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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Robocalls are declining but not gone yet, so remember these tips to protect yourself | Teresa Murray

With the new federal law that takes effect June 30, we should start seeing a decline in illegal robocalls. But the scams certainly won't halt overnight. Here are some tips to live by.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

Statement: Battle against robocalls enters new era June 30

 Starting Wednesday, Americans can expect to receive fewer annoying, illegal robocalls. That’s the deadline the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed on most phone providers nationwide to install Caller ID verification to confirm whether calls on their network are actually coming from the number on display.

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News Release | US PIRG | Consumer Protection

Statement: Safe Sleep Act passes House, awaits vote in Senate

In an effort to protect infants from unsafe consumer products, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Solid Waste

Statement: Target’s new plastic packaging goal is a step in the right direction

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.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New report: the hidden costs of peer-to-peer payment apps

Consumer complaints about peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps such as PayPal, Venmo and Square have surged during the pandemic year. In April, there were 970 digital wallet complaints — almost double the previous monthly high from July 2020. Texas PIRG Education Fund analyzed this growing problem for Virtual Wallets, Real Complaints, a new analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) Consumer Complaint Database.

“People use peer-to-peer apps for convenience but there’s nothing more inconvenient than having your money inaccessible -- or even worse, going to the wrong person,” said TexPIRG Education Fund Director. “We’re seeing as more people turn to payment apps, more people are getting burned by related problems, including scams and fraud. And, more people are experiencing problems bad enough that they’ll go to a government website to register their complaints. It’s time for the CFPB to force the payment apps to provide better customer service.”

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund

Statement: Toxic metals found in baby food

A report released Thursday by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee said four of the seven largest baby food manufacturers have sold baby food with “significant levels of toxic heavy metals” dating back to at least late 2019.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Report: Nursing homes cope with huge staff shortages

At any given time throughout most of 2020, more than 200,000 Americans resided in nursing homes that admit they were suffering through staff shortages.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

McDonald’s commits to eliminating toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in food packaging globally

McDonald’s announced a commitment to eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging used in its restaurants by 2025. PFAS are linked to kidney and liver problems, high cholesterol, reduced immune system function, and cancer.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

A year later on Amazon: Comparing pre-pandemic prices to today's for 750 products

At the start of 2020, toilet paper stockpiling and a run on hand sanitizer would have never crossed our minds. Unfortunately, we’ve lived in a different reality since then. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have witnessed shortages of -- and price gouging on -- a range of household and medical products from disinfectant wipes to face masks. And as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths regularly near or exceed record numbers across the United States, even though most products are back in stock, we’re still seeing price hikes on essentials.

“With more than 10,000 Americans dying from the coronavirus each week, it’s unconscionable that anyone would try to make excess profits while so many are suffering,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Education Fund Director. “Now is the time to do everything we can to keep each other safe. There is no place for price gouging in a pandemic or any other state or national emergency” 

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News Release | US PIRG | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Money for nothing: Paying the same car insurance while driving less during the pandemic

While COVID-19 is causing financial difficulties for tens of millions of Americans, auto insurers nationwide have made tens of billions of dollars in profit because consumers have driven significantly less during the pandemic.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Follow the Money 2018

Texas Public Interest Research Group Education Fund will release a new report, “Following the Money 2018: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” evaluating each state on how well it provides spending information online and assigning them letter grades from “A” to “F.” The report will reveal Texas’ letter grade, compare its public disclosure of spending information to other states, and provide recommendations for improvements.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

In Your Face

The negative health effects of asbestos are well-known. Most people may associate asbestos contamination with the workplace or decades-old construction material, but alarmingly, recent media reports have found asbestos contamination in kids' makeup from popular stores. PIRG decided to do its own asbestos testing at an accredited laboratory.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Plugging In

The adoption of large numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) offers many benefits for cities, including cleaner air and the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles are far cleaner than gasoline-powered cars, with lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower emissions of the pollutants that contribute to smog and particulate matter. The number of EVs on America’s streets is at an all-time high. Throughout 2016, sales of plug-in electric vehicles increased nearly 38 percent. In 2017, sales of electric vehicles were up again, increasing 32 percent over the year.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Plugging In

The adoption of large numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) offers many benefits for cities, including cleaner air and the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles are far cleaner than gasoline-powered cars, with lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower emissions of the pollutants that contribute to smog and particulate matter.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group | Solid Waste

Trash in America: Moving from Destructive Consumption to a Zero-Waste System

Texas’ recycling rate of 22% is well below the 34% national average, according to a Trash in America:  Moving from Destructive Consumption to a Zero-Waste System, a new TexPIRG report detailing the effects of overconsumption in America, including water contamination, air pollution, habitat destruction, and global warming. The report also examines how good policies can minimize the proliferation of waste and incentivize reduction, repairs, reuse, recycling, and composting. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Shopping for safe cosmetics shouldn’t be hard. That’s why we’re partnering with Clearya. | Gina Werdel

A free Chrome extension and mobile app created by a passionate couple helps customers easily find non-toxic consumer products as they shop online.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

With $1,400 payments on the way, here's what to do, and not do | Teresa Murray

85 percent of Americans are expected to get money -- without the need for you do anything, including clicking any email links, providing any information by phone or paying any fees.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Credit freeze -- A free and fast way to help safeguard your finances | Grace Brombach

My first-hand, step-by-step guide to freezing your credit reports.

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Blog Post

Mounting evidence: Asbestos in talc-based makeup (again) | Gina Werdel

Once again, product testing demonstrates that the risk of asbestos contamination in talc-based cosmetic products is simply too high to accept.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Elizabeth L. Cline: we need policy to stop new clothes from making a ‘straight line’ to the landfill | Olivia Sullivan

We hear from the author and journalist on secondhand clothing, the fashion industry’s addiction to cheap fossil fuels and how to break the waste cycle.

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Blog Post

The Texas Department of Transportation is requesting public comment about their proposed expansion of Interestate 35 through downtown Austin. We don't think the project is a good idea; that's why we highlighted it in our annual Highway Boondoggle report. Here's what we had to say on the record to TxDOT about the plan. 

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A year after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned parents not to use nursing pillows and loungers for infant sleep, the CPSC and The Boppy Co. announced a recall Thursday of 3.3 million newborn loungers.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund

A looming deadline should finally force all U.S. phone companies to take stopping robocalls seriously. However, only one-third of the largest mobile and home phone providers nationwide -- and a more disappointing percentage of smaller telecommunications companies -- have installed caller ID verification aimed at squashing illegal robocalls, even though most of those businesses were required to do so by June. The stakes get higher Sept. 28, when phone providers are required to block calls from companies that haven’t at least reported their status to the FCC.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Research by PIRG Education Fund shows that among 49 of the largest phone companies nationwide (those that can serve 1 million or more), only 16 have reported to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they have completely implemented anti-robocall technology. What does this mean? It means the industry isn’t doing nearly as much as hoped to fight the crime that for years has caused so much heartache and aggravation among consumers nationwide.

Blog Post

The good news: Illegal robocalls seem to be declining a bit. The bad news: They'll probably never go away completely. Consumers need to remain vigilant to protect their personal information and their money. 

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