Archive for April, 2012

Study: Even the dead aren’t safe from credit thieves

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Dear old Uncle Eddie may have gone to the great beyond but his credit lives on.

According to the data analysis company ID Analytics, the identities of more than 2,000 dead people are used by criminals and others every day to obtain loans, credit cards, or other financial services.

ID Analytics said each year 800,000 identities are purposely stolen from people known to be dead. Surprisingly, an additional 1.6 million such identities are unintentionally misused by people who accidentally put wrong information  on applications or who make up information.

The company arrived at its data by comparing the Social Security Administration’s “death master file” with the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers on 100 million credit applications from January through March of last year, according to chief technology officer Stephen Coggeshall.

The fraud can lead to financial strain on the estates of the dearly departed, leaving loved ones to …

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Are friendly skies ahead for Delta investors?

The hometown airline got some love from The Wall Street Journal in its Ahead of The Tape column today.

A columnist suggests that Delta Air Lines, which reported a first quarter profit Wednesday thanks to fuel-hedging gains, might be worth investor consideration.

The piece notes that “…. while the long term history of airline investing has been disastrous, there have been profitable interludes. This might be one of them and Delta appears relatively attractive.”

The article cites the airline’s improved expectations for this  year, and attributes industry profitability (in the face of sky-high fuel prices) to “a rare bout of pricing and capacity discipline…”

Delta, which became the industry’s lowest-cost legacy carrier and has plans to further cut capacity, could really gain if fuel costs level off.

Still, given the aforementioned history of airline stocks, the column cautions that “any investors venturing on board Delta should take note of the emergency …

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Al Gore in ‘Internet Hall of Fame’

Gore.1124

(Bob Andres, AJC)

Former Vice President Al Gore caught a lot of heat when, in 1999, he famously boasted to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

“Really?” was the collective reaction of many, since the Internet’s start was traced to research years earlier.

Gore hasn’t been able to completely escape the ridicule that followed the overstatement. But that may be changing now that his contributions to the expansion of the “Information Superhighway” will be recognized by those who are in a position to know his impact.

Gore, among others, will be one of the first inductees into the “Internet Hall of Fame”, it was announced at the Internet Society’s Global INET 2012 conference in Geneva, Switzerland, this week.

The Hall of Fame “celebrates the Net’s early geniuses, game-changers, and various people who helped to fund, evangelize, and incubate the global information network used by billions,” PCMag.com said in a …

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Is your profession among the most trustworthy?

(Phil Skinner, AJC)

(Phil Skinner, AJC)

If you had to pick one profession that epitomizes honesty and high ethics, which would you choose?

According to Gallup, the nursing profession  is at the top of the list, with 84 percent of people in a recent survey ranking it as very high to high on the ethics/honesty scale.

At the other end of the spectrum,  car salespeople, lobbyists and, wait for it, members of Congress were at the bottom of the list of 21 professions studied.

Nurses have stayed at the top of the list for five years. Pharmacists and doctors have gradually improved their standing while police officers have gradually declined. Still, police officers, along with teachers and clergy, were still seen as being trustworthy by at least 50 percent of those surveyed.

Only funeral directors and accountants were the next closest to the 50 percent mark with both seen as being trustworthy by 44 percent and 43 percent of respondents, respectively.

None of the following managed to get …

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AT&T losing ground in wireless phone battle with Verizon

IPHONE4

(John Spink, AJC)

The numbers tell the story.

AT&T is losing ground in the battle for new wireless phone customers, and Verizon Wireless  is only getting bigger.

According to an Associated Press report, Verizon signed 501,000 new customers to data plan contracts  in the first quarter, compared with only a net gain of 187,000 new contracts for AT&T in the January to March period.

Almost all of the new AT&T contracts were for the iPad tablet, instead of the more lucrative iPhone smartphone. Companies make more money off smartphone subscribers with data plans, who often pay more than $100 monthly, than tablet subscribers, who can pay $15 to $50 a month.

Most of Verizon’s new contracts were for wireless phone customers. Verizon began selling the iPhone a year ago.

“Over the last five quarters, Verizon has added nearly three times as many contract subscribers as AT&T,” the AP report says. For perspective, the two split new subscribers nearly evenly over the …

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Google outspends rivals on lobbying

When you’re king, the assaults can come from anywhere, at any time.

Which means you  have to protect yourself. You have to guard your interests.

Consider Google. It used to be the search engine company barely bothered to push its positions by lobbying the powers that be in Washington.

Now, though, it’s a lobbying heavyweight.

The New York Times reports Google spent $5 million on lobbying in the first quarter. That’s more than triple what it spent in the same period last year. It’s also more than the combined lobbying expenditures of Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft.

Since its emergence, Google, the report notes, has “… become the subject of almost constant scrutiny from regulators, competitors and privacy advocates.” It adds that, “With Congress and privacy watchdogs breathing down its neck, Google is stepping up its lobbying presence inside the Beltway …”

Art Brodsky, of digital rights group Public Knowledge, notes that Google once was “an itty-bitty search engine. …

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Half of new college grads unemployed or underemployed

Is a college degree an “empty cliff”?

That’s what one recent graduate calls it. He’s referring to the lack of jobs out there for those who’ve earned a diploma lately.

According to The Associated Press:

“A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge. Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.”

Know anybody like that?

The report continues:

“While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating mid-level jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in …

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Braves fans’ credit cards overcharged

(Allen Sullivan, Special)

(Allen Sullivan, Special)

Braves fans who used credit cards to purchase food at Turner Field at the home opener April 13 may want to double-check their statements.

Aramark, which provides food services at the Atlanta stadium, disclosed that a software problem may have caused some credit card users to be overcharged for purchases.

“We are aware of an issue involving charges to some customers’ credit cards for purchases made at Turner Field on April 13,” spokesman David Freireich said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. “We are investigating this matter.”

Freireich said the problem appeared to be isolated to software that processes card purchases. He did not say how the overcharges came to light or how many cardholders were affected.

He said Aramark was in the process of correcting the charges.

Freireich said the charges were expected to be posted on accounts on April 19 for Visa cardholders and on April 23 for Mastercard, Discover and …

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Publix sued over overtime pay

Several former managers and assistant managers are suing Publix Super Markets, claiming they were underpaid for overtime work.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Panama City, Fla.

The suit claims Publix did not include regular bonuses the managers received in calculating their rate of overtime pay. The managers, who were non-exempt employees eligible for overtime, also claim they should have been paid using “time and a half” rates instead of “half time” rates when they worked more than 40 hours a week.

Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid said Friday that the company would have no comment. “We don’t comment on open litigation,” Reid said.

The plaintiffs include a former deli manager, two assistant deli managers and a bakery manager. Sean Culliton, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he wants the suit to represent all Publix managers and assistant managers, who he said regularly work 50 hours a …

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Food stamp, disability claims on the rise

More people are on food stamps and disability, government data show.

The number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) recipients  increased 70 percent from 2007 to 2011 to 45 million people, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The number is expected to continue to grow for two more years until an improved economy leads to a downturn in the number of people claiming benefits.

Program spending hit $72 billion last year, up $30 billion from 2007, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Separately, Investors.com, citing Social Security Administration data, said there are 10.8 million people on disability, up 53 percent from a decade ago. So far this year, 539,000 people have gone on disability and 725,000 have applied. Since June 2009, when the recession officially ended, the number of people signing up for disability benefits is double the job growth figure.

“The big factor in the recent surge is the slow pace of the economic recovery after the severe …

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