CONSUMER PROTECTION

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.

Illinois 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 30 years, Illinois PIRG’s "Trouble In Toyland" report has surveyed store shelves and identified choking hazards, noise hazards and other dangers. Our report has led to at least 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years.

Get our tips for avoiding dangerous toys.

BIGGER BANKS, BIGGER FEES

In April, Illinois 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.

Find out how to beat high bank fees.

SEE ALL CONSUMER RESOURCES

Issue updates

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Will Wells Fargo CEO Tell Senate "No Clawbacks" of Exec's Golden Parachute? | Ed Mierzwinski

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf goes before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday (9/20) to explain the recent $185 million in combined civil penalties by the CFPB and other regulators over a sales goals incentive scandal that led to employees opening some 2 million fake, secret accounts without the knowledge of customers. How will he respond to the growing public clamor for a clawback of bonuses paid his top retail executive Carrie Tolstedt, whose retirement with a $125 million golden parachute package had been announced earlier this summer? 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Wall Street Ramps Up Attacks on Wall Street Reform | Ed Mierzwinski

On Friday, the House overwhelmingly approved a Wall Street-driven proposal to weaken oversight of private equity firms, taking a chunk out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But wait, there's so much more: On Tuesday the House Financial Services Committee takes up the so-called "Financial Choice Act," which eviscerates most of Dodd-Frank's key reforms, from stripping powers of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to repealing the Volcker Rule, which reins in risky betting practices that use depositors' money. As for the CFPB (which just this week issued its biggest fine to date, $100 million against Wells Fargo Bank for opening hundreds of thousands of fake and secret consumer accounts to meet sales goals), the proposal would defund and defang it and delay or stop its efforts to rein in unfair practices of payday lenders, debt collectors and banks. Many of the Financial Choice Act's provisions also pose threats as budget bill "riders."

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Statement on Record $100 Million CFPB Penalty Order Against Wells Fargo Bank For Illegal Sales Practices

On September 8 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a record $100 million civil penalty plus consumer restitution against Wells Fargo, among the  nation’s largest banks, for a series of unfair and abusive sales practices by thousands of employees that included opening secret accounts for hundreds of thousands of existing customers, solely to meet sales goals to receive financial incentives.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Predatory Loans & Predatory Loan Complaints

This is the seventh in a series of reports that review complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In this report, we explore consumer complaints about predatory loans, categorized in the database as payday loans, installment loans, and auto title loans.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Good news! CFPB Adding Consumer Ratings of Company Responses to Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

The CFPB is making a good public consumer complaint database better. In 2015, the CFPB added optional consumer narratives, or stories, to its public consumer complaint database, giving other consumers, researchers and even other firms a new way to help study complaint patterns. Now, it will give consumers a chance to “rate the company’s handling of his or her complaint on a one-to-five scale and provide a narrative description in support of the rating.”

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Mistaken Identity Tops Debt Collection Complaints

Debt collectors trying to collect debt from the wrong person were the top source of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to a report released today by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Survey Shows Students Opting Out Of Buying Textbooks

In recent years, alternatives to new, print textbooks have become widely available through rental programs, used book markets, and e-textbooks, which are digital versions of print books. While these options offer students upfront savings, their prices are still dictated by the prices of the new print editions.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Capital One Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company in Illinois

Illinois consumers file more complaints about Capital One than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund. The report looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New CFPB rules will protect homebuyers and homeowners

On Friday, January 10, 2014 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.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | 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 Education Fund’s 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report.  The survey of hazardous toys found that despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.

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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.  

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

It's Now or Never for this Congress to Show Leadership on Toxic Chemicals

With only a short time left before the November elections, it's time for Congress to step up and pass the Safe Chemicals Act.  Illinois PIRG is calling on Congressional leadership to pass a law that would strengthen laws to protect us from toxic chemicals that are far too prevalent in our homes and communities.  

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Toxic Flame Retardants - What's Next? | Brian Imus

On Tuesday, Senator Durbin followed up on his demand for reform of regulations of toxic flame retardants by calling a hearing of the Senate Committee on Appropriations to examine the effectiveness of the furniture flammability standards that require the use of toxic chemicals – even in children’s products. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Odd Bedfellows Oppose the Tenaska Tax | Brian Imus

Illinois PIRG joined with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to oppose Senate Bill 678 – legislation that would force Illinois consumers to pay for a proposed coal plant the Tenaska Corporation wants to build

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Blog Post

Every quarter, the Chicago gas delivery utility releases a report on its pipe replacement program. Unfortunately, the first quarter report shows the program continues to struggle: not prioritizing public safety and risk reduction, behind schedule and over budget, and increasingly unaffordable.

Blog Post

Johnson & Johnson will end the sale of talc-based baby powders--which can be contaminated with asbestos--in the United States and Canada. That’s a big win for consumers, but it’s not enough.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

The Chicago City Council today passed a resolution calling on Gov. J.B.  Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to reform the troubled Peoples Gas pipe replacement program. The program has been beset by management missteps, cost overruns, and an inability to reduce pipeline failure rates. The program is increasingly unaffordable for many Chicago residents: in 2019, Chicagoans fell $60 million behind on their heating bills and Peoples Gas sent out more than 300,000 disconnection notices. 

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

The Illinois Commerce Commission has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and GlidePath that alleged it deliberately excluded select consumer advocates and industry experts from participating in its NextGrid Study process, while allowing ComEd and Ameren to fund, shape, and approve a report designed to influence Illinois energy policy. 

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

Consumer Protection

Illinois PIRG sues Clearview AI over privacy violations of millions of Illinoisans

Illinois PIRG has joined the ACLU in a lawsuit accusing the facial recognition startup Clearview AI of violating the privacy rights of millions of Illinois residents. In January, the New York Times reported that Clearview AI had collected more than 3 billion photos from the internet without the knowledge or consent of those pictured.

 

Consumer Protection

Chicago City Council issues call to rein in reckless spending by Peoples Gas

For years, the mismanaged Peoples Gas pipe replacement program has been behind schedule and over budget. Now, the Chicago City Council has passed a resolution calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to "restore necessary oversight" of the program.

 

Consumer Protection

Food recall failure

Most grocery store chains are not warning their customers about dangerous food recalls. Find out if your store makes the grade.

 

Consumer Protection

More than 165,000 life-threatening infant sleepers recalled

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on Jan. 29 that four companies have issued recalls for more than 165,000 inclined infant sleepers, which fail to meet the safe sleep guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The CPSC's recall is an important step forward — we're continuing to urge manufacturers to stop producing these sleepers for good.

 
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