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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Adds Consumer Stories to Public Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB took a step to make its excellent public database of consumer complaints even better, by adding complaint narratives (stories), but only with the consumer's consent. It's a step we've long urged. It will enrich our research into the marketplace, help consumers make choices and help good-actor firms avoid bad practices by others.

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Report | NCPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2015

Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible. 

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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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Progress Energy grid upgrade to cost $260 million

Progress Energy is preparing to spend $260 million to upgrade its more than 60,000 miles of distribution lines in the Carolinas with new equipment that would better manage the grid on the hottest August days and the coldest February nights - times of peak power demand.

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Area ski resorts support limit on liability lawsuits

"Ski at your own risk" is the message some North Carolina ski resorts say should be clearer in state law, shielding them from lawsuits over injuries on the slopes.

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Special Report: How Much Do Local Stores Know About the Digital TV Conversion?

Consumer advocates like Shana Becker with North Carolina Public Interest Research Groups say viewers wanting to keep their old TV’s tuned to their favorite channels should not have to spend lots of money to do it.

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Heating bills could go up: PSNC seeks rate increase as households conserve

PSNC Energy is seeking a 3 percent rate increase that would raise the natural gas bill for the average residential customer by $3 a month, or $36 a year.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Federal, State, and Local Leaders Cite New Report

Public Transit received a boost as Congressman David Price, Congressman Brad Miller and other supporters held an event at the historic Seaboard Train Station calling for more public transit options in the Triangle, citing a major new report on oil savings and other benefits from public transportation across the country. The NC Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG) report, A Better Way to Go: Meeting America’s 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit, examines the challenges faced by America’s transportation system and the benefits of existing rail and bus projects in Triangle and other areas of the state.

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