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  • Debt Collectors, Debt Complaints | PennPIRG
    About Company in 31 States Figure ES 3 Complaints About Debt Collection Vary by State The CFPB is making a significant difference for consumers facing difficulties with debt collectors The CFPB has helped more than 2 300 consumers or more than one in five complainants to receive monetary or non monetary relief as a result of their debt collection complaints See Figure ES 4 Figure ES 4 22 Percent of Consumers Received Relief after Complaining to the CFPB Companies vary greatly in the extent to which they respond to consumer complaints with offers of monetary or non monetary relief Four of the 20 most complained about companies Convergent Outsourcing Dynamic Recovery Solutions Inc Diversified Consultants Inc and I C System Inc reported providing no relief either monetary or non monetary to any of the consumers who complained to the CFPB Allied Interstate LLC and Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc were the most likely to report extending monetary or non monetary relief providing relief for 98 percent and 79 percent of complaints respectively About 16 percent of responses from debt collectors were deemed unsatisfactory by consumers and were subjected to further dispute Of the 20 companies with the most overall complaints the company with the greatest proportion of disputed responses was Encore Capital Group with 21 4 percent of responses disputed Of these same companies Expert Global Solutions had the lowest proportion of disputed responses with 5 2 percent of responses disputed Table ES 2 Companies with the Highest Dispute to Complaint Ratios The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau s Consumer Complaint Database is a key resource for consumer protection To enhance the ability of the CFPB to respond to consumer complaints the CFPB should Add more detailed information to the database such as actual complaint narratives detailed complaint categories and subcategories complaint resolution details consumer dispute details and data regarding membership in classes protected from discrimination by law Expanded complaint level details should also include more information about amounts and types of monetary and non monetary relief The CFPB should also to Software and other techniques should be used to protect consumer privacy by giving consumers the right not to provide details and by taking steps to prevent the release of personally identifiable information or the re identification of consumers It is critical that the CFPB achieve the disclosure of more individual complaint details while simultaneously making every reasonable effort to protect personal data Add a field listing company subsidiaries which are often the firms with which consumers actually interact For example Encore Capital Group the company with the greatest number of debt collection complaints in the CFPB database does business under the names of several subsidiaries Adding subsidiary company information will enable consumers to better apply the information in the CFPB database to their own experiences and to the choices they make in the marketplace Provide regular trend analyses and monthly detailed reports on complaint resolutions and disputes Simplify the interfaces that allow users to summarize complaint database reports in graphical

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/paf/debt-collectors-debt-complaints (2016-04-27)
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  • Higher Ed | PennPIRG
    328 federal student loan borrowers will be impacted if the rate doubles Read more about Student Loan Debt in Pennsylvania Issue Health Care Fighting The High Cost Of Rx Drugs Brand name drug companies have been paying off generic drug makers to delay competition and keep prices high This widespread pay for delay scheme needs to be put to an end Read more about Fighting The High Cost Of Rx Drugs News Release PennPIRG Higher Ed Responding to Students Congress Extends Low College Loan Rate Statement of Rich Williams PennPIRG Higher Education Advocate on the Congressional passage of bipartisan legislation to prevent subsidized Stafford student loan interest rates from doubling Congress listened to students and their families and delivered a bill that stops student loan interest rates from doubling Students already face unprecedented student loan debt and adding an additional 1 000 more would not only crunch individual borrowers but would have further weighed down the recovering economy We applaud Congress for coming together to pass this much needed legislation Read more about Responding to Students Congress Extends Low College Loan Rate News Release PennPIRG Higher Ed PennPIRG Urges Senator Casey to Support Student Aid Reform Today PennPIRG announced that it will urge students and families to call Senator Casey in support of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act SAFRA In response to a multi million dollar lobbying campaign by the student loan industry some Senators are opposing SAFRA a common sense plan that would cut government waste make college more affordable for hundreds of thousands of students invest in our colleges and expand our economy Read more about PennPIRG Urges Senator Casey to Support Student Aid Reform Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/topics/higher-ed (2016-04-27)
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  • A New Course | PennPIRG
    proportion of students using transit to commute to campus more than doubled from 21 to 53 percent Programs to promote bicycle use Many colleges subsidize membership in existing bicycle sharing schemes in the community and some create their own sharing programs on campus Many also provide on campus resources like free or at cost bike repairs and ample bike racks At the University of Wisconsin in Madison 22 percent of students currently bike to campus in good weather up eight percentage points since 2006 partly as a result of investments in on campus bike repair services subsidized membership in the city s bike share program and a plentiful and increasing supply of bike racks Building new biking and walking paths Universities invest in infrastructure like bike lanes and pedestrian underpasses under traffic heavy streets making it safer and more convenient to leave the car at home The University of Colorado Boulder has supported the build out of bicycle and pedestrian paths in Boulder including the city s 58 miles of paved pathways and 78 underpasses By 2012 roughly 60 percent of all trips made by students at CU Boulder were by bike or foot nearly nine percentage points more than in 1990 Ridesharing initiatives Colleges encourage carpooling with incentive programs and through partnerships with online ridesharing services that connect drivers with others who would like a ride in their car Some provide a guaranteed ride home whereby universities pick up the tab for a taxi should an emergency require the student or employee to leave campus suddenly making carpooling and other forms of ridesharing more attractive The University of California Davis encourages students and staff to share rides resulting in an increase in carpooling Among graduate students more likely than undergraduates to live at a driving distance from school carpooling to campus rose from 3 4 percent in the 2007 2008 academic year to 6 9 percent in 2011 2012 Carsharing programs Carsharing allows users to access cars located in their vicinity without having to bear the burden of owning one Universities offer discounted memberships in carsharing programs allowing students to make the most of transportation alternatives while maintaining access to a car when necessary Distance learning and online resources Some colleges are beginning to conceive of distance learning taking classes with at least some online component that limits the need for students to physically travel to campus as part of their parking and transportation strategy The policies adopted by colleges and universities to reduce driving have impacts that can be felt far beyond campus College transportation investments can expand transportation options for the entire community For example when schools invest in U Pass programs they supply a steady source of revenue to the local transit agency supporting better service for everyone University transportation plans provide a powerful example that can be followed by other institutions or cities or regions facing similar transportation challenges College students develop transportation habits that persist after graduation According to a May 2013 survey conducted

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/paf/new-course (2016-04-27)
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  • Transportation in Transition | PennPIRG
    estimates because of residents who have recently moved into exurbs outside the boundaries of urbanized areas but drive into the urbanized area Table ES 2 10 Urbanized Areas with Largest Declines in VMT per Capita The use of non driving modes of transportation has increased in a majority of the nation s most populous urbanized areas The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America s largest urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007 2011 The number of passenger miles traveled PMT per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America s large urbanized areas whose trends could be analyzed between 2005 and 2010 Variations in the economy do not appear to be responsible for variations in the trends in driving among urbanized areas In fact the economies of urbanized areas with large declines in driving have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment and poverty indicators Between 2006 and 2011 the average increase in the unemployment rate in the 15 urbanized areas with the highest per capita declines in VMT was 3 9 percent while the average increase in all other urbanized areas was 4 6 percent Between 2006 and 2011 the average increase in the poverty rate of the 15 urbanized areas with the highest per capita declines in VMT was 2 7 percent while the average increase in all other urbanized areas was 3 6 percent The time has come for cities and states to shift their transportation priorities away from investments in expensive unnecessary new highways and toward the maintenance and repair of our existing infrastructure and the development of new transportation choices for Americans To that end public officials should Revisit transportation plans Many existing transportation plans continue to reflect outdated assumptions that the number of miles driven will continue to rise steadily over time Officials at all levels should revisit transportation plans to ensure that they reflect recent declines in driving and new understandings of the future demand for travel Reallocate resources With driving stagnating in many areas and demand for transit bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure increasing officials should reallocate resources away from wasteful highway expansion projects and toward system repair and programs that expand the range of transportation options available to Americans Remove barriers to non driving transportation options In many areas planning and zoning laws and transportation funding rules limit public officials ability to expand access to transportation choices Officials at all levels should remove these barriers and ensure access to funding for non driving forms of transportation Use innovative travel tools and services New technologies and techniques provide transportation officials with new tools to address transportation challenges Transportation agencies should encourage the use of carsharing bikesharing and ridesharing and provide real time travel information for public transit via smartphone Get better data Transportation agencies should compile and make available to the public more comprehensive comparable and timely data to allow for better informed analysis of the causes and magnitude of changes

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/paf/transportation-transition (2016-04-27)
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  • Trouble in Toyland 2013 | PennPIRG
    they are technically subject to the less stringent small parts test Toy foods pose a special hazard because they look to small children like something that should be eaten Magnets Magnet toys made with neodymium iron boron magnets such as the Buckyball magnets that are the subject of a CPSC court action are still available and continue to cause accidents CPSC staff have estimated that between 2009 and 2011 there were 1 700 emergency room cases nationwide involving the ingestion of high powered magnets More than 70 of these cases involved children between the ages of 4 and 12 We also found ellipsoid toy magnets that nearly fit in the small parts cylinder and are classified as a novelty finger fidget toy These magnets are smooth and shiny and sold in pairs striking them together causes them to vibrate and produce a singing sound making them appealing to children CPSC has reported gastroenterological injuries associated with ellipsoid magnets If the magnet had fit in the small parts test cylinder it would be banned for sale to children under 14 These instead were labeled 8 and up Noisy Toys Research has shown that a third of Americans with hearing loss can attribute it in part to noise 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 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 Toys that are intended to be held close to the ear are not to exceed 65 decibels Toys that held within close range in a lap or on a table are not to exceed 85 decibels We found toys on store shelves that exceeded the limit of 65 decibels for toys held close to the ear The Chat Count Smart Phone for example produces sound measuring higher than 85 decibels when measured at 2 5 centimeters and children may hold such toys pressed up against the ear Recommendations for Policymakers 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 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 toxics in products Policymakers should reject well funded special interest efforts to weaken the

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/trouble-toyland-2013 (2016-04-27)
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  • Big Credit Bureas, Big Complaints | PennPIRG
    of issues that drew complaints from consumers Figure ES 2 Consumers Are Most Likely to Complain about Having Incorrect Information on Their Credit Report Nearly 3 000 consumers received monetary or non monetary relief from credit bureaus through the CFPB complaints process Non monetary relief includes actions such as a credit bureau fixing incorrect information ensuring that consumers receive the annual credit report to which they are entitled or correcting incorrect account status information About 30 percent of all complaints resulted in monetary or non monetary relief while 63 percent of all consumer complaints regarding credit reporting were closed with an explanation to the consumer Figure ES 3 Nearly 3 000 Consumers Received Relief after Complaining to the CFPB The three NCRAs reported very different responses to consumer complaints ii Equifax responded to 63 percent of its complaints with non monetary relief while Experian did so in only 5 percent of cases and TransUnion in 22 percent Equifax provided monetary or non monetary relief nearly three times as often as TransUnion and more than 10 times as often as Experian Equifax alone accounted for 72 percent of all complaints closed with non monetary relief Consumers disputed the companies responses to about 18 percent of all complaints The NCRAs differed slightly in the percentage of complaints disputed by consumers Equifax had consumers dispute its responses 21 percent of the time while consumers disputed 15 percent of Experian s responses and 18 percent of TransUnion s Consumers across the country varied in their tendency to complain to the CFPB about credit reporting Consumers in the District of Columbia whose residents were most likely to complain complained more than 20 times more frequently per capita than did residents of Nebraska whose citizens were least likely to complain After D C the states in which consumers were most likely to complain were Florida Maryland Nevada Virginia Alaska California New Mexico and Georgia Figure ES 4 Credit Reporting Complaints per 100 000 Residents Experian was the most complained about company in 35 states while Equifax received the most complaints of any company in 12 states primarily in the South and in the District of Columbia TransUnion was the most complained about company in Delaware Equifax and TransUnion received the same number of complaints in South Dakota while Experian and TransUnion tied in New Hampshire Differences in regional complaint levels may reflect variances in market share derived from each credit bureau s history Figure ES 5 Most Complained About Credit Bureau by State The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau s Consumer Complaint Database is a key resource for consumer protection To enhance the effectiveness of the CFPB in addressing consumer complaints The CFPB should make the Consumer Complaint Database more user friendly by adding among other data more detailed information about consumer complaints including how they were resolved and the reasons for and outcomes of any disputes The CFPB should also conduct more frequent analyses of trends and give users the tools to undertake their own analyses

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/big-credit-bureas-big-complaints (2016-04-27)
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  • House Committee Launches Trojan Horse Assault On State Privacy Laws | PennPIRG
    Should Not Preempt State Law State attorneys general are on the front lines responding to data breaches Our offices hear directly from affected consumers and we regularly respond directly to their complaints and calls For example the Office of the Illinois Attorney General has helped over 38 000 Illinois residents remove more than 27 million in unauthorized charges from their accounts Any federal legislation on data breach notification and data security should recognize this important role and not hinder states that are helping their residents Preempting state law would make consumers less protected than they are right now Our constituents are continually asking for greater protection If states are limited by federal legislation we will be unable to respond to their concerns Toward that end it is important that any federal legislation ensure that states can continue to enforce breach notification requirements under their own state laws States should also be assured continued flexibility to adapt their state laws to respond to changes in technology and data collection As we have seen over the past decade states are better equipped to quickly adjust to the challenges presented by a data driven economy States have been able to amend their laws and focus their enforcement efforts on those areas most affecting consumers In addition to the problems described in our letter over 100 merchant and retailer associations oppose the bill because it imposes two tiers of rules Banks would continue to be subject to an existing weak regime that does not even require breach notices only modest plans Other firms are subject to the bill s higher requirements The bill is not only designed to serve the banks but pays fealty to another powerful special interest an organization of telecommunications behemoths with the Orwellian name of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition Its actual goal is to evade existing strong privacy rules of the Federal Communications Commission As we note in our letter Further H R 2205 would eliminate key protections under the Communications Act for telecommunications cable and satellite records The Communications Act contains very strong data security and breach notification protections for information about customers use of telecommunications services such as phone call histories and location data It also protects cable and satellite subscribers information including their viewing histories But as with email login information and photos this bill is too narrow to cover that information It would simply eliminate crucial federal data security and breach notification protections for telecommunications usage information and cable and satellite viewing histories In 2003 when Congress enacted major changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act but failed to adequately address identity theft we launched a campaign with Consumers Union to pass state data breach notice and security freeze laws in nearly every state Sadly if HR 2205 becomes law it not only weakens many of those laws it prevents the states from acting against most privacy threats ever again My recent testimony on credit and debit card anti hacking technology or what I call

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/house-committee-launches-trojan-horse-assault-state-privacy-laws (2016-04-27)
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  • Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers | PennPIRG
    and employment success in the U S said Ed Mierzwinski consumer program director at advocacy group U S PIRG in Washington Units of the three U S consumer credit reporting services Equifax Inc Experian Plc and TransUnion Corp said they would make changes to improve accuracy of reports and increase protection for consumers with medical debt in the agreement with Schneiderman Combined the companies maintain credit information on about 200 million U S consumers and much of the deal will apply nationally It s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints said Mierzwinski The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now They re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true Credit Complaints The U S Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received more than 35 600 complaints related to incorrect information on credit reports since it began collecting data in October 2012 About one in five complaints came from consumers who said information on their credit reports wasn t actually theirs according to a 2013 U S PIRG report that examined the complaints Link to our report Story continues here Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods 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 Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access for students and underrepresented communities and

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/usp/credit-bureaus%E2%80%99-deal-improve-accuracy-%E2%80%98huge%E2%80%99-consumers (2016-04-27)
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