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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Make VW Pay, Transportation

From Deceit to Transformation

A new report from PennPIRG Education Fund finds that Pennsylvania is set to receive $110.7 million from the groundbreaking federal settlement with Volkswagen (VW) over the company's emissions scandal; the state is being directed to use these funds to develop a cleaner transportation system. The report from PennPIRG Education Fund recommends that the best use of these funds would be devoted toward advancing a network of electric vehicle charging stations for the state’s highways along with an aggressive expansion of all-electric transit buses to replace aging, dirty, diesel buses.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Consumer Protection

Payday Lending-Free States Cry Foul over OCC “Fintech” Charter

The PaydayFreeLandia coalition, representing 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, demanded today that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) back off a dangerous plan that would gut their states’ strong consumer protection laws. In a detailed letter submitted today to the national banks regulator, the coalition joined more than 270 community, labor, civil rights, faith-based, and military and veterans groups to strongly oppose the OCC’s recent action to offer a federal charter to technology, or “fintech,” companies that market financial products and services online.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Report Finds 1 In 4 Consumers Feel "Threatened" By Debt Collector Tactics | Ed Mierzwinski

We joined Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine for release of new CFPB data on debt collector abuses. Fully 1 in 4 consumers feel "threatened" by abusive, possibly illegal, debt collector tactics. The release also included an emphasis on problems with the "debt buyer" industry, comprised of firms that buy older, uncollected debt for as little as less than a penny on the dollar.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

CFPB Taps Former Pentagon Legal Official to Head Office of Servicemember Affairs

We join National Consumer Law Center, Americans for Financial Reform and other leading groups in a release commending the appointment of senior Pentagon official Colonel Paul Kantwill (U.S. Army, Retired) to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Office of Servicemember Affairs. The CFPB plays an important role in protecting servicemembers, veterans and their families from financial predators.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB Slams Two Credit Bureaus For Deceptive Marketing, Expect Experian Next | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nailed two "big 3" credit bureaus --Trans Union and Equifax -- for deceptive marketing of their over-priced, under-performing credit monitoring subscription products.  Combined fines and consumer restitution total $23 million. I predict that the CFPB will also bring a case against the remaining bureau, Experian, and that it will pay much more, because Experian really has led the way in aggressively marketing these tawdry products. They don't prevent identity theft, nor do they always accurately disclose your credit score, at fees of up to $16.95/month or more. Yikes!

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News Release | PennPIRG | Democracy

Philadelphia Organizations, Citizens, and Elected Officials Hold Press Conference and Rally to Overturn Citizens United

Today at a press conference and rally, a diverse coalition of more than 20 organizations, elected officials, faith groups, and citizens gathered at LOVE Park and braved the cold to mark the third anniversary of the Citizens United court decision and call for the reversal of a big money system that favors powerful special interests over the public interest.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Tax

Report Exposes How Taxpayers Bear Cost of Corporate Settlements

A report released today spotlights a common practice where corporations that commit wrongdoing and agree to financial settlements with the federal government, go on to claim such settlement payments as tax-deductible business expenses.

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News Release | PennPIRG | Tax

First Step to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff: Close Offshore Tax Loopholes

Many of America’s largest corporations and wealthiest individuals use accounting gimmicks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes. This tax avoidance costs the federal government $150 billion in tax revenue each year.  PennPIRG released new data illustrating the size of this loss with 16 dramatic ways $150 billion could be spent.

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News Release | PennPIRG | 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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Blog Post | Democracy

MAKING SUPER PACS ILLEGAL | Alana Miller

A new Washington Post- ABC News poll shows that almost 7 out of 10 voters believe that super PACs, the independent expenditure only committees created in the wake of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, should be illegal. Super PACs are not responsible for all problems with American democracy, however, they do amplify those troubles so it is no surprise that the public is crying out in opposition to them.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

DON’T FREEZE OUR PUBLIC HEALTH AND CONSUMER SAFETY PROTECTIONS | Alana Miller

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. Next up is H.R. 4078, the “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012,” a bill that wrongly calls for a halt on all public health and consumer safety protections until the unemployment rate reaches six percent. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up the bill today, Tuesday, March 20.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

50 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK, JFK USHERED IN MODERN CONSUMER PROTECTION ERAAlana MillerEd Mierzwinski

People of almost any age know a lot about the Kennedy administration with its optimistic beginnings and its sudden, tragic end. Yet many have probably never heard of one of JFK's important legacies -- his declaration that consumers have rights that deserve protection.

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Blog Post | Tax

Statement on White House Plan to Close Tax LoopholesAlana MillerPhineas Baxandall

Statement by Alana Miller, Program Associate for the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group in response to the White House announcement proposing to eliminate tax loopholes and preferences.

 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Today, CFPB to announce overdraft fee investigation, unveil "penalty box" disclosure, possibly end $39 lattes | Ed Mierzwinski

Would you knowingly agree to pay a $35 fee each time you used your debit card at point of sale, simply to allow you to purchase a $4 latte with only $2 in your account? Even the banks didn't think so, that's why they made “standard overdraft protection” a feature of your checking account that you didn't need to choose. Banks also changed the default switch on debit and ATM cards to allow overdrafts

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