Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "debt" ...

  • Inventors Suing InventHelp Want to Know Why George Foreman Represents the Company

    Customers of InventHelp paid thousands of dollars – many took out loans through a company associated with InventHelp – sinking into debt without ever realizing either product or profit.
  • The Center for Public Integrity: Tax Breaks: The Favored Few

    In February 2018, Congress passed a massive budget bill, and President Donald Trump signed it. It provided new money for the military. It funded disaster relief efforts. And it raised the nation’s “debt ceiling” — allowing the government to secure new loans. While these provisions grabbed headlines amid the chaos of what was, at best, a slapdash scramble to pass a budget and avert another government shutdown, a gaggle of goodies, benefiting a bevy of special interests, slipped into the bill’s 652 pages almost unnoticed. These goodies are called “tax extenders.” Seeing an opportunity to boldly tell an effectively untold tale, the staff of the Center for Public Integrity endeavored to explain how every tax extender — more than 30 in all — came to fruition and reveal how lobbyists gamed the political system and squeezed $16 billion worth of special favors from it. This project represented a rare example of deep investigative reporting on Congress. While hundred of reporters cover what Mitch MCConnell and Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, very few unravel how the institution of Congress is corrupted.
  • Tangled up in debt

    In late 2017, The Hechinger Report began a deep dive into cosmetology education in Iowa, an education marketplace that has long eluded scrutiny and whose graduates comprise a poorly paid and “invisible” workforce. For-profit beauty schools have maintained a near-monopoly on the sector and kept state regulations to their liking, and where, despite the schools’ hefty price tags, student earnings years after graduation often remain low. The story was a collaboration with The New York Times.
  • STARZ's Fail State

    Executive produced by news legend Dan Rather, FAIL STATE investigates the dark side of American higher education, chronicling the decades of policy decisions in Washington, D.C. that have given rise to a powerful and highly-predatory for-profit college industry. With echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis, the film lays bare how for-profit colleges exploit millions of low-income and minority students, leaving them with worthless degrees and drowning in student loan debt. Combining five years of research and interviews from over 60 experts, policymakers, whistleblowers, and students defrauded by their colleges, director Alexander Shebanow presents a searing exposé on the for-profit college industry and the lawmakers enabling widespread fraud and abuse in American higher education. FAIL STATE debuted on STARZ on December 17th, 2018.
  • Sign Here to Lose Everything

    How predatory lenders have turned New York's court system into a high-speed debt-collection machine that is destroying small businesses nationwide.
  • ProPublica Illinois: Driven Into Debt

    This series of stories — which started at ProPublica Illinois and later was produced in collaboration with WBEZ — exposed how the city of Chicago’s aggressive and unequal ticketing practices, combined with punitive collections measures, have pushed tens of thousands of mostly black motorists into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The stories have also examined Chicago’s cottage industry of bankruptcy attorneys who profit off consumers with ticket debt, even as their clients often sink even deeper into debt; the racially disparate consequences of license suspensions for unpaid tickets; and an ill-fated decision to hike the price of what was already one of the most expensive tickets in the city.
  • Education Grant Debacle Fixed: Teachers to Get Millions Back After NPR Investigation

    NPR’s Chris Arnold and Cory Turner started digging into a Department of Education grant program after spotting a brief mention in a broader lawsuit. What they uncovered was shocking: a program gone horribly wrong for thousands of public school teachers. "It's ridiculous; it's mind-boggling. It's been two years of torture," was how teacher Kaitlyn McCollum of Columbia, Tenn described it. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The program has a noble goal - to encourage aspiring young teachers like McCollum to work in the nation’s most disadvantaged communities. They agree to teach a high-need subject, like math, for four years in a public school serving low income families. In return, they get grants to pay for their own education. But the reporters found that’s not how it worked out at all. Thousands of teachers had their grants unfairly converted to loans due to a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education - leaving some bearing the burden of more than $20,000 in debt. Cory and Chris’ work not only exposed the program’s brutal inflexibility and it’s devastating impact on the lives of teachers; their seven stories, reported over the previous ten months, convinced the Department to offer teachers a dramatic fix. As a result of their reporting, the Education Department is now reaching out to thousands of teachers to return millions of dollars of grant money that was unfairly taken away from them.
  • CBS News: New Tax Scam Tricks

    When tax preparer Annette Kraft in Duncan, Oklahoma, checked the status of her clients' tax returns in January, she was surprised to find all of them had been rejected."The code was 902-01," she said. "That means someone else has already filed a tax return." It turns out her clients were victims of a new tax scam intended to cheat them out of their refunds, and her town was ground zero in the scam. The criminals get their hands on returns from previous years, then use that information to file new fraudulent returns on unsuspecting victims. After the refund goes into the victim's bank account, the crooks, posing as debt collectors for the IRS, follow up with a phone call claiming the refund was an error, then directing them to a fraudulent website to return the money. "I had about $9,015 more than I anticipated," said Duncan police officer David Woods. He discovered that supposed refund one day as he checked his bank balance, but it didn't make sense because he hadn't filed his taxes yet. "I didn't get my W-2 to file my taxes," Woods said. He returned the money to the government, but now the IRS says his real refund will be delayed, possibly for months. He's not alone. At the local tire shop, 49-year-old Jerry Duvall told us his $5,800 return is more than two months late. "We planned on taking care of expenses, getting caught up on bills and we counted on it," Duvall said. He missed a $200 car payment, and on the very day we spoke with him, he told us his car was getting repossessed.At least 230 of Kraft's clients have been hit and face months of delays. Taxpayers like 91-year-old Ray Prothro found out about the scam from the IRS while we were there.
  • CALmatters: California teacher pension debt swamps school budgets

    California’s tax revenue may be surging thanks to a strong economy, but rapidly rising employee pension costs mean public school budgets are being squeezed.
  • Taking out a Reverse Mortgage Ruined My Life

    Dozens of senior citizens in New York City are caught in a rising tide of reverse- mortgage foreclosures that threaten to put some of the city’s most vulnerable residents out on the street. Because reverse-mortgage borrowers in foreclosure lack the protections — including mandatory settlement conferences and a 90-day notice requirement — instituted for traditional borrowers after the 2010 robo-signing scandal, these seniors are at risk of losing their homes far more quickly than forward-mortgage borrowers, who get an opportunity for negotiations overseen by the court. The debts at issue are relatively small, averaging just $10,000, but can trigger the loss of a home worth thirty times that amount or more.