(frankieleon)

What Can An ID Thief Do With My Social Security Number?

When I was working at the library in college, every student had to tell me his/her student ID number to check out a book, and with very few exceptions that number was also the student’s Social Security number. Oh boy, the profitable things I could have done if I’d been enterprisingly evil. [More]

BytePhoto.com has been running online contests since 2003, but is now being sued by a company that obtained a patent on this sort of online voting.

Hobbyist Photo-Sharing Site Defends Itself Against Company With A Patent On Online Voting

Patents are intended to protect the developers of specific concepts. That’s why you don’t see a patent for “thing that can treat diseases,” but for individual medicines and devices. Last summer, the Supreme Court confirmed you can’t simply patent a generic idea just because you apply it to a computer. But a small photo-sharing site is being sued for infringing on a patent that arguably covers a vast range of vote-for-your-favorite competitions. [More]

(Dan Coulter)

Demand That Phone Companies Give Consumers Free Tools To Block Robocalls

While federal regulations and the Do Not Call list have significantly cut down on some auto-dialed, prerecorded messages, the problem of illegal robocalls still persists, mostly because scammers don’t care if they break the law. There are various technologies that phone companies could use to preempt even more of these calls but most consumers don’t have access to them. [More]

Analyst Downgrades Odds Of Comcast, Time Warner Cable Merger

Analyst Downgrades Odds Of Comcast, Time Warner Cable Merger

An important industry analyst who had previously placed decent odds on Comcast being allowed to spend $45 billion to acquire Time Warner Cable is now looking at the deal in a less-sunny light, downgrading the likelihood of the merger succeeding. [More]

Visitors Bureau For Ice-Cold Ithaca Tells People To Just Go Get Warm In Key West

Visitors Bureau For Ice-Cold Ithaca Tells People To Just Go Get Warm In Key West

While the central New York city of Ithaca might be home to lovely Cornell University and the fictional University of Ithaca from the classic Breckin Meyer comedy Road Trip, it — like many places north of 35th parallel this week — is unpleasantly, bone-chillingly cold. But at least the folks at the Ithaca Visitors Bureau have a good sense of humor about the weather. [More]

Philip Morris Does Horrible Job Of Defending Itself After John Oliver Mocking

Philip Morris Does Horrible Job Of Defending Itself After John Oliver Mocking

On Sunday night, John Oliver called out the tobacco industry, and particularly Philip Morris, for the practice of threatening small and poor countries with complicated, expensive international trade lawsuits if they try to strictly regulate cigarette marketing. But while Big Tobacco has the coffers to pay for costly legal battles, it does a really poor job of trying to defend its actions. [More]

While Nestlé is removing artificial ingredients from Butterfinger, it is not going back to the 1969 recipe, which apparently stuffed adult women into the chocolate bar. (photo: Renee Rendler-Kaplan)

Nestlé Says It Will Remove Artificial Flavors & Colors From Chocolate Products

Crack open a Butterfinger bar and you’ll find a core that uses food dyes like Red 40 and Yellow 5 to get that distinctive orange hue. While these and other artificial ingredients are certified by the FDA for use in food, a growing number of consumers are looking for products with more natural ingredients. That’s why Nestlé USA has pledged to remove artificial flavors and colors from all of its chocolate items by the end of the year. [More]

Sling TV Chooses Epix For Its First Premium Movie Package

Sling TV Chooses Epix For Its First Premium Movie Package

Dish’s Sling TV streaming service is currently a pretty bare-bones operation, with only about a dozen channels and very little in the way of on-demand content. Today the service announced its first partnership with a premium pay-TV movie network. And no, it’s not HBO, Showtime, or even Starz. [More]

Death Toll From GM Ignition Defect Reaches 56

Death Toll From GM Ignition Defect Reaches 56

A year after General Motors first announced the long-delayed recall of the Chevy Cobalt, Saturn Ion and several other vehicles for an ignition problem that both the carmaker and regulators had ignored, the fund responsible for vetting death and injury claims related to the recall is now acknowledging at least 56 fatalities. [More]

Fingerhut.com Uses Over-Inflated Retail Prices To Make Rent-To-Own Look Affordable

Fingerhut.com Uses Over-Inflated Retail Prices To Make Rent-To-Own Look Affordable

On its TV ads, Fingerhut.com shows people making peace with their “budget” alter-egos by doing their shopping on the website that allows you to make “low” monthly payments. But what the site doesn’t say is that not only do those payments add up to a lot more than the original price of what you’re buying, but that Fingerhut’s sticker prices are grossly inflated over the actual retail prices. [More]

If you can take your eyes away from the dreamy visage of Shervin Pishevar for a second, you'll notice that little black box on the right hand side touting content paid for by Fidelity without disclosing that it's actually an ad.

Forbes Now Including Advertiser-Created Content On Front Cover Of Magazine

If you thought the demon who goes by many names — native advertising, advertorials, sponsored stories, promoted content, utter bullsh*t — was something that was relegated to the Internet, then go check out the new issue of Forbes, which not only comes complete with some of this bought-and-paid-for crap, but which actually lists it on the front cover of the magazine like it’s just another story. [More]

When Pizza Hut Loses Your Order, Don’t Drive Your Car Into The Building

When Pizza Hut Loses Your Order, Don’t Drive Your Car Into The Building

Here’s the latest from the To-Go Food Overreaction File: Police in New York arrested a woman yesterday for smashing her car into a Pizza Hut after the eatery reportedly lost her order. [More]

Comcast Doesn’t Want To Improve Its ‘Internet Essentials’ Program For Low-Income Consumers

Comcast Doesn’t Want To Improve Its ‘Internet Essentials’ Program For Low-Income Consumers

With Comcast’s $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable nearing the finish line, you’d think the company would be willing to do something as insignificant as make promises to improve its broadband program for low-income users. You’d be wrong. [More]

Meet The New Marlboro Spokesman: Jeff, The Diseased Lung In A Cowboy Hat

Meet The New Marlboro Spokesman: Jeff, The Diseased Lung In A Cowboy Hat

On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took an in-depth look at how the tobacco industry uses expensive lawsuits and byzantine international trade agreements to keep countries from pushing for stronger regulation on cigarettes. But rather than just call Big Tobacco out for its bad behavior, Oliver also offered a helpful solution that might make all sides happy. [More]

JetBlue Also Reportedly Looking To End American Express Partnership

JetBlue Also Reportedly Looking To End American Express Partnership

For ten years, JetBlue and American Express have been partners on the airline’s co-branded credit cards. But a new report claims that this longterm relationship may be coming to an end with JetBlue and that it’s already picked out a new partner. [More]

Ad Execs Pick Their Favorite Fake ‘Saturday Night Live’ Ads From Last 40 Years

“After five or ten fish, it gets to be quite a rush,” is a slogan more ads should employ.

This weekend, NBC’s Saturday Night Live will celebrate turning 40, which is incredibly depressing for some of us who have fuzzy childhood memories of sneaking downstairs to watch Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi and others do things that we knew were hilarious even if we were too young to understand. So what better way to end the week than to look back at some of the best fake ads ever aired on SNL. [More]

Costco Says Dumping American Express Was About “Saving Money For Customers”

Costco Says Dumping American Express Was About “Saving Money For Customers”

Yesterday, American Express announced the impending end of its monogamous relationship with Costco, meaning that not only will AmEx cards no longer be accepted at the popular warehouse store but that co-branded AmEx/Costco credit cards will be useless after March 31, 2016. Now Costco is breaking its silence on the split, saying it was all done in the best interest of Costco shoppers. [More]

Sorry, Dodgers fans. New MLB Commish Rob Manfred doesn't care whether you can watch your team on TV.

New MLB Commissioner Won’t Do Anything To Get Dodgers Back On L.A. TV

With pitchers and catchers set to report to spring training in the coming week, and the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season fewer than eight weeks away, the overwhelming majority of Dodgers fans in Los Angeles are still unable to watch their hometown team on TV. And even though now-former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had said during his final months that the league would do “everything we can to break the impasse,” those words now ring hollow as Selig’s replacement has confirmed he wants nothing to do with getting baseball back on TV in L.A. [More]