Consumer Protection Updates

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."

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.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

New Report Highlights Reasons for New Consumer Protections

The report outlines predatory financial practices that hurt consumers and led to the collapse the economy, costing us eight million jobs, millions of foreclosed homes and trillions of dollars in lost home and retirement values.

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Consumer and Privacy Groups Warn Online Tracking at "Alarming Levels"

Warning that “tracking and targeting of consumers online have reached alarming levels,” a coalition of 11 consumer and privacy advocacy organizations today sent a letter to Congress outlining the protections any online privacy legislation must include.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Three Groups Urge FTC to Investigate “Wild West” of Online Data Collection

Three consumer protection organizations on Thursday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), demanding the commission investigate growing privacy threats in the “Wild West” online.

Report | OSPIRG | Consumer Protection

Tricks and Traps

As Oregonians continue to endure the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, OSPIRG set out to discover what consumers are really paying to maintain basic banking services in Oregon, and what sorts of fees and financial institution policies have the biggest effect on consumers' bottom line. OSPIRG staff and volunteers analyzed 64 checking accounts offered by ten banks and eight credit unions in Portland, Eugene and Ashland.

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Amendment Would Thwart FCC's Proposed Rules for an Open Internet

Despite the commitments made by the FCC and the President, Republican members of the Senate have introduced a measure that would prevent FCC action on Network Neutrality and leave consumers on the Internet vulnerable to unfair and discriminatory practices.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

A Public Interest Internet Agenda

A Public Interest Internet Agenda prescribes broadband policy solutions that are tied to the common good and our nation’s prosperity. Connecting our entire nation to the Internet at broadband speed is the key to economic development, improved healthcare and education, energy efficiency, robust democracy and open government.

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Lawmakers Should Support a Broadband Plan Which Serves the Public Good

On the eve of One Web Day, public interest groups are urging Congress to support the National Broadband Plan.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Online Behavorial Tracking and Targeting, Legislative Primer

Consumers are increasingly relying on the Internet and other digital services for a wide range of transactions and services, many of which involve their most sensitive affairs, including health, financial, and other personal matters. At the same time many companies are now engaging in behavioral advertising, which involves the surreptitious tracking and targeting of consumers. Click by click, consumers’ online activities – the searches they make, the Web pages they visit, the content they view, the videos they watch and their other interactions on social networking sites, the content of emails they send and receive, how they spend money online, their physical locations using mobile Web devices, and other data – are logged into an expanding profile and analyzed in order to target them with more “relevant” advertising.

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