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

U.S. 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, U.S. 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, U.S. 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

Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

PIRG Consumer Watchdog: Asbestos Found In Children's Products | Dev Gowda

The PIRG Consumer Watchdog team recently found that three different products sold by national retail brand Claire’s contain alarming amounts of asbestos. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it “unacceptable” for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos, and doctors say that there is no safe limit of asbestos.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Six Months Out From Equifax Hack, Are Consumers Any Better Protected? | Mike Litt

Consumers agree: Equifax must be held accountable for its wrongdoing. Yet the Trump administration and Congress still haven’t taken action to do that, or to better protect consumers from identity theft in the future. What are they waiting for?

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News Release | Consumer Protection

Consumer Wins Landmark Safety Recall Case Against CarMax

Tammy Gutierrez of Bakersfield, Calif., has won an important victory against CarMax, arguing successfully that she had alleged valid claims that CarMax acted illegally when the auto giant sold her a car with an unrepaired safety recall. The modified ruling issued by the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno on Thursday, Feb. 22, is widely considered to be the first decision challenging the legality of car dealers selling unrepaired recalled used cars that led to a state appellate court ruling 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Breaking The Cycle Of Debt: Why We Need The Payday Lending Rule | Mike Litt

We call them debt traps for a reason: Payday lending has long led to schemes that literally trap consumers in consecutive loans with obscenely high interest rates.

 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG/U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Food

Bee-Killing Pesticides Found in Great Lakes Water

A recent scientific study found the presence of commonly-used pesticides known to harm bees ("neonicotinoids" or "neonics") in several Great Lakes waterways. This study shows we know very little about the effects of pesticides once released into the environment.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG | Consumer Protection

U.S.PIRG Statement on Government Shutdown

Our elected congressional representatives are letting partisan politics get in the way of their job: to fund the government. While gridlock engulfs Washington, our state and local governments have considerable authority to safeguard their residents' health, safety and quality of life.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

32nd Annual “Trouble in Toyland” Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Stores nationwide are still offering dangerous and toxic toys this holiday season and, in some cases, ignoring explicit government safety regulations in the process, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund’s 32nd annual Trouble in Toyland report. The survey of potentially hazardous toys found that, despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping for children’s gifts.

 

 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Food

U.S. PIRG Joins Rep. Blumenauer In Calling For Farm Bill Reform

Rep. Blumenauer (OR) unveiled a new blueprint for the federal Farm Bill today. His bill, the Food & Farm Act, cuts wasteful agriculture subsidies that steer farmers toward harmful and unhealthy farming practices. Additionally, it deepens U.S. investments in proven conservation programs that help farmers switch to sustainable farming practices.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Target Removes Lead-Laden Fidget Spinner From Website, But Still Available For Sale In-Store

Since late yesterday afternoon, Target appears to have made the 33,000 ppm-lead containing Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass unavailable for sale on its website. U.S. PIRG Education Fund staff went to a Target store today and found the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass was still available for sale in-store, despite the website saying it was unavailable there. Also yesterday, one of the CPSC’s Commissioners, Elliot F. Kaye, re-stated his opposition to the CPSC’s guidance and the acting chairman's statement when he tweeted, “Seems obvious fidget spinners are toys and should comply with all applicable federal safety standards.”

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News Release | Consumer Protection

U.S. PIRG CONSUMER ADVOCATE MIKE LITT TESTIFIES AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON EQUIFAX

Our Consumer Advocate, Mike Litt, was invited by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, to testify this week at a Congressional hearing on the Equifax data breach. This was a continuation of the committee's previously held hearing on October 5th entitled "Examining the Equifax Data Breach."

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2013

The 2013 Trouble in Toyland report is the 28th annual U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. In this report, U.S. PIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Food

Food Safety Scares 2013

This report offers a snapshot look, from October 2012 to October 2013, at multistate foodborne illness outbreaks identified by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Failures in the rules and processes that protect our food supply have led to numerous serious outbreaks over the past year that left many Americans sickened and at least 2 dead. The economic cost of just the multistate outbreaks caused by food products recalled over the past 12 months comes to more than $22 million.

 

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Food

Apples to Twinkies 2013

At a time when America faces high obesity rates and tough federal budget choices, taxpayer dollars are funding the production of junk food ingredients. Since 1995, the government has spent $292.5 billion on agricultural subsidies, $19.2 billion of which have subsidized corn- and soy-derived junk food ingredients.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | 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. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Higher Ed

The Campus Debit Card Trap

Banks and other financial firms are taking advantage of a variety of opportunities to form partnerships with colleges and universities to produce campus student ID cards and to offer student aid disbursements on debit or prepaid cards. In addition to on-campus services, such as student ID functions offered on the card, some cards offer traditional debit card services linked to bank accounts; other cards provide additional reloadable prepaid card functions. The disbursement of financial aid and university refunds is the most significant partnership identified.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

#KickTheCan: BPA still found in many grocery stores’ canned foods | Dev Gowda

We’re all told to watch out for BPA in drinking bottles and baby products. But how about BPA in the cans that contain our food? A recent study by Center for Environmental Health (CEH) reveals that the toxic chemical BPA is readily found in canned foods. BPAs are often used in the liners of canned food to keep the aluminum from interacting with the food.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

Can the CFPB help me with my student loan problem? | Gideon Weissman

More than 44 million Americans have student loan debt, in total owing more than $1.4 trillion. Finding the right student loan and deciding on the right payment plan can be complicated. Many borrowers also have trouble paying – more than 10 percent of student loans are at least 90 days delinquent. Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – America’s first federal agency dedicated to protecting Americans in the financial marketplace – has resources to help.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

What is the CFPB’s role in protecting consumers? | Gideon Weissman

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis with one mission: to protect consumers in the financial marketplace. But how exactly is it protecting consumers from mistreatment? We explain.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

What did the CFPB do about Wells Fargo opening unauthorized accounts? | Gideon Weissman

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the first federal agency devoted to protecting consumers in the financial marketplace. In 2016, the CFPB held Wells Fargo accountable for unfair treatment of its customers.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

How the CFPB Helps Protect Older Americans

In the 1990s, my grandmother lost $60,000 to a financial scammer who took advantage of her age and vulnerability. A lucky, and perhaps illegal, phone call from her bank flagged the problem to the family. Today, thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I think it’s likely the problem would be noticed and stopped sooner.

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