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

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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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Toy Safety Tips | Emily Scarr

For 28 years, Maryland PIRG Foundation has worked to identify unsafe toys. Below are our top tips to help you choose the safest toys for the children in your life.

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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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Toy Safety Concerns Outlined in Annual Report

Toxic chemicals, choking hazards and volume so loud it can damage hearing. You can find all three in toys that are on store shelves here in Maryland; something a state public interest group found after they took a closer look at the toys for sale locally.

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is doing its job

Contrary to the claims in a Nov. 6 guest column, "Consumer protection bureau fails to protect," by Jeffrey H. Joseph, the CFPB is getting results for consumers and doing so in a transparent way. It's the first federal financial agency with just one job: protecting consumers, especially students, military families and senior citizens. A series of Maryland PIRG reports analyzing its public consumer complaint database shows that the bureau is "making markets work," just as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other backers intended.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Safe Energy

EmPOWER Maryland Saves Ratepayers $140m Annually

EmPOWER Maryland, the energy efficiency program passed in 2008, is saving Maryland ratepayers $140 million on electricity costs every year, according to a new report by Maryland PIRG.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

New Report Identifies Most Troublesome Private Lenders to Students

Thousands of American students are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes about private student loans.

Sallie Mae, the student lending giant, generated the most private student loan complaints nationally, and ranked first or tied for first in every single state. Student loan borrowers in the U.S. carry $24,803 on average in total student loan debt.

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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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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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Trouble in Toyland: The 26th Annual Survey of Toy Safety

The 2011 Trouble in Toyland report is our 26th annual survey of toy safety. In this report, we provide safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for young children and provide examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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10 Reasons We Need the CFPB Now

For years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, federal bank regulators ignored numerous warnings of increasingly predatory mortgage practices, credit card tricks and unfair overdraft policies used by banks. This report outlines predatory financial practices that hurt consumers and helped collapse the economy, costing us eight million jobs, millions of foreclosed homes and trillions of dollars in lost home and retirement values. It explains these and other emerging problems as “10 Reasons We Need The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Now.”

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Maryland PIRG 2013 General Assembly Session Priorities | Jenny Levin

Maryland PIRG is an advocate for the public interest. Our mission is to deliver persistent, results-oriented public interest activism that protects public health, respects consumers’ rights, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters a responsive, democratic government. There are hundreds of registered lobbyists in Annapolis all are looking out for one particular segment of the population or special interest; we are one of the few groups working in the Capitol whose job is to think about what’s good for EVERYONE.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland | Laura Muth

It’s a holiday morning and kids all over the world are waking up to open their presents. Big smiles and laughter abound.  What could be wrong with this picture?

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Higher Ed

SUPREME COURT HEARS CASE ON TEXTBOOK PRICES WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR ALL SECONDARY MARKETS (AMAZON, EBAY) | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, in one of the few government buildings open for business during Hurricane Sandy, the Supreme Court heard an important case,Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, concerning whether publishers can restrict owners of books from reselling their used legally-purchased copies. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Health Care

Here’s that Rx refill you didn’t order | Jenny Levin

Is your pharmacy refilling your prescription without your knowledge or approval, and billing your insurance company for the cost?

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Food

POULTRY INDUSTRY AND USDA WANTS TO PUT DANGEROUS CHICKEN ON YOUR PLATES. | Jenny Levin

The new USDA proposed poultry inspection rule is being hailed as a commonsense, cost-saving rule by OIRA and of course the poultry industry.  It will purportedly streamline antiquated poultry inspection requirements, allowing companies to choose a more flexible approach with five-year savings apparently in excess of $1 billion. But in reality the proposed rule might actually put more dangerous chicken on your plate. 

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