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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health, Consumer Protection

Stimulus check plans, finding hand sanitizer, and avoiding scams during coronavirus | Grace Brombach

Each week, we’ll be posting a round-up of short stories from across our network from staff experiencing various COVID-related issues, and what they did about them.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer complaints of COVID-19 fraud surpass 15,000

Scammers and other bad actors are trying to take advantage of Americans’ heightened fears around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fraud complaints are soaring. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the virus surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

COVID-19 consumer tips: Scams, utility bills and your stimulus check

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is publishing new guides and tips each week to help consumers navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

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News Release | PIRGIM Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Michigan legislators demand Amazon, other online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

346 legislators from 45 states, including Michigan, are calling on the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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

Target Removes Lead-Laden Fidget Spinner From Website, But Still Available For Sale In-Store

Since late yesterday afternoon, Target appears to have made the 33,000 ppm-lead containing Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass unavailable for sale on its website. U.S. PIRG Education Fund staff went to a Target store today and found the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass was still available for sale in-store, despite the website saying it was unavailable there. Also yesterday, one of the CPSC’s Commissioners, Elliot F. Kaye, re-stated his opposition to the CPSC’s guidance and the acting chairman's statement when he tweeted, “Seems obvious fidget spinners are toys and should comply with all applicable federal safety standards.”

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

High Levels of Lead Found in Fidget Spinners

U.S. PIRG Education Fund found fidget spinners with high levels of lead for sale at Target stores across the country. Parents and consumers need to know about these lead-laden toys, especially because we alerted Target and the toy’s distributor, Bulls i Toy, to our findings, but they refused to address the problem. The toxic fidget spinners are still available both in toy aisles at Target stores and on its website. Incredibly, Target and Bulls i Toy defend their inaction by pointing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) declaration that fidget spinners are NOT technically “children’s products” subject to legal limits for lead.

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News Release | Consumer Protection

U.S. PIRG CONSUMER ADVOCATE MIKE LITT TESTIFIES AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON EQUIFAX

Our Consumer Advocate, Mike Litt, was invited by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, to testify this week at a Congressional hearing on the Equifax data breach. This was a continuation of the committee's previously held hearing on October 5th entitled "Examining the Equifax Data Breach."

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News Release | Consumer Protection

REPORT: MORTGAGE ABUSES LEADING SOURCE OF OLDER CONSUMER COMPLAINTS TO CFPB

Mortgages were the leading source of 72,000 complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from consumers 62 years of age and over, followed by complaints about credit reports and debt collection, according to a new report. Further, legislation passed by the House and awaiting Senate action intended to cripple the Consumer Bureau would place older consumers at greater risk of harm from financial scammers.

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Statement on Walmart’s Decision to Strengthen Chemical Footprint Policy

PIRGIM Education Fund applauds retail giant Walmart for updating its sustainability policy to restrict toxic chemicals in 90,000 products including cosmetics and skincare items, infant products, and household cleaners.

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Report | MASSPIRG | Higher Ed

Exposing the Textbook Industry

Today’s college students are under enormous financial pressure. The gap between tuition and fees and financial aid leaves many students working long hours through college, struggling to make ends meet, and graduating with large debts. The high cost of textbooks is yet another financial burden. The cost of textbooks is not just a drop in the bucket of tuition and fees; the average student spends about $900 per year on textbooks, which is nearly 20% of tuition and fees at a four year public institution. Moreover, textbook prices are rising at about four times the rate of inflation.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Higher Ed

Cutting Interest Rates, Lowering Student Debt

In 21st century America, a college education is critical for individual success and the strength of our nation.  Higher education is associated with better health, greater wealth and more vibrant civic participation, as well national economic competitiveness in today’s global environment.  As the need for a college degree has grown, however, so has the cost of obtaining that education.  The result is rising student debt.

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Report | PIRGIM Education Fund

Undisclosed Pollution

Since 1987, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program has been the nation’s premiere pollution disclosure program. By requiring companies to disclose the pollution they release to our air, water, and land, transfer off site, or dispose in a waste dump, the TRI program has ensured the public’s right-to-know about toxic pollution in communities.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

The Fortune 50 retailer Target announced a new goal Tuesday to reduce its use of virgin plastic 20 percent by 2025 across its own brand frequency products. It is part of a new sustainability strategy called Target Forward and covers such key categories as household cleaning, personal care and beauty.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A report examining complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on digital payment apps, since the CFPB began collecting them in this category three years ago. The key takeaway: Consumers don’t realize these online transfer payments are instantaneous and treated like cash, so when fraud strikes, you’re likely to be left without recourse.

Report | PIRGIM Education Fund

Solar power is helping move the United States toward a future of 100% renewable energy, while reducing global warming pollution, cleaning up the air in our communities, and empowering homeowners and business owners to generate their own electricity. And increasingly, solar power can do all that at a lower cost than electricity produced from fossil fuels. Utilities increasingly fear that the falling prices and rising availability of clean solar power will threaten their business model, which ties profits to the amount of capital investment they make in the grid, and sometimes to the amount of electricity sold. Consequently, in states across the country, utilities are using their money and clout to push policymakers to undercut solar power.

News Release | PIRG Education Fund

Special interest groups across the country are working to stall the growth of rooftop solar, according to a new report released Thursday by PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center.

Blog Post

In light of some of these newer cons, here is actionable information to help you avoid the aggravation, time and financial losses that come with sophisticated scams.

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