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

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

Equifax penalty is a “sweetheart deal” that leaves consumers at risk

Our response to Equifax paying a $650 million penalty for exposing the social security numbers of 148 million Americans to identity theft.

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

New report details multiple critical failures of the Peoples Gas pipe replacement program

Illinois PIRG Education Fund has released a new report, Tragedy of Errors, detailing multiple critical failures of the Peoples Gas pipe replacement program, and the failure of state policy makers to hold the utility company accountable on behalf of Chicago gas customers.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

State PIRGs go to Washington for Consumer Lobby Day

Members of Congress hear repeatedly from lobbyists for corporate special interests in their offices and at fundraisers. How can consumer advocates balance the scales?

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Congressional testimony underscores how predatory auto loans are driving Americans into debt

In most of the country, owning a car is all but required. And we're paying for it—to the tune of $1.2 trillion. This is putting the financial well-being of millions of Americans at risk, and Illinois PIRG and our national network are calling for change.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Statement: Victory for consumers with passage of the Home Energy Affordability & Transparency (HEAT) Act

The Illinois House of Representative today passed Senate Bill 651, the Home Energy Affordability & Transparency (HEAT) Act by a bipartisan vote of 116-0. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, now returns to the Illinois Senate, where its sponsor Sen. Kimberly Lightford will look for final passage. The Senate previously passed a version of the bill with bipartisan support, 43-10.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

U.S. PIRG response to reports of Facebook security breach

Facebook announced today that earlier this week, "attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that impacted “View As”, a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. This allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people’s accounts."

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Health Care

Second recall of King Bio’s homeopathic drugs in the past month

King Bio Inc. issued the second significant voluntary recall since late July of their homeopathic drugs on Wednesday. Safety concerns over homeopathic drugs extend beyond King Bio as over the past several years, the FDA has issued recalls to several companies for a variety of health products from zinc-containing intranasal medicine to asthma drugs with toxic ingredients. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Congress Affirms Need to Stop Debt Trap; Mick Mulvaney Should Follow Suit

Here is our statement on Congress allowing the deadline to pass without repealing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's payday lending rule.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Free Credit Freeze Legislation Passes Legislature

In a response to the massive Equifax data breach, the Illinois Senate today passed House Bill 4095, sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham, with a unanimous bipartisan vote (56-0). The legislation bars credit reporting agencies from charging consumers a fee to place or lift a freeze on their credit report.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Illinois Commerce Commission OK's Budget Busting Peoples Gas Pipe Program

The Illinois Commerce Commission voted Wednesday to approve a plan from Peoples Gas to increase spending on its troubled pipe replacement program. The vote concludes a two year investigation initiated after a 2015 audit found widespread program mismanagement.

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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."

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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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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Consumers Count: Five years of the CFPB standing up for consumers | Kathryn Lee

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns five years old! As part of our efforts to tell more people about the CFPB, we're cross-posting this video blog and comments written by Zixta Q. Martinez of the CFPB (check out the infographic at the end, too!).

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Delayed CFPB/Other Wall Street Reform Rollbacks Happening Today On House Floor | Ed Mierzwinski

Last month the House canceled floor consideration of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. FSGG is back on the floor today and tomorrow. We urge support of amendments to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) but, since they won't pass, we urge a no vote on the bill. Here's an updated excerpt from my previous blog.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Rejects PIRG-Opposed Swipe Fee Settlement With Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit threw out a preliminary $7.25 billion settlement between Visa and Mastercard and any merchant accepting credit cards (including U.S. PIRG), ruling that despite that seemingly massive payment for past practices that the settlement gave inadequate relief to merchants going forward, as it essentially immunized the networks for any future illegal conduct while providing mostly illusory benefits. Since we accept credit cards from our members, we, joined by Consumer Reports, had formally objected to the settlement as consumer advocates who also happen to be merchant class members (most merchant associations also objected).

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News Release | Illinois PIRG

The Illinois General Assembly passed the Predatory Loan Prevention Act today, which will implement a 36 percent interest rate cap on consumer loans, including payday and car title loans.

News Release | Illinois PIRG

The Illinois House of Representatives passed the Predatory Loan Prevention Act today, which if passed by the Senate, would implement a 36 percent interest rate cap on consumer loans, including payday and car title loans.

Blog Post

In mid-November, Peoples Gas released its third quarter report for 2020 detailing the ongoing status of its massive pipe replacement program. One takeaway from the report is that the Peoples Gas pipe replacement program is still behind schedule and over-budget, as it has been every quarter in the almost three years it has been making quarterly reports.

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund

This FTC settlement must be a wake-up call to phone service providers so they do more to protect consumers. If not, the FTC must be vigilant in going after companies that enable the immoral practice of preying on consumers. And the FCC should require providers to block spoofed calls that we all know are scams.

Blog Post

Here’s a guide to your rights depending on how you pay

Consumer Protection

Report finds ComEd scheme caused utility rate hikes for Illinoisans

Illinois PIRG has released "Guaranteed Profits, Broken Promises," a report examining years of actions that, according to federal prosecutors, constituted a corrupt bribery scheme on the part of the utility Commonwealth Edison to win favorable legislation. The report found that, as a result, Illinoisans have been paying 37 percent higher electricity delivery rates.

 

Consumer Protection

Auto Loan Complaints Rise

A review of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database reveals a sharp spike in consumer complaints about auto purchasing, leasing and finance since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Consumer Protection

ComEd must be held accountable for bribery schemes

Revelations that the utility Commonwealth Edison, or ComEd, paid bribes in exchange for favorable policies has prompted Illinois PIRG Education Fund to call on the Illinois Commerce Commission to do a comprehensive audit of the company, and to demand transparency through the release of detailed data from ComEd itself.

 

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.

 
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