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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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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Over 7,000 Comments Submitted to Department of Labor

Every year, over $17 billion is lost from retirement savings to fees and charges, according to the Council of Economic Advisors. Today, we submitted over 7,000 PIRG member comments urging the U.S. Department of Labor to finalize a strong rule requiring retirement advisors to put the interests of their customers first. We also submitted a detailed expert comment of our own in the important "conflicted advice" rulemaking.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Top 10 List: How the CFPB Works for Consumers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turns 4 on July 21st. To celebrate and increase public awareness of the agency, U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a new webpage, “Meet the CFPB: Just Ten of the Ways It Works for You.

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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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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

This morning Maryland PIRG Foundation released the report, revealing the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead, cadmium and phthalates, all of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children.  The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard, extremely loud toys that threaten children’s hearing, and toy magnets that can cause serious injury.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

This Time, BP Settlement Protects Taxpayers

Unlike earlier settlements from the Gulf Oil spill, the settlement the U.S. Justice Department negotiated with BP stipulated that none of the penalties paid are tax-deductible, according to Lanny Breuer, head of the Dept. of Justice's criminal division.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

True Amount of BP Settlement Will Depend on Hidden Tax Giveaways

BP agreed today to a $4.5 billion settlement to resolve felony and misdemeanor charges related to the gulf oil spill, but taxpayers may end up indirectly covering up to 35 percent of the amount if the company is allowed to take the amount as a tax write off.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

NEW SURVEY SHOWS FREE CHECKING WIDELY AVAILABLE AT SMALL BANKS BUT BANKS STILL HIDING FEES FROM CONSUMERS

A survey of hundreds of banks and credit unions in 24 states and the District of Columbia found that free checking remains available at more than 6 out of 10 small banks and credit unions but was only found at one-quarter of surveyed big banks (those with over $10 billion in deposits). The survey released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group also revealed that fewer than half of branches surveyed obeyed their legal duty to fully disclose fees to prospective customers on the first request, while 12% provided no fee information at all.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Post-Election Edition

Our new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election
Commission (FEC) and other sources shows how big outside spenders
drowned out small contributions in the 2012 election cycle: just 61
large donors to Super PACs giving on average $4.7 million each matched
the $285.1 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500
small donors to the major party presidential candidates.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony on Baltimore Transit-Oriented Development Fund | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of HB 213, establishing the Baltimore City Community Enhancement Transit-Oriented Development Fund as a special, non-lapsing fund for specified purposes

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Testimony on Rental-Purchase Agreements Best Practices Act | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of HB 213, altering the requirements for reinstating a rental-purchase agreement; altering the time allowed for a consumer to reinstate a rental- purchase agreement; requiring a consumer to pay specified interest and penalties under specified circumstances; requiring a reduction in payments under specified circumstances; requiring a lessor to maintain specified records for a specified amount of time; etc.

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

Testimony on LED Street Lighting | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of HB 409, requiring the Public Service Commission to adopt regulations or to issue orders to require or allow electric companies to offer LED street lighting to specified local governments; and defining terms.

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Blog Post | Budget

Testimony on Corporate Taxation | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Research Group supports the passage of SB 248, Imposing an alternative minimum assessment on corporations doing business in the State; providing for the computation of the alternative minimum assessment as a percentage of a corporation's gross receipts or gross profits, based on an election made by the corporation; limiting the assessment to $5,000,000 for any corporation and to $20,000,000 for affiliated groups of corporations; providing for credits against the corporate income tax under specified circumstances; applying the Act to tax years after 2011; etc.

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Blog Post | Food

Testimony in Favor of Arsenic Prohibition in Commercial Feed | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of SB 207, prohibiting a person from using, selling, or distributing specified commercial feed intended for use as poultry feed that contains roxarsone or any other additive that contains arsenic.

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