Defend the Consumer Bureau

For more than 20 years, Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski has helped us stand up against big banks and credit card companies.

A CONSUMER COP ON THE FINANCIAL BEAT

You work hard to earn your money. You should be able to save, invest and manage your money without fear of being trapped, tricked or ripped off by the institutions you are trusting with your financial future.

That’s why we need strong consumer protections on Wall Street. And from the 2008 economic collapse, we know how big of an impact those institutions can have on our economy when they play fast and loose with our money. It made it clear: Americans need a watchdog agency on Wall Street, devoted to creating and enforcing fair, clear and transparent rules to protect consumers.

So in 2010, we helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to be our consumer cop on the financial beat.

THE CFPB GETS THE JOB DONE

Despite the fact that the CFPB is not widely known, they’ve been hugely successful at working for consumers, returning nearly $12 billion to more than 29 million people who were ripped off by companies that broke the law … in just six years.

The Consumer Bureau holds big banks, debt collectors and lenders accountable. Here are a few examples of some of the cases the CFPB has taken on to protect consumers:

When American Honda Finance used discriminatory pricing to rip off African-American, Hispanic and Asia/Pacific Island borrowers who paid too much for car loans, the CFPB returned $24 million to these consumers.

The Department of Justice and 47 states joined the CFPB in a $216 million action against JP Morgan Chase Bank for illegal debt collection practices affecting over half a million Americans.

When it was discovered that Wells Fargo employees were opening unauthorized debit and credit accounts using their customer's information, the CFPB fined Wells Fargo $100 million for fraud.

The CFPB fined Equifax and TransUnion — two of the three largest credit reporting agencies — $5 million for selling inflated credit scores to consumers that were different from ones actually used by lenders and returned $17 million to those harmed by the deception.

In addition, the Consumer Bureau has helped level the financial playing field, educating veterans, senior citizens, new homeowners, college students and low-income consumers on how to keep their finances secure.

The Consumer Bureau's success should be earning it applause in Washington. Yet instead of cheering on the agency, the Trump administration and many members of Congress are pushing to weaken or even get rid of it.

Even with the Consumer Bureau on the job, many Americans are still at risk of reckless financial practices that threaten their homes, their retirement savings and their overall well-being. That’s why we don’t simply need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to exist: We need to make it even better, by strengthening commonsense consumer protections.

Issue updates

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New report: Food for thought: Are your groceries safe?

In a new report, Food for thought: Are your groceries safe?, Arizona PIRG Education Fund surveyed 50 of the largest grocery and convenience store chains nationwide on their notification practices and talked to experts about what needs to change to improve both communication and public safety.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

SRP IS RUSHING A NEARLY $1 BILLION DECISION

Salt River Project (SRP) is rushing a decision to spend nearly $1 billion in customer money for 16 new gas units. However, SRP has not disclosed how much this will cost the average ratepayer nor have they adequately requested or evaluated options to meet electricity demands or reviewed options to spend less money. 

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Deere in the Headlights II

According to a new Arizona PIRG Education Fund report, software repair locks tie farmers to dealers, putting equipment uptime—and sometimes crops—at risk. Farmers and ranchers rely on equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters to produce America’s food supply. Over the years, that equipment has gotten bigger, more expensive and more digital. The software integrated in modern tractors, ostensibly created to make farm operations more efficient, is being used by manufacturers to lock farmers out of fixing their own equipment. 

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

‘Hog-tied’ and fed up: New report shows dealership consolidation makes farmers’ lives harder

According to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, many farm equipment manufacturers prevent farmers from accessing the software tools they need to fix their modern tractors. The organization states that this “forces farmers to turn to corporate-authorized dealers for many problems, which can lead to high repair bills and delays that can put their crops—and their livelihoods—at risk”. While farmers have always relied on local dealerships for help, more and more those dealerships have been bought up by large chain networks, further reducing competition and exacerbating the problems farmers already face due to repair restrictions.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Corporation Commission Rejects Energy Rules; Puts an End to Crucial Consumer Protections to Eliminate Waste, Save Billions

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and Arizona PIRG Education Fund denounced today’s action by the Arizona Corporation Commission to put an end to Energy Rules that would have ramped up energy-saving measures and saved Arizonans billions of dollars on their utility bills.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Se Insta a Best Buy a proteger la salud del consumidor colocando etiquetas de advertencia en las estufas de gas

Cuando una estufa de gas típica no se ventila adecuadamente, puede producir niveles de contaminación del aire en interiores que exceden los estándares del aire exterior. Sin embargo, millones de personas en todo el país dependen de las estufas de gas para cocinar. Los estudios muestran que muchos hogares no cuentan con campanas de escape o no las usan regularmente, lo que significa que sus estufas no se ventilan adecuadamente. Según la organización Arizona PIRG Education Fund, parte del problema es que los comerciantes no proporcionan advertencias adecuadas para informar a los consumidores de los peligros o la necesidad de ventilación.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Arizona Corporation Commission Rejects Energy Rules; Puts an End to Crucial Consumer Protections to Eliminate Waste, Save Billions

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and Arizona PIRG Education Fund denounced today’s action by the Arizona Corporation Commission to put an end to Energy Rules that would have ramped up energy-saving measures and saved Arizonans billions of dollars on their utility bills.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Holiday cooking safety guide offers tips on avoiding indoor air pollution from gas stoves

The holiday season often entails spending a lot of hours in the kitchen cooking. As millions of Americans prepare holiday meals to share with their families, a guide by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund offers tips on how to minimize unhealthy air pollution from cooking with gas in your home. Without proper precautions, too much exposure to a gas stove can lead to an unnecessary and invisible health risk, since gas stoves can cause elevated levels of indoor pollution that would exceed legal limits for outdoor air.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

ACC’s Transportation Electrification Plan Approval Will Protect Ratepayers, Help Arizona Act on Climate, & Improve Air Quality

Conservation and public interest groups today welcomed the Arizona Corporation Commission’s (ACC’s) vote to approve the final phase of a comprehensive Transportation Electrification Plan that aims to foster electric vehicle use, charging infrastructure development, and innovative rate designs for electric vehicle (EV) charging. The vote also requires regulated utilities to provide ongoing comprehensive plans at least every three years and report annually on their progress.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New Report: Airlines’ Refund Policies & Scheduling Problems Irk Consumers

When the COVID-19 pandemic turned life upside down in early 2020 and commercial flights came to a near-halt, the U.S. government gave the airline industry $50 billion. Since then, despite surviving because of tax dollars, the airlines repeatedly have canceled and delayed flights, denied refunds and failed at customer service, according to complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Healthier Holiday: Minimizing the health risks of cooking with gas

Many of our holiday traditions revolve around food. Whatever the tradition, there’s nothing like sharing a meal with family and friends over the holidays. But in millions of homes, there’s a hidden danger lurking in the kitchen. Common across the country, gas stoves can produce levels of indoor air pollution that would be illegal outdoors.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Not First Class: Flyer complaints soar as airlines cancel flights, deny refunds, ruin plans

Not First Class: Flyer complaints soar as airlines cancel flights, deny refunds, ruin plans, a new report released by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, analyzed more than 200,000 DOT complaints going back to 2016 and found the airline industry is failing its customers.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Clean Energy, Clean Transportation, Clean Air

Arizona’s U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, our U.S. Representatives, and state and local officials need to lead efforts to significantly increase clean energy and clean transportation. Arizona PIRG Education Fund compiled 10 of numerous documents that illustrate from job creation and utility bill savings to reduced air pollution and decreased adverse health impacts, Arizonans and Arizona businesses clearly benefit from clean energy and clean transportation investments.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Virtual Wallets, Real Complaints

Consumers are increasingly using digital payment apps -- Venmo, Cash App and Zelle are a few --  for convenience. A 2020 Nerdwallet survey found that “[r]oughly 4 in 5 Americans (79%) use mobile payment apps.[1]” The apps were originally marketed as a way for friends to split expenses. However, the ease of opening peer-to-peer (P2P) accounts,[2] the ease of obtaining information about other users and a variety of ways to trick consumers have created new fraud risks to users.[3]

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

How to get your stimulus payments when you file your tax return | Teresa Murray

Some of your friends or relatives have received two COVID-19 relief/ stimulus payments in the past year. And a third may be on the way soon. If you haven’t received anything yet and believe you should have, don’t fret.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

Tips to file your tax return while avoiding fees, scams | Jacob van Cleef

You have six weeks to file your income tax return for 2020. Every year, it seems there are more issues to watch out for. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

The worst consumer problem: Fraud/identity theft | Teresa Murray

One in 20 people was a victim in 2019. Account takeovers, which involve a criminal gaining access to an existing account, soared by 72 percent in 2019.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

According to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, “Ringing in our Fears”, a year after a new federal law aimed at fighting robocalls went into place, the number of phone companies that have adopted the required technology has quadrupled and the volume of scam robocalls has dropped in half. But the Arizona PIRG Education Fund said that spam texts have increased more than tenfold as con artists and identity thieves find alternative ways to steal Americans’ personal information and money.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

According to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, one year after a new law, robocalls are down and phone company compliance is up. However, robotexts are skyrocketing.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

According to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. 

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

A new Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group report documents that gas pipeline incidents across the U.S. were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government at the equivalent of one every 40 hours from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021. Of the nearly 2,600 incidents reported between 2010 and 2021, 850 resulted in fires and 328 in an explosion. Those incidents killed 122 people and injured more than 600. The total costs to communities from items such as property damage, emergency services, and the value of intentionally and unintentionally released gas, totaled nearly $4 billion.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Consumer, public health, community, business, environmental, clean energy, and faith-based entities along with residents of Randolph and SRP ratepayers applauded the Commission for once again rejecting Salt River Project’s proposal to add 16 gas units at a cost of nearly $1 billion in ratepayer money.

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