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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

What is payday lending? | Kathryn Lee

We are a leading member of Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition that was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by Congress in 2010. The CFPB is currently working on a rule to reign in the payday lending industry. We, along with AFR, are working to make sure the rule is a strong one. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Lowering your APR might be easier than you think | Kathryn Lee

Many Americans are walking around with a balance on their credit card because of high interest rates, or annual percentage rate (APR) charges for unpaid balances. It's best to pay off your balance in full but if you don't or can't, a higher APR makes your debit grow faster. What most people don’t realize is this APR can be negotiated to a lower rate.

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Blog Post | Higher Ed

HB1015: Should Maryland refinance student loans? | Emily Scarr

The rising cost of college increasingly puts a higher education out of reach for many Marylanders, and the need to increase access to educational financing continues to be a salient issue in public policy. This bill will set up a state study of the viability of a state student loan refinancing body, which may have the potential to make college more affordable for Maryland students.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and others | Public Health

Two Out of Three Food Cans Tested Have Toxic BPA in Lining

“As a mother of five and someone who was raised on canned food, the thought that there could be toxic chemicals in the linings of some well-known canned foods is alarming,” said Delegate Angela Angel, representing District 25 in Prince George’s County. “Our food should provide nourishment, not harm.”

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Blog Post | Public Health

Campbell's Announces Plans to Phase out BPA from Cans | Juliana Bilowich

Tomorrow we are releasing a new report on the use of BPA and other chemicals in canned food linings, including Campbell's. With interesting timing, last night Campbell's announced plans to phase out BPA from all of their cans.

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News Release | Fair Elections Maryland Coalition | Democracy

Key Montgomery County Committee Advances Bill for Fair Elections Campaign Finance Reform

Rockville, MD – The Montgomery County Government Operations Committee today took a huge step forward for fair elections by passing Bill 16-14, which creates a program for county council and executive campaigns that would fight big money interests by empowering small donors in County elections.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Statement on today’s Senate vote on the constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United

“Today’s vote was an incredible milestone in the fight to reclaim our democracy. The Citizens United decision unleashed a tide of big money from mega-donors and super PACs into our elections, which has threatened to drown out the voices of ordinary Americans.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We urge CFPB to issue safeguards for mobile financial services and privacy

We urge (along with the Center for Digital Democracy) the CFPB to issue rules so consumers can use mobile financial services without placing their privacy at risk or exposing themselves to new forms of predatory lending and other unfair practices. We filed a joint comment in response to a CFPB information request.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

BP Could Take $6.3 Billion Tax Deduction For Gross Negligence In Deepwater Horizon Spill

BP could claim a $6.3 billion tax windfall from settling charges of its gross negligence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster unless the EPA prevents it.

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News Release | Tax

Bank of America settlement loophole creates at least $4 billion burden for taxpayers

        
The Justice Department allows Bank of America to write off most of its legal settlement for mortgage abuses as a tax deduction, shifting at least $4 billion back onto taxpayers.

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Recipe for Disaster

The recall of more than 500 million eggs from two Iowa egg farms is the largest but not the last of 85 recalls that have taken place in the year since food safety reform moved to the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) on July 30, 2009. However, the Senate’s version of the bill – the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) – has languished while waiting for time on the Senate’s floor schedule.

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Report | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

New Study: Chemical Insecurity

Across the United States, thousands of industrial facilities use and store hazardous chemicals in large quantities that pose major risks to their neighbors.  More than 100 of these facilities would each put at least one million people at risk of injury or death in the event of a chemical release.

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Report | Health Care

Delivering on the Promise

The recently passed federal health care reform law will make significant changes in how health insurance and health care work for consumers, businesses, and local and state governments, as well as how insurers and providers operate.But whether Americans experience improved care, lower costs and greater access depends largely on what happens next.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Road Work Ahead

Over the last 50 years, America has built roads and bridges at a pace and scale that dwarfs most of the rest of the world. Now, much of that system is showing its age – and as maintenance needs continue to grow, we are falling farther behind.

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Report | Budget, Tax

Tax Shell Game (2010)

The IRS estimates that individuals and corporations currently hold $5 trillion in tax haven countries and asserts that the United States is responsible for a large portion of these assets.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A soggy statement by Subway | Emily Scarr

The “eat fresh” champion served a soggy statement about their antibiotics policy this week. A Subway spokeswomen said, “We have been working toward the elimination of antibiotics... We cannot provide a date when all the work will get done as the demand is somewhat higher than supply right now.” That is not a commitment.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the IRS has admitted that thieves accessed the personal information -- enough to allow them to take your tax refund -- of an additional 220,000 taxpayers, on top of the 114,000 reported in May. Meanwhile, we remain  concerned that Congress will use continued publicity about the Target breach and other breaches as an excuse to pass dangerous data security legislation. Dangerous? Yes, because it would only protect against limited financial identity theft harms, but eliminate stronger state protections against the harms posed by the IRS breach, the health insurance breaches and the OPM breach.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House To Vote On Godzilla-Sized Rule Blocker, As Financial Committee Considers Smaller Rollbacks | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: REINS Approved, near party line vote. Today, the House Financial Services Committee takes up a package of smaller rollback bills, many of which are opposed by Americans for Financial Reform and the PIRGs. Meanwhile, the House will bring up the Godzilla of all anti-health and safety bills, the REINS Act. Fortunately, the President has promised a veto.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The CFPB is 4 years old and has a lot to show for it! | Ed Mierzwinski

Tuesday, July 21, marks four years to the day since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors to protect consumers and make financial markets work. We've summarized some of the ways CFPB works for you on a new web page.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How the CFPB’s Data Keeps Getting Better and Better | Mike Litt

As the CFPB turns 4 years old on July 21, here is some information on how it works for you and how we at PIRG use its data to produce reports, such as our new report on mortgage complaints to the CFPB. We've also got some photos from the Americans for Financial Reform "CFPB at 4" event.

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Priority Action

We're calling on big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Tell KFC to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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