Mary Lou Cooper

Mary Lou Cooper reports on consumer issues for KSFR as well as on politics and elder affairs. She also assists radio journalist Dave Marash at KSFR, conducting research and booking for the “Here and There with Dave Marash” program. She has worked for the U.S. Congress as well as for the Nevada and Tennessee legislatures, and remains a political junkie. She worked many years for an association of Western state legislatures and was a contributor to “Capitol Ideas,” a national magazine about state government.  In 2016 Cooper received a public service award from the New Mexico Broadcasting Association for her KSFR story on Internet romance scams.  She has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and from the National Federation of Press Women. She grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and received her BA from Emory University in Atlanta and her MA from the University of Texas Austin.  She also holds fiction and screenwriting certificates from the University of Washington.

Throughout tax season, KSFR has presented a series of reports from consumer protection correspondent Mary Lou Cooper, to help listeners avoid pitfalls and practices that can get them in trouble. Today’s report covers what’s new in 2016, how to avoid being audited and more.  Mary Lou talks with the Internal Revenue Service to find out just what Uncle Sam has in store.

Each year the Internal Revenue Service issues a Dirty Dozen list of tax scams and schemes.  In part three of our tax series this year, we see that padding your tax return with false or inflated deductions has made this year’s list… and the consequences can be dire.    

Less than one percent of all federal tax returns are audited…but beware, the higher your income the more likely you are to be audited. Falsely reporting expenses or downplaying your income are bright red flags to the IRS. Reporter Mary Lou Cooper brings us the story.

As if tax season weren’t stressful enough already, it’s a golden opportunity for con artists.  According to the Internal Revenue Service, tax scammers who impersonate IRS agents are at it again, trying to steal your money.  As part of a series of stories about tax scams and schemes, KSFR’s Mary Lou brings us today’s report.

It might feel far away, but April 15th is right around the corner. Each year the Internal Revenue Service compiles a “Dirty Dozen” list of the worst tax schemes and scams of the season.  In 2016, the list includes such things as identity theft, phone scams and tax preparer fraud.  KSFR’s Mary Lou Cooper brings us a series of reports to alert taxpayers to potential threats to their financial security. Today’s story explores how to pick an honest tax preparer…and how to avoid those who are unscrupulous.

Today, Mary Lou Cooper brings us part two of KSFR’s look at charitable giving in America.  She continues to explore “America’s Worst Charities” with the co-author of that report.

KSFR's Zelie Pollon spoke with AARP for the low-down on some holiday-specific charity scams. To listen, Click Here. 

According to Charity Navigator, a non-profit working to make charities more transparent and accountable, Americans gave more than 350-billion dollars to charitable causes in 2014.  Seventy-five percent of those donations came from individuals. KSFR’s Mary Lou Cooper spoke with Kendall Taggart, co-author of “America’s Worst Charities” to learn more about the good and bad of charitable giving in the U.S.  Kendall is now an investigative reporter at BuzzFeed.  When she researched charities, she reported for The Center for Investigative Reporting. 

With the holidays right around the corner, KSFR turned to the American Automobile Association for tips to make holiday travel safe and enjoyable.  Reporter Mary Lou Cooper brings us the story.

New Mexico campaign finances have grabbed the headlines in recent days--specifically, the activities of Governor Martinez’s chief political consultant Jay McCleskey. Today, reporter Mary Lou Cooper explores the federal angle of the story.

November is National Adoption Month, an initiative from the federal government, AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council.  This year’s focus is on older children, since at the national level more than 41 percent of kids awaiting adoption are aged 15-18. KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper brings us the story.

Fall is a great time for curling up with a crackling good mystery.  It’s also a great time for mystery writers to gather here in Santa Fe for the annual Tony Hillerman Writer’s Conference, which takes placeThursday through Saturday.  KSFR reporter and mystery lover Mary Lou Cooper brings us the details.

More than 157 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this year.  We’ll spend almost seven billion dollars on decorations, candy, costumes and such.  More than 60 percent of us will hand out candy, and more than 40 percent of us will decorate our yards, dress in costumes and carve pumpkins.  That’s according to the National Retail Federation.   For kids especially, it’s that magical time of the year when ghosts and goblins rule the day… and night.  KSFR’s Mary Lou Cooper brings us some tips to make this Halloween a safe, as well as enjoyable, holiday.  

Grandparents raising grandchildren is a growing phenomenon, nationally and here in New Mexico.  In Rio Arriba County, 60 percent of children under age 6 are in the care of grandparents. On Friday, October 16, a statewide conference on this topic will take place at the Santa Fe Convention Center.  Reporter Mary Lou Cooper talks with a conference organizer to learn more.

In our feature report, KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper takes a look at why so many grandparents are raising grandkids these days.  She turns to AARP, the nation’s largest advocate for older Americans, to find out about the issues these grandmas and grandpas face and the resources available to help them out.

As part of KSFR's series on consumer protection, we took a look at the do's and don'ts for consumers who are thinking about buying a used car. Mary Lou Cooper brings us the story.