Protecting Consumers

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

Maryland 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 26 years, Maryland PIRG’s "Trouble In Toyland" report has surveyed store shelves and identified choking hazards, noise hazards and other dangers. One year, our research led to the recall of a cloth children’s book that we found contained lead.

BIGGER BANKS, BIGGER FEES

In April, Maryland 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.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

8 Toy Safety Tips for 2014 | Matthew Wellington

Play is an essential part of childhood. Unfortunately, thousands of children go to the emergency room every year because of injury from unsafe toys. Our tips will help you to choose the right toys for the children in your life. You can read our 2014 toy safety report here.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2014

Among the toys surveyed this year, we found numerous choking hazards and five toys with concentrations of toxics exceeding federal standards. In addition to reporting on potentially hazardous products found in stores in 2014, this installment of the report describes the potential hazards in toys and children’s products.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous and Toxic Toys on Store Shelves

On Tuesday, December2nd, we're releasing Maryland PIRG’s 29h annual Trouble in Toyland report and list of dangerous toys. The report finds that despite improvements from recent product reforms, there are still dangerous toys on store shelves that pose a safety hazard. This year our report highlights potentially hazardous toys like toxic toys and choking hazards.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We Urge CFPB To Provide Mobile Financial Protections

Along with the Center for Digital Democracy, our co-investigator on a series of projects related to "big data" and financial opportunity, we've filed detailed comments to the CFPB regarding the need for strong consumer protections as more and more consumers use mobile financial services. We argue that "mobile technologies and services pose both opportunities and risks to consumers, their privacy, and to the kinds and price of services they are offered."

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We urge CFPB to issue safeguards for mobile financial services and privacy

We urge (along with the Center for Digital Democracy) the CFPB to issue rules so consumers can use mobile financial services without placing their privacy at risk or exposing themselves to new forms of predatory lending and other unfair practices. We filed a joint comment in response to a CFPB information request.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Report: Citibank Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company in Maryland

Maryland consumers file more complaints about Citibank than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by the Maryland PIRG Foundation. The report, which looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database, also found that Maryland consumers are the third most likely to file credit card complaints.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

New CFPB rules will protect homebuyers and homeowners

On Friday, January 10, new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules will go into effect that will help protect homeowners and homebuyers from the mortgage abuses that led to the housing crisis. In particular, consumers will get protections from lenders that make risky loans without checking a borrower’s income, assets, or ability to repay a loan.

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News Release | Consumer Protection

Groups Offer Consumer Tips After Target Data Breach

We joined other leading groups to issue consumer tips after the big retailer Target had 40 million credit and debit card numbers stolen. Our main message: Don't panic. Don't pay for over-priced credit monitoring. Do check your checking and credit card accounts regularly and get your free credit reports provided by law.

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Toxic Toys

The 28th "Trouble in Toyland" report, released on Tuesday, summarized the various toys which could be harmful for children.

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"Trouble in Toyland" report warns of toy hazards

Concerned about inadvertently stuffing the stockings with lead or other dangerous metals and chemicals? The Maryland Public Interest Research Group has just the study for you. Its "Trouble in Toyland" report -- the 28th annual toy-safety survey by U.S. PIRG and its state affiliates -- warns people to "be wary when shopping this holiday season." Though researchers have seen improvements over the years, they're still finding problems ranging from high levels of lead to choking hazards.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

TROUBLE IN TOYLAND

The enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 made great strides in toy safety and strengthened the ability of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to protect consumers, including the littlest consumers—children. Although policymakers delayed implementation of its most stringent lead standard rules and enacted some narrow exceptions in 2011, on the whole the law has been protected from attempts to undermine it.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

BIG BANKS, BIGGER FEES

Over the last six months, state PIRG staff conducted inquiries at 250 bank and 116 credit union branches in 17 states and the District of Columbia and reviewed bank fees online in these and 7 other states. This report, “Big Banks, Bigger Fees: A National Survey of Fees and Disclosure Compliance,” examines the following questions:

 How easy is it for consumers to shop around? Are banks complying with the Truth In Savings Act, which requires disclosure of a schedule of account fees to prospective customers?

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

TOTAL FOOD RECALL: UNSAFE FOODS PUTTING AMERICAN LIVES AT RISK

Despite government commitments to address the problem, food recalls are on the rise and our food safety systems are broken, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG. 

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Report | Common Cause | Consumer Protection, Democracy

TOXIC SPENDING

Since passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, the debate over disclosing and reducing the risks that certain chemicals pose to human health and the environment has been dominated by two important trends. First is the growing body of evidence that certain chemicals are harmful to human health, and the growing number of chemicals in daily use whose effects on human health have not been fully studied.

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Report | Maryland PIRG, WTC, Safer States | Consumer Protection

Hidden Hazards in the Nursery

Parents expect the products they buy for their babies to be safe. But new testing of 20 baby and children’s products, including bassinet pads, nursing pillows, changing pads, and car seats, has found toxic flame retardants in 85% of the items.

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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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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The end of net neutrality as we know it? | Ed Mierzwinski

On Thursday, 5/15 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meets to propose new rules "to protect and promote the open Internet." It has no choice because a U.S. appellate court threw out parts of its current rules in a January decision favoring the telephone company Verizon. The decision did not eliminate FCC authority to regulate the Internet, but it did make it more complicated.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How to protect yourself from the security bug Heartbleed | Emily Scarr

DO NOT rush to change your passwords on all of your favorite websites. You shouldn’t change your password on a site until the site has fixed the Heartbleed bug, or else you risk having your new password compromised. Watch for a notice on the site, but don’t click any links in emails claiming to be from the website.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Testimony on HB0229: Prohibition of Child Care Products Containing Flame-Retardant Chemicals - TDCPP

Studies link chlorinated Tris to neurological damage, hormone disruption, mutagenicity and cancer,    and it has the same chemical structure as banned chemicals like DDT, PCBs and Dioxin. Chlorinated Tris tested positive for mutagenicity in the 1970s and as a result it was voluntarily removed from children’s pajamas in 1977. Since the action was voluntary, companies can legally use it in other consumer products without informing government officials or the public.

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