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Paul Kiel


Photo of Paul Kiel

Paul Kiel covers business and consumer finance for ProPublica.

In recent years, his work has helped spur a $135 million settlement by a subprime lender for alleged abuses against service members, legislation in Congressa federal investigation of a high-cost lenderstate rule changes and the forgiveness of $17 million in medical bills by a nonprofit hospital.

Past areas of focus have included the foreclosure crisishigh-cost lending (particularly installment and payday loans), the widespread use of lawsuits and garnishments to collect consumer debts, and the consumer bankruptcy system.

His work has appeared in several newspapers, including The Washington Post and The New York Times. He has also produced stories for National Public Radio and American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as appeared on This American Life.

Among other honors, his work has been awarded a Philip Meyer Award by Investigative Reporters and Editors, a Scripps Howard Award, a Best in Business Award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the Online News Association’s Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, and a National Press Club Award. His e-book on the foreclosure crisis was featured in The Best Business Writing 2013.

When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

There’s ample evidence many people don’t file for bankruptcy simply because they can’t pay an attorney. It’s a fixable problem.

Newly Defanged, Top Consumer Protection Agency Drops Investigation of High-Cost Lender

In the latest sign that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pulling back from aggressive enforcement, it dropped an investigation triggered by a 2013 ProPublica story about a lender that charges triple-digit interest rates.

Cómo se cometen estafas de bancarrotas con impunidad en Los Ángeles

En la principal ciudad de California, estafadores se aprovechan de propietarios que arriesgan perder sus hogares. Los latinos son uno de los grupos más afectados.

How to Get Away With Bankruptcy Fraud

Los Angeles is the nation’s hub for bankruptcy crime. Scammers prey on struggling homeowners with little fear of getting caught, because criminal enforcement of bankruptcy laws is rare.

‘This Is Unacceptable’: ProPublica Story on Bankruptcy in Memphis Prompts City Council Soul-Searching

The story detailed how the city’s poor black residents are steered into bankruptcy plans they are doomed to fail. Two City Council members are looking at a series of solutions to address the underlying problems.

Without Fanfare, Equifax Makes Bankruptcy Change That Affects Hundreds of Thousands

For years, an Equifax policy has treated some Chapter 13 filers differently than the other two major credit rating agencies. After ProPublica asked about it, the company said it would change the policy.

Chicago’s Bankruptcy Boom

ProPublica’s analysis of racial disparities in bankruptcy revealed a skyrocketing number of filings in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. But most of the cases will fall apart before the debts are wiped away.

Data Analysis: Bankruptcy and Race in America

An in-depth discussion of racial patterns in bankruptcy filings and outcomes

In the South, Bankruptcy Is Different, Especially for Black Debtors

Only in the South is Chapter 13 the predominant form of bankruptcy. We mapped Chapter 13’s usage to show that it breaks not only along regional, but also racial lines.

Bankruptcy: What’s the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

Key differences between the chapters make choosing the right one critical for success. Using our analysis, we explain how they work and how people fare under each.

How the Bankruptcy System Is Failing Black Americans

Black people struggling with debts are far less likely than their white peers to gain lasting relief from bankruptcy, according to a ProPublica analysis. Primarily to blame is a style of bankruptcy practiced by lawyers in the South.

In Nebraska, New Bill Proposes Protections Against Rampant Debt Collection

Bill seeks to block collectors from cleaning out debtors’ bank accounts over medical debts of a few hundred dollars.

Trump’s Treasury Pick Excelled at Kicking Elderly People Out of Their Homes

When Steven Mnuchin ran OneWest, the bank aggressively and in some cases, wrongly, foreclosed on elderly homeowners with reverse mortgages. The bank had a disproportionate share of such foreclosures.

In Major Settlement, States Gang Up to Strike Deal with Soldier-Suing Company

The Virginia-based company was the focus of a 2014 ProPublica investigation of its lending and collection practices.

Company That Sued Soldiers Settles Colorado Lawsuit

The Virginia-based company was the focus of a 2014 ProPublica investigation of its lending and collection practices.

In Bill, Lawmakers Propose New Limits for Seizing Workers’ Pay Over Old Debts

Last week, two lawmakers introduced a bill to put new limits on what debt collectors can take from debtors’ paychecks and bank accounts. It is the first legislation to address the issue in decades and follows a series of ProPublica stories about the widespread practice of garnishment.

Nonprofit Hospital Stops Suing So Many Poor Patients: Will Others Follow?

A story by ProPublica and NPR and a Senate investigation prompt a Missouri nonprofit hospital to change its policies and forgive thousands of patients’ debts. But without similar scrutiny, it’s unclear if other hospitals that sue the poor will change.

So Sue Them: What We’ve Learned About the Debt Collection Lawsuit Machine

ProPublica spent years gathering data to shed light on how debt collectors use the courts. Today, we run through the most important lessons we learned about a tactic that affects millions.

For Nebraska’s Poor, Get Sick and Get Sued

Cheap court fees and looser rules make suing over medical debts as small as $60 easy. Every year Nebraska collection agencies file lawsuits by the tens of thousands.

Why Small Debts Matter So Much To Black Lives

Due to the racial wealth gap, black families have far less in savings than whites. The consequences can be far-reaching and often severe.

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