CFA News Update- March 30, 2011
In testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this month, CFA Research Director Mark Cooper called on the Senate to adopt legislation (S. 398) promoting appliance energy efficiency and to oppose legislation (S. 395) repealing lighting standards that were adopted by the Congress and signed into law in 2007. (A news release summarizing the testimony is available here.)
In conjunction with Cooper’s testimony, CFA submitted the results of a national random sample survey, which found that virtually all respondents believe increased energy efficiency in appliances is good for consumers and almost three quarters of the respondents support appliance efficiency standards.
“The public wants policymakers in Washington to work together to solve the nation’s energy challenges,” Cooper said. “Remarkably, both the industry and proponents of energy efficiency, including consumer groups, have agreed on standards and efficiency. We urge the Senate to not stand in the way of this extraordinary win-win for everyone and approve S. 398.”
In addition, CFA is making recommendations to DOE on the factors that should be included in the analysis of consumer welfare and pricing considerations in the agency’s rulemaking on higher efficiency standards for refrigerators and freezers. Specifically, CFA encourages the use of other important economic and noneconomic effects as well as the inclusion of learning effects in the economic analysis and a widening of market imperfections included in consumer welfare analysis.
At a public hearing before the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA) last week, CFA Senior Counsel Rachel Weintraub testified in strong support of the agency’s proposed rear visibility rule. The proposed rule seeks to expand and strengthen the current rear visibility requirements for all passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, and low speed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less by specifying an area behind the vehicle that a driver must be able to see when the vehicle is in reverse gear. Although Weintraub offered several suggestions for improvements to the rule, she said the proposal will “reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries from backing incidents in parking lots, driveways and streets across the United States. It will save lives.”
CFA released a report earlier this month establishing guidelines regarding the best practices for identity theft services. The guidelines, established by a joint working group consisting of identity theft service providers and consumer advocates, cover a variety of problem areas including misleading claims about preventing identity theft, unclear information about how services work, and exaggerations about what guarantees or insurance are provided.
“Our aim is to curb misleading claims in the identity theft service marketplace and promote responsible industry practices,” said Susan Grant, CFA’s Director of Consumer Protection, in a press statement. Noting that it will take time for the best practices to be adopted, Grant said CFA plans both to check on the progress of participating companies in six months and to promote the best practices to other identity theft service providers. “With the help of our best practices working group, we’ll continue to push for honesty, transparency, and responsibility in the identity theft service industry,” she said.
Individuals with credit card, payday loan, and other high-cost consumer debt are more likely to have difficulty saving, according to a survey released earlier this month by America Saves and Experian. The results show that these consumers are more likely than those without this debt to use credit to pay an unexpected expenditure. The survey also revealed a surprisingly high percentage of Americans (16%) with very expensive payday, car title, or pawnshop loans.
America Saves and Experian plan to raise awareness and encourage positive saving habits with educational materials promoted through the America Saves national network. Along with the message that carrying high-cost consumer debt tends to make saving more difficult, individuals and families will also be encouraged to save automatically through regular transfers from paychecks or checking into savings. “High cost consumer debt can be a financial nightmare. Regular contributions to a saving account can help consumers avoid the need for this type of credit,” said America Saves National Director Nancy Register.