Consumers Union: Kudos to Sprint for working to develop tools to combat robocalls

Just hang up if you receive a robocall.
Just hang up if you receive a robocall.

Robocalls. Ugh. No one likes them except those who profit from them.

Thursday, Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, applauded Sprint’s announcement today that it is working to develop more robust caller identification tools to help combat unwanted calls that it expects to integrate into its phone service later this year.  Sprint’s initiative shows leadership within an industry plagued by robocall complaints, according to the group.

“Consumers are desperate for relief from robocalls that ring day and night,” said Tim Marvin, who heads up Consumers Union’s End Robocalls campaign.  “Sprint deserves credit for taking the initiative to improve Caller ID technologies, a critical part of the effort to combat unwanted calls.  We hope they will couple this effort with tools that automatically block calls identified as robocalls.”

For over a year, Consumers Union’s End Robocalls campaign has worked to mobilize consumers to put pressure on the top phone companies to provide their customers with free call-blocking tools.  In August, the telecommunications industry launched the Robocall Strike Force to work on improving call-blocking technologies and pledged to issue a plan for doing so by October 19.  FCC Chairman Wheeler has repeatedly made clear that the phone companies’ work on the Strike Force should not delay them from offering robocall solutions now.

“As the Robocall Strike Force works on longer term efforts to stop unwanted calls, the phone companies should start offering their customers the best call-blocking tools currently available,” said Marvin.

McDonald’s stops selling chicken with antibiotics; KFC urged to do so

McDonald's no longer sells chicken raised using antibiotics.
McDonald’s no longer sells chicken raised using antibiotics.

McDonald’s has reached its pledge to stop selling chicken that has been raised on a diet of medically important antibiotics ahead of schedule, Consumers Union said Monday.

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, praised McDonald’s. The group urged Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast food chains to move away from meat and poultry suppliers that overuse antibiotics, a practice that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned is making these drugs less effective for treating disease in people.

“The reckless overuse of these critical medications on healthy livestock is contributing to our antibiotics resistance crisis,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union.  “McDonald’s has shown that it’s possible to eliminate this practice on a large scale while still meeting its supply needs.  We urge Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast food restaurants to follow McDonald’s lead and make the same commitment to public health.”

McDonald’s had previously committed to meeting its goal by March 2017, but announced Monday that it had already succeeded in doing so.  Chick-fil-A, which has the most sales of any chicken chain, has pledged to stop supplying its restaurants with poultry raised on antibiotics by 2019.

Last year, Consumers Union joined NRDC, PIRG and eighty other public interest groups to call on YUM! Brands, which includes Kentucky Fried Chicken, to stop allowing routine antibiotics use among its meat and poultry suppliers. KFC has the largest number of restaurants than any chicken chain and is the second highest in sales.

Some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used not on humans but on animals. These antibiotics are regularly fed to healthy animals like cows, pigs, and poultry to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in often crowded and unsanitary conditions on today’s industrial farms.

When antibiotics are used on the farm, the bugs that are vulnerable to them tend to be killed off, leaving behind “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can spread from the farm to our communities via meat and poultry, farmworkers, and through the air, soil, and water. As antibiotic resistance increases, the medications used to treat infections in people become less effective.

Making a last-minute donation in 2015? These 4 tips can help

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Hoping to make a last-minute donation before the end of the year so you can include it on your 2015 tax return? Consumer Reports has some tips that could help.

• Mailing a check to a charity? You can count it toward your 2015 tax return as long as the postage date on the envelope is before the end of the year. To make sure you have proof, don’t just drop your donation in the mailbox — send it certified or registered mail, Consumer Reports advises.

• If you send your check via a service like UPS or FedEx, you may have missed your chance: You need to verify the charity received your donation before the end of the year. Consumer Reports recommends asking the charity for a confirmation email that your donation is received before the end of 2015.

• For those who want to donate via credit card, as long as the donation shows up on your December credit card statement, you’ll be in good shape.

• Occasionally, charities will allow people to donate via text message. In that case, the proof you need is your cellphone bill, Consumer Reports says. The charge should display on your phone bill before Jan. 1.

Read more at on the Consumer Reports website.