Consumer Protection Updates

News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

Gov. Abbott’s decision puts Texans at risk

Today, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that hair salons and gyms could reopen assuming they follow guidelines set forth in the announcement. The following can be attributed to Bay Scoggin, Director of consumer and public health group TexPIRG:

“Look, I need a haircut as much as the next guy, but it’s not worth putting tens of thousands of lives at stake. We know what we need to do to be ready to reopen-- the Governor’s own advisers have laid it out for him--and we’re not there yet."

News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

With record number of COVID-19 deaths, public health group calls on Gov. Abbott to reinstate statewide shelter in place

As Texas recorded its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day on Thursday (50, up from 42 deaths the day before), the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) warned Gov. Abbott that it is too soon to lift the shelter in place order, an action which could cost lives. 

TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin released the following statement:

“We’re all wondering when, if ever, things may start to feel normal. But now is not the time to pull back on the public health measures that are keeping us safe.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

New analysis: Most fake COVID-19 products claim antiviral, immune-boosting properties 

Desperate for a cure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many Americans are turning to the internet for answers. What they’re finding, however, is a minefield of dubious products posted by unscrupulous sellers. False claims are tricking worried people into paying for fake solutions that give them a false sense of security. The federal government hasn’t approved any product that prevents or treats COVID-19.

While myriad fake COVID-related products exist online, a new analysis from TexPIRG Education Fund found that the most common were for products using claims of antiviral or immune-boosting properties. The group looked at 34 warning letters issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

How to refund concert tickets, prevent ID theft during COVID-19

AUSTIN-- In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address concerns as they arise, TexPIRG Education Fund is publishing new tip guides each week to help people navigate this crisis.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

How to save money and make safer online purchases during COVID-19

In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address concerns as they arise, TexPIRG Education Fund is publishing new tip guides each week to help consumers navigate this crisis.

What does the stimulus check mean to you?

By | Lauren Banister
Transportation Associate

This week marks the first week that people will start seeing the $1,200 stimulus check in their bank accounts as a result of the CARES Act passed last month. This made me wonder -- now that people are starting to see this financial stimulus in their bank accounts, how do they plan to use it?

Adjusting to new traditions during coronavirus

By | Lauren Banister
Transportation Associate

Associate Lauren Banister talks about her experience adjusting to the new normal during Passover.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

9 Texas legislators demand Amazon, other online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

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.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Governor worries about coronavirus spread, advocates offer solution

As the coronavirus continues to spread across Texas and the nation, advocacy groups and health professionals sent a letter today to Governor Abbott asking him to protect state employees by requiring non-essential state employees to switch to telework.

Today, Governor Abbott expressed concern over compliance with his measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Yet as Texans across the state adjust to telework, online school and social distancing there were several reported instances of pressure from state agencies for employees to go into their office or field or take vacation time.

“Governor Abbott must lead by example and deliver a clear message that requiring remote work can save lives,” says Lauren Banister, TexPIRG Associate. “While we don’t know the extent of the problem, we are disappointed to see that any state employee has to choose between their job and public health.” 

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Attorneys general demand online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not join in the call to the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. A bipartisan group of 33 attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro along with co-leading Attorneys General Hector Balderas (NM), William Tong (CT), and T.J. Donovan (VT), sent a letter today urging the companies -- 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.

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