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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

Volkswagen’s $1000 Gift Cards Fall Short

Statement by Mike Litt, National Consumer Advocate with U.S. PIRG, on Volkswagen’s offer of $1,000 in gift cards to customers affected by its emission scandal.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Privacy, We've Got Tips and Ideas For You, Congress and Regulators, Too | Ed Mierzwinski

Problems with privacy and data security are all over the news these days. We've got you covered, from releasing a new report and consumer tips on the security freeze today to testifying to Congress (last week) on payment card security and speaking on a panel at the FTC tomorrow on Internet lead generation (what's that?). Oh, and we're waiting for answers to our questions to the CFPB about the credit bureau Experian joining the ranks of the breached. We've been busy as we explain in this "roundup" blog entry.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Consumer Protection

TexPIRG Recommends Staying Away From Paid Monitoring Services as FTC announces LifeLock settlement

Credit monitoring and other services that are usually offered to data breach victims and other concerned consumers do nothing to prevent identity theft; they only detect certain types of fraud after it has occurred. 

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Report | TexPIRG | Consumer Protection

Why You Should Get a Security Freeze before Your Information is Stolen

If and when someone does steal enough of your information to commit any form of identity theft (new account financial identity theft, theft of medical services, theft of tax refunds, etc.) there is really only one type of identity theft that you can stop before it happens: New account identity theft, where someone opens a new account in your name.

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Report | TexPIRG | Consumer Protection

Why You Should Get a Security Freeze before Your Information is Stolen

If and when someone does steal enough of your information to commit any form of identity theft (new account financial identity theft, theft of medical services, theft of tax refunds, etc.) there is really only one type of identity theft that you can stop before it happens: New account identity theft, where someone opens a new account in your name.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Higher Ed

Doubling Student Debt Rates to Cost Texas Students $400 Million

Higher education advocates released new data today showing that an anticipated increase in the student loan interest rate would cost Texas students $400 million per year. The increase would affect federally subsidized Stafford loans, which are provided to almost 7.5 million low and moderate-income students nationwide each year. If Congress does nothing, then beginning on July 1st, the interest rate will double from 3.4% to 6.8% on new student loans.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rate Hike Threatens College Affordability, Will Lead to 20% Increases in Cost of College Next Year

Today, TexPIRG, the Young Invincibles, the Center for American Progress, and Campus Progress released a joint report on the looming threat of a major hike in the federal student loan interest rate. If Congress fails to act by July 1, the interest rate for Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan will double, rising to 6.8 percent. 7.4 million American students will see the interest rates on their student loans double, effectively raising the average cost of college by over $1,000 for millions of students and their families.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Budget

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Texas Taxpayers $467 a Year, Each Texas Small Business $2,085

With tax day approaching, a new TexPIRG study, Picking Up the Tab: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens, found that the average Texas taxpayer in 2011 would have to shoulder an extra $467 tax burden to make up for revenue lost from corporations and wealthy individuals shifting income to offshore tax havens. The report additionally found that the average additional tax burden shouldered by Texas small businesses added up to $2085 due to the “offshoring” of profits by large corporations.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Long-Term Drop in How Much People Drive, Youth Desire More Transportation Options

A new report released today by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) Education Fund and Frontier Group demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade.

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Report | TexPIRG | Food

Apples to Twinkies

America is facing an obesity epidemic—one that’s hitting children especially hard. Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last three decades, with one in five kids aged 6 to 11 now obese. These increases in obesity rates will translate into kids who are at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes, undermining the health of our country and driving up medical costs by hundreds of billions of dollars.

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Report | TexPIRG | Transportation

High-Speed Rail: Public Private or Both?

Private sector companies are likely to play a major role in the construction of high-speed rail lines in the United States. Public-private partnerships – or “PPPs” – have come to play an important role in the construction of high-speed rail lines around the world.

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Report | TexPIRG | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

Policy Brief #7: Designing a Consumer-Friendly Exchange: The exchange is a store where consumers can buy health insurance products – and anyone who’s worked retail knows that the consumer experience is critical.  For all the attention that must be paid to getting the behind-the-scenes aspects of the exchange to work, the front-end is just as important.

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Report | TexPIRG | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

Policy Brief #6: The Exchange and Public Programs: While the exchange represents a significant new opportunity for states to improve the quality and affordability of health insurance, it is only one piece of the larger health care landscape.  Public programs, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), will continue to play a significant role, and the way they interact with the exchange will be important to the success of both.

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Report | TexPIRG | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

Policy Brief #5: Driving Quality and Cost Improvements through the Exchange: A health care exchange that pools its enrollees’ bargaining power will help give consumers a better deal on their coverage, but it will need to do more to get the unsustainable rise in health care costs under control.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

As NY Brings Credit Bureaus To Heel, CFPB Arbitration Study Paves Way Toward New Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Two big consumer stories so far this week offer hope to consumers victimized by credit bureau errors and, more generally, by an inability to take credit bureaus, credit card companies, banks or payday lenders to court when harmed. On Monday, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Big Three credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. Then today, the CFPB released a report finding that consumer legal rights are infringed by small-print forced arbitration clauses in credit card and other contracts.  The CFPB will hold a webcast public hearing at 11am Eastern time today (Tuesday) to discuss the report's findings and next steps.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB's sixth semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee, whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency. Americans for Financial Reform, joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national, state and local groups, sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

House Floor Vote on Budget Delayed over Special Interest "Riders" From Wall Street, Other Powerful Interests | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED: Opposition to a controversial provision authored by Citibank forced House leaders to delay consideration of the "CRomnibus" appropriations package just hours before funding for the federal government expired at midnight Thursday. Eventually the bill passed narrowly with the Wall Street provision intact. Action now shifts to the Senate, which has a 48-hour window to pass the bill, but any one Senator can block it under Senate rules. The provision would again allow Wall Street banks to place risky bets with taxpayer-backed funds, and require taxpayers to bail them out if the bets fail, repealing a key protection added in the 2010 Wall Street reform law. 

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We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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