The National Consumers League, which convenes the Child Labor Coalition, just issued a statement in reaction to admissions from Gap Inc. that one of the vendors somewhere along its supply chain had used the services of bonded child laborers. Turns out the products were in a line of clothing that would have ended up at GapKids.
NCL’s take on it? Good that Gap pulled the products. Bad that it came at this cost. Read the statement here.
by Susan Grant
There’s a lot of talk about the “global marketplace,” but what does that mean for the average consumer? It’s not just about buying something online from a business in a foreign country. It also encompasses the fact that many goods and services sold in the United States are produced in or provided by other countries. It’s also true that many of the companies that American consumers deal with operate in other countries as well, so the policies and practices of those businesses can affect consumers on a global scale.
One important organization that looks at consumer protection globally is the Committee on Consumer Policy at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD represents 30 major democractic industrialized countries from around the world. NCL is sometimes invited by the U.S. government to be part of its delegation to the CCP. At the fall meeting of the CCP, which just concluded in Paris, many issues that are important to U.S. consumers were discussed, including mobile commerce, online identity theft, protecting consumers in the telecommunications market, consumer education, and the role of business self-regulation.
I gave an update on the activities of the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, a coalition of 60+ consumer organizations from the U.S. and Europe that provides input to governments on both sides of the Atlantic about how to ensure that consumers have strong, consistent rights and protections.
by Susan Grant
The answer, in my opinion, is that they can and should do more, and that was the focus of a speech I gave on October 16 a conference organized by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal agency that regulates national banks. The conference brought together people who handle consumers’ questions and complaints from the OCC, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Office of Thrift Supervision. I used four problems — the current mortgage foreclosure crisis, identity theft, unauthorized debits from consumers’ bank accounts, and the explosion of fake check scams — to provide examples of how banks can help their customers avoid becoming fraud victims. I also asserted that the people who work in the bank regulators’ helplines can play an important role in educating both consumers and banks and in spotting serious problems that may need to be addressed quickly.
Last week, the parent company of American Idols Live Tour ‘07’ agreed to pay the New York State Department of Labor $5,000 in fines for 16 child labor violations involving two under age 18 performers.
Earlier this fall, a new television series used children as young as eight years old to scruff out a community of sorts, run by youth, in an isolated New Mexico community. Rumors of injuries, of children performing illegal occupations, and of other exploitation have earned scrutiny of the program. Children participating in the program received $5,000 for their 40 days of round-the-clock on-air entertainment.
Well done to the New York State Department of Labor! Not blinded by the “stars in the eyes” syndrome, it recognized that all working children, regardless of the glamour or lack thereof of the activity, deserve protection from child labor exploitation.
by Darlene Adkins, VP for Public Policy at NCL and Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition
Did you know that one working teen dies, on average, every five days in the United States?
It’s happened again. A young worker’s life has come to a tragically early end because of a deadly workplace accident. North Carolina and federal labor department officials are investigating whether child labor laws were broken in last week’s death of a 17-year-old working with a wood chipper. The young man, Nery Castaneda, became entangled in the wood chipper 3 months into his job, where his assignment was to grind up wooden pallets to make mulch.
Death’s like Nery’s are devastating for the family and heart-wrenching to us child labor advocates, who see the failure of child labor laws to protect working teens as the culprit.
by Susan Grant, Director of NCL’s Fraud Center
Everybody knows that it’s important to have a fire extinguisher and an insurance policy to protect their home in case of fire. But not everybody is as aware that they should have certain tools to protect their personal information online. To celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness month this October, we’ve added new information to our www.phishinginfo.org Web site about how to avoid becoming a victim of online identity theft.
Consumers have a lot of options for cyber protection, but it can be confusing. The new information on our site explains how verification engines, security toolbars, and other tools can help to keep your personal information safe and how to find them.
Get the tips here.
blog posted by Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director
The National Consumers League is the only consumer group that has a Fraud Center and is actively engaged in battling Internet and telemarketing fraud. This October 3, the Alliance for Consumer Fraud Awareness, of which NCL is a member, launched its “Fakechecks.org” Web site, with press conferences in New York and Washington, D.C.
I spoke at the press conference at the TimesCenter in New York, and the Director of NCL’s Fraud Center, Susan Grant, spoke in Washington, DC at the Press Club. The centerpiece of the campaign is a new NCL Web site, www.fakechecks.org. The Alliance warned consumers that while there are many different ways scammers set up the fake check scheme, there is a single common thread running through them that can enable consumers to identify it as fraud: no one who legitimately wants to give you a check or money order for something would ask you to wire money anywhere in return.
NCL Executive Director
I kicked off my first week on the job as Executive Director at the National Consumers League with testimony on Monday, October 1 before the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety. This group of federal agencies – 12 of them headed by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt – came together at the request of President George Bush this summer to assess the government’s response to protecting the public from unsafe imports. (See Leavitt’s blog on the task force.)
NCL touched on three issues: the irony in the history behind American health and safety laws and regulations; the risks of counterfeit drugs; and the relationship between sweatshop-like working conditions in China and the dangers in the products they manufacture.