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Why Waffle House Is Competing Against FedEx

Why Waffle House Is Competing Against FedEx

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A growing delivery app that's described as the "Uber of shipping" has found an unlikely partner in the restaurant chain Waffle House.Marc Gorlin, founder and CEO of Roadie, announced on Tuesday that his crowd-sourced shipping provider has designated Waffle House as its first official "Roadie Roadhouse.""If you live in the South, you can’t throw a dead cat without hitting a Waffle House, so I’ve been to plenty growing up," Gorlin, a native of Atlanta, told ABC News.Roadie hopes that all 1,750 Waffle House restaurants in 25 states will provide a convenient, safe meeting location for drivers and senders. Roadies get a free waffle at any 24-hour Waffle House after downloading the app and a free beverage when they're on a "gig," paying homage to band roadies who transport instruments."They’re a comfort food icon. They’re a safe place and they’re a part of the community. Roadies at its core is about helping each other out," Gorlin, 42, said.Here's how it works: Any insured driver can sign up to be a Roadie driver after meeting certain safety criteria and passing a background check. "Senders" can select a Roadie driver to deliver their item -- nothing illegal of course.

The price of a gig can range anywhere between $8 and $200, based on distance, item size and urgency. Roadie's insurance covers items up to $500, which Gorlin said is more than typical standard shipping insurance of $100.For now, the company that's barely one-month old offers its app in the Southeastern U.S., but it also plans to launch nationally later this year, Gorlin said.The idea for Roadie came to Gorlin when he had an urgent home construction delivery from Montgomery, Alabama to Florida. He previously started small business lender Kabbage.com."I see all these cars going north and going south. There is bound to be someone coming from Montgomery," he recalled. "That was the lightning moment. There’s a transportation heat map under our feet."The company only has about 7,500 downloads, but it has some major financial backers. When Roadie launched on Jan. 27, it announced $10 million in Series A funding, including from Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, Guggenheim Partners’ executive chairman Alan Schwartz, the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund and Square co-founder Jim McKelvey.Gorlin touts the environmental benefits of relying on a driver already going to the package's destination plus the impact of fewer boxes and packing peanuts."We’re a startup," he said. "We’re happy if they’re doing it one way or another."

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How Apple CEO Tim Cook Paid Tribute on Steve Jobs’ Birthday

How Apple CEO Tim Cook Paid Tribute on Steve Jobs’ Birthday

Apple(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple CEO Tim Cook honored Steve Jobs Tuesday on what would have been the 60th birthday of the former Apple CEO and co-founder.Tweeting a nugget of Jobsian wisdom, Cook wrote "the only way to do great work is to love what you do," referencing a quote from a commencement address Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005.

 

Remembering Steve, who would have turned 60 today. "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." pic.twitter.com/0YD0gZ7jvm

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) February 24, 2015

 

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do," Jobs famously told the graduates. "If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."On Aug. 24, 2011, weeks before his death, Jobs resigned from his post at Apple and recommended the board name Cook as the next chief executive. Jobs died on Oct. 5, 2011, after a battle with cancer.

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‘Pebble Time’ Takes Smart Watch Back to Its Kickstarter Roots

‘Pebble Time’ Takes Smart Watch Back to Its Kickstarter Roots

Pebble(NEW YORK) -- Smart watch maker Pebble is upping the ante ahead of the Apple Watch release.The indie watch maker on Tuesday unveiled its new "Pebble Time" watch, which stands out from previous models because it's thinner and features a color display and microphone."Pebble is the singularly most successful smart watch right now in terms of raw volume," Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, a technology analysis firm, told ABC News Monday before the release. "I think the timing is interesting for Pebble to get out there and highlight its capabilities."Beginning as a Kickstarter project that raised $10 million in 2012, Pebble has become one of the top smart watches on the market, winning users with its low price point and up to seven days of battery life.The Pebble Time watch will go back to its crowdfunding roots on Kickstarter, with backers getting first dibs on the new smart watch. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had more than $3.8 million worth of support from more than 18,000 backers."I think it captured the moment and it arrived at a point in time when smart watches were becoming a cool concept. It was a cool company, a disruptive company," Wood said of Pebble. "It ticked a lot of the boxes for people who wanted a smart phone companion device."Wood doesn't expect Pebble to sink or other smart watches to be entirely eclipsed by the arrival of the Apple Watch, which starts at a $349 price point."The Apple Watch is good news for the entire wearables segment because it will take consumer awareness to a whole new level," Wood said. "If you don't own an iPhone but you are keen to join the smart watch party, there are alternatives."

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Lenovo Works on ‘Cleaner PC Image’ After Superfish Uproar

Lenovo Works on ‘Cleaner PC Image’ After Superfish Uproar

empire331/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With some consumers still reeling from the revelation that Lenovo pre-loaded an adware program called Superfish on their laptops, the Chinese company is working to regain customers' trust by promising a "cleaner PC image."Lenovo has apologized and said it removed Superfish, a visual shopping tool, in January from devices it planned to ship. The reported issue with the program came to light after users said antivirus protection systems had deemed it a "potentially unwanted program."In an open letter to customers, Peter Hortensius, chief technology officer at Lenovo, made it clear that the Chinese computer maker was taking steps to ensure a similar issue would never happen again."We recognize that all Lenovo customers may have an interest in where we are and what is next," Horensius wrote. "The fact is our reputation touches all of these areas, and all of our customers. Now, we are determined to make this situation better, deliver safer and more secure products and help our industry address -- and prevent -- the kind of vulnerabilities that were exposed in the last week."That includes what Hortensius called a "cleaner PC image" that makes it clear what operating system and software are on a device as soon as the consumer takes it out of the box.The Chinese electronics company said last week that Superfish "has completely disabled server side interactions" on existing devices. Lenovo provided a manual fix last Thursday to remove Superfish and followed it up on Friday with an automated removal tool.Perhaps most troubling is the allegation that the software can present users with a fake certificate instead of one belonging to a legitimate site they're trying to visit, that way Superfish can serve advertisements."If this software or any of its control infrastructure is compromised, an attacker would have complete and unrestricted access to affected customers banking sites, personal data and private messages," security researcher Marc Rogers wrote on his blog.Superfish CEO Adi Pinhas told ABC News in a statement last week that his company "is completely transparent in what our software does and at no time were consumers vulnerable."He added that Superfish stands by a statement Lenovo released making it clear that users are "not tracked nor re-targeted" and "every session is independent" when using Superfish.Lenovo also said "the relationship with Superfish is not financially significant; our goal was to enhance the experience for users. We recognize that the software did not meet that goal and have acted quickly and decisively."

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Apple Updates of the Future: Diverse Emoji and a Smarter Siri

Apple Updates of the Future: Diverse Emoji and a Smarter Siri

Apple(NEW YORK) -- Expect even more diverse and worldly updates from future editions of Apple operating systems.Developers who got the first look at the latest beta versions of iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 were treated to a more inclusive menu of emoji, featuring the cartoon characters in several different skin tones.The final say rests with the Unicode Consortium, which sets the standard for emoji for many technology companies. Last November, it released a plan to have more diverse emoji in the group's 2015 update."Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all of us," an Apple spokesperson told ABC News.The characters proposed by the group are based on the Fitzpatrick Classification scale, founded by dermatologist Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1975 at Harvard Medical School. Fitzpatrick classified different skin tones based on how well each one reacted to UV rays, according to a draft of the Unicode Consortium's plan.Also on the docket is an even more multi-lingual Siri. Apple's know-it-all virtual personal assistant already speaks more languages than most diplomats but she's not done yet. Expect Siri to add a few more to her repertoire when iOS 8.3 is released, including Dutch, Danish, Russian, Swedish, Thai and Turkish, according to Mac Rumors.While there's plenty to be excited about by the updates, it could be a while before they reach consumers. Apple hasn't yet released iOS 8.2.

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Home Sales Fall in January as Prices Rise

Home Sales Fall in January as Prices Rise

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Americans found it tougher to buy a house in January because prices are going up.The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes fell 4.9 percent from December to a 4.82 million annualized rate, the lowest figure in nine months.The median cost of homes last month was 6.2 percent higher than in January 2014.There is a positive aspect to the situation because while some younger and first-time home buyers are being priced out of the market due to stagnant wages, it also means that homeowners' property is more valuable.The National Association of Realtors predicts demand for homes will continue throughout 2015, thanks to an improved job market, low mortgage rates and easier financing.

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What the Most Expensive Apartment in NYC Will Look Like

What the Most Expensive Apartment in NYC Will Look Like

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Some of the country’s most luxurious homes aren’t on sprawling acres of land, but 1,300 feet up in the air.In extreme high-rise luxury, some multimillion-dollar penthouses have clouds and airplanes for neighbors, not to mention breathtaking views. And high-rise real estate is booming.Entrepreneur Sanjay Shah, the CEO and founder of Vistex, purchased the penthouse of the Trump Tower in Chicago for $17 million.“Everything is moving to the cloud, and that’s where I make my living,” he said. “So I thought this would be a great metaphor for the cloud. …And we are in the cloud.”In Boston, there is a penthouse at the new Millennium Tower for sale for $37.5 million. And 435 Park Avenue in New York City, a new 1,300-foot-tall high-rise, shattered the record as the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere.Just a few blocks away, the penthouse of the One57 building sold for a record-breaking $100 million, making it one of the largest real estate transactions ever.“It’s crazy,” said real estate broker Noble Black, who is in the middle of several multimillion-dollar deals. “You never know what any day is going to be like. There is always something exciting. No two days are alike.”Some of the units at One57, including the penthouse, are still under construction, but Black gave ABC News' Nightline a tour of a furnished model apartment to show what the penthouse will look like.It has a one minute-long elevator ride from the ground floor, and doors open to spectacular views of Central Park and the city at every corner.“A lot of people are very attracted to the views,” Black said. “A lot of my buyers really want as tall a building because they wa[nt] as high a view as they can get. Those are buildings that didn't exist a while back.”The apartment includes his and hers closets, and the master bedroom features panoramic views of the city, and each bedroom has its paint color with eye shadow mixed in to give the walls a shimmer.But there is controversy surrounding these luxury high-rises. The New York Times published a series of articles reporting that some foreign investors are using these high-rise apartments as off-shore tax havens. But Black said he hasn’t seen evidence of that in the deals he has made.“I think that's probably gotten more press than what the reality actually is,” he said. “I've heard of a similar story to that. I've not seen any of that and of all of the apartments that I've sold myself I've not had those people coming in to be the purchasers.”Last year, the luxury real estate market saw a 19 percent increase, according to a report by Douglas Elliman, one of the largest residential real estate brokerages in the United States. Black said he had a “fantastic” year in sales in 2014, and “everything is looking great for 2015.”“The people that I talk to are very excited about the year,” he said, “so I see no reason why we won’t continue on the streak we are having.”

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Many Americans Can’t Answer These Basic Tax Questions

Many Americans Can’t Answer These Basic Tax Questions

Oleksiy Mark/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans are paying their dues to the tax man this season, but many lack basic knowledge when it comes to financial tax decisions, a survey suggests.According to one unscientific survey of 1,015 adults by NerdWallet, the average grade respondents received was an "F," answering only half of the questions correctly.When it comes to the 10-question survey about income tax, the majority of survey respondents had the correct answers. But when it came to other types of financial decisions, including retirement, college costs and health care, the majority of people didn’t understand how to use taxes to their advantage, the survey found.Alex McAdams, personal finance analyst for NerdWallet, said taxes aren’t just about filing your returns by the April 15 deadline."There are things you can do year-round to reduce your tax bill and make your money work for you," he said.How would you score? Here are some of the questions and answers to Nerdwallet's test:

1. Is the money you put in a Roth IRA pre-tax or post-tax?A) Pre-taxB) Post-taxC) None of the aboveAnswer: Roth contributions are never deductible, but all growth and earnings are tax-free. B.

2. A 529 plan is:A) A way to make tax-deductible contributions for college savingsB) A college investment plan that earns tax-free income as it growsC) A plan that allows qualified users to defer their tax paymentsAnswer: 529 plan contributions are not tax-deductible on federal returns, but the income and use of the account are tax-free “as long as they are used to pay qualified higher education expenses for a designated beneficiary,” according to the Internal Revenue Service. However, some states do offer a tax break for 529 plans. B.

3. What is a flexible spending account?A) A tax-exempt savings account exclusively for health benefitsB) A tax-exempt savings account that allows you to make home improvementsC) A tax-exempt account for medical purposes or child careAnswer: A flexible spending account allows you to reduce your taxable income by saving for planned medical expenses or child-care costs. It’s largely a “use or lose” savings account, as only $500 of unused cash can be rolled over into the next year. C.

4. If you foster a pet from a nonprofit charitable organization, can you claim a tax deduction?A) Yes, but you can only write off certain items like food, shelter and medical expenses.B) Yes, you can write off all expenses.C) False, you can’t write this off.Answer: If you fostered a pet from a charitable organization, you can deduct expenses such as food, shelter, medical bills and even gas mileage if you took the pet to the veterinarian. If the expenses are more than $250, additional documentation may be required. A.

5. If you lend money to a friend and she doesn’t pay you back, can you write it off?A) Yes, you can write off the entire loan.B) Under certain circumstances, it can be deducted under capital loss rules.C) No, you can’t write it off.Answer: The loan becomes a capital loss. You must be able to prove that the loan has become worthless and that you had not intended to make a gift. Issuing a 1099-C, the cancellation of debt form, is also a good idea. B.

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Tax Tip: Getting a Deduction for Your Student Debt

Tax Tip: Getting a Deduction for Your Student Debt

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to filing your taxes, it pays to have too much student debt."Student loan interest is a deduction that people qualify for," says Internal Revenue Service spokesman Eric Smith.The American Opportunity Credit allows anyone paying off their college debt to deduct up to $2,500, he says. To qualify, taxpayers also need to meet an adjusted gross income requirement of $80,000 or less per individual, or $160,000 or less for married couples filing jointly."One thing about the student loan interest deduction that is different from some other deductions is you can get it even if you don't itemize deductions," Smith explains.The American Opportunity Credit also isn't limited to students. As TurboTax vice president Bob Meighan explains, parents can get in on the action, too."Your child may be on their own right now, but the parents may be stuck with the student loan bill," Meighan says.

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Your Job Qualifications Sound Better than They Look

Your Job Qualifications Sound Better than They Look

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Whatever your qualifications may be for your next job, try to vocalize them rather than just relying on a written resume.Researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business say that in a series of experiences, hypothetical employers and recruiters came away more impressed with an applicant’s qualifications when they heard the pitch.Although they listened to audio from a video, they weren’t as impressed with the visual aspect of the tape as what was spoken, rating an applicant more competent, thoughtful and intelligent than by just reading a resume.Professor Nicholas Epley, one of the study authors, remarked, “A person's speech conveys their fundamental capacity to think -- the capacity for reasoning, thoughtfulness and intellect.”Epley and Ph.D. candidate Juliana Schroeder had Chicago Booth MBA student job candidates present written and video pitches to job evaluators. In addition to giving candidates they could listen to higher marks, the evaluators said they'd be more apt to hire them as well.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Cool Baby: Fake Baby Beverage Insulator Creator Seeks Funding on Kickstarter

Cool Baby: Fake Baby Beverage Insulator Creator Seeks Funding on Kickstarter

Courtesy Simon Philion(NEW YORK) -- Have you ever wanted to express yourself through your grown-up drinking bottle?If you answered yes, you may get your chance, thanks to an advertising writer from Brooklyn who developed a hands-free beverage insulator that looks like a baby.Dubbed the "Cool Baby," the doll-like baby figure is hollow, and comes with a bottle and straw to be placed inside the baby. It also comes with a harness to allow the baby to be strapped to the wearer's chest.Asked how he came up with the idea, Simon Philion, 32, said it grew out of a project he was working on at his previous job. The client had asked for an “iconic vessel,” so Philion said he took the approach of devising something that spoke of “unorthodox convenience.”“And then I’m walking about Brooklyn all day and you see a lot of new parents out here” whose babies are “all strapped to the front of people's torsos with different elaborate harness systems and the one thing they all have in common is that it places their baby’s head directly in kissing distance of their mouth, so what a wonderful place for a beverage,” Philion told ABC News in an interview on Sunday.That project never made it to the client, “but I loved it and I loved it and it haunted my dreams and my every waking thought and it occupied me until I finally saw it through and here we are,” Philion added.With funding from an investor, he developed a prototype and launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise $70,000 to do an initial round of manufacturing. As of Sunday night, he had collected nearly $14,500.Several humorous sketches showing how the Cool Baby may be used are included in a video on the Kickstarter page.“Here’s hoping that we get this thing funded in the next five days,” he said, referring to the campaign’s deadline.Philion said he has worn the Cool Baby in public to strong reaction.“You do get constant double and triple takes and then right after that, people decide whether they love you or hate you. It’s always one of those two -- it’s never objective curiosity,” he said.If he meets his goal and sends the Cool Baby into production, each insulator would retail for about $35, he said, adding that it could be used by anyone but likely would very readily appeal to sports fans.“I think football fans in particular, because you watch their behavior and they are wonderful, they -- they can’t wait to one-up one another with the insanity of their fandom, you know, so I figure this is one way to use the baby, dress the baby up like your team ... and the baby becomes a teammate for you at the same time,” he said.

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The Secret Behind America’s Best Cup of Coffee

The Secret Behind America’s Best Cup of Coffee

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Top baristas across the country competed this past weekend in the U.S. Coffee Championships for the title of America’s best. Competitors had 15 minutes to prepare an espresso, cappuccino and signature beverage while judges studied technique and tasted the results. Coming out on top was Charles Babinski, 29, co-owner of Go Get Em Tiger and G&B coffee shops in Los Angeles. His secret to winning? It’s all about the beans. “The biggest thing is to buy good coffee. In order to upgrade your coffee at home, find someone nearby who does something great and who you can connect to and get your beans from them,” Babinski told ABC News. “If you want to make a great cappuccino, then you’ve got to have great espresso.” Babinski sourced the espresso he used in the competition from both Honduras and Ethiopia. The Honduras beans then went into his signature beverage. “One thing about the signature beverage is the main flavor has to be coffee and the ancillary flavors have to support that, so the drinks are always interesting, but rarely are they necessarily indulgent,” he said. “When you’re doing these competitions, you’re representing a certain espresso and saying, ‘This coffee is special because of these characteristics,’ and you get scored on how you connect those characteristics to other flavors [in the drink].” To represent the flavors in that coffee, Babinski incorporated pine tree honey from the farmer’s market, juniper and reduced-down grapefruit juice. He then mixed those ingredients in a blender with the espresso to aerate the drink and give it a layer of foam. “I took a few qualities behind how the coffee was grown and processed and the flavors that resulted from it and tried to capture the spirit of those qualities in different flavors, so it was a little more conceptual,” Babinski explained. “It was a little looser than saying, ‘I taste raspberry so I’m going to add raspberry.’ It was saying, ‘This coffee has vibrancy and clarity, which stems from this part of the processing, and I’m representing that with grapefruit because grapefruit has these qualities, too.’” The win this year was a big achievement for Babinski, who placed second the last three years, and whose coffee shop partner, Kyle Glanville, won in 2008. Babinski will now represent the U.S. in the world championship in Seattle in April.

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Wall Street Backs Away from Record Highs As Energy Shares Tumble

Wall Street Backs Away from Record Highs As Energy Shares Tumble

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets backed away from record highs to start off the trading week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session on Monday at 18,116.84, down 23.60 from its open. The Nasdaq, however, finished up 5.01 to close at 4,960.97. The S&P 500 fell by 0.64 points to close at 2,109.66. Energy shares were among the biggest decliners on Monday, as the price of oil fell below $50 a barrel. The world’s most valuable company, Apple, is now worth twice as much as the second-most valuable company, Exxon Mobile. Based on their stock, Apple is now worth about $770 billion. Existing home sales plunged to the slowest pace in nine months. Sales tumbled 4.9 percent last month, part of which is due to winter weather in January, according to analysts.Fewer properties are being listed for sale, and would-be buyers have been holding off on purchases.

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YouTube Kids: What Parents Need to Know About the New App

YouTube Kids: What Parents Need to Know About the New AppYouTube(NEW YORK) -- Getting a toddler's attention is hard enough, but YouTube is ready to try.The Google-owned video sharing website announced the launch of a kid-friendly video app Monday in the United States for Android and iOS.YouTube Kids aims to ...

Samsung Galaxy S6: What to Expect from the Big Reveal

Samsung Galaxy S6: What to Expect from the Big Reveal

Samsung(NEW YORK) -- Samsung has dropped some big hints leading up to what is widely expected to be the unveiling of a new Galaxy S6 smartphone on Sunday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.A photo posted to Instagram over the weekend hinted that the flagship smartphone may come with an all-metal frame instead of a plastic backing like the Galaxy S5.A video teaser posted to YouTube also drops a big bread crumb when the narrator cryptically says "borders will disappear."The future smartphone has been widely expected to take on the curved design that Samsung unveiled with the Galaxy Note Edge.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere also upped the intrigue on Sunday when he tweeted a link to the carrier's website showing off another view of what Samsung is touting as "the next big thing." Labeled "Six Appeal," the photo shows the profile of a smartphone and that buzzed about curved edge.Other clues for what to expect from Samsung can be found in the company's recent technological advancements and acquisitions.The Korean electronics company announced last week it is buying mobile payments start-up LoopPay. In its current form, LoopPay is available as a phone case or a key fob. However, the acquisition sparks the possibility that the technology could be integrated into one of Samsung's future smartphones. Whether that could be the Galaxy S6 or a future phone remains to be seen.A blog post by Seho Park, Samsung's principal engineer, has led to speculation that the new Galaxy S6 could include multiple wireless charging standards, allowing users to juice up their devices almost anywhere.With a new chip released last year to support multiple charging standards, Park said he expects 2015 will be a game-changing year for wireless smartphone charging."Samsung will accelerate to democratize this wireless charging technology with compelling smartphones. With our upcoming Galaxy smartphones, users will be able to enter a new wireless world like never before," Park wrote."Two or three years ago, wireless charging was only twenty to thirty percent as fast as wired charging. But since then, we have been able to double the charging speed," he added.Around the time of Park's blog post, @SamsungMobile tweeted that users can expect something even faster. "I discover more when I make fewer stops. I am #TheNextGalaxy," it said.

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Beware These Top Three Tax Season Scams

Beware These Top Three Tax Season Scams

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Tax time is no fun especially when someone scams you out of your hard-earned cash.

Here are three of the biggest scams hitting the ABC News Fixer’s mailbag -- and how you can avoid them:The fake IRS agent. Thousands of consumers nationwide have been getting phone calls from people posing as Internal Revenue Service employees. The scammers tell the consumer they’ve been audited and owe back taxes and say that if the person doesn’t pay right away, the matter is going to court. In some cases, they threaten immediate arrest and with immigrants, they may also threaten deportation. The bogus agent instructs the victim to send payment for their back taxes immediately, often by a pre-loaded debit card. The scammers have grown in sophistication, using “spoofed” fake phone numbers on their victims’ caller IDs. They may claim they’ve have already mailed information about an upcoming court date.How to avoid it: Remember, the IRS will never contact you by phone or email if you owe money; nor will they ask for your personal financial information. If you owe the government money, you’ll get a bill in the mail. If you receive a scam call, hang up and report the number to IRS.gov and FTC.gov.The stolen refund. This scam hit hard last year and officials are bracing again. Scammers use stolen Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and have the tax refunds sent directly to them. Most victims don’t find out until they try to file their own tax return and are told that someone else has already filed using their information. The IRS says it has flagged 19 million suspicious returns, but the scam is so prevalent, consumers continue to fall victim.How to avoid it: Keep your Social Security number -- and your children’s numbers -- private. File your tax return as soon as possible, to beat the scammers to it. If you become a victim, get a police report right away and also report the theft to the IRS. Fill out an identity theft affidavit at IRS.gov. The bad news: it will take about 120 extra days before your return can be processed, and you’ll need to check your credit report for other fraud.The bogus tax return preparer. The vast majority of return preparers are honest, but there are shady ones that set up shop and prepare false returns for a big percentage of the refund.How to avoid it: Beware any tax return preparer that promises a big refund before looking at your records.

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Survey: Many Americans ‘Teetering on the Edge of Financial Disaster’

Survey: Many Americans ‘Teetering on the Edge of Financial Disaster’

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the economy improves, more Americans are borrowing money to pay for purchases.Thirty-seven percent have credit card debt that equals or is greater than their emergency savings, says a survey released Monday by Bankrate.com.“These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate's chief financial analyst.According to the Federal Reserve, the average credit card debt for U.S. households is more than $15,000.“From a purely financial standpoint, it makes more sense to pay down that high interest rate” before you begin to save, Kelley Long, a member of the American Institute of CPAs, tells Bankrate.Borrowing money with a credit card is usually very expensive.“If you are over your head in debt, you might want to consider a balanced transfer card, but you need to have pretty good credit to qualify for the best offers,” says credit card writer Beverly Harzog, author of The Debt Escape Plan. A balanced transfer card “would give you an opportunity to pay off your debt while paying zero interest on that.”

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Tax Tip: How to Deal with the IRS

Tax Tip: How to Deal with the IRS

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you've ever had to deal with the Internal Revenue Service directly, you know it can be a bit intimidating.

"The IRS can be a really scary agency to interact with, especially under the stress of an audit, so it's the kind of thing that you really don't want to go it alone," says Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block.Pickering advises taxpayers not to communicate directly with the IRS unless they have to. Instead, have your tax preparer do it. Many of them can help you if you get audited.IRS spokesman Eric Smith notes that there’s a Taxpayer Bill of Rights with ten provisions, including, "The right to appeal a decision made by the IRS."He says taxpayers should know their rights: "The good thing to know is that if you think that we're wrong, you have an opportunity to appeal that," Smith says.Also good to know: only one percent of tax returns get audited. This year, that number could be even less because of budget cuts.If you do owe the IRS money, paying it back has never been easier. The agency offers "Direct Pay," which allows you to pay your tax bill for free online, using your checking or savings account. You can find the service on IRS.gov.

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Oscars 2015: Apple Wants to Make iPad Films a Thing

Oscars 2015: Apple Wants to Make iPad Films a ThingApple(NEW YORK) -- The next Martin Scorsese may be busy shooting a movie right now on an iPad.A new Apple ad voiced by the Gangs of New York director made its debut on Oscar Sunday.The one minute spot follows students from the Los Angeles County High S...

Pebble Is Gearing up to Compete with the Apple Watch

Pebble Is Gearing up to Compete with the Apple Watch

Get Pebble(NEW YORK) -- Smart watch maker Pebble is upping the ante ahead of the Apple Watch release.A countdown clock on Pebble's website hints that the indie watch maker may be ready to unveil the next generation of its wearable on Tuesday, coming more than a month before Apple is set to release its flagship wearable."Pebble is the singularly most successful smart watch right now in terms of raw volume," Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, a technology analysis firm, told ABC News. "I think the timing is interesting for Pebble to get out there and highlight its capabilities."The rumored new watch is expected to boast color and an e-paper-like display, along with a thinner design, according to 9to5Mac.Beginning as a Kickstarter project that raised $10 million in 2012, Pebble has become one of the top smart watches on the market, winning over users with its low price point and up to seven days of battery life.Pebble's current watch retails for $99, while a charging cable costs $15.By comparison, the Apple Watch is expected to start at a $349 price point and will come in three editions: Apple Watch Sport, the standard Apple Watch and a luxury gold edition. Consumers can expect to pay more for the high-end versions."I think it captured the moment and it arrived at a point in time when smart watches were becoming a cool concept. It was a cool company, a disruptive company," Wood said. "It ticked a lot of the boxes for people who wanted a smart phone companion device."The one potential hiccup Pebble may have by releasing something ahead of Apple is the possibility of being surprised by potential "knockout capabilities" the public does not yet know about."The Apple Watch is good news for the entire wearables segment because it will take consumer awareness to a whole new level," Wood said. "If you don't own an iPhone but you are keen to join the smart watch party, there are alternatives."Pebble, however, has a “vibrant developer community,” Wood added, that he expects will continue to innovate with its suite of apps to push the user experience forward.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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