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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 | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

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

Baltimore -- In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Maryland consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address these concerns and more, Maryland PIRG Foundation is publishing new guides and tips each week to help consumers navigate this crisis.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Masks4All - I followed the CDC's advice to make my own mask | Rishi Shah

A few days ago, the CDC released instructions for how to make your own facemasks to protect yourself and others during the COVID-19 crisis. With the extremely high prices of surgical masks due to price gouging in online marketplaces, purchasing a mask may not be an affordable option for all households. (Side note: if you’re worried about price gouging, check out some of our tips on how to avoid it and report it.)

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

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

Together, 347 legislators representing 45 states joined Maryland PIRG Foundation in sending a letter Tuesday urging Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis. Less than two weeks ago, 33 attorneys general, including Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, sent a similar letter to the same companies.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

New analysis uncovers unsafe blood pressure medication distributed in US

A new analysis of publicly available information from the FDA by U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund finds only 26 percent of a class of recalled blood pressure medications have been assessed for carcinogen contamiantion -- and the majority had some lots with higher levels than the FDA considers safe.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

MONTGOMERY CO. PUBLIC ELECTION FUND SUCCESSFULLY ENCOURAGES AND EMPOWERS SMALL DONORS

A report released today by Maryland PIRG Foundation finds that the Montgomery County Public Election Fund is working as intended, and is encouraging more small donor participation.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

Largest bank hack ever, of Capital One, exposes 100 million to identity theft

Everyone should assume that their social security number has been exposed between this breach and breaches of other major companies’ databases, such as Equifax’s. With that in mind, U.S. PIRG recommends all Americans should use their right by law to freeze their credit reports for free

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

Equifax penalty is a “sweetheart deal” that leaves consumers at risk

Our response to Equifax paying a $650 million penalty for exposing the social security numbers of 148 million Americans to identity theft.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Solid Waste

New report provides best practices for composting waste

Baltimore --  Composting all organic waste -- including food scraps and yard trimmings -- could eliminate nearly one-third of all materials sent to landfills and trash incinerators across the United States. That’s according to Composting in America, a new report released today by Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group. The report outlines best practices for composting programs, which are critical for mitigating the negative impact of waste on the climate and public health.    

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

Lead In Fidget Spinners

While lead in toys has become less prevalent in recent years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund tested several models of one of today’s hottest toys, fidget spinners, for the toxic heavy metal. Laboratory results indicated that two fidget spinners purchased at Target and distributed by Bulls i Toy, L.L.C. contained extremely high levels of lead. U.S. PIRG Education Fund calls on Target and Bulls i Toy to immediately recall these two fidget spinners and investigate how such high levels of lead were found in these toys. Also, we call on the U.S.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Chain Reaction III

The third annual Chain Reaction report, which grades companies on their antibiotics policies and practices, found that 14 out of the top 25 restaurants in the U.S. have taken steps to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in the production of the chicken they serve, up from nine just one year ago. While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups who authored the report found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.

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Report | Center for Environmental Health and Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Food

Kicking the Can?

Bisphenol A, often called BPA, is one of the most widely used and thoroughly studied toxic chemicals. Despite hundreds of scientific studies showing that exposure to BPA is linked to significant health concerns - diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer - it is still used in food cans that millions of Americans buy every day. 

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

FOLLOWING THE MONEY 2017: SPECIAL DISTRICTS

“Special districts” are a type of government agency that exist outside of traditional forms of general purpose local or state governments, and serve key governmental functions such as public transit or housing. However, special districts are poorly understood by the public and often do business without adhering to modern standards of government budget or spending transparency.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Medical Debt Malpractice

Medical debt collectors often employ aggressive tactics and attempt to collect debt from the wrong customers – putting consumers' credit records at risk. Medical debt accounts for more than half of all collection items that appear on consumer credit reports. A review of 17,701 medical debt collection complaints submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that problems with medical debt collection are widespread and harm Americans across the country.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

U.S. PIRG EDUCATION FUND FILES AMICUS BRIEF IN THE U.S. SUPREME COURT SUPPORTING STATES IN ANTITRUST LITIGATION AGAINST AMERICAN EXPRESS | Emily Scarr

Last month, the states of Ohio, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Second Circuit judgment that allows American Express to prohibit merchants from encouraging customers to use lower-priced payment options. 

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

EPA’s Pruitt Met with Dow Prior to Favorable RulingDev GowdaKara Cook-Schultz

On March 31st, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would deny a petition to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos from being sprayed on food. He announced this decision despite EPA scientists’ earlier findings that concluded that chlorpyrifos, which is manufactured by Dow Chemical, can harm brain development of fetuses and infants after ingesting even small amounts. The news that the EPA would continue to allow the spraying of chlorpyrifos alarmed doctors and other public health officials, but what’s even more interesting is that according to several recent Freedom of Information Act requests, Pruitt met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris at a Houston hotel just twenty days prior to making his controversial decision.

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Blog Post | Food

Shrinking the Dead Zone, Reducing Fertilizer Use | Bill Wenzel

Last week, scientists predicted that this year’s hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico will be the 3rd largest since monitoring began 32 years ago. The “dead zone” will cover about 8,185 square miles — an area roughly the size of New Jersey.

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Blog Post | Make VW Pay, Transportation

How Volkswagen’s Deceit Could Help Accelerate an Electric Revolution | Emily Scarr

The payout is part of an agreement reached between the U.S. Department of Justice and Volkswagen after the carmaker was caught selling more than half a million diesel vehicles in the U.S. that polluted up to 40 times the legal limit of dangerous nitrogen oxides (NOX). The entire settlement is worth up to $14.7 billion and will help compensate consumers and clean up our nation’s transportation system.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Calling for Big Action on Antibiotics in the Big Apple | Steve Blackledge

Last week, we were in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly spent an entire day discussing antibiotic resistance, “the biggest threat to modern medicine.” Experts estimate that more than 700,000 people worldwide die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, including 23,000 in the United States—a number that could grow to 10 million globally by 2050.

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Blog Post

The FDA doesn’t have the authority to stop retailers from selling dangerous over-the-counter products such as toxic hand sanitizer. Our safety system is broken, and we need to fix it. 

Blog Post

The CDC implemented the eviction freeze on Sept. 4 to reduce the number of people on the streets who could get infected with and spread the COVID-19 virus. Landlords and other groups filed lawsuits attempting to strike down the halt on evictions, so the future of the policy remains uncertain.

Blog Post

Here’s a guide to your rights depending on how you pay

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund

This FTC settlement must be a wake-up call to phone service providers so they do more to protect consumers. If not, the FTC must be vigilant in going after companies that enable the immoral practice of preying on consumers. And the FCC should require providers to block spoofed calls that we all know are scams.

Blog Post

Being proactive and demanding can help keep you and your family safe

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