Yesterday the USDA announced new poultry safety rules intended to slightly reduce the number of poisonings annually from salmonella and campylobacter. An agency official says that the new rules should prevent about 65,000 cases of food sickness a year, which is only a fraction of the over a million cases annually. However, most of the other food products that contribute to that number fall under FDA regulation, so the USDA can’t say anything. “This is something we can do, so we’re doing it,” the spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, has offered to abandon the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) proposal in exchange for Republican support on other legislation. Nobody is saying anything official right now, but the WSJ reports that “the offer is conditional on the creation of a stronger consumer protection division within another federal agency.”
Earlier this week, a group of 70 law professors from universities across the country released a 16-page Statement of Support (pdf) detailing why they’re in favor of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Act. You can read the statement yourself via the link above, but we’ve summarized them below.
There’s been so much resistance to the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency that Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has proposed a less powerful version of the agency in an attempt to get it passed. Here’s what’s changed:
The USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) today unveiled a new website focused on food safety at foodsafety.gov. It’s got lots of info on how to keep food from spoiling, but better still it’s a good launching pad for filing complaints, or keeping track of what’s going on in your state (check the “state agency” widget in the bottom right column).
This week, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) postponed a vote on a bill creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) until September when lawmakers return from recess. The delay is partly due to other more pressing issues, but mainly due to unexpected (really?) pushback from the financial industry.
Tomorrow, President Obama is expected to call for the creation of a new watchdog agency that would help protect consumers from abusive credit card, mortgage, banking practices. The banking industry is not happy about the idea, reports CNN. But hey, they’re just looking out for us: “It’s bad for consumers,” a banking industry lobbyist told the network. Oh, well, never mind then, and pass me some more delicious subprime!
In this letter (PDF) sent to CPSC chair Nancy Nord, and released to the public, Consumers Union and a bunch of other consumer interest groups ask the CPSC to please do its part to clear up all the confusion over the coming Toy Testing Apocalypse. Don’t want to read the whole thing? Here’s a much shorter summary:
Indiana broke its own record for computer security breaches last month, when a server containing personal data on 700,000 people was stolen from the offices of Central Collection Bureau, a debt collection agency. The stolen data included names, personal billing information, last known addresses, and social security numbers of people who hold delinquent accounts with a variety of companies, including utilities and hospitals. The company said the server was behind “three locked doors” and “was protected by two passwords, but was not encrypted.”
When Eric Drew was in the hospital being treated for leukemia five years ago, a lab technician stole his personal information and began opening up credit card accounts in his name.
A former FDIC employee writes that the FDIC’s call center (877-275-3342) is “a tremendously helpful place to get basic referral information if you’re having trouble with your bank, lender, or finance company.” They can’t help you with complaints, but they can route you to the correct agency, provide credit union contact info, and give you the names and numbers of state agencies where your bank is located.
The temporary law powering the CPSC has expired, reducing our supposed watch-dog agency to a neutered shadow that can’t adopt new safety standards, order mandatory recalls, or enforce existing consumer protection laws. The Commission could get back to work with three small tweaks.
Beginning October 15th, credit reporting company TransUnion will let consumers freeze their credit reports, which means imposters will not be able to use your credit to do things like open new phone accounts or sign up for credit cards. While this is great news, the other two major credit reporters, Experian and Equifax, are so far not offering a similar feature, although they say they’re considering it.