Millions of Americans Tapped Into Savings for Retirement Early
Sep24

Millions of Americans Tapped Into Savings for Retirement Early

Most Americans are getting better at avoiding a financial mistake that can be highly costly – tapping into their retirement funds to fund an emergency. However, Millennials by far have Baby Boomers beat in this. The percentage of those who used retirement money to pay for an expense that was unexpected over the last year dropped from 19% during 2011 to a current 13%, revealed a new Bankrate.com survey. However, that figure still means more than 30 million Americans tapped their retirement funds. However, the figures grow the closer the people are to being retired. The survey indicated that 17% of those aged 50 to 64 used retirement funds over the past year to cover a financial problem. This is worse as they are in their final years before retiring. An analyst who works with funds on Wall Street for retirees said that using retirement savings in order to cover something that came up is a setback that is permanent to their retirement planning. He warned that using the retirement money early could lead to a hit on their taxes and penalties for early withdrawal if the person has not reached the age of 59. The biggest reason behind the problem is people are not financially prepared for emergencies. Twenty-five percent of Americans lack a bona fide emergency fund. On top of that, people need to become more disciplined in putting part of their income into accounts that are designated for any emergency. The figure needed in those funds is usually the amount large enough to cover six months worth of living expenses. Many financial advisors know that one thing that jeopardizes many retirement savings is medical bills, which could be helped if a long term plans such as a life insurance policy were purchased. Other analysts insist that workers should always put between 5% and 10% in a saving account and keep doing that each and every paycheck. Unfortunately, they say very few people are disciplined enough to do that. One survey showed that in 2011, 7% of Americans were not preparing at all for retirement and that figure has increased to 9%...

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U.S. Stock Market Slides, Commodities Dip A Factor
Sep22

U.S. Stock Market Slides, Commodities Dip A Factor

While many investors were waiting to see if the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates in the last month or so, more negative news coming out of China is adding doubt to investors about slowing global economic growth and sending the stock market markedly lower in early trading. The Federal Reserve decided last week not to raise interest rates at this time citing  a precarious position of the economy. “The Fed’s decision not to hike last week did not get the positive reaction in the markets that we may ordinarily have expected, which suggests that aside from being priced in, there may now be a willingness for the Fed to just get it out of the way,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note Tuesday. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Monday a rate hike later this year was still possible. Furthermore stocks have taken a hit because of falling commodity prices, namely an oil and copper. Copper prices hit two-week lows, while oil was down about 2 percent. The S&P 500 index slid 25 points, or 1.3%, to 1,941 with all 10 main sectors trading lower. Materials and technology stocks were leading losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 190 points, or 1.2%, to 16,283, as all of the blue-chip companies on the index traded lower. The Nasdaq Composite lost 67 points, or 1.4%, at 4,761. At 11:45 AM the Dow Jones Industrials are down 1.68% or 277.  the S&P 500 is down 1.72% or 33.74. Crude oil is down to $45.70 or 2.68%. The NASDAQ has slid 2.11% or...

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Peanut Corporation Of America Owner’s Possible Sentence More Than 800 Years
Sep21

Peanut Corporation Of America Owner’s Possible Sentence More Than 800 Years

Stewart Parnell, the former owner of the Peanut Corporation of America, is scheduled to be sentenced today for his role in a salmonella outbreak that started in 2008. According to health officials, the outbreak killed nine people and sickened 714 people in 46 states. The sentencing is being conducted Judge W. Louis Sands in U.S. District Court in Albany, Georgia. Peanut Corporation of America was identified as the source of a massive salmonella outbreak that was first detected in 2008. As part of its operations, the company sent peanuts and peanut butter to a variety of food manufacturers and distributors. During the case, evidence was presented that Parnell and the other defendants fabricated certificates of analysis (COA) summarizing lab results regarding pathogens in food. The defendants were also charged with conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and obstruction of justice, amongst other charges. Parnell was found guilty of 70 felony counts, including faking results of lab tests. He faces a sentence of 9,636 months, or more than 800 years, after being convicted by a federal jury of knowingly shipping tainted peanut butter to Kellogg and other companies. This would effectively be a life sentence for the 61-year-old Parnell. It would be the most severe penalty ever given to a person involved in a food safety case. The judge is expected to uphold a lengthy sentence. Parnell is the first executive to be convicted of a federal felony for a foodborne illness case. Parnell’s brother, Michael, a food broker, and the quality control manager of the plant in Blakely, Georgia, Mary Wilkerson were also found guilty in the case. Michael faces 19 to 24 years in prison while Mary faces five years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that roughly 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne diseases. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. There were 818 distinct foodborne disease outbreaks recorded in 2013. In the last three years, there have been several major cases involving foodborne outbreaks where U.S. prosecutors have achieved convictions. In 2014, brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen of Jensen Farms were convicted for their role in a cantaloupe listeria outbreak. In 2015, Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter DeCoster of Quality Egg LLC were sentenced for a 2010 salmonella...

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Volkswagen Ratings Yanked By Consumer Reports
Sep19

Volkswagen Ratings Yanked By Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has pulled the ratings for some Volkswagen vehicles from its results after an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the company was intentionally misleading about the vehicle’s emissions. The EPA found that Volkswagen deliberately acted to evade the Clean Air Law by installing software on its vehicles designed to fool emission testing trials. It is estimated that 482,000 diesel cars under the Volkswagen and Audi names are affected in the matter. Consumer Reports said that it is suspending its “recommended” rating of the diesel versions of the Jetta and larger Passat sedans. Many car purchasers rely on the ratings in Consumer Reports when deciding which vehicles to buy. The recommendations will remain suspended until the recall repairs are completed and new tests can be performed. Volkswagen has been accused of installing software meant to evade federal emissions laws on some VW and Audi cars. When the cars are taken in for clean-air testing, the software code activates all of the car’s emissions systems. However, when testing is complete, some of those systems are turned off and the cars emit higher levels of pollutants. The EPA claimed that the cars then emitted nitrogen oxide at levels up to 40 times the level allowed by emission standards. The agency has ordered the company to fix the non-compliant vehicles. Volkswagen will recall the vehicles to make sure they meet emissions standards. Volkswagen said in an emailed statement that it is cooperating with the investigation and would be unable to comment further at this time. The models involved in the recall are the 2009 to 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle and Golf; the 2014 and 2015 Volkswagen Passat, and the 2009 to 2015 Audi A3. Volkswagen and Audi account for 17 of the 44 diesel-powered engine models available for the 2015 model...

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Lawsuit: Former AT&T Employees Made $20,000 Unlocking Phones
Sep19

Lawsuit: Former AT&T Employees Made $20,000 Unlocking Phones

Three former employees of AT&T have been sued by their former employer for illegally unlocking contract-bound mobile phones. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington by AT&T. The company identified Nguyen Lam, Marc Sapatin and Kyra Evans as the employees who participated in the scheme. Swift Unlocks, an Anaheim, California-based company that the defendants were helping with the scheme, is also named in the lawsuit. The three former mobile phone sales representatives from Washington state are accused of participating in an unlocking scheme that unlocked thousands of mobile phones bound to AT&T contracts. After unlocking, the devices would be able to work with any other wireless carrier. The employees were able to unlock a significant number of devices in milliseconds. Aside from breaching the contract the customers made when purchasing the phone, the scheme resulted in huge losses for the company. Wireless carriers sell locked phones at a reduced price and recover the money by selling their network services to their customers. If they cannot ensure that the customers will use their services for a sufficient period of time, they cannot recoup the losses from selling the phones at a discount. To accomplish the task, the former employees allegedly installed malicious software into the work computers of the AT&T store where they worked that could unlock the devices with automated requests. The software allowed Swift Unlocks to access AT&T machines and steal the information needed to generate the unlock codes. Swift Unlocks charges a fee for unlocking a wide variety of mobile phones. The lawsuit says that the former sales representatives made between $10,000 and $20,000 in profit from Swift Unlocks before the scheme was uncovered. The company launched an investigation after suspicious activity was reported by their bosses. AT&T is asking for all the lost profits from the sold mobile phones and all of the money earned by the participants in executing the scheme. The lawsuit doesn’t mention criminal fraud, but it could still lead to an arrest of the former...

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It’s the Real Thing, IRS Demands $3.3 Bln In Taxes From Coca-Cola
Sep19

It’s the Real Thing, IRS Demands $3.3 Bln In Taxes From Coca-Cola

Bills for back taxes are never fun, but imagine one for $3.3 billion.  That is what the Internal Revenue Service says the Coca-Cola Company owes for the tax years 2007 to 2009, from profits made from foreign licensees regarding the manufacturing, distribution, sale, marketing and promotion of products in overseas markets. The Atlanta-based company said in a regulatory filing that it believes the assessments from the Internal Revenue Service are without merit and plans to pursue “all administrative and judicial remedies necessary to resolve the matter.” Of course they do,  what perhaps they have some basis  for making that kind of statement. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Coca-Cola said it has been following the same methodology for determining its taxable U.S. income for nearly 30 years. “The IRS now seeks to depart from this long-standing practice in order to increase substantially the amount of tax,” the company said in a statement. “We are among hundreds of other companies currently facing these types of adjustments involving payments.” So Coca-Cola is arguing that the IRS has changed the rules and thus they will have to pay $3.3 billion in extra back taxes.  these kinds of matters don’t usually reach court for trial settlement as neither side is willing to take their chances with formal litigation. The company said it plans to start disputing the matter by filing a petition in U.S. Tax Court. Have fun with that....

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