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  • New Report: Mortgage Problems Rank #1 at CFPB for Consumer Complaints | NJPIRG
    mortgage complaint volumes declined slightly in 2014 and the volume of the CFPB s 10 other product categories continued to grow In early 2015 debt collection complaints became the 1 complaint to be published in the CFPB s database on a monthly basis Mortgage complaints however remain at 2 on a monthly basis and are still the 1 complaint overall accounting for 38 of all complaints The vast majority of mortgage complaints 85 fall into two issue categories Problems when consumers are unable to pay categorized in the database as loan modification collection foreclosure make up 55 of the total problems making payments categorized in the database as loan servicing payments and escrow account make up 30 The other four issue categories total 15 Bank of America received the most complaints in 45 states and Washington DC Wells Fargo was complained about the most in five states The report comes as the CFPB turns four years old on July 21st Congress established the CFPB as part of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 The CFPB was equipped by Congress with authority to update write and enforce regulations on Wall Street and other financial institutions That authority combined with consumer education tools and the complaint database has served as an important check on tricks and traps in the mortgage industry With its authority over both updated and new mortgage regulations the CFPB has also taken enforcement actions against more than 40 companies halting illegal activities and securing over 2 9 billion in relief and refunds for mortgage consumers When the CFPB ordered Ocwen the largest nonbank mortgage servicer in the country to provide 2 billion in relief to customers for misconduct like charging unauthorized fees and failing to apply payments towards mortgages it sent a message to the whole industry to clean up its act said Litt The CFPB has also acted on recommendations U S PIRG Education Fund made in previous reports to add complaint narratives to the database In March 2015 the CFPB started allowing consumers to opt into publicly sharing the details of their complaints in the database The first 7 700 narratives were published on June 25th No personally identifiable information including demographic details is shared publicly Imagine getting approved for a loan modification that you need to avoid a foreclosure only to risk losing your home because you ve been given less than two weeks to turn in paperwork instead of the four weeks you were originally told you would have That happened to a veteran from Virginia who received relief after submitting his complaint to the CFPB Consumers need a strong CFPB that reins in reckless mortgage companies who ignore the rules concluded Litt Download the report Mortgages and Mortgage Complaints The CFPB s Consumer Complaint Database Gets Real Results for Victims of Mortgage Problems http uspirg org reports usp mortgages and mortgage complaints This is the sixth in a series of reports by the U S PIRG Education

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/new-report-mortgage-problems-rank-1-cfpb-consumer-complaints (2016-04-29)
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  • We Commend CFPB For Adding Consumer Stories To Public Complaint Database | NJPIRG
    elapsed how much money was in dispute and how much if any was returned Consumers will be able to read stories about other consumers problems which will inform their own choices Companies will be able to take advanatge of the database to avoid practices that get other firms in trouble This is absolutely a win for everyone Over 10 000 of our members joined us in comments to the CFPB in support of this important expansion proposal The CFPB listened The nation s largest public government complaint database with over 627 000 complaints received in just 4 years is now even better because consumers are empowered to help others make better choices by voluntarily making their own redacted stories public 30 Public Interest Research Groups are non partisan non profit organizations that take on powerful interests on behalf of their members Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Energy Service Corps Our

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/we-commend-cfpb-adding-consumer-stories-public-complaint-database (2016-04-29)
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  • How Companies Turn Your Facebook Activity Into a Credit Score | NJPIRG
    program director at the United States Public Interest Research Group USPIRG This information comes from sources both online and off line Thousands of data brokers keep tabs on everything from social media profiles and online searches to public records and retail loyalty cards they likely know things including but not limited to your age race gender and income who your friends are whether you re ill looking for a job getting married having a baby or trying to buy a home Today we all swim in murky waters in which we re constantly tracked analyzed and scored without knowing what information is being collected about us how it s being weighted or why it matters much of it as irrelevant and inaccurate as the hearsay assembled during the early days of consumer reporting Read more in The Nation In addition to citing our ground breaking work in this area the story also includes analysis by Professor Frank Pasquale author of The Black Box Society The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information Harvard University Press January 2015 Frank joined me our co investigator Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy Alexis Goldstein of the Other98 com Sarah Ludwig of the New Economy Project NYC Jessica Rich of the FTC and Peggy Twohig of the CFPB for a recent livestream event Looking at the Black Box Society We ve posted the event video in 3 chapters here on our Youtube page This page is the home for our Digital Data and Consumer Protection project which includes links to our reports and other activities Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/media/pap/how-companies-turn-your-facebook-activity-credit-score (2016-04-29)
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  • Weak Medicine | NJPIRG
    of antibiotics under FDA rules that allow them to feed drugs to their livestock to prevent diseases According to a trade group of animal pharmaceutical companies only 10 to 15 percent of antibiotics are currently purchased under the rules that allow farmers to feed their livestock drugs for growth promotion All classes of antibiotics that can be fed to livestock to promote growth can also be used to prevent diseases for chickens cows and pigs Therefore in many cases factory farms may continue feeding these antibiotics to livestock even if they had previously been used for growth promotion simply by claiming that the drugs are for disease prevention purposes Pharmaceutical companies do not believe the FDA s recommendations will meaningfully reduce sales of antibiotics In a presentation to shareholders the CEO of Zoetis the largest animal health company in the country claimed Zoetis supports the U S FDA s efforts and we don t expect this to have a material impact on our future financial results The president of the animal health division of Eli Lilly the fourth largest animal pharmaceutical company in the country stated we do not see this announcement being a material event According to Bimeda another animal pharmaceutical company growth uses of medically important antibiotics represent only a small percentage of overall use so even if all other factors are static it s unlikely overall use would be greatly affected by the new FDA guidelines Experience with similar rules in Europe shows that the FDA should have implemented stronger recommendations From 1972 to 2006 European regulators took action similar to the FDA s by banning the practice of feeding antibiotics to animals for growth promotion In the Netherlands which keeps records of antibiotic consumption the total use of antibiotics fed to animals did not decline because farms increased the antibiotics fed to animals for disease prevention In 2011 the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that the ban was insufficient to protect human health from the overuse of antibiotics With the ban on antibiotics for growth promotion failing to reduce the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms the Netherlands enacted regulations embraced by industry calling for a 70 percent decline in antibiotic consumption by 2015 As a result the amount of antibiotics fed to animals for therapeutic uses such as disease prevention dropped by more than 50 percent over five years From 1994 to 1999 Denmark took a series of steps that led to a ban on the practices of feeding animals antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention Consequently farmers adopted better practices to prevent disease such as allowing piglets to nurse longer before being weaned As a result from 1992 to 2008 use of antimicrobials declined 51 percent on pig farms while pork production increased 47 percent and antimicrobial use declined 90 percent on chicken farms even as production increased slightly State governments the FDA and other branches of the federal government should take steps to protect human health from the antibiotic resistant bacteria

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njf/weak-medicine (2016-04-29)
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  • Picking Up the Tab | NJPIRG
    Individual Tax Filers in Each State Would Need to Pay to Make Up For State and Federal Revenue Lost To Offshore Tax Havens The taxes avoided by multinational corporations make up the majority 110 billion of the government revenue lost to offshore tax havens Every small business would need to pay an average of 3 923 in additional taxes if they were to pick up the full tab for income lost to corporations exploiting tax havens Corporate tax haven abuse costs the federal government 90 billion in lost tax revenue Every small business would need to pay an additional 3 206in federal taxes to account for the revenue lost Corporate tax haven abuse costs state governments 20 billion in lost tax revenue Every small business would need to pay an additional 717 in state taxes to account for the revenue lost Some of America s biggest companies use tax havens to avoid tax obligations in the United States including many that have taken advantage of government bailouts or rely on government contracts In 2012 82 of the 100 largest publicly traded U S corporations booked revenues to offshore tax haven countries General Electric maintained 18 tax haven subsidiaries in 2013 and parked 110 billion offshore With the help of offshore subsidiaries GE paid a federal effective tax rate of 11 1 percent between 2008 and 2012 despite being profitable all of those years Citigroup bailed out by taxpayers in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 maintained 21 subsidiaries in tax haven countries in 2013 and kept 43 8 billion in offshore jurisdictions If that money had not been booked offshore Citigroup would have owed an additional 11 7 billion in taxes To restore fairness to the tax system decision makers should prevent corporations and wealthy individuals from booking their income to offshore tax havens by eliminating the incentives and mechanisms used to shift money overseas End the ability of multinational corporations to indefinitely defer paying taxes on the profits they attribute to their foreign entities Eliminate the look through rule which allows U S multinational corporations to defer tax liabilities on income generated by one of its foreign subsidiaries from sources of income such as royalties interest or dividends Eliminate the active financing exception which exempts income generated through banking and financial services from being taxed immediately when it is earned Reject a territorial tax system which would allow companies to temporarily shift profits to tax haven countries pay minimal tax under those countries laws and then bring the profits back to the United States tax free Put an end to the check the box rule which currently allows multinational companies to make inconsistent claims about their corporate status To maximize their tax advantage corporations can tell one country that they are one type of en tity while telling another country that the same entity is something else entirely Stop companies from deducting interest expenses from their U S tax liability when that interest is paid to a

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/picking-tab-0 (2016-04-29)
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  • The Unfriendly Skies | NJPIRG
    trends in tens of thousands of consumer complaints over time finding how some airlines have improved their rankings and others have worsened We also compare consumer complaint data with other DOT data that tracks airlines on time performance and baggage handling The report finds that consumer s most complaints were about Flight Problems such as delays and cancellations Other top problems were about baggage customer service as issues with reservations bookings and boarding Over time Flight Problems account for an increasing portion of the total complaints The airline that generated the most complaints relative to number of passengers was Spirit Airlines Each year Spirit s passengers were about three times as likely to file a complaint as the second place airline and its complaints volume is trending upward over time Southwest Airlines generated the lowest number of complaints relative to number of passengers each year NJPIRG Law Policy Center s experience with other government agencies and their consumer complaint processes is that greater transparency and public education including the establishment of a searchable public database of complaints leads to greater compliance by regulated firms and improved customer service Among other recommendations the report recommends the following ν That the Department of Transportation DOT establish a searchable public database of consumer airline complaints to supplement its monthly summary reports ν That the DOT move more of its air travel databases onto the machine readable data gov platform ν That policymakers provide funding for the unfunded air passenger consumer complaint hotline established in 2012 ν That the DOT require airlines to report complaint data about frequent flyer programs separately so that it can be added to the data that are available in DOT reports and in the future searchable public consumer complaint database Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njf/unfriendly-skies (2016-04-29)
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  • PIRG Commends Supporters of Duckworth Amendment to Protect Our Troops From High-Cost Loans | NJPIRG
    servicemembers and veterans from high cost loans by up to a year or more The vote to strike language delaying improvements to the Military Lending Act of 2007 was 32 30 with 5 Republicans joining all 27 Democratic members of the House Armed Services Committee in support We re disappointed that predatory lenders led by the American Financial Services Association and the payday lenders had originally prevailed on some committee members to insert the provision into the bill in subcommittee We expect further attacks on the Department of Defense s important new rules on the House floor and in the Senate but are prepared to stand alongside Rep Duckworth and Senator Jack Reed RI and others who are working to protect our troops while others who may often say support our troops are working against them For more details on the history of the Military Lending Act and the proposed improvements see my blog post here 30 U S PIRG the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety our financial security or our right to fully participate in our democratic society Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Energy Service Corps Our Federation Contact Ed Mierzwinski 202 546 9707 x314 Contact person by email Archives Blog Media Hits News Releases Reports Resources Results Take Action Donate JOIN US Priority Action We re teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/pirg-commends-supporters-duckworth-amendment-protect-our-troops-high-cost-loans (2016-04-29)
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  • PIRG Commends Release of Labor Dept.'s Proposed Rule To End Conflicted Retirement Advice | NJPIRG
    PIRG We will work to ensure the strongest possible rule to protect Americans who work hard to save for a secure retirement We expect Wall Street to mischaracterize it and spend millions to kill it added U S PIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski But make no mistake This is the right thing for savers of all ages 30 U S PIRG the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety our financial security or our right to fully participate in our democratic society U S PIRG is a member of saveourretirement com the coalition formed to promote and defend the proposed rule to require retirement advisors to put consumers first Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Energy Service Corps Our Federation Archives Blog Media Hits News Releases Reports Resources Results Take Action Donate JOIN

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/pirg-commends-release-labor-depts-proposed-rule-end-conflicted-retirement-advice (2016-04-29)
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