Protecting Consumers

PROTECTING CONSUMER SAFETY—Toys should not be toxic or dangerous for children to play with. Our food should not make us sick. The terms for banking and credit accounts should be clear and easy to understand.

LOOKING OUT FOR THE PUBLIC

Arizona PIRG’s consumer program works to alert the public to hidden dangers and scams and to ban anti-consumer practices and unsafe products.

TROUBLE IN TOYLAND

For years, the state PIRGs’ Trouble In Toyland report has surveyed store shelves and identified choking hazards, noise hazards and other dangers. To date, our report has led to at least 150 recalls and other actions to get dangerous toys off store shelves. Click the link to read our report.

BIGGER BANKS BIGGER FEES

In April, the state PIRGs released a report in which we surveyed more than 350 bank branches and revealed that fewer than half of branches obeyed their legal duty to fully disclose fees to prospective customers, while one in four provided no fee information at all.  We also found that despite widespread stories about the “death” of free checking, free and low-cost checking choices are still widely available, if consumers shop around.

Issue updates

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We Commend CFPB For Adding Consumer Stories To Public Complaint Database

Yesterday, the CFPB published the first batch (7,700) of consumer narratives or stories to the Public Consumer Complaint Database it began in 2011. We've used the database to publish five reports (so far) analyzing complaint trends in markets ranging from credit cards to student loans but we have also long urged the voluntary addition of stories to the data fields. Now, consumers can learn if what happened to them happened to anyone else. Now, researchers can track which banks are more responsive to particular problems and which ignore their customers. A good resource is now an excellent resource.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

“What you don’t have can’t leak:” A political play in three acts | Carli Jensen

The scene: Washington, D.C. The cast of characters: the President, Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy, the chemical industry, communities, and advocacy groups across the nation.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona PIRG Education Fund Commends Release of Labor Dept.'s Proposed Rule To End Conflicted Retirement Advice

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund today commended the public release of the Department of Labor’s proposed rule that would strengthen the ability for Americans to save for retirement by addressing conflicts of interest that arise when brokers and financial advisers give retirement advice.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Adds Consumer Stories to Public Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, the CFPB took a step to make its excellent public database of consumer complaints even better, by adding complaint narratives (stories), but only with the consumer's consent. It's a step we've long urged. It will enrich our research into the marketplace, help consumers make choices and help good-actor firms avoid bad practices by others.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray presented 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.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Consumer Protection

POLL SHOWS VOTERS FAVOR STRONG OVERSIGHT OF WALL STREET

Financial reforms enacted in response to the financial meltdown remain popular with those likely to vote in 2012, a new opinion poll shows. Saturday, July 21, 2012 will mark the two year anniversary of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new agency with a strong record of successes for consumers despite facing constant political attacks in its first year of work.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Consumer Protection

Common-Sense Refinancing Options Could Help Arizonans and Stabilize Housing Market

Data released today by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) and the Center for Responsible Lending finds that making it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages could give consumers more options, save money, and stabilize Arizona’s housing market. In Arizona alone, over 300,000 households would qualify, saving them about $937 million.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

BANKS SKIM MILLIONS IN FEES FROM STUDENT AID USING DEBIT-CARD-LINKED STUDENT IDS

The Campus Debit Card Trap, a new report released by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, finds that banks and financial firms now control or influence federal financial aid disbursement to over 9 million students by linking checking accounts and prepaid debit cards to student IDs.  According to the report, financial institutions now have affinity partnerships with almost 900 campuses nationwide, grafting bank products onto student IDs and other campus cards to become the primary recipient of billions in federal financial aid to distribute to students.

 

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Consumer Protection

Arizona PIRG Tells Congress: Don’t Freeze our Public Health and Consumer Safety Protections

Last year, in the 175 days that the U.S. House of Representatives was in session, it passed more than 190 anti-regulatory bills. Next up is H.R. 4078, the “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012,” a bill that wrongly calls for a halt on all public health and consumer safety protections until the unemployment rate reaches six percent.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

State, Federal Settlement of Robo-Signing Claims With Big Banks Is Important Step

Today's settlement by the U.S., Attorney General Horne and 48 other state attorneys general with the five biggest mortgage servicers – the big banks Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase – along with Ally Financial, is an important and enforceable first step toward holding the big banks accountable for not only wrecking the economy but using a variety of unfair foreclosure practices to ruin the lives of millions of Americans and, in many cases, taking their homes illegally.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2008

The recall of 45 million toys and other children’s products in 2007 and continued recalls in 2008 reminded Americans that no government agency tests toys before they are put on the shelves.
Specifically, the wave of recalls focused attention on the fact that the agency charged with protecting Americans from unsafe products—the Consumer Product Safety Commission—is a little agency with a very big job to do.

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Report | Arizona PIRG | Consumer Protection

Total Recall

The year 2007 was called the year of the recall. But in 2008, recalls are up, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

The Campus Credit Card Trap

This study is an in-person survey of a diverse sample of over 1500 students, primarily single undergraduates, at 40 large and small schools and universities in 14 states around the country conducted between October 2007 and February 2008. It analyzes how students pay for their education, how many use and how they use their credit cards and, finally, their attitudes toward credit card marketing on campus and whether or not they support principles to rein in credit card marketing on campus.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Mixed Signals

One year from now 22 million Americans who rely on free over-the-air analog broadcasting will be at risk of losing access to TV. On February 17, 2009, analog televisions that receive over-the-air signals will go dark, unless they are retrofitted with digital converter boxes.

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Report | Arizona PIRG | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2007

Hazardous toys are still sold in stores across the country, according to the 22nd annual toy safety survey released today by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG).

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB announces major investigation of bank overdraft fee practices | Diane E. Brown

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will announce overdraft fee investigation, unveil "penalty box" disclosure, and possibly end $39 lattes.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Arizona's Next 100 Years | Diane E. Brown

As we celebrate Arizona’s centennial today, I am reminded how lucky I am to live in a state with an independent nature and breathtaking natural beauty. But I also wonder about Arizona’s next 100 years.

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