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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Pretrial diversion offers defendants a second chance – if they can pay

Pretrial diversion is designed to alleviate crowded courts and jails, and help low-risk defendants avoid the damaging consequences that come with a criminal record. But an investigation by The New York Times found that diversion programs vary widely from state to state and that second chances are often only granted to those who can afford…

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Bled dry: How felons and fraudsters ruin hospitals across the U.S.

Virtually anyone can take over a hospital – even fraudsters, career criminals and bankrupt businessmen. In a two-part series, The Dallas Morning News describes how a feeble regulatory system allows crooked operators to seize hospitals, bleed them dry and put patients’ lives in peril. Part one details how a doctor purchased one of the nation’s most remote…

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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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Allegiant Air planes are 4 times as likely to fail during flight as other major airlines

An investigation by the Tampa Bay Times has found that planes operated by Allegiant Air are four times as likely to fail during flight as those flown by other major U.S. carriers. Forty-two of the budget airline’s 86 planes broke down in mid-flight at least once in 2015. And while most U.S. airlines reported about…

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Funds to update New Jersey 911 services are diverted to unrelated areas

Of the nearly $1.4 billion in taxes New Jersey residents have paid to fund a new 911 service since 2004, only about 15 percent of it has gone to the system, according to a report by NJ.com. The tax was meant to support current 911 operations, as well as fund the shift to NextGen 911,…

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Employees at Asos say exploitive contracts, surveillance make them feel like robots

A large cost for shipping retail giant Asos’s products worldwide is borne by warehouse employees in England. A BuzzFeed News investigation revealed that the warehouse’s high-pressure environment made staff feel like they could be fired without notice, sent home without pay, and have their shifts cancelled or extended on short notice.  In the past, Asos…

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Some N.C. lottery players win so often, their good fortune defies logic

An exhaustive review of North Carolina lottery winners by The Charlotte Observer found that some players are gaming the system and hurting taxpayers in the process. Analyzing 189,000 lottery win claims between 2006 and 2015, The Charlotte Observer found a high percentage of repeat winners, including licensed retailers who sell tickets to the general public.…

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Nearly a fifth of Illinois 9/11 loans deemed uncollectible

An analysis by the Chicago Tribune shows that nearly a fifth of the “economic injury disaster loans” made to Illinois small businesses in the wake of the 9/11 attacks have been deemed uncollectible by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The charge-off rate for the banking industry is well under 1 percent of loans. About half…

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Cutting tuition grants wouldn’t save as much as Texas lieutenant governor claims

Hundreds of thousands of minority, poor and middle class students could miss out on an opportunity to attend college if Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick gets his way. Patrick wants to eliminate programs that require 20 percent of all tuition collected by schools to go to students who demonstrate financial need. By doing away with…

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