on experience and make a difference Get Info Students in Action Like Us Follow Us RSS Contact Resources

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/resources/ca/calpirg-apartment-hunting-guide (2016-04-29)
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  • Toy Safety Tips | CALPIRG Students
    child swallows more than one magnet the magnets can attract each other in the body in the stomach and intestines and cause life threatening complications If a child swallows even one magnet seek immediate medical attention 3 Watch or Button Batteries Keep watch or button batteries away from children If swallowed the battery acid can cause fatal internal injuries 4 Noise Children s ears are sensitive If a toy seems too loud for your ears it is probably too loud for a child Take the batteries out of loud toys or cover the speakers with tape 5 Strangulation Hazards Mobiles Keep mobiles out of the reach of children in cribs and remove them before the baby is five months old or can push him herself up Cords Remove knobs and beads from cords longer than one foot to prevent the cords from tangling into a dangerous loop Drawstrings Clothing with drawstrings on the hood can get caught on fixed objects like playground equipment and pose a strangulation hazard 6 Lead and Other Toxic Chemicals Some children s toys and cosmetics may contain lead or other toxic chemicals including phthalates While most lead and phthalates are being phased out of toys beginning in 2009 older toys may still contain them Toys with PVC Plastic Avoid toys made of PVC plastic which could contain toxic phthalates posing developmental hazards choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys instead Lead The Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC PIRG and children s health groups have found high levels of lead paint on toys as well as high levels of lead in vinyl lunch boxes and bibs and in children s costume jewelry All lead should be removed from a child s environment especially lead jewelry and other toys that can be swallowed To test jewelry for lead use a home lead tester available at the hardware store or simply throw costume jewelry made with such heavy metals away Other chemicals Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene toluene or dibutyl phthalate Additional Tips Accessorize your kids for safety Toys such as bicycles scooters skateboards and inline skates are safer when children wear protective gear If you plan to give any of these toys as gifts make them safer by also giving a helmet knee pads elbow pads and wrist guards Stay informed of recalls The CPSC recalls numerous toys and children s products each year Check www recalls gov for an archive of old recalls and to sign up to receive email alerts of new recalls Report A Dangerous Toy The Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC has the authority to recall dangerous toys and products from the market If you think a toy or product is hazardous contact the CPSC and submit a report by Phone 1 800 638 2772 Email Send a message to the CPSC Website Report a dangerous toy at www saferproducts gov Find Out More Visit toysafety mobi on your smartphone to get these tips while you shop Print

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/resources/toy-safety-tips/sp (2016-04-29)
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  • SO YOU NEED HEALTH INSURANCE. NOW WHAT? | CALPIRG Students
    When you fill out your application at Covered California you ll find out if you and your family qualify What are the Costs Once you ve narrowed down your options to several plans take a look at the specific costs of each plan It s important to consider not only the monthly premium but the potential out of pocket costs as well That way you can get a sense of the total cost you might face over the course of a year The specific out of pocket costs to look at are co pays deductibles and co insurance You ll also want to make special note of the out of pocket maximum For definitions of these terms see the section on Health Insurance Basics Here s a simple formula to see what you could have to pay in a year in a worst case scenario if you have a major illness or accident Monthly Premium x 12 months Out of Pocket Maximum Worst case scenario yearly cost Compare Plans Side by Side At Covered California you can compare plans based on a number of factors You can look at premiums and out of pocket costs and see which health care providers and hospitals are available in each plan In some states you can already compare quality ratings of the different plans and in others the quality rating will be added in future years BRONZE SILVER GOLD AND PLATINUM In the past it was practically impossible to compare insurance plans apples to apples with seemingly infinite combinations of premiums co pays deductibles annual coverage limits co insurance levels and out of pocket maximum amounts In the marketplace you can take advantage of the fact that the insurance plans have been neatly sorted into categories so you can compare them more easily The categories are Bronze Silver Gold and Platinum The categories are not based on the quality of care or the amount of care you can receive They are based on how much of your medical costs you pay and how much the insurance company pays As a general rule the higher the monthly premium the lower your out of pocket costs will be if you need care Platinum plans will generally have the highest premiums but if you need care you ll pay less in out of pocket costs Bronze plans will generally have lower premiums but you ll pay more in out of pocket costs if you need care If you think you ll need a lot of care in the year ahead it might make sense to pay a somewhat higher monthly premium and get a Gold or Platinum plan and know that you ll face lower out of pocket costs when you receive care On the other hand if you don t think you ll need much care you may want to pay a lower monthly premium and get a Bronze or Silver plan and risk the chance that you might get hit with higher out of pocket costs if you have an unexpected illness or accident CATASTROPHIC PLANS In addition to the Bronze Silver Gold and Platinum plans if you re under 30 or if you otherwise qualify by having a limited income that makes other coverage unaffordable you may buy a catastrophic plan These plans have lower premiums and they cover preventive care and three primary care visits per year with no co pay But if you need more care you ll face significant out of pocket costs That s because a catastrophic plan requires you to pay 100 of the cost of your medical care until you ve paid a certain amount often several thousand dollars These plans protect you from worst case scenarios where you d otherwise be on the hook for medical care costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars hence the name catastrophic It s also important to note that if you choose a catastrophic plan you won t be able to qualify for financial help through the marketplace What Health Care Providers Can You See When you are comparing plans take advantage of the fact that each plan will include a list of health care providers This is the plan s provider network If you visit a provider that isn t part of this network you ll pay higher costs so if you already have a doctor check to see if they are included in the plan you are considering Different types of insurance plans have different rules about whether you can get care outside of their provider network and still get the cost covered and at what cost HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATION HMO An HMO typically only covers care if you visit a provider in their provider network You may be on the hook for the full cost of care if you use a health provider outside of the network In addition if you want to see a specialist in the network you may need to get a referral from your primary care provider PREFERRED PROVIDER ORGANIZATION PPO A PPO covers care from providers both inside and outside the network However if you us a provider outside the network you ll pay higher out of pocket costs for that care You can see a specialist inside or outside the network without a referral How Does the Quality Stack Up Unfortunately when it comes to health care cost rarely tells you anything about quality Few things are more important than your health but for a long time there has been too little information about health care safety and quality available for consumers Now that s changing In many states the new marketplace includes tools to help you compare the quality of insurance plans and their provider networks In other states this information will become available in future years GREAT RESOURCES Health Plan Report Card Check out quality ratings of the health insurance plans you are considering and compare them head to head on things like how well they help people

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/resources/ca/so-you-need-health-insurance-now-what (2016-04-29)
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  • Trouble in Toyland | CALPIRG Students
    on marbles and on balloons continues to be the major cause of toy related deaths and injuries Between 1990 and 2011 over 200 children died from choking incidents This year we found several toys that contained small parts or near small part toys The toys containing small parts contained improper labels and might be mistakenly purchased for children under 3 The toys containing near small parts support our long term principle that the small parts test should be made more protective by making the test cylinder larger We found small cars that included small parts rubber traction bands on wheels Although the toy includes a statutory choke hazard warning and is labeled 4 the tiny label may violate CPSC hazard warning rules We also found several dollar store toys such as a small bowling ball and pin toy set with missing obscured or tiny choke hazard warning labels We also found some toy foods including both near small parts and other rounded ball like foods that would fail the small ball test although they are technically subject to the less stringent small parts test Toy foods poses a special hazard because they look to small children like something that should be eaten Round toy food should be tested as if it is a ball but the CPSC interprets the law differently Noisy Toys Research has shown that a third of Americans with hearing loss can attribute it in part to noise iv The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that one in five U S children will have some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach age 12 This may be in part due to many children using toys and other children s products such as music players that emit loud sounds v The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders advises that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range vi We found two toys a car driving wheel on a console and a toy guitar on store shelves that exceeded the recommended limit for continuous exposure of 85 decibels We also found one close to the ear toy a cell phone that exceeded the 65 decibel limit when measured with a digital sound level meter Recommendations for Policy Makers Policymakers must ensure that the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC is given the resources it needs to effectively protect consumers Policymakers must also continue vigorous oversight of implementation and enforcement of the new law Policymakers should require manufacturers to provide all hazard and health impact information to the state and federal government so agencies can begin to assess the thousands of chemicals currently on the market for which little or inadequate data are available There is overwhelming evidence showing that the Toxic Substances Control Act is failing our most vulnerable consumers pregnant women babies and children Policymakers should take steps to ensure that the American people are better protected from toxins in products Policymakers should reject

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/reports/trouble-toyland/sp (2016-04-29)
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  • The Campus Debit Card Trap | CALPIRG Students
    includes a survey of campus cards at the 50 largest public universities 50 largest community colleges and 20 largest private universities by campus population It recommends best practices by colleges and banks and new protections for consumers and provides tips for students Greater transparency will help make the market work better KEY FINDINGS U S PIRG has identified almost 900 card partnerships between colleges and banks or other financial firms at schools with over 9 million students or over 2 in 5 42 of all students nationwide Industry leading banks and financial firms tout that upwards of 70 80 of students use their cards after a few years of marketing U S PIRG has identified that 32 of the 50 largest public 4 year universities 26 of the largest 50 community colleges and 6 of the largest 20 private not for profit schools had debit or prepaid card contracts with a bank or a financial firm Of banks US Bank had the most card agreements at 52 campuses with over 1 7 million students Wells Fargo had card agreements at schools with the most students its contracts were at 43 campuses that have over 2 million students The largest financial firm player Higher One has card agreements with 520 campuses that enroll over 4 3 million students Although contracts are hard to obtain revenues to schools can be substantial A new contract between Ohio State University and Huntington Bank includes 25 million in payments to the school over 15 years It also includes an additional 100 million in lending and investment to neighborhoods surrounding campus Fees can be steep and frequent for students using the university adopted cards including a variety of per swipe fees inactivity fees overdraft fees ATM fees and fees to reload prepaid cards At least one

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/reports/sp/campus-debit-card-trap (2016-04-29)
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  • A Consumers Guide to a New Cell Phone Plan | CALPIRG Students
    and consumer surveys by CALPIRG Education Fund researchers is designed to help consumers navigate the twists and turns of today s cell phone market Recommendations for consumers Consumers who want to get the best deal on wireless phones and services should take the following seven steps Know your needs Roughly two thirds of Americans pay for cell phone services they don t use Thinking about what services you use and how much in advance will help avoid over paying for products you don t need or use potentially saving hundreds of dollars Shop around Consumers can save hundreds of dollars a year by comparison shopping particularly for wireless devices Free phones offered with two year contracts can sometimes prove to be more expensive over time than purchasing a phone and wireless service separately The cost of devices can vary greatly whether you buy in a brand store at a 3rd party provider such as Best Buy or online It is often cheapest to look at a phone in a store and then purchase it online Consider shifting from pay per use to packages for text or data For example 10 with Verizon can buy you 50 text messages per month with a pay per use plan However you can buy a 10 monthly text package in advance with Verizon and receive 1 000 text messages paying 1 per message instead of 20 Compare pre paid and post paid services Compare the plan you want with a prepaid plan versus a post paid plan If you are a light cell phone user getting a pre paid device can save you nearly 35 each month without the hassle of a two year contract a savings of 820 over two years Ask for a discount Many cell phone companies provide affiliate discounts for students members of credit unions and to certain employers universities large corporations public employees etc For example Sprint offers a 24 monthly discount for eligible students while Verizon offers a 15 discount to all military veterans a saving of over 20 per month In addition CALPIRG Education Fund research found that one in 10 stores waived the 35 activation fee upon request Find true costs CALPIRG Education Fund research found that consumers can reasonably expect to pay up to 20 per month on top of advertised prices Advertised prices for cell phones do not include federal and state taxes service fees and other overage charges A la carte pricing for wireless services can also lead to unexpectedly high bills This complexity can make it difficult for consumers to make apples to apples comparisons among providers and plans Consumers should ask which taxes and fees apply to their contract and what their monthly base bill will look like prior to entering into a contract Avoid bill shock CALPIRG Education Fund found that 40 of those consumers surveyed incurred overcharges Track your cell phone use to insure that you do not go pass your pre paid limits and incur overcharges All wireless

    Original URL path: http://www.calpirgstudents.org/reports/ca/consumers-guide-new-cell-phone-plan (2016-04-29)
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