Three honored for promoting consumer rights

Privacy, postal consumer issues and media advocacy are spotlighted by 2012 Consumer Excellence Awards

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Consumer Action held its 2012 Consumer Excellence Awards on October 2, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

“Consumer Action often is recognized for its long history of work on consumer financial services issues,” said Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action. “This year’s awards represent some of our lesser known focus areas, such as consumer privacy, postal consumer issues and media advocacy. We are proud to spotlight our award recipients for their efforts on behalf of consumers in this issue areas.”

This year’s honorees are:

  • The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom receives our 2012 Consumer Excellence Award in the Community Organization category. We honor the ALA OIF because of its outstanding efforts to educate consumers on their privacy rights via participation in privacy coalitions, Choose Privacy Week at local libraries and development of the website. For Choose Privacy Week 2012, the office has made an excellent short video called “Vanishing Liberties,” which focuses on the loss of privacy and civil liberties for immigrant communities.
  • Postal Regulatory Chairman Ruth Y. Goldway, a dedicated consumer advocate serving her third term as a PRC commissioner, receives our 2012 Consumer Excellence Award in the Regulatory category. We honor Chairman Goldway for her considerable contributions to protecting postal consumers during a time of unprecedented change and challenges for the US postal community. She has played a key role in the Postal Service’s adoption of the “Forever Stamp” to ensure that stamp buyers can use existing stocks even when rates rise; offered creative suggestions on how to save the nation’s beloved post offices and postal services; and developed a particular expertise in the disparate impacts of postal policy on first-class stamp buyers and low-income, elderly and rural postal clients.
  • Reporter and author Bob Sullivan, who writes The Red Tape Chronicles for, receives our 2012 Consumer Excellence Award in the Media category. We honor Sullivan because of his consumer rights-focused reporting and exposés on fraud and identity theft. Sullivan, who has written more than 100 articles about identity fraud since 1996, is the author of best-selling non-fiction titles Gotcha Capitalism, which details how consumers are confused, deceived and overcharged by big business, and Stop Getting Ripped Off, containing advice that consumers can use to get the best deals and avoid losing money.

Erica Swanson, outreach and policy manager at Google, presented the ALA OIF award. “Librarians are on the frontlines, working directly with individuals and communities to make information accessible, to give people the skills and resources, documents—and e-documents and websites!—they need and want, and to be forums for information and ideas. The American Library Association is there, leading the way. Whether it’s the work they do to arm frontline librarians with information about how consumers can be smart and safe online, or advocating for modernized protections against government surveillance of consumer’s data, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is leading the way on issues related to privacy and intellectual freedom.”

Don Soifer of the Lexington Institute presented Chairman Goldway’s award. Soifer serves as executive director of the Consumer Postal Council, a coalition of groups and individuals concerned with postal issues. Soifer said, in part, “Chairman Goldway has supported Consumer Action in its important work fighting to improve postal insurance, again looking out for consumers’ best interests while injecting honesty and integrity to everyday counter transactions at post offices across America.”

“I am honored to be recognized by Consumer Action,” said Chairman Goldway. “The organization encouraged me in my career when I was advocating for improved food labeling in the 1970s. Now, on the Commission, I work to assure that the Postal Service, which is a vital, essential national communications network, continues to provide easily accessible quality services, especially to those who cannot rely on new technology.”

Sullivan’s award was presented by Jennifer Openshaw, columnist for the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch and president of Finect, a social network for the financial services industry.

Openshaw introduced Sullivan by paraphrasing a passage from his award-winning book, Stop Getting Ripped Off.“ He talks about a woman serving in the Iraq war, and she was comparing her war experience with being a consumer in America. Bob quotes her as saying, ‘It was easier in the war zone.’ The service member’s $480K interest-only mortgage ate up 80% of the family’s salary and after other unexpected surprises, including the inability to refinance, they couldn’t even make it past two payments. The story typifies the perilous situation in play today for consumers in America. That’s why reporter and author Bob Sullivan receives Consumer Action’s 2012 Consumer Excellence Award in the Media category.”

Sponsorships of Consumer Action’s annual event provide key revenue for many of the organization’s core activities, such as its free consumer advice and referral hotline, its quarterly consumer education newspaper, Consumer Action News, and its three-year old e-newsletter, Consumer Action INSIDER. This year’s event raised more than $175,000. To learn more about our 2012 sponsors, click here to download a PDF of the 2012 event program.




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