J-J-W

Here’s What You Should Know About Philadelphia’s New Tax On Soda

Philadelphia is just the second municipality in the United States (after Berkleley, CA) to pass a tax on sugary beverages, though dozens of places have tried it. Well, okay, but what does that mean for soda drinkers in Philadelphia, and could your city or county be next? [More]

Adam Fagen

6 Things We Learned About The IRS’s Fight Against Fraud And Identity Theft

Things are difficult for the IRS right now. For the last few years, people contacting the IRS have encountered lengthy phone hold times, and identity theft and refund fraud drain billions of dollars’ worth of tax refunds into the pockets of international criminals. The Government Accountability Office has the job of overseeing government agencies, including the IRS, and it released a new report today about its issues and possible ways to fix them. [More]

The 3 Biggest Banks Extracted $6 Billion In ATM And Overdraft Fees From Us Last Year

The 3 Biggest Banks Extracted $6 Billion In ATM And Overdraft Fees From Us Last Year

Back in 1998, comedian Al Franken published a satirical novel where the fictional Al Franken ran a single-issue presidential campaign against ATM fees in 2000. A technical malfunction erased ATM deposits, making his single issue a crucial one, and Franken ended up in the White House. Today, he is a sitting U.S. senator, yet not involved in the 2016 presidential race where excessively high ATM fees are an actual issue being discussed. [More]

Once Medicaid Decides That You’re Dead, It’s Hard To Come Back To Life

Once Medicaid Decides That You’re Dead, It’s Hard To Come Back To Life

When you’re dead, you generally can’t come back. It’s also difficult to come back when you’re actually alive, but the government thinks that you’re dead. An 87-year-old on Brooklyn is understandably worried, because Medicaid has declared her dead. If other government services believe them, dead people don’t need to do things like visit doctors or eat, so her income, food stamps, and health insurance would stop. This would be bad. [More]

Federal Data Breach Included 5.6M Compromised Fingerprints, Five Times The Original Estimate

Federal Data Breach Included 5.6M Compromised Fingerprints, Five Times The Original Estimate

Federal investigators underestimated the number of fingerprints stolen in a massive breach of the Office of Personnel Management earlier this year: the agency announced Wednesday that 5.6 million individuals’ finger prints were stolen, nearly five times the original estimate of 1.1 million compromised prints. [More]

(Curtis Perry)

Kmart Pays $1.4 Million To Settle Accusations Of Illegal Coupon Acceptance, Prescription Incentives

In most of the country, pharmacies can offer rewards points, coupons, or other inducements to get you to switch prescriptions to them. Not only is this illegal in certain states, it’s also illegal to offer these incentives to customers with health insurance through Medicaid. Kmart has settled allegations from a whistleblower that it did exactly that for customers with Medicaid, and accepted co-pay coupons for brand-name drugs for them. [More]

Federal Data Breach Reportedly Affects An Additional 21 Million People

Federal Data Breach Reportedly Affects An Additional 21 Million People

Remember when it was announced that more than four million federal employees in the country were part of a massive data breach last month? Well, turns out that was just one of two rather large data breaches to hit the Office of Personnel Management, with the newly announced second, larger hack affecting upwards of 21 million current and former employees, as well as prospective employees, their families and others who applied for federal background investigations in the last 15 years. [More]

4 Million Federal Employees Are The Latest Victims Of A Massive Data Breach

4 Million Federal Employees Are The Latest Victims Of A Massive Data Breach

There are millions of federal employees in the country, and not just in Washington, DC. The government is a big bureaucracy and a big employer — and that makes it a nice, juicy target for a big data breach.

[More]

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]

(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]

Steve

FCC Officially Votes To Protect Net Neutrality, Reclassify Broadband

In a landmark decision today, the FCC voted 3-2 to create enforceable, bright-line rules protecting the open internet using their Title II authority to reclassify broadband internet as a telecommunications service.

[More]

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler speaking at the FCC's Open Meeting on February 26, 2015.

FCC Votes To Allow Cities To Expand Broadband Networks

As expected, the FCC today has confirmed an order permitting two cities to expand their existing municipal fiber broadband networks despite state-level laws that block them from doing so.

[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]

Pennies Are Still Useless, And Nickels Cost Eight Cents To Make

Pennies Are Still Useless, And Nickels Cost Eight Cents To Make

Printing and minting money is one of the privileges that government has. In theory, this is a privilege because the face value of coins is more than they cost to make. The problem is that while we still have one-cent and five-cent coins here in the United States, those coins are worth less than they were decades ago when they were designed. Minting new ones costs taxpayers money. [More]

(Mike Mozart)

People Buying Fewer Hot Pockets After Tastes Change, SNAP Cuts

It’s easy to make fun of Hot Pockets. Over the years, we’ve laughed at the dough-encased food-like objects when they’ve been recalled for containing plastic and meat considered “unfit for human consumption,” when Nestle tried to sell young foodies on the products, and even when they were declared a separate food group. Things are not well at Nestle, which is Hot Pocket HQ, right now. [More]

FCC Fines T-Mobile $819,000 For Selling Phones That Don’t Work With Hearing Aids

FCC Fines T-Mobile $819,000 For Selling Phones That Don’t Work With Hearing Aids

Let’s point out something very, very obvious: within reason, everyone should have the right to communicate over the phone, even if they live with some form of hearing loss. For that reason, the Federal Communications Commission requires mobile phone carriers to sell a certain number of handsets that work with hearing aids. The agency says that T-Mobile failed to do this, and has fined them $819,000. [More]

$18 Million WIC And Food Stamps Fraud Scheme Used Pretend Grocery Stores

$18 Million WIC And Food Stamps Fraud Scheme Used Pretend Grocery Stores

WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) are both federally-funded, state-administered programs with the simple goal of preventing Americans from going hungry. In Georgia, 54 people have been indicted for setting up pretend grocery stores that defrauded the programs of millions of dollars. [More]

(Wandering Dago)

Do You Prefer Food Truck Sandwiches With Or Without Ethnic Slurs?

Is it okay to welcome a business with a potentially offensive name to a public space or to government property? That’s the question at the center of a dispute between an upstate New York food truck and the state government. The truck is called The Wandering Dago. Is that an offensive term in 21st-century America? [More]