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Blog Post | COVID-19

What does the stimulus check mean to you? | Lauren Banister

This week marks the first week that people will start seeing the $1,200 stimulus check in their bank accounts as a result of the CARES Act passed last month. This made me wonder -- now that people are starting to see this financial stimulus in their bank accounts, how do they plan to use it?

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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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Blog Post | COVID-19

Adjusting to new traditions during coronavirus | Lauren Banister

Associate Lauren Banister talks about her experience adjusting to the new normal during Passover.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

9 Texas legislators demand Amazon, other online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

A bipartisan group of nine Texas legislators are calling on the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Together, 346 legislators representing 45 states, joined TexPIRG Education Fund 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 sent a similar letter to the same companies.

“We believe you have an ethical obligation and patriotic duty to help your fellow citizens in this time of need by doing everything in your power to stop price gouging in real-time,” the letter reads, in part.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the cost of critical health supplies has spiked dramatically on online platforms. An analysis last month from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that existing monitoring on Amazon’s platform was not preventing significant price hikes. In particular, the cost of most hand sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Since then, more than 335,000 Americans have signed PIRG’s petition calling on Amazon to protect consumers from price gouging.

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

Here’s how to address bill payment challenges during COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left many Americans wondering how they’re going to pay their monthly bills. U.S. PIRG Education Fund new advice on how to negotiate with banks, utilities delaying payments, waiving of overdraft fees and other ways to stay financially secure.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Attorneys general demand online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not join in the call to the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. A bipartisan group of 33 attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro along with co-leading Attorneys General Hector Balderas (NM), William Tong (CT), and T.J. Donovan (VT), sent a letter today urging the companies -- 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.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Governor worries about coronavirus spread, advocates offer solution

As the coronavirus continues to spread across Texas and the nation, advocacy groups and health professionals sent a letter today to Governor Abbott asking him to protect state employees by requiring non-essential state employees to switch to telework.

Today, Governor Abbott expressed concern over compliance with his measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Yet as Texans across the state adjust to telework, online school and social distancing there were several reported instances of pressure from state agencies for employees to go into their office or field or take vacation time.

“Governor Abbott must lead by example and deliver a clear message that requiring remote work can save lives,” says Lauren Banister, TexPIRG Associate. “While we don’t know the extent of the problem, we are disappointed to see that any state employee has to choose between their job and public health.” 

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

Coronavirus worry triggers most surgical mask, sanitizer prices to spike at least 50% on Amazon

AUSTIN-- Amazon may monitor its marketplace for price gouging, but a new analysis by U.S. PIRG Education Fund has revealed that these checks don’t always succeed in preventing significant price hikes. With so many people worried about Coronavirus, the consumer advocacy organization looked at the prices for two types of increasingly popular products: hand sanitizers and surgical masks.  

Researchers compared the average price for those items over three months to the high price on Amazon since the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30. As the outbreak became more widespread, the price of most of the sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Even one in six products sold directly by Amazon -- not third-party vendors using the online marketplace -- saw prices rise at least 50 percent higher in February, as Americans became more aware of the Coronavirus.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

Coronavirus worry triggers most surgical mask, sanitizer prices to spike at least 50% on Amazon

AUSTIN-- Amazon may monitor its marketplace for price gouging, but a new analysis by U.S. PIRG Education Fund has revealed that these checks don’t always succeed in preventing significant price hikes. With so many people worried about Coronavirus, the consumer advocacy organization looked at the prices for two types of increasingly popular products: hand sanitizers and surgical masks.  

Researchers compared the average price for those items over three months to the high price on Amazon since the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30. As the outbreak became more widespread, the price of most of the sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Even one in six products sold directly by Amazon -- not third-party vendors using the online marketplace -- saw prices rise at least 50 percent higher in February, as Americans became more aware of the Coronavirus.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Food

How safe is our food

Americans rely on a vast network of farms and businesses to provide safe food daily.  But in recent years, a string of high-profile recalls ranging from romaine lettuce to millions of pounds of beef to Ritz and Goldfish crackers have called into question the system developed to ensure safe food reaches people’s plates. The ubiquity of the problem can make grocery shopping a game of Russian Roulette where what a family has for dinner could make them seriously sick.

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Report | TexPIRG | Consumer Protection

Fixed for the Holidays

Why Shop Refurbished?

Black Friday prices year-round: You can usually find great deals on used electronics, getting something that’s like-new, but for a sizable discount. Technically, the minute you open a new device, it becomes used, so the difference between a used and new item can be negligible. You can get an item that’s close to new at prices lower than Black Friday deals.

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Report | TexPIRG | Transportation

Paying for Electric Buses

Most of America’s school and transit buses run on diesel, a highly-polluting fuel, but there is a better option. All-electric buses are here, and they’re cleaner, healthier and save money for transit agencies, school districts and bus contractors to run in the long-term. Diesel is internationally recognized as a dangerous carcinogen, and diesel exhaust contributes to several respiratory illnesses, including asthma. Children are particularly susceptible to the negative health effects of diesel exhaust because their lungs are still developing.

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Report | TexPIRG Ed Fund | Antibiotics

Chain Reaction IV

The growth and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a global health crisis, threatening to create a future in which common infections could once again become life-threatening on a large scale. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider antibiotic-resistant bacteria among the top threats to global public health, and the CDC estimates that each year, at least 23,000 Americans die from resistant infections.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

ID Theft & Privacy Checklists | Mike Litt

Today, we're releasing our revamped Identity Theft and Online Privacy resources.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Toxic triclosan in toothpaste? | Dev Gowda

A recent article in the LA Times revealed that a new study found that the toxic compound triclosan, which is commonly found in toothpaste as well as other consumer products such as cosmetics, children’s toys, and yoga mats, “could cause adverse effects on colonic inflammation and colon cancer.”

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Blog Post | Public Health

Home remodeling shouldn’t be a deadly project: Toxic paint removers being sold by Lowe’s and other stores | Dev Gowda

No one should lose a loved one to deadly chemicals. But right now you can walk into Lowe’s and other stores and buy paint removers containing highly toxic chemicals.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Director Testifies before Env Reg Committee at Legislature | Bay Scoggin

Our Director, Bay Scoggin, testified in front of the Legislature's Environmental Regulation Committee today, asking them to have the State Auditor investigate the post-Harvey response times of the TCEQ and EPA teams that were testing the flood waters for Superfund toxic waste contaminants. Check it out:

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

Calling for Local Solar Leadership: This Equinox, Cities Should Make Plans for Solar Power | Bay Scoggin

This Friday marked the Autumnal Equinox in Texas, meaning we experienced almost exactly the same amount of daylight as darkness. Then, starting on Saturday, the winter moon began to dominate the sky. In honor of this last day of twelve or more hours of sunlight until June, we should celebrate the sun’s power through bigger commitments to solar energy in our communities.

 

It might seem counterintuitive -- why should we turn to solar as the days grow shorter? And can we really go big on renewable energy, at a time when our national leaders seem stuck on the fossil fuels of the past?

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

This coming Monday, June 1, will mark the third full month that bills are due since COVID-19 was declared a national state of emergency in March. To help Americans manage their finances, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has published an updated guide with tips on what to do about paying bills during the crisis.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the coronavirus approached 50,000 on Tuesday. U.S. PIRG Education Fund has documented the actions taken by the FTC and 14 other federal agencies in response to coronavirus scams.

Blog Post

Public health experts have made it abundantly clear that to safely lift stay-at-home rules we must have four key things we don’t yet have. We need fast, accurate and widely available testing. We need a better plan for isolating and supporting people who have COVID-19. We need sufficient hospital capacity, including medical and protective equipment, to treat all patients safely. And we need more contact tracing. This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund

Desperate for a cure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many Americans are turning to the internet for answers. What they’re finding, however, is a minefield of dubious products posted by unscrupulous sellers. False claims are tricking worried people into paying for fake solutions that give them a false sense of security. The federal government hasn’t approved any product that prevents or treats COVID-19.

While myriad fake COVID-related products exist online, a new analysis from TexPIRG Education Fund found that the most common were for products using claims of antiviral or immune-boosting properties. The group looked at 34 warning letters issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund

AUSTIN-- In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address concerns as they arise, TexPIRG Education Fund is publishing new tip guides each week to help people navigate this crisis.

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