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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 | Financial Reform

The More I Hear About OPM Data Breach, The Less I Know, Except This: It's Bad | Ed Mierzwinski

Was it 4 million, 14 million or 18 million records breached (how many times) (likely) by Chinese hackers? Whose fault was it? The USOPM director says no one's. Really? Perhaps the worst data breach ever raises lots of questions, but I haven't heard any good answers. Federal employees, their families, their friends and their neighbors -- because all of them could be victims -- deserve better answers, just as they deserve better service than USOPM's credit monitoring provider is giving them.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Hill Threats to CFPB Escalate As CFPB Protects Consumers, Servicemembers | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the House Appropriations Committee, at the behest of both Wall Street and predatory lenders seeking to run amok, will vote to eliminate the CFPB's independence from the politicized appropriations process. Meanwhile, over at the CFPB, important work to protect consumers, including servicemembers, from unfair and predatory financial practices continues.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Data Breach Here, Data Breach There, Data Breach Everywhere! | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED 10 June Re DHS Breach: If you shop with plastic, have health insurance, pay taxes, work for the federal government, or (fill in blank) you’re at risk of a data breach. And with so much information about you already available on the Internet, it’s best not to select easy-search security questions like “Where were you born?” or answers like “Pizza.” What’s your best defense against identity theft? No, it isn’t credit monitoring, it’s a security freeze.

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How Companies Turn Your Facebook Activity Into a Credit Score

This story in The Nation explains our work challenging the way data brokers use "black box," or secret, algorithms to make scoring decisions that may violate the law and deny credit opportunities. This work was also the subject of our recent livestream event featuring Professor Frank Pasquale and his new book, "The Black Box Society." We've now posted an archive of that event, in 3 chapters on our Youtube page.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Higher Ed

PennPIRG Urges Senator Casey to Support Student Aid Reform

Today, PennPIRG announced that it will urge students and families to call Senator Casey in support of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA).   In response to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by the student loan industry, some Senators are opposing SAFRA, a common-sense plan that would cut government waste, make college more affordable for hundreds of thousands of students, invest in our colleges, and expand our economy.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Mad Men Make Online Pitch for High Speed Rail

WASHINGTON, March 9 –Two lead actors from the hit television show Mad Men throw their support behind high-speed rail in a humorous new online video posted today on Funnyordie.com. The actors and U.S. PIRG, a national advocacy organization, developed the video in conjunction with the popular online video site as a way to reach new audiences and build excitement for high-speed rail projects around the country.

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Media Hit | Budget

Philadelphia Group Says US House Isn’t Budget-Cutting In Public’s Interest

“Tough choices should only come after easy ones,” she told KYW Newsradio today.  “And it’s hard to imagine how cuts to Pell grants, food safety, and clean water standards came before eliminating wasteful subsidies and closing corporate tax loopholes and handouts for companies like BP, Goldman Sachs, and Exxon Mobil.”

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Media Hit | Budget, Transportation

Pennsylvania should proceed with caution when it comes to privatizing its infrastructure

Cash-strapped governments across Pennsylvania are struggling to plug holes blown in their budgets by the economic downturn while the state's infrastructure remains in desperate need of maintenance and repair. Pennsylvania's Legislature must address our transportation funding crisis, but it must proceed with caution. Vital public assets should be operated for the public interest.

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News Release | Health Care

Nationwide study of new health exchanges shows Pennsylvania how to lower costs for consumers

Philadelphia, PA – Many states are creating health exchanges to deliver better value for consumers, and Pennsylvania should follow their lead, according to Making the Grade, a new report by PennPIRG. Health exchanges are competitive marketplaces that can empower individuals and small businesses with better, more affordable options for coverage.  Under the federal health reform law, each state will have an exchange up and running in 2014.

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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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