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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Faces A "Death of a Thousand Cuts" Today | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, at 10 AM, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee considers a package of over a dozen anti-consumer, anti-investor, anti-taxpayer bills. U.S. PIRG and other members of Americans for Financial Reform have urged a no vote on all the bills targeted at weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Study: 70% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2013

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including Stanley Black & Decker in Maryland – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by the Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ). Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 62 percent of the total, or $1.2 trillion.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity. 

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News Release | Consumer Protection

Credit CARD Act Saves Consumers $12.6 Billion Annually

On May 22, the fifth anniversary of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, consumer advocates applaud the Act’s success in saving Americans billions of dollars in predatory and excessive fees. By one estimate, the CARD Act has saved consumers $12.6 billion annually in lower fees and interest charges; a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau identifies nearly $4 billion annual savings in fees alone.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Credit CARD Act Turns 5, A Big Success Story | Ed Mierzwinski

The Credit CARD Act of 2009, which had its 5th birthday on May 22, is a government success story that cleaned up a Wild West credit card marketplace by eliminating unfair tricks and traps without destroying the market. Despite “sky is falling” claims of impending doom from industry apologists at the time, the credit card industry is still strong and consumers can choose from a variety of cards.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, Maryland PIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs, like Zipcar, and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years. The report examines new evidence on how these practices are changing travel behavior.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

New Report Identifies Banks Consumers Complain About Most

Thousands of Americans are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes with their banks, according to a new report from the Maryland PIRG Foundation. The report highlights banks that generated the most complaints through their various banking services in each state.

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Media Hit | Democracy

Payday lenders move online as regulators crack down

The banner ad atop the website features a wide-eyed baby cradled in an adult's hands with the words, "Did that special vacation for two end up producing a third? Castle Payday has life's unexpected expenses covered." On a growing number of sites like this one, short-term loans are just a click away for Web-surfing borrowers, regardless of any history of bankruptcy, bounced checks or other credit problems. The catch is that these so-called payday loans often come with sky-high interest rates of 400 percent or more. The Castle Payday website advertises an effective 888 annual percentage rate, meaning a 14-day loan of $500 will end up costing the borrower $675.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Driving down in Maryland and across nation; group asks for more transit spending

Marylanders drove their vehicles 4% fewer miles from 2005 to 2011, mirroring a general driving decline across the country, according to a report released Thursday by the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Marylanders cut back on driving

Marylanders are driving less these days, according to a report by the Maryland PIRG Foundation, a public interest research group.

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Toxic Baby Furniture

Furnishings containing formaldehyde – a toxic chemical linked with allergies, asthma, and cancer – can contaminate indoor air within Maryland homes. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to harm.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

Toxic Baby Furniture

To evaluate the potential dangers children face, Maryland PIRG Foundation purchased 21 products intended for use in a baby’s nursery and hired a professional laboratory to test them. Six of the products produced high levels of formaldehyde vapor. In particular, several brands of cribs and changing tables emit formaldehyde at levels linked with increased risk of developing allergies or asthma.

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Report | Higher Ed

The Campus Credit Trap

Credit card lending is enormously profitable. According to annual Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ (FRB) Reports to Congress, it is the most profitable form of banking. But the credit card industry is saturated. The average adult had nearly five credit cards in 2006 and the average household received 5.7 credit card solicitations monthly in 2004, according to the 2007 FRB report.

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A Better Way to Go

America’s automobile-centered transportation system was a key driver of the nation’s economic prosperity during the 20thst century. Rising fuel prices, growing traffic congestion, and the need to address critical challenges such as global warming and America’s addiction to imported oil all point toward the need for a new transportation future.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Safe Energy

Energy Saved, Dollars Earned

Maryland is at an energy crossroads -- facing a crisis, but also an opportunity. The fastest, cheapest and cleanest way to address this crisis is to turn what is now wasted energy into a useful resource to power our homes, offices and factories.

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Priority Action

The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is threatening these lifesaving medicines. Call on big restaurants to do their part and stop buying meat raised with critical antibiotics.

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