The IRS Is Still Using Windows XP, Has A Cybersecurity Staff Of 363 People

The IRS Is Still Using Windows XP, Has A Cybersecurity Staff Of 363 People

In the last few years, tax return fraud has become a serious problem at the state and federal levels, thanks to the growth of e-filing and security holes in IRS and third-party tax software systems. Is the IRS to blame for this trend? There are really only two options: the IRS is either broke or incompetent. [More]

IRS Suspects Russian Identity Thieves In Data Breach

IRS Suspects Russian Identity Thieves In Data Breach

You may remember that the Internal Revenue Service announced late yesterday that about 100,000 taxpayers’ personal information was breached when thieves armed with their personal information were able to log in to the IRS transcript system and extract even more sensitive information about their victims. Today, we learned that the IRS suspects that an organized group of hackers out of Russia are responsible for the 200,000 attempts to extract taxpayer data. [More]

IRS: Thieves Obtained Information On 100,000 Taxpayers From Transcript System

IRS: Thieves Obtained Information On 100,000 Taxpayers From Transcript System

A tax transcript is a document from the IRS that shows key information from tax returns that you’ve already filed, or changes to what you and the government owe each other that may have been made after the return was filed. You can normally order them online, but the system is now closed after the IRS learned that people identified only as “thieves” accessed transcripts for about 100,000 people. [More]

FTC: ‘Clinically Proven’ Menopause And Weight Loss Supplement Helps With Neither

FTC: ‘Clinically Proven’ Menopause And Weight Loss Supplement Helps With Neither

American consumers have spent $65 million on Amberen, a supplement meant to ease the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. These symptoms can include hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, and weight gain. Did Amberen help with these symptoms, as promised? No, the Federal Trade Commission says: it mostly helped to lighten customers’ bank accounts, and has filed a complaint against the company that sells it. [More]

Verizon, Sprint To Pay $158 Million To Settle Wireless Bill-Cramming Allegations

Verizon, Sprint To Pay $158 Million To Settle Wireless Bill-Cramming Allegations

Several months after AT&T and T-Mobile reached multimillion-dollar settlements with federal regulators to close the books on allegations of bill-cramming — illegal, unauthorized third-party charges for services like premium text message subscriptions — both Sprint and Verizon have also decided to pay the regulatory piper. Combined, the two wireless companies will pay $158 million to settle cramming claims with the FCC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. [More]

Being Declared Dead By The Social Security Administration Is Very Inconvenient

Being Declared Dead By The Social Security Administration Is Very Inconvenient

Being dead is very inconvenient, but having the government believe that you’re dead when you aren’t is even more inconvenient. Yet the Social Security Administration accidentally declares about 9,000 people living in the United States dead every year. Yet when this happens to someone, they struggle to find help and to get anyone to believe them so they can be brought back to life financially. [More]

How Do You Get Your Tax Refund Back When Someone Steals It?

How Do You Get Your Tax Refund Back When Someone Steals It?

If you have only one job and take the standard deduction, filing your taxes can be pretty simple. It’s so simple, in fact, that fraudsters are happy to do it for you, stealing your refund in the process. What happens to taxpayers who get stuck in this situation? Tax fraud is complicated, and sometimes they end up waiting for a very long time to get their money back. [More]

(Seattle Plice Department)

Truck Full Of Salmon Turns Over On Highway, Blocks Traffic For 9 Hours

The creatures of the sea are rising up to…snarl our traffic and then get eaten anyway. First, a tractor-trailer in Maine overturned, but its cargo of 30,000 pounds of live lobsters were fine and survived to be loaded on another truck. Now a truck full of salmon turned over on a highway in Seattle, messing up traffic everywhere from down the road to in the sky. [More]

(frankieleon)

Virginia Limits Retention Of License Plate Capture Data To 7 Days

We’ve shared with you before the that both private companies and law enforcement are combining images of motorists’ license plates with geographic data about where those plates were spotted. Some states have passed laws limiting how long this data can stay in databases or banning its collection altogether, and Virginia has joined that list as of this month. [More]

(frankieleon)

Poll: Most People Will Use Tax Refunds To Pay Down Debt, Build Savings

Are you expecting a tax refund this year? While making changes to how much tax you have withheld from your paychecks during the rest of the year can get you slightly larger checks all year long, most people keep things as they are and enjoy receiving a windfall at the beginning of the year. What do they do with that refund, though? [More]

The Hot Potato Principle: Why This Grandma’s Bank Stuck Her With Counterfeit Cash

The Hot Potato Principle: Why This Grandma’s Bank Stuck Her With Counterfeit Cash

Counterfeit currency operates on the “hot potato” principle. Like the children’s game, the last person caught with the object loses. Once you accept counterfeit cash–even if it’s from a financial institution–it’s yours. This made for a very disappointing birthday gift for a 14-year-old from his grandmother. [More]

Hall & Oates Sue Granola Maker Over Haulin’ Oats Cereal

Hall & Oates Sue Granola Maker Over Haulin’ Oats Cereal

When I was a radio-listening youngster, I thought that there was a band called “Haulin’ Oats.” Eventually, I came to realize that these songs were actually performed by two fellows named Daryl Hall and John Oates, which made a lot more sense. This clearly isn’t an original idea, which is why the band have sued a granola-maker for marketing a cereal called “Haulin’ Oats.” [More]

(Sarah)

Find Out Whether Your Flexible Spending Account Can Roll Over

A flexible spending account is a handy tool that lets you put aside pre-tax money for medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. It lowers your income tax bill and means that you have money set aside for dental care and contact lenses. The problem with FSAs is that money in the account disappears at the end of the year, which is not necessarily December 31. Starting in 2013, though, there has been a little-known exception to that. [More]

(Corey Templeton)

Shipments Diverted To East Coast During Contract Dispute Probably Won’t Come Back

Here’s the thing with container ships: you can move them. That’s the point, actually, so it’s not surprising that instead of waiting in long lines to have their cargo unloaded while the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union spent nine months in a contract dispute. Some ships were diverted to the East Coast, and it’s possible that those shipments may never come back to the West Coast. [More]

(Rich Renomeron)

Can A Website Get You Out Of A Traffic Ticket?

It’s scary to get a traffic ticket, especially if you drive for a living or there’s a hike to your insurance on the line that you can’t afford, not to mention paying the fine. It makes sense to pay a service advertising that it can help get you out of a ticket for a modest fee that’s less than your fine. Or does it? [More]

FTC: No Scientific Proof That Mosquito Shield Bands Actually Work

FTC: No Scientific Proof That Mosquito Shield Bands Actually Work

Mint oil smells very nice, but the marketing materials for Viatek’s Mosquito Shield Bands claimed that the plant substance can do more than perfume the air. Their plastic bands were supposed to use the oil to create a 5-foot mosquito-free zone around the wearer. Do they work? No, the Federal Trade Commission says. Not really. [More]

(Don Buciak II)

FTC Challenges Sysco Acquisition Of US Foods

Sysco’s in-person meetings with the Federal Trade Commission didn’t have the desired effect. The foodservice supply giant wanted approval for its planned acquisition of competitor U.S. Foods, but the FTC thinks that Sysco wants to gobble up too much of the market. The commissioners voted 3-2 to block the merger. [More]

(rayovolks)

Changes To TurboTax Lead To Consumer Revolt, Opportunity For Competitors

It’s the opening weekend of tax season! If you work an hourly or salaried job, the W-2 form summarizing how much you earned and how much tax you’ve paid is already in your mailbox or will be soon, since the deadline to mail them out is February 2nd. If you plan to use the Windows or Mac version of TurboTax, though, there’s something that you should know before you get started. UPDATE, 1/30: Thanks to this consumer revolt, Intuit is rolling back the changes and will return to the old pricing scheme for next year. [More]