Reports

Exposés

Consumer Watchdog investigates and reports on industries, corporations and politicians that defy our ethical customs, social mores and rules of law. Our in-depth reports below span decades and take on the most powerful politicians and industries in America.

“Connected Car Report 2020: The Models Most Open To Hacks," finds all of Car and Driver’s top 10 best-selling cars for 2020 clearly have features that allow wireless connectivity with safety critical systems and no known way to disconnect those systems. This leaves the vehicles vulnerable to an unprecedented, large-scale hack.

The report finds that high signature costs have put the initiative process out of reach for all but the wealthy. It concludes that electronic signatures could make signature gathering accessible for regular Californians and restore citizens’ access to the ballot.

A Consumer Watchdog review of one year’s worth of the authors published on the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times found that it failed to represent the people that make up Los Angeles.

 

Developed with the help of car industry technologists, "Kill Switch" finds all the top 2020 cars have Internet connections to safety critical systems that leave them vulnerable to fleet wide hacks.

The experts warn that a fleet wide hack at rush-hour could result in a 9-11 scale catastrophe with approximately 3,000 deaths. 

For every nickel bottle deposit that California consumers pay in the checkout line, they only get back 2.65 cents. A three-month investigation by Consumer Watchdog found the reason is a failing state recycling system that leaves consumers fewer options every year on where to redeem their empties while letting special interests—from grocery chains to beverage distributors and trash haulers—get r

How a Western Energy Grid integration could create a Wild West casino for California's utilities and how ratepayers could foot the bill.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is the largest, most powerful municipal utility in the country. For its first 110 years, the LADWP had virtually no independent voice to hold an opaque, mismanaged, and occasionally corrupt bureaucracy accountable.

A new study reveals that Amazon and Google have filed patent applications for a number of technologies that would dramatically expand surveillance of consumers’ private lives. These patent applications show how technology companies use home data to draw disturbing inferences about households, and how the companies might use that data for financial gain.

Consumer Watchdog's Liza Tucker authored a new report on Gov. Jerry Brown and his sister's relationship with Sempra Energy, entitled, Power Play.

Self-driving vehicles have become a cultural and political phenomenon. To peruse the breathless headlines is, like a ride in Marty McFly’s DeLorean, to experience the sensation of visiting a wondrous future.

Two Consumer Watchdog reports show that Amazon is deceiving its customers by putting fake crossed-out prices next to its products.  It’s a deceptive marketing ploy meant to trick consumers into thinking they are getting a deal for the products they are purchasing when they are not.

Details of Backpage’s victims have filled multiple lawsuits, legal actions and government investigations: A 13-year-old girl in Miami whose pimp tattooed his name on her eyelids; a 15-year-old in Seattle who was sold for sex more than 150 times.

This review fact-checks the perception of Jerry Brown as an environmentalist against his actions since taking office as Governor in 2011 to answer the question: “How Green Is Brown?” On a continuum of “Green” to “Murky” to “Dirty,” the review concludes that Brown’s environmental record is not green.

Governor Jerry Brown paints himself a foe of climate change.

Consumer Watchdog analyzed data from the shipping market and state sources to study the impact of gasoline imports and exports on gas prices in California during the first nine months of 2015, when gas prices were consistently $1 higher in the state than the nationwide average and oil refiner profits hit record levels. 

Consumer Watchdog investigated the impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline on gasoline prices and consumers. is analysis by Judy Dugan and Tim Hamilton utilized industry data, public records and company documents to find that the overall economic benefit to U.S. consumers is in doubt, especially beyond the construction period. In addition, U.S.

Californians have paid $7.5 billion more than they should have for their gasoline since California’s record gasoline price spike began in February of 2015, according to a Consumer Watchdog analysis of state and federal data. That amounts to $314 per California driver. The number takes into account California’s higher taxes. 

In the six months since California’s record gasoline price spike began in February, Californians have paid $4.8 billion more than the rest of the country for regular gasoline at the pump, according to a Consumer Watchdog analysis of state and federal data. That amounts to over $200 extra for each California driver. 

This analysis, “Refining Profits,” looks at how oil refiners in California fared over the last decade in their refining operaDons and compared the companies’ refining profits during periods of gasoline price spikes.

Californians have perennially experienced steep gasoline price spikes since 1999 when California’s Attorney General formed a Gasoline Pricing Taskforce that identified market consolidation and limited inventories as causes of prices spikes.

Internal documents obtained from the oil industry’s lobbying arm, the Western States Petroleum Association, show that the companies have made stopping California’s landmark climate change laws their top priority and will stop at nothing to achieve their ends.

Proposition 45 will require health insurance companies to open their books and publicly justify their rates under penalty of perjury before they are permitted to change rates for consumers in the individual and small group market.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has been a historically troubled agency, far too often failing to effectively fulfill its mission of protecting the public from toxic harm.

From March to September 2013, an investigation was undertaken to detail the significant privacy issues Google+ users may encounter when using the service. The evidence that follows will demonstrate that Google+ allows its users to routinely and blatantly violate its User Content & Conduct Policy.

Over the past quarter century, auto insurance expenditures in America have risen by more than 40 percent. Consumers in some states are paying 80 percent, 90 percent, and even 100 percent more for auto insurance than they paid in 1989. These increases have accrued despite substantial gains in automobile safety and the arrival of several new players in the insurance markets.

Health insurance premiums are increasing at a rate faster than medical inflation, especially in the volatile individual and small group markets, and worker incomes have not kept pace. The passage of the federal reform law triggered further outsized increases by insurance companies apparently seeking to establish high base rates in advance of the law’s implementation. 

California produces more than four billion pounds of hazardous waste every year. That’s enough to fill 727 Olympic-sized pools. At least one hundred thousand businesses, from aerospace, computer, and chemical companies, to metal shredders, gas stations, plating companies, and dry cleaners, contribute to this toxic stream. It has to go somewhere. 

Google has been a prominent beneficiary of the national home loan and foreclosure crisis of the past two years. The giant search engine company has profited by accepting deceptive advertising from fraudulent operators who falsely promise unwary consumers that they can solve their mortgage and credit problems.