Rent-to-own customers face high costs, harassment, few protections

An investigation was done jointly by NerdWallet, Raycom Media’s national investigative unit, and the Texas Tribune examined the business practices of Rent-A-Center, which is among the country’s largest rent-to-own retailers. Reporters found customers who had been subjected to abusive behavior, intimidation, and threats of arrest by Rent-A-Center employees after getting behind on payments. Some said…

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You Could Pay Thousands Less For A Funeral Just By Crossing The Street

An NPR investigation found that consumers at funeral homes are paying vastly different prices for similar services when faced with a confusing system.  Consumers often do not know enough about their local ‘death care’ markets to make informed decisions during an emotionally and financially difficult time. Funeral homes can also be unclear about how much…

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Drugmakers Manipulate Orphan Drug Rules To Create Monopolies

A six-month Kaiser Health News investigation found that drugmakers are gaming a federal drug approval system intended to help desperately ill patients with rare diseases get access to life-saving medications. But dozens of “orphan drugs,” which regularly carry six-figure annual price tags, are actually mass market pharmaceuticals with familiar brand names like Crestor, Abilify and…

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For years, FieldTurf made millions selling faulty fields

A six-month investigation by NJ Advance Media found that FieldTurf, the leading maker of artificial sports fields, sold an estimated $570 million in product that it knew would not live up to marketing hype or sales promises.  Duraspine was marketed to cities as long-lasting and the best turf money could buy. However, internal emails obtained…

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Water systems across the country contain high levels of lead

Flint, Michigan is not alone in its drinking water crisis. A USA TODAY Network investigation identified almost 2,000 water systems across the country that showed excessive levels of lead contamination over the past four years. These systems reported lead levels that exceed Environmental Protection Agency standards. About 350 of the systems provide drinking water to schools…

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Virginia car-title lenders enter the world of consumer-finance loans

A four-part series from WAMU 88.5 News in Washington, D.C., explores how car-title lenders in Virginia have moved into the shadowy world of consumer-finance loans, allowing them to get around restrictions on how much interest they can charge and how long the loans can be extended. Meanwhile, borrowers of traditional car-title loans are increasingly failing…

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Ohio consumers face difficulties filing complaints against utilities

Ohio consumers going up against a utility company haven’t fared well in recent years, according to an article by The Columbus Dispatch. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ruled in favor of consumers just four times in the last 10 years. Nearly 870 people made formal complaints in that time period. Settlements are the most…

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U.S. secretly tracked billions of calls for decades

The U.S. government started keeping secret records of Americans’ international telephone calls nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, harvesting billions of calls in a program that provided a blueprint for the far broader National Security Agency surveillance that followed. According to an investigation by USA TODAY, for more than two decades, the Justice Department…

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Extra Extra Monday: National Guard cronyism, forfeiture abuse, a web of lawyers

Racial bias, cronyism tearing apart N.J. National Guard, senior officers allege | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com The New Jersey National Guard prides itself on rigor and readiness, and, from its sprawling base southeast of Trenton, its members became a beacon of help after Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy ravaged portions of the state.…

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After report, prosecutors charge man in connection with real estate fraud scheme

Prosecutors have charged a man in connection with a widespread real estate fraud scheme detailed in reports by KSHB-Kansas City. Willis L. Watson, 35, faces nine different counts of felony forgery and theft, according to KSHB’s latest report. Reporter Ryan Kath found that someone had been stealing homes by forging signature of both the living…

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