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  • Hill Threats to CFPB Escalate As CFPB Protects Consumers, Servicemembers | NJPIRG
    refund 18 million plus a 1 million civil penalty for paying executives kickback rewards for illegally steering consumers into higher cost loans Senator Jack Reed Proposes CFPB Provide Even Greater Protections from Financial Fraud for Servicemembers Veterans Even As CFPB Continues To Defend Them CFPB and Florida Attorney General Order Foreclosure Relief Last Dollar Scammers to Pay 27 Million in Refunds and Penalties CFPB and Department of Justice Order Provident Funding To Pay 9 Million To African American and Hispanic Borrowers Harmed By Illegal Discrimination CFPB Orders Paypal To Refund 15 Million to Consumers and Pay 10 Million Civil Penalty For Tricking Consumers Into Signing Up For Deceptively Marketed Credit Product Then Preventing Them From Canceling CFPB Alerts Student Loan Borrowers To Help for Their StudentDebtStress CFPB Orders Wireless Firms Sprint and Verizon to Refund 120 Million and Pay 38 Million In Fines for Cramming Junk Horoscope Other Fees Onto Mobile Bills Of course the CFPB continues to work on other major projects that have drawn the ire of powerful special interests WIthin a few days expect new detailed consumer narratives stories to appear in the highly successful Public Consumer Complaint Database Expect further action this year on the CFPB s effort to rein in payday and other high cost lenders Expect further action on its research finding that pre dispute mandatory arbitration clauses in financial contracts harm consumers But expect further attacks on the CFPB in both the Senate and the House Recently freshman Senator David Perdue GA escalated his own over the top attack alleging that the bureau was a rogue agency that dishes out malicious financial policy and filing a bill similarly eliminating the CFPB s independence By the way the so called US Consumer Coalition listed in the Perdue release is a front group for some

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/hill-threats-cfpb-escalate-cfpb-protects-consumers-servicemembers-0 (2016-04-29)
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  • Data Breach Here, Data Breach There, Data Breach Everywhere! | NJPIRG
    need to do a much better job It is best not to select easy to google security questions like Where were you born or to answer Pizza to the weak question What is your favorite food as apparently 20 of you do Concerns Grow One recent survey by Telesign found 80 percent of consumers worry about online security 45 percent are extremely or very concerned about their accounts being hacked In the past year 40 percent of consumers experienced a security incident received a notice that their personal information had been compromised had an account hacked or had a password stolen and 70 percent changed their passwords in response What can you do to protect yourself First we agree with security expert Brian Krebs that the security freeze is your best protection against new account identity theft The title to today s post over at his authoritative Krebs On Security is How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Security Freeze We worked on the first security freeze law in California and then promoted it nationwide state by state with a model data breach notice and security freeze law written with Consumers Union now Consumer Reports and also promoted by many state AARP chapters Between 2005 and 2009 a version was passed by nearly every state forcing the credit bureaus to eventually provide the freeze everywhere If a thief applies for a new account in your name but your credit report is frozen creditors will simply not open a new account A security freeze offers peace of mind although unfortunately it comes with a modest cost as well as requires planning if you want to apply for credit you need to selectively or temporarily unfreeze your credit reports Instead of seeking to overturn strong state breach laws Congress should be working to make security freezes easier to use and free A few states offer free security freezes for identity theft victims or senior citizens Learn more here from Consumers Union The Federal Trade Commission has posted a set of identity theft tips for federal OPM breach victims The FTC tips can apply to anyone since there are breaches here there and everywhere They recommend you take the free credit monitoring being offered as part of most remedial packages offered by breached entities We won t disagree as long as you follow these rules Never ever agree to pay for credit monitoring as it simply isn t worth it even when packaged with other important protection products Understand that credit monitoring does nothing to protect you from existing account fraud you need to verify your balances regularly and Understand that credit monitoring does not actually prevent new account fraud It only warns you after new accounts have already been opened in your name We also remind you that bad guys will take advantage of the tons of information now available in a two second google search or for sale on an underground network these networks are generically called the darknet

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/data-breach-here-data-breach-there-data-breach-everywhere (2016-04-29)
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  • NJPIRG | Standing Up To Powerful Interests
    C when it comes to government spending transparency according to the fourth annual report of its kind by the NJPIRG Law Policy Center Keep Reading News Release NJPIRG Budget Tax Senate Budget Debate Shows Bipartisan Support for Closing Offshore Tax Loopholes A bipartisan group of senators agree that closing offshore tax loopholes which allow large profitable companies to dodge billions in taxes needs to be part of the budget We applaud Sens Levin D MI McCain R AZ and Whitehouse D RI for proposing an amendment to the budget resolution that gives budget writers the authority to end offshore tax abuses used by large corporations Keep Reading News Release NJPIRG Law Policy Center Budget Tax Offshore Tax Dodging Saps 2 8 Billion from New Jersey s Budget NJPIRG New Jersey Citizen Action and the New Jersey Main Street Alliance came together at a Jersey City small business on 2 6 2013 to discuss a new NJPIRG study revealing that New Jersey lost 2 8 billion in state revenue due to offshore tax dodging in 2012 Keep Reading Pages first previous 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 next last Report NJPIRG Law Policy Center Budget Tax Following the Money 2012 New Jersey scores a C in the 2010 report on online access to government spending data Keep Reading Report Democracy Auctioning Democracy A new report by NJPIRG Law and Policy Center and Demos shows an analysis of the funding sources for the campaign finance behemoths Super PACs The findings confirmed what many have predicted in the wake of the Supreme Court s damaging Citizens United decision since their inception in 2010 Super PACs have been primarily funded by a small segment of very wealthy individuals and business interests with a small but significant amount of funds coming from secret sources Keep Reading Report NJPIRG Law and Policy Center Safe Energy Too Close to Home In the United States 49 million Americans receive their drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of an active nuclear power plant inside the boundary the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to assess risk to food and water supplies Keep Reading Report NJPIRG Law and Policy Center Democracy Tax Representation Without Taxation Marking the second anniversary of the Supreme Court s decision in the Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission case this report takes a hard look at the lobbying activities of profitable Fortune 500 companies that exploit loopholes and distort the tax code to avoid billions of dollars in taxes Keep Reading Report NJPIRG Law and Policy Center Consumer Protection Trouble in Toyland The 2011 Trouble in Toyland report is our 26th annual survey of toy safety In this report we provide safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for young children and provide examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards Keep Reading Pages first previous 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 next last Blog Post Democracy Making Super PACs Illegal Gideon Weissman

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/home?page=11 (2016-04-29)
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  • Report: Capital One Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company in NJ | NJPIRG
    card company in New Jersey is Capital One Nationally Capital One also generated the most complaints overall Nearly 40 of credit card complaints to the CFPB result in tangible relief to the consumer Over 7 300 consumers have received monetary relief through the CFPB and over 2 300 additional consumers have received non monetary relief such as adjusting interest rates or correcting information with a credit reporting agency In total the CFPB has helped nearly 10 000 consumers get relief from credit card problems The median amount of monetary relief for credit card complaints was 128 New Jersey ranks 5th nationally in complaints per 100 000 residents Consumers were most likely to complain about billing disputes 16 percent of complaints followed by difficulties with APR or interest rates 10 percent and trouble with identity theft fraud and embezzlement 7 percent Consumers disputed about 20 percent of the responses from credit card companies In addition to the complaint database the CFPB has numerous tools for making credit cards work better for consumers It enforces provisions of the 2009 Credit CARD Act that helps consumers avoid penalty fees and unfair interest rate increases And after a significant number of complaints about credit card add ons the CFPB s first enforcement actions in 2012 addressed these issues head on CFPB actions against Discover Capital One American Express Chase and GE Capital Retail credit cards have totaled over 800 million in refunds to consumers The report also highlighted several recommendations to the CFPB in order to improve the usefulness and accessibility of the database such as developing a mobile app version for smartphone users Most importantly the CFPB should analyze the data regularly and continue to hold companies responsible for deceptive practices The CFPB has taken great strides in holding credit card companies accountable

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/report-capital-one-most-complained-about-credit-card-company-nj (2016-04-29)
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  • New CFPB rules will protect homebuyers and homeowners | NJPIRG
    rules that protect consumers from conflicts of interest Consumers will receive periodic mortgage statement that put important information about monthly payments in one place Servicers must under certain circumstances reach out to borrowers having trouble making mortgage payments and help them apply for the options available to them to avoid foreclosure In addition to the new rules protecting homebuyers and homeowners the CFPB has released a variety of self help tools so consumers can protect themselves added Kim With these new rules and tools consumers will have a better chance to protect themselves against unfair practices in the mortgage marketplace whether they are buying a new home or already living in it The CFPB s new tools more information is here on a new webpage http www consumerfinance gov mortgage will help consumers File a mortgage complaint Find a housing counselor in their area Get answers to mortgage related questions Read tips for homebuyers and homeowners Download a guide for housing counselors The CFPB was established as a centerpiece of the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act It is the first federal financial regulator with just one job protecting consumers It has jurisdiction over both banks and non banks so it protects consumers no matter where they shop Among numerous other achievements it has already ordered big credit card companies to refund nearly 800 million to consumers for unfair practices Over five years ago an unregulated mortgage marketplace led to tragic outcomes for millions of homeowners and the collapse of our economy Kim concluded We agree with the CFPB that homebuyers and homeowners need a marketplace with No debt traps no surprises and no run arounds These rules and tools will help make that a reality for consumers 30 NJPIRG is a non profit non partisan advocacy organization

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/new-cfpb-rules-will-protect-homebuyers-and-homeowners (2016-04-29)
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  • Report Shows Newark/NYC Region Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More | NJPIRG
    The percent of workers commuting by private vehicle in the Newark NYC urbanized area fell 4 8 percent between 2000 and the 2007 to 2011 period the largest reduction out of the 100 largest urbanized areas in the U S In the Newark New York City urbanized area there was an 8 7 percent decrease in vehicle miles traveled VMT per capita from 2006 to 2011 In the Philadelphia area driving miles per capita decreased by 9 4 percent The decrease in Newark NYC was the 16th largest percent decrease Philadelphia s the 13th largest percent decrease among America s 100 largest cities The number of passenger trips on transit per capita increased 14 percent in Newark NYC between 2005 and 2010 the 22nd largest increase in the nation In Newark NYC and Philadelphia the proportion of commuters travelling by bicycle grew as it did in 85 of the most populous 100 urbanized areas between 2000 and 2010 The study found that cities with the largest decreases in driving were not those hit hardest by the recession On the contrary the economies of urbanized areas with the largest declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment income and poverty indicators It s time for politicians in Trenton to support transportation initiatives that reflect these travel trends said Skopec Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars continuing to enlarge our grandfathers Interstate Highway System we should be investing in the kinds of transportation options that the public increasingly favors Across the nation young people have shown the steepest reductions in driving Americans 16 to 34 years of age reduced their average driving miles by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009 Download the report Transportation in Transition A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America s Biggest

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/report-shows-newarknyc-region-driving-less-using-transit-and-alternatives-more (2016-04-29)
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  • Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves | NJPIRG
    has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards The group also provides an online quiz at ToySafetyTips org to help educate parents and others about toy related hazards Key findings from the report include Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves NJPIRG found several toys with high lead levels including a Captain America toddler toy with 29 times the legal limit of lead 2900 ppm and play jewelry for children with 2 times the legal limit 200 ppm NJPIRG also found an infant play mat from Lamaze with high levels of the toxic metal antimony and a Ninja Turtles pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under the age of three NJPIRG found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards Researchers also found toys that are potentially harmful to children s ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Finally NJPIRG once again discovered small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed Over the past five years stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children s products off the market Improvements made in 2008 s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates However not all toys comply with the law and holes in the toy safety net remain Today s report proves that we must do more to keep our children safe as potentially harmful toys are still available on store shelves across the country said U S Rep Rush Holt NJ 12 At a time when too many in Washington

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/survey-finds-dangerous-toys-store-shelves-1 (2016-04-29)
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  • NJ Coalition for Affordable Power Calls On Board of Public Utilities To Reject PSE&G's $3.9 Billion "Energy Strong" Proposal | NJPIRG
    that PSE G has thus far failed to propose the kind of program that will reasonably improve our utility infrastructure in a cost beneficial way NJLEUC supports utility efforts to provide reliable electric and natural gas delivery services as part of their obligation to provide safe reliable and affordable service to customers said Steven Goldenberg an attorney with Fox Rothschild representing NJLEUC However PSE G has yet to demonstrate the need for its Energy Strong proposal or that the proposal would be effective cost effective or serve the public interest Instead PSE G has supported its 4 Billion spending proposal with an aggressive public relations effort designed to win the support of local officials and business organizations Goldenberg stated PSE G s Energy Strong proposal should not be given any preferential treatment or expedited simply because the utility seeks a guaranteed expedited recovery of its investment through a surcharge mechanism before doing anything proposed in its plan The truth is PSE G could implement Energy Strong today However it refuses to do so unless it is first afforded generous non traditional rate treatment that would create a significant financial windfall for the company and its Wall Street investors at the expense of customers Without the Energy Strong program the cost to deliver electricity and natural gas to a typical residential customer would decrease 36 9 and 5 3 respectively With Energy Strong these same customers would instead be saddled with a long term multi billion dollar obligation that would increase their electric delivery costs by 19 7 and gas delivery costs by 14 4 Despite its significant costs nothing in the Energy Strong proposal provides any meaningful assurance that the program would effectively mitigate the effects of the next Sandy or that the financial and regulatory perks that PSE G requires to implement the program are justified NJCAP fully supports and calls upon the NJ Board of Public Utilities to use its authority and satisfy its statutory obligation to protect the interests of New Jersey ratepayers who are being asked to spend billions of dollars for a combination of storm recovery costs and infrastructure improvements This is the ultimate Halloween Trick or Treat PSE G takes our money and tries to trick us into believing this will help prepare the grid for the next storm Under Energy Strong 100 of the ratepayers will pay but less than 40 will see any benefit That is Energy Wrong All Energy Strong does is raise rates and undermine renewable energy and energy efficiency programs said Jeff Tittel director NJ Sierra Club When you knock on PSE G s door they take your bag full of candy then bill you for it Tittel added Elected officials should be wary about giving their blind support of a plan like Energy Strong which lacks critical information such as engineering studies preparedness plans work plans and the required cost benefit analyses that help determine the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the various measures proposed by PSE G

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/nj-coalition-affordable-power-calls-board-public-utilities-reject-psegs-39-billion-energy (2016-04-29)
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