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Free tax prep at Walmart? It isn't really free, for some 84% or so of you

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

I've been quoted recently (Reuters via Baltimore Sun)  warning consumers that getting your taxes done for "free" in an HR Block kiosk at Walmart and then getting your tax refund on a Walmart prepaid card comes with pitfalls, including (1) fees and (2) the chance that you'll just dump the money on the card into impulse purchases at Walmart, which "is not your friend."

Professor's paper on "Industry's Misguided Quest to Undermine the CFPB"

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

Last fall, U.S. PIRG co-hosted, with Americans for Financial Reform and the Consumer Federation of America, an academic symposium featuring a discussion of a forthcoming paper by Professor Art Wilmarth of George Washington University Law School,  perhaps the nation's leading bank law scholar. I am pleased to report that a close-to-final draft of Professor Wilmarth's paper -- The Financial Services Industry’s Misguided Quest to Undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- is now available for review at the AFR website and will be published in the Spring 2012 issue of the Review of Banking and Financial Law at Boston University Law School.

Yesterday the Supreme Court, Inc. - with only Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting -- took away consumer legal rights in Compucredit vs. Greenwood. The court said disputes needed to be resolved in arbitration proceedings -- not court. The company issues subprime "fee harvester" credit cards with upfront fees that swallow the teeny credit limits. It's previously been sued by both the FDIC and the FTC.

Obama's New Consumer Finance Chief Can Lower Student Debt

By | Rich Williams
Higher Education Advocate

President Obama took a bold and important step this week, standing up for student consumers by making a recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The president's action means that the CFPB now has all its powers to protect students from unfair financial practices that pile on student debt, including lenders offering dangerously expensive private student loans and aggressive credit and debit card marketing.

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