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
TexPIRG’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, TexPIRG’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.
BIGGER BANKS, BIGGER FEES
In April, TexPIRG 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.
Six leading consumer advocacy groups joined together today, calling on the Texas Department of Insurance to take action to ensure Texas families are not charged excessive automobile insurance during the COVID-19 crisis. Texas Appleseed, TexPIRG, and Texas Watch encouraged the department to conduct a comprehensive review of auto rates and use existing statutory authority to disapprove any rates found to be excessive.
Texas Appleseed released a new policy report entitled COVID-19 Pandemic Should Not Be Profit Boon for Texas Auto Insurers detailing how many auto carriers have fallen short on refunds and credits as Texans continue to drive less during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
A bipartisan group of nine Texas legislators are calling on the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Together, 346 legislators representing 45 states, joined TexPIRG Education Fund in sending a letter Tuesday urging Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis. Less than two weeks ago, 33 attorneys general sent a similar letter to the same companies.
“We believe you have an ethical obligation and patriotic duty to help your fellow citizens in this time of need by doing everything in your power to stop price gouging in real-time,” the letter reads, in part.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, the cost of critical health supplies has spiked dramatically on online platforms. An analysis last month from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that existing monitoring on Amazon’s platform was not preventing significant price hikes. In particular, the cost of most hand sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Since then, more than 335,000 Americans have signed PIRG’s petition calling on Amazon to protect consumers from price gouging.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a full recall Wednesday of all ranitidine, a heartburn medication known by the brand name Zantac.
A U.S. PIRG Education Fund analysis has found that since March 2020, public consumer complaints at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have skyrocketed, setting a new monthly record each month. During this period, one in five complaints concerning mortgages, student loans or vehicle financing has mentioned the coronavirus crisis.
A U.S. PIRG report finds that complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reached record numbers in April. Credit reporting complaints, which historically top the list, increased by more than 20,000.
During an online panel organized by U.S. PIRG, former CFPB Director Rich Cordray warned that this difficult time will likely last longer than most believe, and that consumers need protections such as mortgage relief and a halt on evictions for nonpayment of rent in order to weather it.
More than 100 mayors and county executives joined U.S. PIRG in sending a letter to the Trump administration urging the federal government to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production of critical medical supplies, and to establish a system to distribute those supplies to front line workers.
Tools & Resources
Seeking Compensation for Consumers and Environment
Grading Texas' Legislators on their 2019 Votes
Protecting Consumers in the time of Coronavirus
Advocacy groups from all spheres want remote voting
Former chemical industry official would be fox guarding henhouse
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