Consumer Protection

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 CONSUMERS

Maryland 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 30 years, Maryland PIRG’s "Trouble In Toyland" report has surveyed store shelves and identified choking hazards, noise hazards and other dangers. Our report has led to at least 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years.

Get our tips for avoiding dangerous toys.

BIGGER BANKS, BIGGER FEES

In April, Maryland PIRG 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.

Find out how to beat high bank fees.

SEE ALL CONSUMER RESOURCES

Issue updates

News Release | U.S.PIRG | Consumer Protection

Strong National Payday Rule Could Save Consumers Billions

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its draft high cost small dollar lending (payday and auto title) loan rule for public comment. 

> Keep Reading

LATimes: Obama's consumer protection legacy defined by aggressive agency

[This weekend, the Los Angele Times chronicled President Obama's consumer protection record, with heavy emphasis on the history and fight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):]

"[...] Launched in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the bureau is one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments. [...] “I think you have to consider him a tremendous president for consumers,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group."

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Convincing retailers to remove toxic chemicals from products

Maryland PIRG joined groups across the country to call on major retailers to address toxic chemicals in their supply chain. Thanks to our work, both Macy’s and Ashley Furniture announced they would stop using toxic flame retardants in their furniture. We also convinced Lowe’s and Home Depot to phase out phthalates from their flooring. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Escalates Drive Toward Protections, Study Finds CFPB Enforcement Works | Ed Mierzwinski

This month the CFPB issued its proposed rule prohibiting class action bans in small-print mandatory arbitration clauses; in June it is expected to release its high-cost small dollar lending (payday and auto title loan) proposed rule. Meanwhile, as CFPB's industry opponents hide behind astroturf front groups and Congressional opponents use backdoor attacks, a law professor has released a major report finding that "from its inception [in 2011] through 2015 the agency had a 122-and-0 track record in its publicly announced enforcement actions" and that 93% (over $10.5 billion) of funds recovered for consumers have been for deceptive practices -- "[f]ar from a novel legal theory."

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

You might not know this about overdraft fees | Kathryn Lee

Did your bank sell you on the idea that it’s embarrassing for you to have your debit card declined for a $3 cup of coffee, and that you should pay them $35 each time for “overdraft protection”? Those big fees are what’s embarrassing. Unless you say yes to allow fees, you cannot be charged for over-drafting your debit card.

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Big Pharma’s Pay-for-Delay Deals Take a Hit

Big Pharma’s controversial “pay-for-delay” agreements took a hit today. In FTC v. Actavis, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FTC’s case against the payoff keeping generic AndroGel from the market can move ahead in the lower courts.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

Flame Retardant Ban Passes Maryland General Assembly

The Maryland Senate yesterday passed HB 99, which bans child care products for children under 3 containing the flame-retardant chemical TCEP. The chemical is one of several flame-retardants highly criticized by health advocates for their toxic effects in laboratory studies and persistence in the household environment. The bill is sponsored by Delegate James Hubbard from Prince Georges County. House bill 99 has now passed both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly and is on its way to Governor O’Malley’s desk.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

NEW REPORT: AMERICAN LIVES AT RISK FROM UNSAFE FOODS

Despite government commitments to address the problem, food recalls are on the rise and our food safety systems are broken, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG.  Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year and costs over $77 billion in aggregated economic costs.  In the USA over the last 21 months, 1753 people were made sick from foodborne illnesses linked directly to food recalls and the cost was over $227 million.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Food

POULTRY INDUSTRY AND USDA WANTS TO PUT DANGEROUS CHICKEN ON YOUR PLATES. | Jenny Levin

The new USDA proposed poultry inspection rule is being hailed as a commonsense, cost-saving rule by OIRA and of course the poultry industry.  It will purportedly streamline antiquated poultry inspection requirements, allowing companies to choose a more flexible approach with five-year savings apparently in excess of $1 billion. But in reality the proposed rule might actually put more dangerous chicken on your plate. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Don’t Freeze our Public Health and Consumer Safety Protections | Jenny Levin

Last year, in the 175 days that the U.S. House of Representatives was in session it passed more than 190 anti-regulatory bills, putting profits over public safety. And they are still at it.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Testimony on Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland Act | Jenny Levin

Maryland PIRG supports HB 727, requiring the Department of the Environment, in consultation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to publish on its Web site lists of specified chemicals of concern and specified chemicals of high concern designated in accordance with specified criteria.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Testimony on Green Cleaning Supplies | Jenny Levin

The Maryland Public Interest Group supports the passage of HB 1019, requiring a county board of education to adopt specified written policies relating to the procurement of green product cleaning supplies subject to specified exceptions; and requiring specified county boards to provide specified notice to the State Department of Education under specified circumstances.

> Keep Reading
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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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation

The amount of money Americans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new Maryland PIRG report[1] .

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation

In much of America, access to a car is all but required to hold a job or lead a full and vibrant life. Generations of car-centric transportation policies — including lavish spending on roads, sprawl-inducing land use policies and meager support for other modes of transportation — have left millions of Americans fully dependent on cars for daily living.

Blog Post

Unsafe food recalls in the U.S. are trending the wrong way. From 2013 to 2017, they rose 10 percent overall, and a whopping 83 percent for the most hazardous meat and poultry recalls.

News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation

Baltimore: From E. coli-infected romaine lettuce to Salmonella-tainted beef, contaminated foods lead to illnesses that sicken as many as 1 in 6 Americans annually. In 2018, this epidemic helped spur major recalls, which caused stores and restaurants to toss millions of pounds of meat and produce.  Maryland PIRG Foundation’s new report How Safe is Our Food?, released today, reveals how fundamental flaws in our current food safety system have led to a jump in these recalls since 2013.

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation

While our food safety system has improved significantly over the last 100 years, when toxics, fake foodstuffs and bacteria regularly infiltrated the supply, it is clear there is more work to do. A modern society relies on ensuring that the daily act of eating does not undermine the health of the population. 

Consumer Protection

Congressional investigation concludes that Equifax breach was entirely preventable

The worst data breach in history could have been prevented with some basic security measures.

 

Consumer Protection

Watch out for unsafe toys

Maryland PIRG's “Trouble in Toyland” report found boron in slime, choking hazards without the proper warning labels, “connected” toys that pose a privacy risk and more.

 
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