NCL launches campaign to warn Americans about Chinese government’s collection of U.S. consumers’ genetic data 

September 7, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL) today announced it is launching a national campaign – www.protectmypatientdata.com – to warn Americans of the threat posed by the Chinese government’s collection of U.S. healthcare and genomic information. The campaign will target consumers, healthcare leaders, and lawmakers and will highlight the privacy and national security risks resulting from this bulk collection of data.

According to a February 2021 report from the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), the Chinese government has made the collection of American healthcare information a top strategic priority and has gained access to large datasets in the U.S. and around the world through both illegal and legal means. This includes partnering with prominent research and healthcare entities in the U.S. to provide them with genomic sequencing services, allowing them to gain access to Americans’ health records.

On June 3, 2021 President Biden signed an Executive Order to further “address the threat of Chinese surveillance technology firms that contribute – both inside and outside China – to the surveillance of religious or ethnic minorities or otherwise facilitate repression and serious human rights abuses.”

“Genetic data remains one of the most sensitive and least protected types of personal information and yet the consequences of it falling into the wrong hands are profound,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “Authoritarian governments have already used genomic data to potentially surveil and control their own citizens and to conduct unsanctioned scientific research. That is why NCL is sounding the alarm and urging consumers and healthcare providers to be more diligent than ever when sharing personal healthcare information with third parties, particularly those funded or operated by the Chinese government.”

NCL has a long history of calling for consumer protections in the genetic testing industry. In February 2019, NCL issued a statement calling for investigation of direct-to-consumer genetic testing services like FamilyTreeDNA in the wake of reports that these services were sharing genetic data with law enforcement agencies.

On August 29, 2022, MGI Americas, an affiliate of Chinese genome research giant BGI, re-entered the U.S. next-generation sequencing market, having been previously barred from selling its genome sequencing machines in America. BGI is closely affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the data it collects has no legal protection against disclosure to the Chinese government.

A recent Reuters investigation found that BGI had scraped the DNA data of pregnant women from its pre-natal test kits and added them to the China National GeneBank, which it manages for the Chinese government. BGI has also been implicated in the repression of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, for which two of its entities were sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

NCL is urging providers and researchers to be cognizant of the risks of partnering with BGI and other Chinese healthcare companies, whose collection of data could be used to advance the country’s precision medicine industry and for more nefarious purposes, including the potential surveillance, exploitation, and manipulation of American citizens. NCL recently published a Genetic Privacy Bill of Rights and released a Policy Framework detailing steps that Congress, the Biden Administration, and industry can take to protect these consumer rights.

In addition to the education campaign, NCL will also embark on a series of initiatives to protect consumers:

  • Working with Members of Congress to create and implement new protections for genetic data, such as the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Surveillance Act, introduced by Sen. Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Lummis (R-WY), and Sen. Hagerty (R-TN).
  • Engaging with the Biden Administration as they develop a potential Executive Order aimed at increasing protections for sensitive personal information, like genetic data.
  • Participating in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) rulemaking process regarding privacy and data protection, to ensure that genetic data is also protected.
  • Educating health care research institutions and major health care associations about the unique risks posed by a lack of safeguards for genetic testing, and what they can do to increase protections.

 

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League urges Congress to strengthen Bipartisan Privacy Bill

June 17, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Consumers League is encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral American Data Privacy and Protection Act (“ADPPA”), a long-overdue step to protect the privacy and security of consumers’ personal information. However, there remain some concerns that must be addressed to ensure that the bill provides basic consumer remedies for failure to comply with the rules of the road and preserve the best aspects of the privacy laws that are already in place in the states.

“The lack of a comprehensive data protection law has left Americans at the mercy of criminal hackers who are making billions of dollars stealing consumers’ personal data,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “At the same time, many companies have built their business models on the collection of sensitive data that exacerbates existing inequities in our economy.”

NCL has long pushed for stronger protections for consumer data. In 2011, NCL supported a bill to regulate the use of sensitive location data. In the wake of the Target data breach in 2013, NCL launched the #DataInsecurity Project to raise awareness about how the lack of data security standards increases the risks to consumers of identity fraud and other scams. Most recently, NCL released a genetic privacy reform roadmap detailing actions Congress, the Biden administration and industry could take to protect consumers’ genetic data.

NCL shares the concerns about the ADPPA raised by privacy and consumer advocates. Importantly, we believe that the bill’s private right of action provisions should be strengthened and a prohibition on mandatory binding arbitration clauses should be included in the legislation.

In addition, NCL supports allowing states with strong privacy and data security laws to preserve those provisions where they provide additional consumer protections.  NCL also supports preserving the Federal Communication Commission’s role in regulating the privacy practices of common carriers. Given the bill’s proposal to expand the role of the Federal Trade Commission in protecting consumer data, Congress must ensure that the FTC has the resources it needs to be effective in that role.

“We applaud members of Congress for putting forward a bipartisan bill to provide comprehensive privacy and security protections,” said John Breyault, NCL’s Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “Compromises by all sides in this debate have led us to this moment. There is much promise in this legislation, but key consumer protections need to be addressed before the bill moves forward.”

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL Director of Health Policy testifies at Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights on how consolidation in the marketplace harms consumers

June 16, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, the National Consumers League’s Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras provided oral testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights on how consolidation in the marketplace harms consumers.

In her testimony, Ms. Contreras discussed the importance of consumers having choices for safe goods and services at a fair price, a core principle of NCL’s advocacy work. Touching on several issues impacting consumers in the U.S. – such as the infant formula shortage, consolidation of the airline industry, primary ticketing market for live events, and the unfair business practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) – Ms. Contreras reiterated the need for competition in the marketplace and enacting stronger antitrust laws, all of which help protect U.S. consumers.

Her testimony appears below.

June 15, 2022

Good afternoon Chairwoman Klobuchar, Ranking Member Lee, and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Jeanette Contreras. I am the Director of Health Policy at the National Consumers League. I appreciate the opportunity to testify remotely today- due to COVID.

Founded in 1899, NCL is America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization. A core principle of our advocacy is that the marketplace should encourage competition to guarantee that consumers have choices for safe goods and services at a fair price. Monopolies harm competition, leaving consumers with fewer options at higher prices. Monopolistic practices are especially harmful when they occur in the health care arena, where they can exacerbate health disparities.

We share the concerns of new parents regarding the recent shortage of infant formula. Our hearts go out to those parents who have lost babies or whose infants suffered devastating health consequences from contaminated formula. At NCL, we believe all goods and services sold to consumers should be safe and meet all legal requirements- including regulatory guidelines set forth by the FDA.

NCL applauds the FDA and the Administration for adopting a multifaceted approach to increase the supply of infant formula, including temporarily allowing foreign manufacturers to sell their products in the U.S. Additionally, we believe invoking the Defense Production Act to prioritize getting needed inputs to infant formula manufacturers was sound policy. These measures are helping to solve the immediate logistical problem of getting formula onto store shelves across the country.

While addressing the immediate formula shortage is most urgent, we are also troubled that it took the FDA almost four months to act on a whistleblower complaint sent to the agency. This complaint should have received immediate attention given the gravity of the allegations against the Abbott facility. We support a full investigation and, if warranted, bringing criminal and civil charges against those who falsified data. NCL also recommends that the U.S. create a single food safety agency and dedicate an office to overseeing the safety and supply of infant formula.

It should concern every American that one manufacturer controls 40% of the U.S. infant formula market. Only three companies — Abbott, Mead Johnson, and Nestle — control 98% of the industry.

Consolidation in the infant formula industry is a major contributor to the current crisis, but it is only one of many cases where market concentration in recent decades has limited competition and harmed consumers.

For example, NCL continues to raise concerns about the consolidation of the airline industry. Due to weak enforcement of existing antitrust laws, from 2005 to 2015, the number of major U.S. airlines declined from nine to four. And today they control more than 80 percent of the domestic U.S. market.

Our antitrust laws have also failed to protect consumers who attend live events. After merging with Ticketmaster in 2010, Live Nation Entertainment controls roughly 80% of the primary ticketing market in the U.S. As anyone who has purchased tickets recently can attest, this has led to an increase in add-fees and the basic price of tickets.

Stronger antitrust enforcement would be especially beneficial for curtailing anti-competitive conduct in the health care industry, where we’ve seen consolidation lead to higher costs for consumers without an increase in quality or access to care. We are pleased that the Biden administration is looking into how hospital prices increase after acquisitions. We are also hopeful that the ongoing review of DOJ & FTC merger enforcement guidelines will result in more action by those agencies.

NCL also applauds the recent FTC decision to open an investigation into the unfair business practices of pharmacy benefit managers or PBMs. NCL works tirelessly to raise awareness of the outsized role that PBMs play in driving up prescription drug prices for consumers. According to a recent report, the three biggest PBMs controlled roughly 77% of all U.S. prescription drug claims in 2020. And a recent Senate Finance Committee report found some PBMs are getting a 70% rebate on insulin, while out-of-pocket costs for this life-saving medication continue to rise.

These cases are just a few examples of how monopolies and anti-competitive practices have become a problem for consumers. To ensure crises like today’s formula shortage do not happen again, market consolidation must be addressed so that the temporary shutdown of a single factory does not result in the collapse of an entire supply chain.

Whether it is baby formula, airline travel, live event tickets, or pharmaceutical sales, the lack of competition is having increasingly negative impacts on consumer welfare and requires urgent action.

Chairwoman Klobuchar, Ranking Member Lee, thank you for holding today’s hearing and inviting NCL to speak about this important issue. I look forward to answering your questions.

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

 

NCL urges Judiciary Committee to report the Equality Act to the full Senate

June 10, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

 

The Honorable Dick Durbin

Chair

Committee on the Judiciary

Unites States Senate

 

The Honorable Chuck Grassley

Ranking Member

Committee on the Judiciary

Unites States Senate

 

Dear Chair Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley,

Over a year has passed since the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held hearings for HR5, also known as the Equality Act. The National Consumers League (NCL), the United States’ oldest consumer advocacy organization, urges the Judiciary Committee to report the Equality Act to the full Senate without further delay. This legislation would codify important consumer protections for the LGBT community, notably in housing, credit lending, and public accommodations.

Non-discrimination is a core component of consumer protection that all other safeguards rely upon; access to service is the most basic consumer issue. Studies have shown the challenges still facing the LGBT community, with over half of LGBT Americans having faced discrimination generally and 22% of LGBT consumers having experienced housing discrimination.[1] Regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, every individual deserves access to housing and financial services, as well as the ability to purchase goods and services at restaurants, lodging, and retail stores.

By passing the Equal Rights Act, Congress can cement consumer protections for the LGBT community nationwide. NCL urges the Judiciary Committee to finish their work on the Equality Act and report this critical legislation to the full Senate.

[1] Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Poll finds a majority of LGBTQ Americans report violence, threats, or sexual harassment related to sexual orientation or gender identity; one-third report bathroom harassment. (2017). https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/poll-lgbtq-americans-discrimination/

 

Sincerely,

Sally Greenberg

Executive Director

National Consumers League

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

 

New York ticketing legislation is a victory for fans

June 9, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League (NCL) applauded the New York State Assembly for approving S.B. S9461, landmark consumer protection legislation that makes New York the first state to require all-in pricing of live event tickets. The bill also requires ticket brokers to disclose how much was originally paid for a ticket when they resell a ticket, prohibits the resale of tickets that were originally offered for free, and prohibits “print-at-home” fees.

“Fans in New York are the real winners from this bill,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at the National Consumers League. “Hidden fees and outrageous markups are some of consumers’ biggest pain points when it comes to buying tickets. While this bill will not solve every problem within the ticketing industry, getting rid of hidden fees addresses one of fans’ biggest complaints.”

A 2018 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that on average, consumers paid an extra 27% of the ticket’s original cost in fees. Media reporting has found instances where hidden fees were 78% of the fare’s starting price.

“Ticketing companies have long known that all-in pricing was a better solution for consumers, but they hesitated to provide it for fear of losing market share to competitors who hid their fees,” said Breyault. “That is the definition of market failure, which the New York bill fixes. We urge other states and the U.S. Congress to follow New York’s example and enact similar legislation.”

NCL applauded, in particular, the leadership of New York Senator James Skoufis whose investigative report on the ticketing industry was an important catalyst for this legislation.

“Senator Skoufis championed this important bill in the face of intense industry opposition and made sure it didn’t get watered down,” said Breyault. “Fans in New York will benefit immensely from his leadership.”

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

 

The National Consumers League calls on Congress to enact the Bipartisan Background Checks Act to address the gun violence epidemic

June 2, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League (NCL) strongly supports The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) and urges members of Congress to enact this common-sense gun legislation. Introduced by Representative Mike Thompson (CA-5), NCL views H.R. 8 as the first significant step to safeguarding consumers against the rampant gun violence in America.

Gun violence is disproportionally higher in the United States compared to other industrialized nations. In this respect, it is a uniquely American problem and one that policy-makers have an obligation to address. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), guns are now the leading cause of death among youth. As a leading organization representing consumers, NCL is dedicated to supporting legislation designed to ensure that gun violence, from the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas to the racially motivated massacre in Buffalo, New York, never happen again.

One of the first steps to begin mitigating this epidemic is requiring more thorough background checks. Recent studies conducted by the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, highlight how background checks can significantly reduce gun related deaths. This is why the passage of H.R. 8 is so important. The bill will establish new background check requirements, making them a mandatory practice in all transactions, including those between private parties.

While the passage of H.R. 8 is significant, NCL is deeply disappointed by policy-makers’ refusal to adopt more robust gun safety legislation. It is imperative that Congress institute an automatic assault rifle ban to limit access to firm-arms deliberately designed to kill humans. Furthermore, a national gun registry must be established to increase gun owners’ accountability and help law enforcement solve and prevent crimes.  As our most cherished institutions continue to be targeted and consumers continue to fear for not only their lives, but their children’s lives, NCL strongly urges Congress to use their power to enact legislation aimed at ending this epidemic.

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

 

NCL issues recommendations to avoid another baby formula shortage

May 19, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League shares the very real concerns of new parents regarding the recent shortage of infant formula. Our hearts also go out to parents who have lost babies due to contaminated powdered formula and those whose infants suffered devastating health consequences from the contaminated product.

We appreciate the FDA’s multifaceted approach to increase infant formula supply, including allowing foreign manufacturers of baby formula to sell their products in the U.S. Additionally, the Biden Administration has implemented the Defense Production Act, which will be important in increasing production by requiring suppliers to prioritize getting needed inputs to the infant formula manufacturers. Initiating the DPA also allows the Administration to use Department of Defense contracts with commercial cargo lines to speed the transport of foreign products into the U.S. and onto store shelves across the country. These actions are critical steps in combatting this formula shortage issue.  We applaud Congress for supporting emergency legislation to address the formula shortage.

However, while addressing the shortage is the most pressing issue, first and foremost, the responsibility lies with the Abbott facility in Michigan whose reckless actions set events into motion. Abbott failed to follow safety protocols, falsified documents to the FDA and then shipped contaminated formula exposing our most vulnerable little consumers to foodborne illnesses. Those actions triggered an FDA investigation and subsequent recall, leading to the current shortage.

We are also troubled that the FDA, for its part, took almost two months to act on the whistleblower complaint sent to the agency in October 2021. That report cited unsanitary conditions, contamination of formula, and serious allegations against company officials at the Abbott Facility in Michigan. This complaint should have received immediate attention given the vulnerability of infants, whose immune systems are just developing. This plant is also responsible for producing a great deal of the formula sold to federal WIC program. (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). We think both civil and criminal charges are in order. The shortage demands that the FDA source infant formula from countries already approved for importing formula. It’s also time to create a single food safety agency and create an office to oversee the safety and supply of infant formula.

A summary of NCL’s recommendations include:

  1. Immediate sourcing of infant formula from countries that are already approved to import the product
  2. Opening the Abbott plant once the FDA can reach an agreement with the company to ensure production of infant formula will be under strictest safety and quality control.
  3. A full investigation of the Abbott facility, and criminal and civil charges brought against those who falsified data or knowingly allowed the shipment of contaminated formula
  4. Expansion of the number of companies making infant formula
  5. Creation of a single food safety agency and appointment of a baby formula safety and supply chain expert

Infants are our most vulnerable and precious consumers and they rely on us to protect them. We have let them down and safety provisions must be put in place to ensure that this never happens again. NCL stands ready to work with Congress, consumers, businesses, and the FDA to ensure the safety of infant formula is never compromised again.

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

 

National Consumers League urges Congress not to allow credit bureaus’ credit scoring company to dominate the credit scoring system

May 13, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. –

The National Consumers League has sent a letter to the Chairs of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees asking these leaders to conduct adequate oversight on the nation’s credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. “The three bureaus keep financial records and establish credit scores for hundreds of millions of Americans. For years, consumer organizations like ours have been raising questions about the behavior and actions of these entities, who in recent years have together created their own credit scoring company called VantageScore.”

The letter noted that “On April 12th of this year, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against credit bureau TransUnion and their long-time CEO for willfully violating the law and defrauding consumers, with CFPB’s director saying that ‘TransUnion is an out-of-control repeat offender that believes it is above the law.’  The letter also noted that “In September of 2017, the nation learned that another of the big three, Equifax, had been breached and the financial records of close to 150 million Americans had been compromised. “Investigations …found that Equifax had failed to protect the data that they had been entrusted with and a global settlement was reached.”  The letter goes on to say “… the three credit bureaus own a credit scoring company called VantageScore. Vantage Score is vigorously lobbying the FHFA to spend millions of dollars to change the credit scoring system for the GSEs in order to win market share.”

The letter urges these members of Congress to “ask tough questions and share your concerns directly with the FHFA, especially before that agency takes any action that could send millions of dollars into the pockets of VantageScore.”

Read the letter here.

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

 

National Consumers League support for investigation of anti-competitive practices in the live event ticketing industry

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

 

April 1, 2022

 

The Honorable Jonathan Kanter

Assistant Attorney General

Antitrust Division

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

 

RE: National Consumers League support for investigation of anti-competitive practices in the live event ticketing industry

 

Dear Assistant Attorney General Kanter,

On March 15, 2022, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar urged the Department of Justice (“the Department”) to investigate the state of competition in the live-event marketplace, including potential violations of Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s updated consent decree.[1] The National Consumers League, America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, supports Senator Blumenthal’s and Senator Klobuchar’s request for the Department to take action on the issue of live entertainment marketplace competition.

As the Department is aware, just one company, Live Nation Entertainment (“LNE”), controls roughly 80% of the primary ticketing market following Live Nation’s vertical

integration with Ticketmaster.[2] In the Department of Justice’s own words, Ticketmaster benefits from “high barriers to other companies successfully, substantially, and profitably entering or attempting to expand in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues.”[3] There is no indication that the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger (and further monopolistic actions since 2010) have reduced these barriers to entry.[4]

In fact, anticompetitive behavior in the live-event marketplace is so egregious that the Department was forced to obtain an updated consent decree with LNE in 2020.[5] Although the modified final judgement was a welcome act, consumers still suffer due to many of LNE’s business practices.[6] Since the announcement of the updated consent decree, Live Nation has continued to eliminate marketplace competitors, including an acquisition that received the Department’s approval.[7]

As a result of toxic market practices, concert attendees, sports fans, theater enjoyers, and other live-event goers must endure punishing hidden fees. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office found that on average, purchasers paid an additional 27% of the ticket’s original value in fees.[8] Recent media reports have found fees as high as 78% of the ticket’s starting price.[9] This is after consumers must contend with scalpers employing illegal ticket-buying “bot” software and other unscrupulous methods in order to even secure their tickets.[10]

The unfortunate state of the live entertainment marketplace warrants an investigation by the Department—with specific attention to LNE’s compliance with the updated consent decree. The harmful impacts of LNE’s near-monopoly are unacceptable. We urge the Department to conduct a thorough investigation of these practices and, if necessary, take action to ensure market health and consumer protection.

Sincerely,

Sally Greenberg

Executive Director

National Consumers League

 

[1] United States Senator Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal & Klobuchar Urge DOJ Action to Restore Competition in the Concert & Live Entertainment Market. (March 2022). https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/blumenthal-and-klobuchar-urge-doj-action-to-restore-competition-in-the-concert_live-entertainment-market

[2] United States Government Accountability Office. Event Ticket Sales: Market Characteristics and Consumer Protection Issues. (April 2018). Pg. 4. https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-18-347.pdf

[3] United States Department of Justice. Competitive Impact Statement, United States of America v. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., No. 1:10-cv-00139 (D. D.C. Jan. 25, 2010). https://www.justice.gov/atr/case-document/competitive-impact-statement-209

[4] The Hollywood Reporter. Live Nation Accused of Shutting Out Venues That Don’t Use Ticketmaster. (January 2022). https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/live-nation-ticketmaster-class-action-1235070131/; Ticket News. Ticketmaster Resale Returns to Broker-Focused Conferences Despite Past Controversy. (July 2021). https://www.ticketnews.com/2021/07/ticketmaster-resale-returns-to-broker-focused-conferences-despite-past-controversy/

[5] United States Department of Justice. Justice Department Will Move to Significantly Modify and Extend Consent Decree with Live Nation/Ticketmaster. (December 2019). https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-will-move-significantly-modify-and-extend-consent-decree-live

[6] Variety. John Oliver Blasts Ticketmaster in Scathing Broadside Against Ticket Prices, Fees, Secondary Market. (March 2022). https://variety.com/2022/music/news/john-oliver-ticketmaster-prices-fees-secondary-market-1235204410/

[7] Complete Music Update. Ticketmaster gets approval for deal to buy Rival. (April 2020). https://completemusicupdate.com/article/ticketmaster-gets-approval-for-deal-to-buy-rival/

[8] United States Government Accountability Office. Event Ticket Sales: Market Characteristics and Consumer Protection Issues. (April 2018). https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-18-347

[9] The Guardian. John Oliver rips Ticketmaster and live music costs: ‘One of the most hated companies on earth’ (March 2022). https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2022/mar/14/john-oliver-ticketmaster-live-music-costs

[10] United States Federal Trade Commission. Cracking down on ticket bots that leave you out in the cold. (January 2021). https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2021/01/cracking-down-ticket-bots-leave-you-out-cold#:~:text=Ticket%20bots%20may%20also%20be,the%20tickets%20for%20higher%20prices

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League joins LGBTQ+ coalitions to address credit issues for transgender and nonbinary community

March 17, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League has joined efforts with LGBTQ, consumer, and legal advocacy groups to address credit-related problems encountered by transgender and nonbinary consumers.

The letter  to the major credit reporting companies, notes that transgender and nonbinary consumers face a myriad of issues after they change their names — with serious consequences for their financial and personal lives. The transgender and nonbinary community have reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that they cannot get Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to correct their credit reports.

Some issues reported are that their credit report fragments into two or more unconnected files upon their name change or are not there at all. Many times their credit scores drop by hundreds of points, precluding them from accessing banking services, mortgages, auto financing, employment, and rental housing. Transgender and nonbinary consumers find that even when they were able to contact and persuade a customer service representative at one of the Big Three credit bureaus to manually fix their report, a new upload of data reverts their credit histories back to fragmented or incomplete files. Some have even reported serious fallout after their credit histories reflected their “deadname” or former name, thereby outing them as transgender to potential employers, rental agents, car dealerships, or financial institutions.

The letter asks the credit reporting industry to:

  • Utilize consumers’ full 9-digit Social Security numbers in matching algorithms to ensure credit information is associated with the correct credit file.
  • Facilitate name changes by having clear procedures to update a consumer’s name on their credit report when presented with a legal name change order and ensure that staff are sufficiently trained in those procedures and are able to provide culturally competent service to transgender and nonbinary consumers.
  • Reduce the burden on transgender and nonbinary consumers to submit name-change documentation to each credit reporting agency by instituting a “one-stop” system that allows a consumer to submit a single request to have the legal name on their report updated, and ensures the request is communicated to all consumer reporting agencies.
  • Prevent the occurrence and recurrence of fragmented credit files by creating procedures to detect when a consumer changes their legal name with a creditor, to associate the new name with their credit file, and to consolidate a consumer’s credit information in their current and previous names in a single credit file — as the industry presently does when cisgender women and other consumers change their last names.
  • Prevent the disclosure of transgender and nonbinary consumers’ deadnames to landlords, employers, and underwriters by disclosing only a consumer’s current legal name in reports provided to credit report users.

###

About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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 www.nclnet.org.