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Author Archives: ProPublica

ProPublica

Four Ways You Can Seek Back Pay for an Unpaid Internship

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by Kara Brandeisky ProPublica, May 9, 2014, 12 p.m. At ProPublica, we’ve heard from a lot of unpaid interns. You’ve told us about walking your boss’s dog, fact-checking for magazines and even doing the same work as federal prosecutors 2014 all for little or no pay. If you think you might be entitled to minimum wage for your work, you ... Read More »

Why You Should Never Pay Sticker Price for College

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by Marian Wang ProPublica, Jan. 2, 2014, 9:27 a.m. You know all those seemingly great sales during the holidays? It turns out, they are often a “carefully engineered illusion.”  A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal defines what it calls “retail theater,” noting that often the discounts being offered to bargain-conscious consumers are carefully planned out by retailers from ... Read More »

When Lenders Sue, Quick Cash Can Turn Into a Lifetime of Debt

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Dec. 13, 2013, 10:47 a.m. A version of this story will be published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday. Five years ago, Naya Burks of St. Louis borrowed $1,000 from AmeriCash Loans. The money came at a steep price: She had to pay back $1,737 over six months. “I really needed the cash, and that ... Read More »

Payday Lenders in Texas Try to Dodge Law

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica Alarmed by the explosion of high-cost lending in the state, cities across Texas have passed ordinances to prevent the cycle of debt that short-term, high-cost loans can create. But some big lenders are finding clever ways around the laws — like giving away cash for free. TitleMax promises to “make getting cash easy!” To get a ... Read More »

How Payday Lenders Fight to Stay Legal

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Aug. 2, 2013, 9 a.m. A version of this story was co-published with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As the Rev. Susan McCann stood outside a public library in Springfield, Mo., last year, she did her best to persuade passers-by to sign an initiative to ban high-cost payday loans. But it was difficult to keep her composure, ... Read More »

Bank of America Employees Allegedly Rewarded for Foreclosing

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Paul Kiel ProPublica Bank of America employees regularly lied to homeowners seeking loan modifications, denied their applications for made-up reasons, and were rewarded for sending homeowners to foreclosure, according to sworn statements by former bank employees. The employee statements were filed late last week in federal court in Boston as part of a multi-state class action suit brought on behalf ... Read More »

Soldiers Wounded by Debt, Not Bullets

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by Paul Kiel, ProPublica, and Mitchell Hartman, Marketplace, May 15, 2013, 5:50 a.m.by Paul Kiel and Krista Kjellman Schmidt, ProPublica, May 15 This story was co-produced with Marketplace. Listen to their coverage. Seven years after Congress banned payday-loan companies from charging exorbitant interest rates to service members, many of the nation’s military bases are surrounded by storefront lenders who charge ... Read More »

How Installment Lenders Put Borrowers in a World of Hurt

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica This story was co-produced with Marketplace. Listen to their coverage. One day late last year, Katrina Sutton stood at a gas pump outside Atlanta and swiped her debit card. Insufficient funds. But that couldn’t be. She’d been careful to wait until her $270 paycheck from Walmart had hit her account. The money wasn’t there? It was ... Read More »

Dead Son’s Student Loans Still Haunt Father

Student Loan Corkboard Concept

by Marian Wang ProPublica It’s been four long years for Francisco Reynoso. The California gardener whose son died in a car accident in 2008 left him buried in grief u2014 and in student debt. At last, the bereaved father is getting some resolution. As ProPublica reported in June, Reynoso was saddled with six figures in student loans that he had ... Read More »

Chase Bank Alleged Fraud Executive Responsible for Foreclosure Victim Compensation

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica An executive who the Justice Department says facilitated a scheme to defraud Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is now spearheading JPMorgan Chase’s role in the government’s program to compensate victims of the big banks’ abusive foreclosure practices. The executive, Rebecca Mairone, worked at Countrywide and Bank of America from 2006 until earlier this year, when she ... Read More »

Student Loan Servicers Suck

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by Marian Wang ProPublica, The parallels between the mortgage market and the student loan industry have been frequently noted. Both involve big borrowing and have a history of lax underwriting by lenders. But the two are also strikingly similar in another way: When it comes to both mortgages and student debt, the servicers, or companies that handle loan payments, sometimes ... Read More »

Doubts Spread About Independent Foreclosure Reviews

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica The idea behind the Independent Foreclosure Review seems simple. During the peak of the foreclosure crisis, the banks broke laws and made errors that hurt homeowners. In response, the government mandated they compensate the victims. But there is growing evidence some banks are playing a major role in identifying the victims of their own abuses, raising ... Read More »

ProPublica Raises Concerns Over Bank of America’s Foreclosure Review Process

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica Late last year, the country’s bank regulators launched a massive program to evaluate millions of foreclosure cases and compensate homeowners who fell victim to the banks’ flawed or illegal practices. Regulators dubbed it the “Independent Foreclosure Review” to emphasize that the banks would not be making key decisions about loans they had made or serviced. But ... Read More »

Student Loan Disability Discharge Process Improved

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Sasha Chavkin, Special to ProPublica The Education Department proposed new rules on Tuesday to revamp its troubled program for forgiving the federal student loans of borrowers who become disabled. The new regulations came after an investigation last year by ProPublica found that the department’s dysfunctional system for evaluating disability was keeping many genuinely disabled borrowers buried in student debt. Under ... Read More »

Big Foreclosure Compensation, But Only for the Right Wrongs

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by Paul Kiel ProPublica Can you put a price on the damage caused by a wrongful foreclosure? Banking regulators have. And it’s $125,000. Or $60,000. Or $15,000. Or2026 it’s unclear. Last November, banking regulators launched a process to force the big banks to compensate homeowners victimized by their foreclosure abuses. Many crucial details remained unclear, including how much victims might ... Read More »

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