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Consumers Union and consumer protection: The year in review

Health care, bill shock, fuel economy, BPA—a look back at some of our successes in 2012

Published: December 2012

Our arsenic in food report led to Congressional action on arsenic levels in rice.
Photo: Billy Delfs

The past year has been a busy one for Consumers Union and our work to help consumers get a fair shake in the marketplace. Among the areas where we’ve helped create stronger consumer-protection laws:

Food. After our “Arsenic in Your Food” investigation found troubling levels of arsenic in many of the rice products we tested, Congress introduced a bill to limit the amount of arsenic permitted in rice and rice-based products, crediting Consumer Reports for prompting the move.

Personal finance. This year marked the first anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog agency we helped champion to stop financial rip-offs. The CFPB has already made a big difference, ordering major credit-card companies to refund millions of dollars to customers and pay fines for deceptive and illegal practices.

Cars. Regulators raised the average fuel-economy standards for new cars and trucks to 54.5 mpg by the year 2025. We pushed hard for these new rules, which will help drivers save money at the gas pump.

Health care. We fought attempts to gut a new law that limits the amount that insurers can spend on overhead and profits. More than 12 million policyholders have received $1.1 billion in refunds.

Cell-phone service. The Federal Communications Commission praised us for helping find a solution to cell-phone bill shock. Wireless companies such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon agreed to send you alerts before you go over their usage limits or are hit with international roaming charges.

Baby bottles. On the heels of a California ban on bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy cups (we sponsored the ban in 2011), the Food and Drug Administration banned BPA in those products nationwide.

Those of just some notable victories of the past year. In 2013, we’ll keep fighting for safer products and honest deals for you and your family.

This feature is part of a regular series by Consumers Union, the public-policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. The nonprofit organization advocates for product safety, financial reform, safer food, health reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

See also:

Shedding Light on the Credit-Reporting Industry

Over the Holidays, You Better Watch Out . . . for Add-On Airline Fees

Gift Cards: Gifts That (Sometimes) Keep On Taking

Meat Without Drugs

No More Bill Shock

Rental-Car Roulette

Zombie Bank Accounts Rise From the Dead and Feed On Your Finances

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