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Front Page > City&Region > The High Cost of Being Poor

Schumer takes aim at rent-to-own industry -  8/8/2006
The rent-to-own industry uses "deceitful" lease agreements to "grossly overcharge" the most vulnerable consumers, said New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who plans to introduce federal legislation "to rein in this renegade industry."

Report urges curbing abuses against poor -  7/18/2006
Government, nonprofit and business leaders should step up to help lower-income families "get ahead" by bringing down inflated prices they constantly face and curbing free-market abuses, according to a report being issued today by Brookings Institution.

Licenses sought in check-cashing crackdown -  6/28/2006
Businesses that offer customers check-cashing services would have to get special licenses from City Hall under a proposal that is being reviewed by the Common Council.

The Assembly will hold hearings in Buffalo this summer to find the best way to strengthen oversight over check cashers, rent-to-own stores, short-term lenders and "predatory" mortgage firms that prey on the working poor, legislative leaders said.

When Mona Lisa Wilson's day care business began taking off several years ago, she and her husband, Dimitrius, thought it was time to fulfill their dream: to own a home.

State to study illegal check fees -  6/20/2006
State Banking Superintendent Diana L. Taylor said Monday she will confer with police and prosecutors in Buffalo to see if action should be taken against corner stores charging illegally high fees to cash checks.

Another cost of being poor - higher insurance rates -  6/20/2006
It's not just the car loan and mortgage that are more expensive for the poor. Insurance rates are sky-high, too. Take Dimitrius and Mona Lisa Wilson. Not counting a $25,000 city subsidy, they paid about $79,000 for their new East Side home nearly five years ago, and that's what it was assessed at. But the insurance company, New York Central Mutual, pegged replacement cost at $160,000, and based the insurance policy accordingly.

Despite some stronger laws, lending abuses continue -  6/20/2006
State lawmakers and federal bank regulators are cracking down on "predatory" lending, but the finance industry say the actions go too far. Consumer advocates, meanwhile, say things are improving, but more needs to be done.

Here's how life works for the working poor - the people without credit cards or cash savings - when the washing machine breaks, the kids need a bed, or the family wants a television.

Some tax firms use loophole to grab money from poor -  6/19/2006
Rent-to-own stores offer a pricey way to buy goods, but there are equally costly ways for low-income consumers to borrow money. In a world of alternative lending, consumers desperate for cash turn to pawn shops and other storefront lenders to obtain loans against their jewelry, paychecks, cars or almost anything else they can muster - even their income tax refunds.

EDITOR'S NOTE Every day, the working poor face a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland reality where those who can afford the least pay the most. From huge markups at rent-to-own stores to illegal charges for check cashing, those on a low income face an array of added costs - call it the poor tax - that the middle class never has to deal with.

Check-cashing charges exceed legal rate -  6/18/2006
Neighborhood stores are illegally operating unlicensed check-cashing businesses in Buffalo, charging excessive fees - as much as 10 percent - to customers in some of the poorest sections of the city, The Buffalo News found.

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