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NCL supports AI liability rule, recommends extending its reach

May 2, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – This week, NCL and six other consumer advocacy and public interest organizations submitted comments in support of a Federal Trade Commission proposal that would establish legal liability for AI developers who know (or have reason to know) that their AI is facilitating fraud.

The FTC’s proposed rule would enable the agency to crack down on scams that use deepfakes and voice cloning. It would also help to fill a glaring gap in its ability to hold impersonation frauds accountable, like romance and grandparent scams. This hole in the Commission’s capacity to return funds to victims of fraud is a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2021 AMG Capital Management v. FTC case.

“While some AI developers implement safeguards to prevent the misuse of their products, many do not,” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “The FTC’s initiative in this space should put companies on notice that they cannot put out unregulated AI tools and allow criminals to supercharge their frauds with them.”

Recent trends have shown the urgent need for the FTC to have strong enforcement options to combat impersonation fraud. NCL’s Top Ten Scams report for 2023 found significant consumer losses attributed romance and family-and-friend imposter fraud, with victim complaints showing median losses at $8,000 and $1,040, respectively. Generative AI, including text generation, voice cloning, and visual deepfakes, can enable these scams to be significantly more effective. The Federal Bureau of Investigation noted a 322% increase in sextortion reports between 2022 and 2023, attributing much of the increase to the proliferation of AI tools.

The Center for American Progress, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Privacy Information Center, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and NCL urged the Commission to clarify that the liability for AI developers in facilitating fraud should also apply to companies that provide scammers access to AI tools, even if the companies did not develop the AI themselves. The full comments can be found here.

Additional reading:

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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 nclnet.org.

Top Ten Scams report: Explosion of crypto reports raises alarm 

February 6, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cryptocurrency is being used in an increasing number of scams, leading to some of the highest median losses every reported to the National Consumers League (NCL). In its annual 2023 Top Ten Scams report, NCL found that the percentage of crypto-linked scam reports more than doubled year-over-year, making up almost 1-in-10 complaints received. The report, published annually, analyzed more than 2,700 consumer fraud complaints filed with NCL’s Fraud.org campaign last year.  

The median loss for reported investment frauds, including cryptocurrency, ballooned to $20,000. Just two years prior, the number was $1,750. The complaints in this category frequently described schemes where victims were encouraged to put money into cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-linked investments that later turned out to be fraudulent.  

“Year after year, complaints to Fraud.org paint a heartbreaking picture,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. “It is clear that the problem of fraud is not going away on its own. It is past time for policymakers at every level to take this issue seriously and do everything they can to crackdown on this epidemic.” 

A record year for natural disasters appears to have been reflected in the numbers as well: reports of fake charity scams were up almost 200% compared to 2022. These complaints often involve fraudsters impersonating non-profit aid groups, particularly following crises like the wildfires in Maui. 

The top ten scam categories reported to Fraud.org in 2023 were:  

  1. Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts  
  2. Internet: General Merchandise  
  3. Phishing/Spoofing  
  4. Investments: Other (incl. cryptocurrency) 
  5. Fake Check Scams 
  6. Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers  
  7. Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles  
  8. Charitable Solicitations 
  9. Family/Friend Imposter  
  10. Home Repair 

“Reporting fraud is an important step for victims,” said NCL Consumer Services Coordinator James Perry. “When someone reaches out, we can connect them with the right resources and begin to walk them through the recovery process. The information they share also helps inform decisions around fighting these scams.” 

Scammers contacting victims through the internet and phone calls initiated three out of four fraud incidents, with the internet replacing phone calls as the number one method of contact in 2023. The Top Ten Scams report also showed a worrying trend in scams targeting young consumers. Compared to 2022, complaints from consumers aged 18-25 increased by 13.12%. 

“The prevalence of scams online should worry everyone, especially as more of daily life becomes virtual,” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “This is particularly troubling for younger individuals who we know statistically are more likely to become victims of fraud than any other age group. As consumers now grow up online, this problem will only get worse if we don’t dedicate resources to safeguarding our most vulnerable.”  

To view the full 2023 Top Ten Scams report, click here.  

Methodology  

The National Consumers League Top Ten Scams report analyzed 2,756 complaints submitted by consumers to NCL’s Fraud.org campaign in 2023. This data is self-reported by victims and should not be considered a nationally representative sample. NCL shares complaint data with a network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who combine it with other data sets to identify trends in fraud and build cases. 

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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 nclnet.org.

National Consumers League sues Starbucks, alleging coffee giant deceives customers with claims of “100% ethical” coffee, tea

January 10, 2024

Media contact: Matt Lopez, 805-377-2950, matt.lopez@berlinrosen.com; Melody Merin, 202-207-2831, melodym@nclnet.org

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, filed a lawsuit alleging that Starbucks is falsely and deceptively claiming “100% ethical” coffee and tea sourcing, detailing widespread evidence the company relies on farms and cooperatives that commit egregious labor and human rights violations. 

The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, notes that Starbucks has responded to its consumers’ demand for responsible corporate practices by launching a yearslong campaign to brand itself as a leader in ethical coffee and tea sourcing, including by developing its own set of “Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices” verification standards. In one promotional video featured during the 2023 holiday season, a Starbucks spokesperson says that when he drinks Starbucks coffee, “I know it was ethically sourced.” 

In reality, the lawsuit alleges, the company’s marketing misleads consumers and fails to convey the rampant sourcing from coffee and tea farms and cooperatives with a documented history of child labor, forced labor, sexual harassment and assault and other human rights abuses. 

“On every bag of coffee and box of K-cups sitting on grocery store shelves, Starbucks is telling consumers a lie,” said Sally Greenberg, chief executive officer of the National Consumers League. “The facts are clear: there are significant human rights and labor abuses across Starbucks’ supply chain, and consumers have a right to know exactly what they’re paying for. NCL is committed to exposing and reining in these deceptive practices and holding Starbucks accountable for living up to its claims.” 

In 2022, for instance, the Brazilian labor prosecutor issued a complaint against Starbucks’ largest Brazilian supplier, citing working conditions analogous to slavery, including illegally trafficking more than 30 migrant workers. At the Cooxupé collective, which accounts for 40 percent of Starbucks’ Brazilian coffee supply and has received the “C.A.F.E. Practices” certification, investigators found that workers put in excessive hours and carry coffee sacks weighing over 100 pounds on their backs. 

“Starbucks’ failure to adopt meaningful reforms to its coffee and tea sourcing practices in the face of these critiques and documented labor abuses on its source farms is wholly inconsistent with a reasonable consumer’s understanding of what it means to be ‘committed to 100% ethical’ sourcing,” the complaint reads. “Similarly, Starbucks’ failure to disclose to consumers the unreliability of these certification programs and their limitations as a guarantee of ethical sourcing are misleading omissions material to the decision-making of a reasonable consumer.”

To protect consumers who may unknowingly be buying unethically sourced coffee or tea — and paying a premium for those products — National Consumers League seeks an order enjoining Starbucks from further engaging in deceptive advertising and requiring the company to run a corrective advertising campaign. Making good on its representations to consumers would require Starbucks to significantly reform its sourcing and monitoring practices to ensure that workers on the farms and cooperatives that supply its coffee and tea products are treated fairly and in accordance with the law. 

Across Starbucks’ Global Supply Chain, Pattern of Abuses Emerges

Over the last decade, a broad range of investigations by government agencies and journalists has uncovered a clear pattern of labor and human rights abuses at Starbucks’ preferred farms and cooperatives — even those that have received the company’s own “C.A.F.E. Practices” certification.

  • At the James Finlay plantation in Kenya, a Starbucks tea source, undercover reporters with the BBC exposed rampant sexual abuse, including supervisors forcing women into having sex in exchange for work. Thousands of Finlay workers have also filed a class action lawsuit alleging grueling working conditions that wore down their bodies and detailing Finlay’s practice of firing chronically injured workers instead of providing them with healthcare. Finlay workers are reportedly paid the equivalent of $30 per week. 
  • At the Starbucks-certified Mesas Farm in Brazil, law enforcement officers in 2022 rescued 17 workers, including a 15-, 16- and 17-year old, from slavery-like conditions, which included outdoor work, unprotected from the elements, that required workers to lift coffee sacks weighing over 130 pounds. The Mesas Farm has also failed to provide the workers with the personal protective equipment that is required by Brazilian law. 
  • At three different Starbucks certified farms in Guatemala, Channel 4 found children under 13 years old working 40 or 50 hours per week. 

Although Starbucks has repeatedly been made aware of the rampant abuses at its supplier and “C.A.F.E. Practices” certified farms and cooperatives, the company has failed to respond with meaningful action.

“Starbucks misleadingly fails to disclose facts material to consumer purchasing decisions, including that many of its supposedly ethical suppliers have in fact relied on forced and/or child labor, i.e. that C.A.F.E. Practices certification does not guarantee the absence of forced and child labor,” the complaint reads.

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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 nclnet.org.

Consumer advocates seek to block Virginia’s $2 billion handout to Ted Leonsis – National Consumers League and Sports Fans Coalition launch #MonumentalDisaster campaign

December 15, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831; Sports Fans Coalition – Brian Hess, hess@istreetadvocates.com, 703-659-7557

Alexandria, VA – The National Consumers League (NCL) and Sports Fans Coalition (SFC) today urged the Virginia General Assembly and the Alexandria City Council to reject Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s plan to offer billions of taxpayer dollars to Monumental Sports Entertainment for the construction of a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals. Governor Youngkin’s proposal would reportedly require the General Assembly to authorize the issuance of $1.4 billion, and potentially as much as $2 billion, in public debt. In addition, the citizens of Alexandria are being asked to contribute as much as $106 million in additional funds. Monumental Sports & Entertainment, would be required to invest $403 million, potentially less than 20 percent of the project’s estimated cost.

There is widespread consensus among economists that subsidizing sports stadiums almost never yields a net economic benefit for the local community and is instead a burden to local governments and taxpayers. Despite this, community after community continues to offer enormous taxpayer-funded incentives to professional sports teams. The Monumental Sports Entertainment deal is no different.

“This is a terrible deal for Virginia taxpayers, Wizards and Capitals fans, and residents of the surrounding community,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at the National Consumers League. “Communities across America continually fall under the spell of billionaire sports team owners who promise the moon in exchange for billions in public money. Our elected leaders must not allow Virginians to become the next suckers in this shell game.”

“Fans love their teams, and they hate when they leave the city. That doesn’t mean fans like seeing their hard-earned tax dollars get spent on lavish sports arenas,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition, lifelong Northern Virginian, and avid DC sports fan. “We have long opposed public money being used for sports arenas, and have even called for fan-friendly conditions – the Danifesto – to be included in the handouts. However, even those conditions may not be enough to tip the scales on just how bad a deal this is. In no uncertain terms, lawmakers should vote ‘no.’”

NCL/SFC’s #MonumentalDisaster campaign launched with a petition found on SFC’s website: https://www.sportsfans.org/open_letter_to_virginia_lawmakers. Here, fans can fill out a form and sign the open letter which will be delivered to lawmakers. NCL/SFC will also partner with local activists who have already started opposing this deal. Anyone can join the fight by signing the open letter and posting on social media with #MonumentalDisaster.

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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 nclnet.org.

About Sports Fans Coalition (SFC)

Founded in 2009, Sports Fans Coalition represents fans wherever public policy impacts the games we love. They work to promote pay equality for women athletes, provide resources to fans at risk for gambling addiction, ticket buyer consumer protections, college athlete name, image, and likeness rights, and many other issues in the sports industry. For more information, visit www.sportsfans.org.

National Consumers League supports table saw safety standard proposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

December 8, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) submitted comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this week on the Commission’s proposed rule to require a safety standard for all table saws. The “Safety Standard Addressing Blade-Contact Injuries on Table Saws” proposal is projected to prevent more injuries and save more money than any rule ever proposed at the agency.

“NCL applauds the CPSC for moving toward a final rule to make table saws safe and to prevent the over 50,000 injuries – many of them finger amputations – that occur each year from table saw accidents,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg.

Pam Gilbert, NCL Board member and former Executive Director of the CPSC noted, “The matter of table saw safety has been an ongoing concern of the CPSC and National Consumers League for more than a decade; we believe this rule would finally bring much-needed safety technology to this ubiquitous woodshop tool found in millions of US households.”

Previous voluntary standards have been ineffective in preventing injuries, thus the need for this mandatory safety standard using proven effective technology that prevents serious injuries from table saws. Indeed, a 15-year trend analysis (from 2004 to 2018) of table saw injuries showed no reduction in table saw injuries from 2010 to 2018, despite the fact that a voluntary standard that became effective in 2010 required new table saws to be equipped with modular blade guard systems.

The Commission expects that the proposed rule would prevent or mitigate an estimated 49,176 injuries treated in hospital emergency departments or other medical settings per year and that net cost benefits, even when factoring the cost of the technology, would range from $1.28 billion to $2.32 billion per year.

The proposed rule would limit the depth of cut of a table saw to 3.5 mm or less when a test probe, acting as surrogate for a human finger or other body part, contacts the spinning blade at an approach rate of 1 m/s. CPSC staff estimated that the proposed rule would prevent or mitigate the severity of 54,800 medically treated blade-contact injuries annually.

To read the views of woodworkers themselves, this YouTube link tells first-hand accounts, some of which have been included in NCL’s comments. One is below:

“My father cut all four of his fingers off with a Radial arm saw years ago. Three fingers are bolted back together so he can only move them at the knuckle, the index finger was lost due to infection. He had to have a skin graft on all his fingers pulled from his thigh, so they now all grow hair so he has to shave them otherwise they grow hair. In airports, he always sets off the metal detectors. When I was looking at table saws about 8 years ago it was between the sawstop contractor (hybrid wasn’t out yet) and Powermatic 3hp cabinet. My father was with me at the time while I was a teenager at woodcraft. One look at his hand and it was obvious which saw I walked out with. 8 years later I still use the Sawstop contractor saw and it looks just like when I bought it, Its a fantastic investment and probably the only one that is relatively easy to justify to your wife. “

As Commissioner Rich Trumka, himself a woodworker, observed in his comments “…[t]he rule would provide the greatest net benefit to society of any rule in the agency’s history that I’m aware of—up to a $2.32 billion net benefit every year.”

The National Consumers League fully supports this Proposed Rule and greatly appreciates the years of dedication and work from the CPSC’s engineers, statisticians, and economists and the leadership of CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn Saric in moving this to the top of the Commission’s agenda.

NCL’s comments can be found here.

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL applauds the confirmation of Monica Bertagnolli as next NIH director

November 9, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the U.S. Senate’s decision to confirm Dr. Monica Bertagnolli to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

This past Tuesday, the Senate voted 62-36 for Bertagnolli to take over the leadership role at NIH – a role that has been vacant for nearly two years. Preceding Bertagnolli was 2022 Trumpeter Honoree Dr. Francis Collins, who served as NIH director for more than 12 years.

“Dr. Bertagnolli brings a wealth of knowledge and experience,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg. “As a surgical oncologist, former director of the National Cancer Institute, and former president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Bertagnolli is the right person to oversee the NIH as this important agency serves a critical role in advancing public health.”

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL celebrates the 1-year anniversary of the passing of One Fair Wage’s Initiative 82 in DC

November 8, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – To commemorate the 1-year anniversary of the passing of One Fair Wage’s Initiative 82, a ballot measure that phased out the tipped wage paid to workers in the District of Columbia, NCL’s CEO Sally Greenberg joined One Fair Wage and countless workers, employers, and consumers to celebrate at Busboys and Poets in DC.

On election day 2022, DC voters supported the passage of Initiative 82, which lifted tipped workers from the subminimum wage to a full minimum wage that would be phased in over five years. One Fair Wage is a national coalition, campaign, and organization seeking to end all subminimum wages in the United States and increase the sustainability of wages and working conditions in the service sector.

Speaking at the celebration, Greenberg thanked the workers and consumers in attendance along with DC Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and Robert White, DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb, and Andy Shallal, owner of the DC establishment Busboys and Poets.

“NCL strongly supported Initiative 82 to end the tipped wage in DC and the One Fair Wage campaign across the country,” said Greenberg. “Consumers spoke loudly in the last election and voted to pay tipped workers a minimum wage. With the passing of Initiative 82, consumers get better service and workers get better wages – that’s a win-win.”

NCL also co-signed The Sky Is Not Falling; The Floor Is Rising, a report released by One Fair Wage that includes the voices of workers, employers, and consumers on their experiences one year after the passage of I-82, and includes the only government data on restaurant employment impacts currently available in the short period since implementation of the wage increase began.

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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 nclnet.org.

 

National Consumers League supports legislation to end the tipped wage in Montgomery County, MD

October 17, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League’s (NCL) CEO Sally Greenberg will testify today, October 17, before the Montgomery County Council in support of phasing out the tipped wage and providing all tipped workers the minimum wage.

Tipped workers in Montgomery County are scheduled to appear before the county council today to share their thoughts about Bill 35-23. The legislation would adjust the calculation of the minimum wage for tipped workers and phase something known as the tip credit amount.

NCL believes that the tipped wage is bad policy and keeps servers and other tipped workers at the mercy of customers’ whims on tipping. NCL also supported Initiative 82 in the District of Columbia which passed overwhelmingly and is being implemented.

As one Council member in DC noted, when considering phasing out the tipped wage, the current law “is an invitation [for employers] to cheat.” According to surveys here in the county, more than a third of Montgomery County workers say their tips did not bring their wages up to the minimum wage. In fact, in Montgomery County, restaurant workers are twice as likely to live in poverty.  The bill, introduced by Councilmember Will Jawando, will end the tipped minimum wage gradually over the next several years.

Greenberg’s full testimony can be found here.

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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 nclnet.org.

 

 

 

Obesity medicine specialists, health providers, insurers and employers urged to make obesity treatment a right of all Americans

October 13, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Nancy Glick, nancyg@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442 NCOA –Simona Combi, Simona.combi@ncoa.org, 571-527-3982

Washington, D.C. – With growing evidence that U.S. adults with obesity feel stigmatized and ignored by their health care providers, the National Consumers League (NCL) and National Council on Aging (NCOA) today urged health professionals, insurers and employers to join a national movement to define quality obesity care as a right for every American.

Taking the case directly to health professionals on the front lines in delivering obesity care, NCL and NCOA used The Obesity Society’s annual meeting in Dallas October 14-17 to announce plans to provide Americans with an Obesity Bill of Rights.  Today, over 100 million adults are living with obesity[1] (42 percent of the public), yet only 10 percent get help from medical professionals.[2] An Obesity Bill of Rights has the potential to transform obesity care by empowering Americans to demand the respect of their health providers and to be screened, diagnosed, and effectively treated for their obesity based on medical treatment guidelines.

“For too long, adults with obesity have encountered a healthcare system that works against them. They are stigmatized, discriminated against, not treated with respect by their health providers, and confront significant obstacles in receiving the care they deserve. ” said Sally Greenberg, Chief Executive Officer of the National Consumers League. “This must change; we need an overhaul of the health system, and we believe an Obesity Bill of Rights can drive this transformation.”

Because this change will only happen if there is agreement on a set of basic rights that ensure adults with obesity receive respectful, timely, and effective obesity care, NCL and NCOA unveiled www.Right2ObesityCare.org, a new online engagement platform, so the nation’s health providers, insurers and employers can play a role in developing the Obesity Bill of Rights.  Right2ObesityCare.org explains the purpose and research-driven process and encourages a wide range of health professionals – from obesity medicine specialists and physicians to dietitians, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, health educators, and mental health professionals – to contribute their ideas.

Town Halls Chart the Obstacles for Adults with Obesity and Their Providers

Along with hearing from health professionals, the Obesity Bill of Rights will be informed by the insights of both adults with obesity and their health providers who participated in four town hall meetings that NCL and NCOA hosted across the country. Held in senior centers and churches in

California, Delaware, Mississippi, and Oklahoma between June and August 2023, the town halls involved more than 250 older adults, community leaders, and local clinicians who laid bare a healthcare system that is inhospitable to delivering quality obesity care.                                                        

When asked to share their experiences, older adults attending the town halls spoke of feeling invisible when seeing a health provider, not being listened to, and being treated with disdain when they initiated conversations about their obesity. At the same time, physicians described feeling inadequate to provide obesity care due to the limited time for counseling, not enough training in obesity management, inadequate coverage and reimbursement for obesity care, and needing better tools to help patients recognize obesity risks. This confirms research that finds adults with excess weight often feel unwelcome in the doctor’s office or believe that seeking help for obesity signifies moral failure. [3]

“This is a chronic condition that no one wants to talk about,” said Ramsey Alwin, NCOA President and CEO. “For several decades, NCOA has worked to empower older adults to better manage their chronic conditions. To break down barriers related to obesity, we held town halls that allowed both older adults and their health providers to relay their lived experiences. What we learned is that encouraging more people to seek obesity care requires an investment in science-based, easy-to-understand, accessible information about obesity; a healthcare system that encourages informed decision-making and patient-centered care; and effective public policy that requires health plans to provide access to the treatments deemed appropriate by the health provider, including lifestyle interventions, FDA-approved weight loss medications, and bariatric surgery.”

Mobilizing for Change
With the townhalls as a guidepost, NCL and NCOA are now leading a rigorous process to finalize and release the Obesity Bill of Rights to the medical community and public before the end of 2023. The process includes hosting a meeting of top experts to review a preliminary draft with recommendations for refinement. NCL and NCOA will also seek feedback from specialists in minority health, aging, and rural health, as well as health professionals and other stakeholders who offer advice through the online engagement platform.

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About NCL

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. The organization’s 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.

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the national voice for every person’s right to age well. We believe that how we age should not be determined by gender, color, sexuality, income, or ZIP code. Working with thousands of national and local partners, we provide resources, tools, best practices, and advocacy to ensure every person can age with health and financial security. Founded in 1950, we are the oldest national organization focused on older adults. Learn more at www.ncoa.org.

[1] Hales CM,, et al. Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity Among Adults: United States, 2017-2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NCHS Data Brief. No. 360. February 2020.

[2] Stokes A, et al. Prevalence and Determinants of Engagement with Obesity Care in the United States. Obesity. Vol. 26, Issue 5; May 2018, 814-818

[3] Gunther S, et al. Barriers and enablers to managing obesity in general practice: a practical approach for use in implementation activities. Qual Prim Care. 2012; 20: 93-103

NCL applauds Biden Administration’s continued actions to combat junk fees

October 11, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, today applauded the White House’s announcement of additional whole-of-government efforts to crack down on hidden junk fees that drain consumers’ pocketbooks and reduce competition.

NCL singled out, in particular, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) proposed rule prohibiting junk fees and bogus charges across the economy. NCL previously supported a petition urging the Commission to begin such a rulemaking. The League also praised the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s action to bar the imposition of fees on consumers seeking basic information, such as bank account balances or loan repayment information.

“Over the last two years, the Biden Administration has championed the cause of ridding the American economy of hidden charges and promoting economic competition on behalf of American consumers,” said NCL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sally Greenberg. “Thanks to consumer advocacy and the federal government’s efforts, many of the biggest banks have reduced or eliminated predatory overdraft fees. This Administration’s actions to address industry consolidation have also reinvigorated discussions about antitrust law and put fair treatment of average Americans as the focus of national policy. The League commends these agencies’ actions to protect consumers throughout the marketplace.”

NCL has been working with the White House, federal agencies, and partners in Congress to rein in the scourge of junk fees. Last month, NCL Vice President of Public Policy John Breyault testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on various ways to address the use of predatory fees in live event ticketing and hotels and short-term lodging. In June, NCL CEO Greenberg testified in the U.S. Senate on the need to end corporations’ “addiction” to junk fees. And in February, NCL joined 42 other advocacy organizations in comments to the FTC supporting a wide-sweeping federal regulation to prohibit the use of predatory and deceptive fees.

Today’s announcement comes just a few weeks after the FTC and U.S. Department of Justice completed the first stages of implementing new guidelines informing how the agencies evaluate whether business acquisitions and mergers would violate federal law. NCL’s comments supporting these new guidelines can be found here.

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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 nclnet.org.