NCL raises concern about potential Kennedy vaccine appointment – National Consumers League

January 13, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization is today sounding the alarm bells about news that President-elect Trump might be considering anti-vaccination charlatan Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to chair either a vaccine safety or autism commission. The National Consumers League (NCL) says the appointment would be a step backwards for public health, giving those who oppose vaccines another platform to spout the discredited notion of a causal link between vaccines and autism.   

“Let’s be clear,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, “The scientific consensus is overwhelming: vaccines don’t cause autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and dozens of peer-reviewed studies have all said that there’s no connection. Indeed, the one so-called study that tried to assert the connection was found to be fraudulent and thoroughly debunked.,” said Greenberg. “Appointing someone like Kennedy – a purveyor of junk science with no medical training – is dangerous to the public’s health and must be denounced by all responsible voices.”

Unfortunately, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, public doubts about vaccine safety remain. In fact, NCL’s vaccine perception study found 33 percent of survey respondents think vaccinations can cause autism. In addition, while most survey respondents (87 percent) say they support mandatory vaccination of school-aged children in theory, 64 percent of adults say parents should have the final say whether or not to vaccinate.

The following statement may be attributed to Greenberg:

“The reason behind these vaccine doubters is likely that the current generation of parents has never experienced the panic—and often heartbreak—caused by outbreaks of diphtheria, polio, small pox, tetanus and influenza that earlier generations of parents suffered before vaccines were developed. . They have lost perspective on how serious – and deadly – these diseases can be. As a result, those parents abstaining from having their children vaccinated are enabling deadly illnesses to return. And threatening everyone’s health.

“As the Trump Administration comes into the White House, the public health community must come together to reject junk science and demand that accurate, life-saving information about vaccines be widely disseminated. Let us never return to those dark days of fatal – and completely preventable – disease outbreaks and thank modern medicine for developing vaccinations that enable all of us – especially children – to lead long, healthy, and happy lives.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

A threat to public health: Resurfacing of the anti-vaccine movement in Trump presidency – National Consumers League

clare.jpgGuest blog by Clara Keane, a graduate of Drew University, Madison, NJ.

In the midst of a news avalanche in recent days as the Senate holds hearings for cabinet positions and new information breaks out related to Russian hacking, it is easy to miss what may be the most dangerous development of the incoming Administration: reopening vaccine skepticism and linking vaccinations to autism.On Tuesday, January 10, just ten days before President-elect Trump’s inauguration, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine crusader with no medical training who alleges causation between vaccines and autism, said that he accepted the position of chair to a new commission on vaccinations. In a statement from the transition team, spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not confirm Kennedy’s claims, although she did say that Trump is considering creating a commission on autism.

President-elect Trump has spoken out against vaccines multiple times in the past, although it was not discussed in great detail on the campaign trail. As is the case for determining Mr. Trump’s beliefs on many issues, Twitter provides some insight. In a tweet from 2012, Mr. Trump wrote: “I’m not against vaccinations for your children, I’m against them in 1 massive dose. Spread them out over a period of time & autism will drop!” Mr. Trump shows an alarming disregard to the facts, both in scientific research and in current medical practices.

The only study ever published that connected vaccinations to autism appeared in a 1998 issue of the Lancet and has since been completely discredited as a fraud. The study, which included only 12 handpicked cases, now serves as a textbook example of the danger of poorly executed experiments and the importance of sample size and representation in scientific studies. Returning to the warnings of a “massive dose,” a quick look at the CDC’s childhood vaccine schedule reveals that vaccines are administered in precise intervals from birth through age six.

Sadly, President-elect Trump is not alone questioning solid science. According to a national survey conducted by the National Consumers League in 2013, while most survey respondents (87 percent) say they support mandatory vaccination of school-aged children in theory, 64 percent of adults say parents should have the final say about whether or not to vaccinate. In addition, 33 percent think there’s a link between vaccines and autism.

How did we get to the point where vaccines—one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century that have, among other things, eradicated smallpox globally and polio in the U.S.—are being considered by some as unnecessary or even damaging to their children’s wellbeing? Two equally dangerous contributing factors at play are the distance that vaccination success has granted us from the cruel reality of these diseases and the continued stream of false claims linking vaccines with autism.

It is easy to take for granted the security we enjoy from devastating diseases like polio, which was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 1979. However, it is important to remember that in the 1950’s, polio outbreaks caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year in the United States. Parents during these dark times witnessed their children becoming paralyzed and were told there was nothing doctors could do to help. We are fortunate not to have these worries today. But in order to maintain the luxury of a polio-free nation, we must continue to have full participation in vaccinations. The Disneyland California measles outbreak of 2014 is but a small example of what can happen when people choose to stop vaccinating their children. According to a CDC report, among the 110 California patients, 45 percent were completely unvaccinated and only one percent had the full three doses that are recommended.

The reason for opting out of vaccinations may have felt safe for parents because those children had been protected by the surrounding children who were fully vaccinated. This concept is known as “herd immunity.” However, when large numbers of people stop vaccinating, disease breaks into the herd, as was the case in California. Indeed, the California outbreak led pediatrician and California state Senator Dr. Richard Pan, who was honored by NCL at our 2016 Trumpeter Awards Dinner, to sponsor legislation in California doing away with the “personal exemption” option for parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children.

The CDC lists some individuals who should forego vaccination, such as people with cancer and those with compromised immune systems. Because these people have no choice but to rely on herd immunity, members of the herd who are not vaccinated because of personal choice are causing an even bigger public health risk to those who are advised not to be vaccinated.

We must not take for granted the privilege of living in a society where parents no longer have to worry about a child’s death or disability from polio, whooping cough, diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, mumps, chicken pox, or influenza. It is remarkable that we have access to enough vaccines for the entire population and at no cost to parents. We cannot sacrifice this security. For this reason, we reject the messages of those fanning the flames of false information and promote fear of these life-saving vaccines.

So what might the new Administration mean for vaccine laws? Stat News provides a useful guide to what the President-elect can and can’t do. Of course, he will not be able to control vaccination schedules, but he may appoint agency officials who raise questions about vaccine safety. This should trouble all Americans because it puts our children and all immune-compromised Americans at risk of illness and even death. NCL plans to speak out in support of mandatory vaccinations and against false connections between vaccines and autism. We will continue to remind Americans how lucky we are in 2016 not to have to worry that any of us—but especially our children—will become sick, crippled or die of diseases. We have very safe and very effective vaccines to thank for that reality.

National Consumers League statement on distribution of settlement funds to Herbalife distributors – National Consumers League

January 11, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today applauded the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disbursal of compensation to hundreds of thousands of consumers who lost money due to unfair and deceptive actions by multi-level marketing company Herbalife. NCL was the first consumer group in the nation to call on the FTC to investigate allegation of pyramid scheme behavior at Herbalife. The following statement is attributable to John Breyault, NCL’s vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud: 

“We applaud the FTC for ensuring that victims of Herbalife’s fraudulent activities will receive some restitution for their losses.  This action is yet another sign that, despite statements to the contrary, it is no longer business as usual for the direct selling industry. We strongly urge the FTC and state regulators to hold Herbalife’s and the entire direct selling industry’s feet to the fire to ensure that consumers are protected from pyramid scheme behavior.” 


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

National consumer group sounding alarm about anti-union laws being fast-tracked through Kentucky – National Consumers League

January 6, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, is criticizing proposals being fast-tracked in the Kentucky legislature that undercut the rights of working women and men, with two bills targeting the ability of labor unions to represent the interests of workers gaining Republican support. Since its founding in 1899, NCL nationally and on the state level has supported rights and protections for workers. NCL’s leaders drafted America’s first maximum hours, minimum wage, and child labor abolition laws in the first two decades of the 20th Century. The national organization has staff living and working in the state of Kentucky.

“Might doesn’t make right,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. “Because Republicans have super majorities in both chambers, they are targeting working people who want nothing more than the ability to bargain on a level playing field for decent wages, benefits, and a safe work environment.”

The bills approved in Kentucky by a House committee would ban mandatory union membership as a condition of employment, and would not allow employers to deduct union dues from workers’ paychecks without written permission, but would still require the union to represent the interests of those employees who refuse to pay dues. The bills would also forbid public employees from going on strike and repeal Kentucky’s prevailing-wage law, which guarantees higher wages for workers on construction projects paid for with public money. Workers represented by unions earn better wages and benefits and have more workplace protections than those who don’t have a union representing them. 

Kentucky’s Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover said the legislature will likely hold a rare Saturday session tomorrow so it can deliver the bills to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk before taking a three-week recess.

Earlier this week, workers crammed into hallways at the Statehouse, but most were not allowed into the public hearing because the pro-business and anti-union group, Americans for Prosperity, reserved the committee room, effectively freezing out the union representatives. Many new members of the legislature do not have phones set up yet, so there is little opportunity for the public to voice their opinion on the measures, which may move to the governor’s desk for signature during a special legislative session on Saturday.

“This is a sad development for working families in Kentucky,” said Greenberg.

According to reports, Gov. Bevin welcomed the legislature’s anti-union actions. A strong supporter of President-Elect Donald Trump during the campaign, Bevin called for bloodshed in the streets if Mr. Trump were to lose the election in a September 2016 speech, according to the New York Times.

Kentucky is the last state in the South that has not banned mandatory union membership as a condition of employment.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Consumer Fraud Alert: Tax ID theft season opens this month; Free IRS tax preparation services can help consumers reduce their risk and save money – National Consumers League

January 4, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization is today issuing a warning for consumers about identity thieves filing fraudulent claims in order to steal legitimate taxpayer refunds, as well as a new change in tax law going into effect this year that may give scammers a new angle for preying on tax-filing victims. 

From 2011-2014, identity thieves claimed $23 billion in fraudulent tax refunds—money diverted from legitimate taxpayers by criminals. In 2015, thieves used fraudulent tax and wage information to defraud nearly a quarter million of Americans, making this kind of identity fraud the fastest-growing type of identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

According to the National Consumers League (NCL), which operates, tax ID fraud occurs when a scammer files a tax return using someone else’s personal information and then illegally collects the victims’ tax refunds. Filing a false tax return requires that a criminal have access to a victim’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, and a falsified W-2 form. Victims often only find out they’ve been defrauded after they try to file their own legitimate tax return and receive a letter from the IRS stating that someone else already filed in their name.

“The IRS has been fighting this scam for years and they’ve been able to significantly—but not completely—reduce the amount of fraud committed. And this year, thanks to a new law, the IRS will have more time to detect scammers and prevent fraudulent checks from ever being mailed. However, these added security measures will cause a delay in some consumers receiving their refunds,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president, public policy, telecommunications and fraud. “Fortunately, there are free resources available in both consumers’ communities and online that can help them prepare their taxes safely and securely and reduce the risk of tax identity fraud.” 

At, the new alert offers several steps consumers can take that may help reduce the risk of tax ID fraud, save money on tax preparation, and prevent filing errors on returns.

  1. File early. Filing early in the tax season is the easiest way to reduce the risk of an identity thief beating you to it, and stealing your refund. The sooner you file, the better. Starting January 23, 2017, the IRS will begin accepting federal tax return filings. Waiting until closer to this year’s deadline (April 18) to file gives identity thieves more time to file a return in your name, receive your refund, and take your check to the bank.
  2. Get educated about the law. A new law called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act requires the IRS to hold refund checks until February 15 for consumers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). While you may have to wait a bit longer to get your refund check this year, the delay will help the IRS identify and stop more tax fraud. Beware of tax preparation companies who claim to be able to get you your refund sooner than February 15. Tax preparers who promise this will almost certainly be giving you a high-interest loan that will eat into your refund.
  3. Check with IRS on the status of your refund. Due to weekends and the President’s Day holiday, some consumers who claim the EITC or ACTC may not get their refunds in their bank accounts until the week of February 27. To check the status of your refund, visit the IRS’s Where’s My Refund? website ‎or take advantage of the IRS2Go smartphone app.
  4. Take advantage of free tax preparation help. For those who generally make $54,000 or less, you may qualify for free tax help. Skip the high-cost tax preparation outfits and, instead, take advantage of free tax preparation assistance from Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs in your community. VITA programs are staffed by IRS-certified volunteers who can help you navigate this year’s delay and prepare accurate returns safely and securely. For more information and to find a local VITA site, click here.
  5. Use Free File to e-file. Consumers who make up to $64,000 per year qualify for the IRS’s Free File program, which allows the use of free, name-brand tax filing software from some of the biggest names in the tax prep business. For more information, click here.

At, NCL also resources and advice for those who may have fallen victim to tax identity fraud. To read the alert and learn more about the EITC and ACTC delay, click here.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit