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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Testimony on HB212/SB270 Concerning Free Security Freezes for Victims of Data Breaches | Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG is pleased to support HB212/SB270 to provide victims of security breaches with free access to credit report security freezes.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Testimony on HB0271 - Maryland Transit Administration - Farebox Recovery, Goals, and Performance Indicators | Emily Scarr

Improving public transportation plays a key role in developing a 21st century transportation for the state. Unfortunately, current law impedes the Maryland Transit Administration from being able to adjust to the challenges of the 21st Century. This bill aims to fix that.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Testimony on HB206 Restricting Toxic Flame Retardants in children's products and furniture | Emily Scarr

Chemical flame retardants are found in many products in our home: toys, couches, electronics, and changing pads, for example. The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention has identified flame retardant chemicals in the bodies of over 90% of Americans and at higher levels in children then adults.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Public Health, Antibiotics

Health Professionals Applaud Introduction of Keep Antibiotics Effective Act

Maryland legislators have introduced new legislation to restrict the use of human antibiotics in animal agriculture.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Starbucks Ditches Routine Use of Medically Important Antibiotics in Poultry

Starbucks announced a commitment today to serve only poultry raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics in U.S. stores by 2020 after dialogue with Green Century Capital Management, a leader in environmentally responsible investing. The Seattle-based chain’s commitment may help push the meat industry further away from overusing life-saving medicines.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Big Banks Make Billions on Overdraft Fees

“Banks that relied most heavily on overdraft revenue had more complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the complaint category “account funds being low,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily scarr. “It’s clear that we need to protect a strong CFPB to make sure banks are following the law.”

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Overdrafts continue to hit students hard on campus

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report shining a spotlight on contracts between banks and colleges to promote debit cards on campus.  Students continue to get hit hard with overdraft fees attached to their campus bank accounts. According to the report, nearly one in ten consumers in the population with student accounts incurred 10 or more  overdrafts per year, paying, on average, $196 in overdraft fees alone. Below is a detailed analysis by US. PIRG's Chris Lindstrom, who championed the protections that the CFPB is reporting on. This report is one more example of why we need a strong CFPB. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Consumer Advocates Concerned By Court Ruling Overturning Ban on High-Powered Magnets

We've joined leading consumer and pediatrician organizations in a joint news release with a sharp critique of a U.S. appellate court decision overturning a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ban on the sale of high-powered small magnets (some as small as BBs) that pose a severe ingestion problem for children and youth. As our Trouble In Toyland report released on November 22 pointed out: "Nearly 80 percent of high-powered magnet ingestions require invasive medical intervention, either through an endoscopy, surgery, or both. In comparison, only 10 to 20 percent of other foreign body ingestions require endoscopic intervention and almost none require surgery."

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

‘Trouble in Toyland’ report finds recalled toys still available for sale online

Baltimore, MD – Toys that have been recalled for high levels of lead, dangerously powerful magnets, or other hazards can still be found in some online stores, according to the Maryland Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s 31st annual Trouble in Toyland report www.toysafetytips.org. The survey of hazardous toys found that shoppers should be wary this holiday season.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG and the Fair Elections Howard Coalition | Democracy

Howard County Voters Vote for Fair Elections by Passing Ballot Question A

Columbia, MD – On Tuesday night, Howard County voters approved a charter amendment to bring balance to our democracy and make local government more representative and accountable to everyday people. 

The win lays the groundwork for a citizen-funded elections program for county council and county executive races. The new program will provide matching funds for small donor contributions to candidates who don’t accept large or corporate contributions.

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Reining in Wall Street

On July 15, the U.S. Senate passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by a count of 60 to 39.

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Result | Public Health

KIDS’ SCHOOL LUNCHES NOW SAFER

For years, America’s schoolchildren have been eating beef, chicken and other foods that would have been rejected as substandard even by fast food chains. Thanks in part to our advocacy, the U.S.D.A. has stopped buying such low-quality meat for school lunches.

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Result | Health Care

Young People Now Covered

This year, the federal health care reforms that Maryland PIRG worked to win have started to pay off for young people. In the past, teens saw their premiums soar or were denied coverage when they turned 19, even if they’d been insured their whole lives. Now, they can remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. 

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Result | Health Care

Health Care Reform Enacted

In 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health care reform into law.

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BPA Ban

In 2010, Maryland became the 4th state in the nation to phase out the toxic chemcial CPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection

2015: Potentially Hazardous Toy List

This year's list of potentially dangerous toys.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

Trouble in Toyland 2015

For 30 years, Maryland PIRG Foundation has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to over 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Why You Should Get Security Freezes Before Your Information is Stolen

A never ending stream of news reports about data breaches – including T-Mobile, Target Corporation, the IRS, numerous Blue Cross Blue Shield and other health plans, the University of Maryland, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) - is a constant reminder that we're at risk of a data breach and therefore, identity theft.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

Boosting the Impact of Small Donors

The vast majority of the funds raised for the 2016 election have come from wealthy donors making contributions exponentially larger than most Americans can afford, typically to super PACs and other organizations that can legally accept donations of any size. This report examines how the 2016 presidential race would be reshaped by a public financing system that amplifies the voices of small donors in our elections.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Mortgages and Mortgage Complaints

Our sixth report analyzing complaints in the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database evaluates mortgage complaints, the number one source of complaints to the CFPB, totaling 38% of nearly 500,000 complaints posted since 2011.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Testimony on SB 64 – Voter Registration - Affiliating With a Party | Emily Scarr

Common Cause Maryland, Maryland PIRG, and the ACLU of Maryland support SB 64 which would allow unaffiliated, registered voters to change their registration to a party during early voting period.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

This week, CFPB Sues TCF Bank for overdraft schemes and loan servicer Navient for "failing" students | Ed Mierzwinski

Despite an escalation of threats to exterminate the Consumer FInancial Protection Bureau, CFPB continues to protect consumers well. This week it sued TCF Bank over deceptive overdraft marketing schemes and it sued Navient, the student loan servicer and Sallie Mae spinoff, for "failing" students at every step of the repayment process. The TCF complaint notes that its CEO brazenly named his boat "Overdraft."

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Blog Post | Make VW Pay, Transportation

How Volkswagen’s Deceit Could Help Accelerate an Electric Revolution | Emily Scarr

The payout is part of an agreement reached between the U.S. Department of Justice and Volkswagen after the carmaker was caught selling more than half a million diesel vehicles in the U.S. that polluted up to 40 times the legal limit of dangerous nitrogen oxides (NOX). The entire settlement is worth up to $14.7 billion and will help compensate consumers and clean up our nation’s transportation system.

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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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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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Priority Action

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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