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Following the Money 2015

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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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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- Buying homes, getting jobs and borrowing money will be easier after an agreement by the three biggest U.S. consumer credit reporting services with New York.[...] “It’s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints,” said [U.S. PIRG's Ed] Mierzwinski. “The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now. They’re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true.”

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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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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget, Transportation

Caution Ahead

A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors.

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News Release | NJPIRG | Health Care

Nationwide Study of New Health Exchanges Shows New Jersey How to Lower Costs For Consumers

Many states are creating health exchanges to deliver better value for consumers, and New Jersey should follow their lead, according to Making the Grade, a new report by NJPIRG.  Health exchanges are competitive marketplaces that can empower individuals and small businesses with better, more affordable options for coverage.  Under the federal health reform law, each state will have an exchange up and running in 2014.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

NJBIZ: High potential for abuse in N.J.'s incentives to developers

Efforts to promote commercial development has put New Jersey at high risk for misuse of tax revenue, and has created a growing trend in which cities borrow against future growth, according to a report released today by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

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News Release | NJPIRG Law and Policy Center | Budget

New Report Shows That New Jersey Has High Risk for Misuse of Developer Subsidies

A new research report today shows that New Jersey is at high risk for misuse of tax revenue thanks to a problematic system of funding commercial development.  The report outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to borrow against future growth and divert tax revenues as a way to attract economic development. 

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Media Hit | Budget, Food

newjerseynewsroom.com: Report: Federal agriculture subsidies pay for 19 Twinkies per N.J. taxpayer

Have you received your 19 free Twinkies and quarter of an apple from the federal government yet?  Well ok, it doesn’t exactly work that way but federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 19 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to the report "Apples to Twinkies" made public Thursday by New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

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