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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House holds stacked hearing to attack retirement savings rule proposal | Ed Mierzwinski

The House Financial Services Committee is holding a typically stacked hearing -- one consumer-side witness against four Wall Street-backed lobbyists  -- to attack the important retirement savings rule proposed by the Department of Labor. The rule simply requires retirement advisors to put the customer's needs  -- not their own compensation -- first.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Reinstates Case Against Bank That Aided Senior Citizen Fraud | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that had denied class action status to victims of a scheme targeting senior citizens who were suing Zions Bank and its payment processor affiliates for aiding the fraudsters. U.S. regulators led by the Department of Justice have been fighting this and similar schemes, yet powerful special interests have managed to create a false narrative in Washington, DC that has been picked up by opponents of consumer protection laws. They falsely claim that the government's target is "legitimate" payday lenders and gun dealers. Wrong, the target is financial crimes against consumers, many consumers.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

IRS Admits Data Breach Worse Than Thought, Will Congress Do Wrong Thing Anyway? | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the IRS has admitted that thieves accessed the personal information -- enough to allow them to take your tax refund -- of an additional 220,000 taxpayers, on top of the 114,000 reported in May. Meanwhile, we remain  concerned that Congress will use continued publicity about the Target breach and other breaches as an excuse to pass dangerous data security legislation. Dangerous? Yes, because it would only protect against limited financial identity theft harms, but eliminate stronger state protections against the harms posed by the IRS breach, the health insurance breaches and the OPM breach.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Safe Energy

Clean Power Plan Great News for Illinois

The Clean Power Plan is the single biggest action our nation has ever taken on climate and is great news for Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly and Governor Rauner can jump start strong state implementation of the Clean Power Plan by passing the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Bill, which will save consumers money, protect our families' health, and ensure a safer climate for the future.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House To Vote On Godzilla-Sized Rule Blocker, As Financial Committee Considers Smaller Rollbacks | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: REINS Approved, near party line vote. Today, the House Financial Services Committee takes up a package of smaller rollback bills, many of which are opposed by Americans for Financial Reform and the PIRGs. Meanwhile, the House will bring up the Godzilla of all anti-health and safety bills, the REINS Act. Fortunately, the President has promised a veto.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

New Report: Illinois Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Illinois received an “A-” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fourth annual report of its kind by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund. 

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Media Hit | Public Health

Tribune Watchdog: Playing With Fire

The average American baby is born with 10 fingers, 10 toes and the highest recorded levels of flame retardants among infants in the world. The toxic chemicals are present in nearly every home, packed into couches, chairs and many other products. Two powerful industries — Big Tobacco and chemical manufacturers — waged deceptive campaigns that led to the proliferation of these chemicals, which don’t even work as promised.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $2.5 Billion Hole in Illinois’ Budget

With Illinois in the midst of a budget crisis, the Illinois PIRG Education Fund, joined by the Small Business Advocacy Council; Gail Glasser, a small business owner; and the Chicago Political Economy Group, released a new study revealing that Illinois lost $2.5 billion due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations use tax loopholes to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens where they pay little to no taxes.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Chicago Receives a Grade of “A” for Spending Transparency

Chicago received a grade of “A” for conventional budgetary transparency, according to a new report released today by Illinois PIRG, but more work remains to be done to make TIF and privatization initiatives more transparent. The report reviews Chicago’s progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Testimony before the Illinois Campaign Finance Reform Task Force

Testimony by Anu Dathan at a hearing by the Campaign Finance Reform Task Force on January 17, 2013. The hearing was part of the Task Force's study of the role of SuperPACs in Illinois elections. The testimony covers the key findings of Illinois PIRG's report, Billion-Dollar Democracy, and its recommendations.

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Blog Post | Democracy

IRS Scandal Highlights Need for Increased Transparency in Campaign Financing

It’s up to the IRS to ensure that nonprofits are not being used as illicit vehicles to funnel untraceable money into our elections. However the agency’s handling of this responsibility has been thoroughly outrageous, the latest scandal being just the latest example of disturbing action—or, as has been more often the case, inaction. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Transportation

How the CTA can protect consumers

The new Ventra fare card system, set to be rolled out to CTA riders this summer, has left people with a lot of questions about whether the system will be a good deal for Chicagoans.  The CTA will have one of the first transit fare systems in the country to be linked to a prepaid debit card – a largely unregulated product that can make it easy for private banks to gouge consumers with hidden fees and unpredictable charges.  

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

What you can do to avoid the CTA's new hidden fees

Ventra is the new payment system for Chicago transit that will eventually allow customers to use a single fare card for regional transit throughout the Chicago area.  The new "Ventra Card" will include  the option of registering for a prepaid debit card - but you need to be careful.  This prepaid debit card can leave you on the hook for hidden fees and unpredictable charges.  

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Blog Post | Budget

End-of-year Traditions

After the disaster of a deal that privatized Chicago’s parking meters, there was a lot of talk of ensuring transparency and protections to make sure taxpayers never got ripped off again. Unfortunately, it looks as though the City Council is at it again — taking a short-term cash advance at the long-term expense of taxpayers and the public interest.

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