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  • Privacy, We've Got Tips and Ideas For You, Congress and Regulators, Too | PennPIRG
    bank House Financial Services Committee as early as next week Among its intentional infirmities It eliminates strong privacy rules of the FCC and replaces them with weak FTC rules because the telephone and cable industry don t like strong rules It weakens existing weak Gramm Leach Bliley Act data security rules that currently apply to financial institutions then it imposes a higher set of responsibilities on others such as merchants Such a two tiered system is unfair and can be gamed by firms with weaker responsibilities As to its purported consumer benefits the bill and others takes your existing state protections away and replaces them with weaker rights Then these rights are only triggered for breaches that cause limited financial harms and then only if the risk of harm is high enough Keep in mind that under the bill there is another ludicrous proposition the firm that was incompetent to protect your information gets to decide whether to tell you that they lost it I discuss these problems in a recent blog that explains that the latest breaches have demonstrated that consumer harms are much worse and much broader than the narrow harms described in the bill For example in addition to financial identity theft harms might include theft of medical services myriad Blue Cross breaches theft of tax refunds online tax preparer and IRS breaches and reputational harm emotional harm and physical harm as well any other financial harms from the U S OPM breach of millions of security clearance files HR 2205 eliminates state protections against these harms according to any independent expert Finally the bill sweepingly preempts and prevents any future state data security or privacy protection efforts To be clear the bill provides only a modicum of token data breach responsibilities for firms and limited protections for consumers only some of the time but includes a vast Trojan Horse provision preempting the states from virtually any future data security activities while also eliminating existing protection or redress rights to compensate or protect consumers against most if not all of those broader harms under state law Keep in mind that Congress rarely if ever completes a job but increasingly it kow tows to the demands of powerful special interests to take the states off the beat as a condition of enacting its halfway measures When new problems arise the states have shown time and time again that they can lead as first responders able to identify new threats and act quickly and innovatively to protect the public Taking away that level of state protection leaves consumers and the economy and environment as well vulnerable to to new threats 4 Tomorrow I Speak at an FTC Workshop on Deceptive Lead Generation Practices on the Internet A key part of the Internet advertising and data collection ecosystem is the non transparent lead generation infrastructure Consumers type I need a loan into a search engine and are directed to a site that looks like it gives loans It doesn t

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/privacy-weve-got-tips-and-ideas-you-congress-and-regulators-too (2016-04-27)
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  • PennPIRG | Standing Up To Powerful Interests
    buy one half of an apple per taxpayer Keep Reading Pages first previous 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 next last Report PennPIRG Education Fund Budget Food Apples to Twinkies 2012 In this report we find that in 2011 over 1 28 billion in taxpayer subsidies went to junk food ingredients bringing the total to a staggering 18 2 billion since 1995 To put that figure in perspective 18 2 billion is enough to buy 2 9 billion Twinkies every year 21 for every single American taxpayer Keep Reading Report PennPIRG Tax Picking Up the Tab Some U S based multinational firms or individuals avoid paying U S taxes by transferring their earnings to tax haven countries with minimal or no taxes These tax haven users benefit from their access to America s markets workforce infrastructure and security but they pay little or nothing for it violating the basic fairness of the tax system and forcing other taxpayers to pick up the tab Keep Reading Report PennPIRG Education Fund Transportation Transportation and the New Generation From World War II until just a few years ago the number of miles driven annually on America s roads steadily increased Then at the turn of the century something changed Americans began driving less By 2011 the average American was driving 6 per cent fewer miles per year than in 2004 Keep Reading Report PennPIRG Education Fund and Demos Health Care Pennsylvania lives at risk The United States Congress is currently considering so called regulatory reform legislation that would add new bureaucratic hurdles to stall and in some cases stop the creation of new safeguards and standards that hold corporations accountable and protect the public According to our analysis the result would be demonstrable harm for the people of Pennsylvania Keep Reading Report PennPIRG Education Fund Budget Following the Money 2012 The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy Transparency in government spending promotes fiscal responsibility checks corruption and bolsters public confidence Keep Reading Pages first previous 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 next last Blog Post Consumer Protection As House Holds Oversight Hearing 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB Ed Mierzwinski Today Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB s sixth semi annual report to the House Financial Services Committee whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency Americans for Financial Reform joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national state and local groups sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense only more defenders Keep Reading Blog Post Consumer Protection Coalition Launched To Protect Retirement Savings from Wall Street Loopholes Ed Mierzwinski We ve joined AARP the Consumer Federation of America AFL CIO Americans for Financial Reform and other leading groups to support an imminent Department of Labor rule to require retirement advisors to put consumers first Wall Street brokerages and insurance

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/home?page=9 (2016-04-27)
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  • Safety Group’s Annual Report Lists Latest Unsafe Holiday Toys | PennPIRG
    small parts that could pose a choking hazard Those are among the toys in the annual Trouble in Toyland report according to Ashley Afranie Sakyi of PennPIRG below There s been over 150 recalls thanks to our report that we ve released for the past 28 years she said today but there s always more that can be done Ashley Afranie Sakyi of PennPIRG demonstrates how parents can use an ordinary toilet paper roll to see if a toy is too small for toddlers if it fits through the roll it presents a choking hazard she says Photo by Mike DeNardo Ashley Afranie Sakyi of PennPIRG Photo by Mike DeNardo Meanwhile the Consumer Product Safety Commission can t do it all says US Rep Chaka Fattah D Pa not to the degree that it can inspect all of the products Most of the toys that are going to be on our shelves have not been inspected and we need to do more he said Advocates warn that most of all parents need to be vigilant The entire report can be found at toysafetytips org 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 advocating for a 21st century transportation system Job Description Archives Blog Media

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/safety-group%E2%80%99s-annual-report-lists-latest-unsafe-holiday-toys (2016-04-27)
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  • Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves | PennPIRG
    toxic substances are still on store shelves We found several toys with high lead levels including a 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 We also found an infant play mat with high levels of the toxic metal antimony and a child s pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards We 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 We 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 Our leaders and consumer watchdogs need to do more to protect America s kids from the hazards of unsafe toys no child should ever be injured get sick or die from playing with a dangerous toy said Afranie Sakyi Standards for toxic chemicals like lead and cadmium remain too weak and enforcement needs to be beefed up To download our Toy Tips or the full Trouble in Toyland report click here http pennpirg org reports pap trouble toyland 2013 PennPIRG the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members working to win concrete results for our health and our well being www

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/survey-finds-dangerous-toys-store-shelves (2016-04-27)
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  • Report: In Pennsylvania, Experian Gets Big Complaints | PennPIRG
    Some key findings Pennsylvania ranks 20th in complaints per 100 000 residents Residents of the District of Columbia were most likely to complain The most complained about credit reporting agency in Pennsylvania is Experian By far the most common problem was incorrect information on a credit report which accounted for 65 percent of complaints The CFPB has helped enable nearly 3 000 consumers or 30 percent of total complainants to receive relief such as fixing incorrect information on a credit report or refunding service charges or fees related to credit reporting The big three nationwide credit reporting agencies NCRAs Equifax TransUnion and Experian varied widely in how they responded to complaints 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 Consumers disputed the companies responses to about 18 percent of all complaints The big three NCRAs collect centralize and aggregate consumers financial information They source this information from public record databases of bankruptcies as well as from creditors and other furnishers who forward consumer bill payment history and other credit information to them voluntarily These big three NCRAs accounted for 96 percent of the over 10 000 complaints on credit reporting In general monetary relief is most likely due to complaints about add on credit monitoring subscription products and non monetary relief most likely involves corrections to credit reports The report also highlights several changes the CFPB should make in order to improve the accessibility and usefulness of its database such as adding details about the consumer s specific problem and how it was resolved PennPIRG Education Fund also urged the CFPB to order the credit bureaus to comply with the law s accuracy and dispute reinvestigation standards PennPIRG Education Fund encouraged consumers to check their credit reports regularly and follow up quickly if there are errors Since consumers can t shop around for their credit report the CFPB s public Consumer Complaints Database is an invaluable tool to hold credit reporting agencies accountable Afranie Sakyi added Download the report Big Credit Bureaus Big Mistakes The CFPB s Consumer Complaint Database Gets Real Results for Victims of Credit Reporting Errors http pennpirg org reports pap big credit bureas big complaints This is the third in a series of five reports by the PennPIRG Education Fund that analyze the complaints in the CFPB s public Consumer Complaints Database Upcoming reports will analyze complaints relating to credit cards and debt collection Visit the CFPB s public Consumer Complaints Database www consumerfinance gov complaintdatabase PennPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government We investigate problems craft solutions educate the public and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation www pennpirgedfund org Normal 0 false false false EN US X NONE X NONE Style Definitions table MsoNormalTable mso style name Table

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/report-pennsylvania-experian-gets-big-complaints (2016-04-27)
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  • New Report Identifies Most Troublesome Private Lenders to Students | PennPIRG
    of the total complaints filed to receive monetary compensation to resolve their student loan complaints with a median of 700 in monetary relief and maximum relief of more than 75 000 More than 500 additional consumers or twelve percent of the total complaints filed have had their complaints closed with some form of non monetary relief such as modifying collections proceedings and providing assistance with documentation The most complained about lender in every state was Sallie Mae which generated 126 complaints in Pennsylvania alone Nationally Sallie Mae generated 46 percent of complaints about private student loans in the database It dominates the private student lending market with an estimated 50 percent market share After Sallie Mae the lender that generated the most complaints in Pennsylvania was Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority AES PHEAA Pennsylvania ranked 10th nationally in how likely borrowers in the state were to complain about their private student loans Overall borrowers in the Northeast were much more likely to file a complaint Borrowers were most likely to complain about problems with repaying their loan as issues with fees billing deferment forbearance fraud and credit reporting accounted for 65 of complaints The PennPIRG Education Fund report comes just after the CFPB student loan ombudsman released its annual report last week on the private student loan marketplace which provides a more qualitative look at the complaints The report also highlights several changes that the CFPB should make to the public database such as adding individual complaint narratives in order to share richer details about the problems private student loan borrowers are facing in order to further help student consumers who may be considering taking on a private student loan The report praises the CFPB for analyzing the complaints data on a regular basis to spot trends and to take action and urges the bureau to do even more in the arena of aggregating data and taking regulatory action The CFPB is making it possible for private student loan borrowers and other financial consumers to make it right when they ve been wronged by their lender Afranie Sakyi said Download the report Private Loans Public Complaints The CFPB s Consumer Complaints Database Gets Real Results for Student Borrowers http pennpirg org reports pap private loans public complaints This is the second in a series of five reports by the PennPIRG Education Fund that analyze the complaints in the CFPB s public Consumer Complaints Database Upcoming reports will analyze complaints relating to credit reporting credit cards and debt collection Visit the CFPB s public Consumer Complaints Database www consumerfinance gov complaintdatabase PennPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government We investigate problems craft solutions educate the public and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation www pennpirgedfund org Normal 0 false false false EN US X NONE X NONE Style Definitions table MsoNormalTable mso style name Table Normal mso tstyle rowband size 0 mso tstyle colband size 0 mso style noshow yes mso style priority 99 mso style parent

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/new-report-identifies-most-troublesome-private-lenders-students (2016-04-27)
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  • ON DAY OF ORAL ARGUMENT IN MCCUTCHEON V. FEC, GROUPS GATHER TO PUSH BACK ON BIG MONEY IN POLITICS, DEMAND SOLUTIONS | PennPIRG
    volume even higher said Ashley Afranie Sakyi at PennPIRG The last thing we need right now is to increase the giving of the donors with the deepest pockets Rather we should be empowering small donors so that ordinary Americans can provide the funds needed to run campaigns In today s environment of expensive communication technologies money is vital to the success of many campaigns said State Representative Cohen But this well known fact ought not to be able to undermine democracy itself We need meaningful regulation of money in political campaigns Citizens United is an assault to our country s democracy said Eric Thomas from UFCW 1776 Local Distorting the idea of freedom Citizens United only works to serve big business and promote corporatist agenda not your average citizen The Sierra Club believes that the Citizens United decision if not checked by congressional action will continue to Decrease the dedication of members of Congress and the state legislatures to the long term best interests of the nation and the states by increasing their obligations to powerful corporate and other commercial interests shift political power away from voters to corporations and moneyed interests reduce the quality and diversity of candidates for public office by increasing the already distorting role of money in elections and decrease public trust in the power of voting and public interest lobbying said William Kramer By increasing aggregate spending limits McCutcheon will make this problem worse Phyllis Belk from Common Cause asked for the people of Philadelphia to stand with us speak out urge city council to place a question on the city ballot in which we Philadelphians can join with other cities and states to tell the politicians to get money out of politics If history has taught us anything it s how dangerous it is

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/day-oral-argument-mccutcheon-v-fec-groups-gather-push-back-big-money-politics-demand (2016-04-27)
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  • A New Way to Go | PennPIRG
    variety of new services across the country pair ordinary people with open seats in their cars with individuals who need a ride Using the Internet and smartphones to facilitate rides enables those seeking shared rides to tap a broader pool of potential matches Taxi and transportation network services New services enable people to hail taxis or livery vehicles or to arrange rides with ordinary drivers e g Lyft and Sidecar via smartphone making it easier and often less expensive to hire a ride Multi modal tools New apps and tools also enable individuals to plan trips using several modes of transportation facilitating efficient seamless door to door trips Technology enabled transportation services have the potential to change Americans transportation behaviors Technology enabled services can eliminate traditional barriers that prevent Americans from taking public transit or sharing rides and vehicles The array of new services can make it easier for households to reduce the number of vehicles they own a step that generally leads to steep reductions in driving Technology enabled services can expand the availability of transportation choices in places and markets where they are not currently available Access to mobile technology also enables riders to use their time riding on trains or waiting for buses more productively This provides shared transportation with a market advantage over driving since the use of mobile technology is increasingly understood as being incompatible with the safe operation of a car While many of these new tools are in their infancy several have already been shown to reduce vehicle ownership and driving Each carsharing vehicle replaces nine to 13 privately owned vehicles and the average carsharing participant reduces his or her driving by 27 to 56 percent About 25 percent of carsharing participants sell a vehicle after joining while another 25 percent forgo vehicle purchases they otherwise would have made A study of the Chicago transit system which gradually introduced a real time bus location information system from 2006 to 2009 found that introducing real time information increased weekday bus ridership Approximately 40 percent of bikeshare members report reducing their driving according to a 2011 2012 survey of members of four North American bikeshare services A 2013 survey of members of Washington D C s Capital Bikeshare program found that one quarter reported having reduced the number of miles they drove since joining the service Five percent of members reported having sold a personal vehicle since joining the service with 81 percent of those members reporting that joining Capital Bikeshare was a factor in the decision The total reduction in vehicle travel by Capital Bikeshare members was estimated at 4 4 million miles The cumulative impact of new transportation services on vehicle ownership likely exceeds that of the individual services By providing more choices and flexibility for individuals to meet their transportation needs these new tools can make it convenient to adopt car free and car light lifestyles that dramatically reduce driving Households that reduce the number of vehicles they own often dramatically reduce

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/new-way-go (2016-04-27)
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