The election may feel like it happened just yesterday, but it’s now ten days behind us, and the building transition to the administration turnover in January is well underway. As part of that, today we learned President-Elect Donald Trump’s top choice for a key role that affects consumers and consumer rights nationwide: he will nominate Sen. Jefferson Sessions of Alabama as Attorney General. [More]
Earlier this month, police in India detained hundreds of employees in three different call centers for allegedly proliferating a scam that involved calling unsuspecting consumers masquerading as employees with the Internal Revenue Service and threatening to arrest if the person didn’t pay up. This week, federal authorities in the U.S. followed up on the case, ending a three-year investigation by arresting dozens of people in the U.S. and India for allegedly scamming tens of thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars through the sophisticated call center scheme. [More]
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]
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]
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 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]
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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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.
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]