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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

How the CFPB’s Data Keeps Getting Better and Better | Mike Litt

As the CFPB turns 4 years old on July 21, here is some information on how it works for you and how we at PIRG use its data to produce reports, such as our new report on mortgage complaints to the CFPB. We've also got some photos from the Americans for Financial Reform "CFPB at 4" event.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We Commend CFPB For Adding Consumer Stories To Public Complaint Database

Yesterday, the CFPB published the first batch (7,700) of consumer narratives or stories to the Public Consumer Complaint Database it began in 2011. We've used the database to publish five reports (so far) analyzing complaint trends in markets ranging from credit cards to student loans but we have also long urged the voluntary addition of stories to the data fields. Now, consumers can learn if what happened to them happened to anyone else. Now, researchers can track which banks are more responsive to particular problems and which ignore their customers. A good resource is now an excellent resource.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

In Wake of OPM’s Poor Response to Data Breach, Illinois PIRG Offers Tips to Federal Employees

In light of U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) poor handling of data breaches reported earlier this month, Illinois PIRG is handing out identity theft tips to federal employees in Chicago. According to the most recent data, there are 48,745 civilian federal employees in Illinois.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

The More I Hear About OPM Data Breach, The Less I Know, Except This: It's Bad | Ed Mierzwinski

Was it 4 million, 14 million or 18 million records breached (how many times) (likely) by Chinese hackers? Whose fault was it? The USOPM director says no one's. Really? Perhaps the worst data breach ever raises lots of questions, but I haven't heard any good answers. Federal employees, their families, their friends and their neighbors -- because all of them could be victims -- deserve better answers, just as they deserve better service than USOPM's credit monitoring provider is giving them.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Public Health

Broad Array of Public Interest Groups Call on Subway, the World’s Largest Fast-Food Chain: Help Save Antibiotics!

A letter signed by nearly 60 public interest, medical, public health, environmental and animal welfare organizations was delivered to Subway Founder and CEO Fred DeLuca and Senior VP Suzanne Greco today, asking the restaurant giant to phase out meats produced with routine use of antibiotics (i.e. for growth promotion and disease prevention). As the largest fast-food chain in the world, Subway’s action on this issue would help tackle the growing health crisis of antibiotic resistance.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Report Exposes How Taxpayers Bear Cost of Corporate Settlements

A report released today spotlights a common practice where corporations that commit wrongdoing and agree to financial settlements with the federal government, go on to claim such settlement payments as tax-deductible business expenses. The new study, released by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG), follows a record year of corporate settlements, while many more settlements relating to banking, environmental, and consumer safety issues are expected.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Budget

First Step to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff: Close Offshore Tax Loopholes

CHICAGO, December 6th – With Congress scrambling to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group joined with Naperville small business owner Mike Nikodem today to point out a clear first step to avoid the “fiscal cliff”: closing offshore tax loopholes. Many of America’s largest corporations and wealthiest individuals use accounting gimmicks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes. This tax avoidance costs the federal government $150 billion in tax revenue each year. Illinois PIRG released new data illustrating the size of this loss with 16 dramatic initiatives for which the $150 billion could have paid and also by demonstrating the impact of this amount on the fiscal cliff.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to Illinois Public Interest Research Group’s 27th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

New Survey Shows Free Checking Widely Available At Small Banks But Banks Still Hiding Fees from Consumers

A survey of hundreds of banks and credit unions in 24 states and the District of Columbia found that free checking remains available at more than 6 out of 10 small banks and credit unions but was only found at one-quarter of surveyed big banks (those with over $10 billion in deposits). The survey released today by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group also revealed that fewer than half of branches surveyed obeyed their legal duty to fully disclose fees to prospective customers on the first request, while 12% provided no fee information at all. 

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

New Analysis: Tiny Number of Wealthy Contributors Match Millions of Small Donors, Will Continue to Set Agenda In Washington

A new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Demos shows how big outside spenders drowned out small contributions in 2012: just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving on average $4.7 million each matched the $285.1 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to presidential candidates.

 

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Blog Post | Democracy

SCOTUS Keeps Floodgates Open | Brian Imus

Today the  Supreme Court passed on the opportunity to revisit its disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision, which is wreaking havoc on democracy and has done so in a way that avoids giving the American public a much deserved explanation.

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Blog Post | Food

Farm Bill Still Giving out Corporate Handouts to Big Ag | Celeste Meiffren

Instead of embracing reform, the Senate decided to continue to send tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to Big Ag.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Why Target Is Still a Target | Brian Imus

Two years ago, the public spoke out against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited corporate spending in politics when consumers boycotted Target Corporation for controversial political spending in Minnesota’s state elections. That's why today, at the Target Corporation shareholder meeting in Chicago, shareholders will have an opportunity to vote on a resolution filed by Green Century Funds that calls for an end to the use of shareholder money to influence elections.

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Blog Post | Tax

More TIF money spent without transparency

In the City Council meeting held today, the council voted to enact two ordinances approving new TIF projects. With so much taxpayer money being spent, one would expect a transparent and thorough analysis of the projects to ensure they are worthwhile.  But for the most part, specifics are unavailable to the public.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Super-Sized Loophole for Super PACs | Brian Imus

If you hate corruption in Illinois – I’ve got some bad news. The Illinois House of Representatives voted in favor of SB 3722, legislation that creates a super-sized loophole in the Illinois contribution limits law established in 2009.

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