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ABC News Investigation Uncovers Hundreds of New Vehicles Across US Sold with Open Safety Recalls

ABC News Investigation Uncovers Hundreds of New Vehicles Across US Sold with Open Safety Recalls

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Each year nearly 17 million new cars are sold in the United States -- and according to federal law, those cars are supposed to be free of potential safety defects, including recalls. But an ABC News investigation has confirmed that several hundred vehicles from various automakers were sold with open recalls at over 100 dealerships across the United States. Most of those sales occurred just in the second part of 2014.So GMA Investigates went undercover to several new car dealerships in New York and New Jersey to find out if new cars with open recalls might be sold to an ABC News producer. When asked specifically about open recalls, some salespeople checked and told the producer that the vehicles did, in fact, have recalls.Another salesperson told ABC News that the cars had no recalls, when a simple computer check would have disclosed an open safety recall. The ABC News producer spoke with a salesman named Arnie at Hawthorne Chevrolet, in Hawthorne, New Jersey, regarding the purchase of a brand new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. Before arriving at the dealership, ABC News identified a potentially dangerous open safety recall on the vehicle -- some vehicles can shift into neutral unexpectedly, losing power in the middle of traffic, for example. But when the producer asked Arnie about open recalls on the nearly $50,000 vehicle, he said there were none.“Absolutely not,” Arnie told the ABC News producer. ABC News is choosing not to use Arnie's last name.Although car salespeople like Arnie are not legally required to inform customers about the recall, the dealership is required by law to fix the recall issue before it is sold. So, the producer gave Arnie a $500 purchase deposit on the vehicle over the phone -- and returned two days later to finish the sale.After driving off the dealership lot with his newly purchased truck, the ABC News producer, along with ABC News Correspondent Gio Benitez, checked the truck’s VIN number on the General Motors website and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) database to see if the recall had, in fact, been fixed by the Hawthorne Chevrolet dealership.“There it is, 2014 Chevy Silverado. Recall incomplete,” Benitez said as he read the GM website results. “The customer would experience a loss of motive power which could increase the risk of a crash. That’s a serious recall that needs to be fixed.”A loss of motive power means a vehicle can unexpectedly shift into neutral.So GMA Investigates returned to Hawthorne Chevrolet for an explanation.“You sold [our producer] this car and you said there were no recalls on it. But in fact there are recalls on it. In fact a very serious one,” Benitez said.Arnie expressed surprise that there was a recall on the truck.“I have to check it out and see. I wasn’t aware,” Arnie answered.But Benitez wanted to know why Arnie told the producer there was no recall, if he was not sure.“Why did you say though that there wasn’t a recall?” Benitez asked.“I don’t remember even talking about that,” Arnie answered.Benitez then played video footage for Arnie, taken on the producer’s undercover cameras. After viewing video where he said the truck has no recalls, Arnie admitted his error to Benitez.“When you get a new car it’s always supposed to have all the recalls...to be taken care of,” Arnie said. “And I made a mistake I guess. But I’ll follow up from now on, on all the cars.”In a statement to ABC News, the president of Hawthorne Chevrolet said: “We have realized that our failure was tied exclusively to human error…From now on we will be cross-checking serial numbers with our service records, prior to delivery, to ensure that each vehicle has been properly tended to.”General Motors, the manufacturer of the Chevrolet Silverado, told ABC News it “instructs its dealers to complete all open recalls on new and used vehicles prior to sale and delivery to customer.”NHTSA, the government agency responsible for policing new car dealers on open safety recalls, has fined only two dealerships in 2014 for not adhering to federal law.NHTSA declined an on-camera interview with ABC News but told GMA Investigates, “Selling a new vehicle that is under recall but has not been remedied is a violation of the law and a risk to public safety. There is no excuse for dealers to sell new vehicles while under recall, and NHTSA has penalized dealers who have failed to meet their safety responsibilities, including two in just the last six months. Anyone with information about dealers selling new cars with safety defects should provide that information to NHTSA so we can investigate and hold dealers accountable for any violations. We also hope that Congress will act soon to provide the same legal protection to used car buyers and rental car customers that the law now extends to new car buyers.”National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which represents nearly 16,000 new car and truck dealerships around the world, told GMA Investigates, “While we do not comment on how the law may apply to individual situations, auto retailers should comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws and operate their businesses in accord with the highest standards.”ABC News discussed some of its findings from the investigation with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, who sits on the Senate subcommittee on consumer protection.“Senator, we found hundreds and hundreds of new cars that have recalls on them. And guess what? They were sold,” Benitez revealed.“Yeah -- and that’s just wrong,” Markey responded.Markey, who says the law barring dealers from selling new cars with open recalls is not enough on its own, said NHTSA needs to do more to enforce it.“NHTSA has 51 people on its enforcement team. We have a couple of producers looking at this -- and we pulled up hundreds and hundreds of cars with these issues,” Benitez said. “Why can’t NHTSA?”“NHTSA should have done this work,” Markey answered. “It shouldn't take an investigation by ABC to find this problem.”Customers shopping for a new car can do their own investigating to help protect themselves from such recalls, by checking their car’s VIN number on NHTSA’s database or the car manufacturer’s website.Customers can also check their car’s VIN number for free on the MyCarFax mobile application. The application allows customers to plug a license plate or VIN number into the CarFax database to locate any open recalls on the car. It will also alert customers in the case of a future recall.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tax Tip: Getting the Premium Tax Credit from the Affordable Care Act

Tax Tip: Getting the Premium Tax Credit from the Affordable Care Act

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- If you bought into the Affordable Care Act, you may end up paying some money back when filing your tax return."If you bought health coverage through the federal or state health insurance marketplace, chances are you signed up to get some of that help in advance through advanced payments of what we call the Premium Tax Credit,” says Eric Smith, spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service.Smith says those who got the tax credit may have wrongly estimated their 2014 earnings -- meaning they'll have to reconcile the cost, either paying more or receiving a tax credit."Some people may find they got an advanced payment that was not as much as they actually qualified for, and others maybe a little more,” said Smith. “Some are going to be a little up. Some are going to be a little down."Anyone who purchased government-backed health care and didn't claim the Premium Tax Credit in advance are now eligible to claim it in full.

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Weekly Jobless Claims Nearly Unchanged

Weekly Jobless Claims Nearly Unchanged

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims were slightly higher last week, increasing by just 1,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.For the week ending March 14, the number of people filing for benefits edged up to 291,000. The previous week, claims stood at a revised level of 290,000.The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.The four-week moving average also climbed higher by 2,250, to 304,750.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Could Toys ‘R’ Us Be Leaving Its Times Square Flagship Store?

Could Toys ‘R’ Us Be Leaving Its Times Square Flagship Store?

Photo by Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- One of New York City's Times Square's most iconic tenants may soon be moving out.According to Bloomberg News, Toys "R" Us will leave its flagship store next year due to an anticipated rent increase. The location, which opened in November 2001 and includes 110,000 square feet of space, hosts numerous major attractions. The Times Square location is home to a 60-foot Ferris wheel and a 20-foot animatronic Tyrannasaurus Rex dinosaur. Toys "R" Us spokeswoman Linda Connors told Bloomberg that the company has been "a proud resident of Times Square since our international flagship store opened there," and that with the lease on the store expiring in 2016, the company is "reviewing our lease renewal options."

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Stocks Soar After Fed Announces Interest Rates Won’t Increase Until Job Markets Improve

Stocks Soar After Fed Announces Interest Rates Won’t Increase Until Job Markets Improve

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street got off to a rough start to Wednesday's trading session, but after hearing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen say that interest rates were unlikely to be increased at the Fed's April meeting, the markets surged back.The Dow Jones Industrial Average, down nearly 100 points before the Fed's statement, closed the day at 18,076.19, up 227.11 for the day.Graphs showing the Nasdaq in response to the announcement show a near-vertical climb at about 2 p.m. The Nasdaq closed up 45.40 at 4,982.83. The S&P 500 gained 25.14 on Wednesday, finishing the session just short of 2,100 at 2,099.42.At a press conference Wednesday, Yellen said that a rate hike could come after April's meeting, but that it also couldn't be ruled out as soon as June. Of note, the Fed dropped the word "patient" from its statement, after months of saying that it would be patient in choosing when to increase interest rates.

"As we noted in our statement, the decision to raise the target range will depend on our assessment of realized and expected progress toward our objectives of maximum employment and 2% inflation," Yellen added.Rates have been near zero since 2008 in an effort to help the economy climb out of a devastating financial crisis and recession.

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Gates, Bloomberg Create Fund to Help Countries Fight Litigation from Tobacco Industry

Gates, Bloomberg Create Fund to Help Countries Fight Litigation from Tobacco Industry

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates on Wednesday announced the creation of a joint litigation fund that will work to combat the tobacco industry in its use of international trade agreements to threaten and prevent nations from passing tobacco-control laws.The Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund will be backed by both Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We are at a critical moment in the global effort to reduce tobacco use, because the significant gains we have seen are at risk of being undermined by the tobacco industry's use of trade agreements and litigation," Bloomberg said in a press release. "We will stand with nations as they work to protect their populations against the deadly health effects of tobacco use."Recently, the press release announcing the creation of the fund says, the tobacco industry has threatened strong tobacco control laws put in place in Uruguay and Australia -- among other countries. The fund will be started with $4 million, the press release says, which will be used to "encourage and assist governments to defend themselves against international trade suits brought by tobacco companies." The Washington, D.C. based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids will administer the fund and provide legal resources and technical assistance."Country leaders who are trying to protect their citizens from the harms of tobacco should not be deterred by threats of costly legal challenges from huge tobacco companies," said Gates. "Australia won its first case, which sends a strong message, but smaller, developing countries don't have the same resources. That's why we are supporting the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund."

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Windows 10: What We Know About the Launch

Windows 10: What We Know About the Launch

Microsoft(SHENZHEN, China) -- Microsoft has moved the release date for Windows 10 even earlier, revealing the operating system update will reach consumers sometime this summer.Windows 10 will be available in 190 countries and 11 languages, Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of operating systems, said at a Windows summit in Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday night.While an exact release date hasn't been announced, Microsoft had previously been targeting a late-2015 release date for the software.Myerson also showed off more of what to expect, including Windows Hello, a system that allows users with biometric sensors to log onto their Windows 10 computers using their face, iris or fingerprint.Other changes include the addition of Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant, and a more integrated experience across all Microsoft devices.Internet Explorer will also take a backseat in Windows 10 to make way for Microsoft's new browser, code-named Project Spartan, which is expected to be a faster and sleeker way to browse the Internet.

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SXSW 2015: Five Standout Moments in Technology

SXSW 2015: Five Standout Moments in Technology

AeroMobil(AUSTIN, Texas) --After five days of fun, the interactive portion of South by Southwest has come to an end.As the barbecue and beer bender winds down for techies at SXSW, here's a look back at five standout moments from the interactive portion of this year's festival in Austin, Texas:Google's Biggest Mistake with GlassAstro Teller, the scientist who has the real-life title of "Captain of Moonshots" at the secretive Google X laboratory, was candid in a keynote address on Tuesday about what went wrong with Google Glass."We allowed and sometimes even encouraged too much attention for the program," Teller said. "What we wanted was to say to the world this is an early prototype."Launching the Google Glass Explorer program to get the devices out into the real world for immediate feedback was an important first step for Teller's team."We learned a lot on the technology front," he said. "Many things like the battery were big obstacles. [Also] to understand how to talk about these things in the real world and figure out how new social norms could be built."Google ended its Explorer program earlier this year and is back at it working on a second prototype.Flying CarFlying cars could one day be a reality. AeroMobil showed off its prototype, which the company hopes will be hitting the road and the skies as early as 2017.The vehicle -- which looks a lot like something the Jetsons would have -- tops off at 99 mph on the road and around 124 mph in the sky, according to the AeroMobil website.Not surprisingly, the vehicle won't come cheap. While an exact price hasn't been set, the company said buyers can expect to pay somewhere in the six figures for the first edition.Ex MachinaEx Machina was the film everyone was talking about at SXSW, thanks in part to a brilliant stunt involving Tinder.Alicia Vikander, an actress who plays a beautiful robot in the film, was turned into a Tinder bot at the start of the festival where plenty of unsuspecting men swiped right on the actress.After having a conversation with the bot, they were directed to her Instagram where the only two posts are advertisements for the film.The stunt drew plenty of attention to the film, which stars Oscar Isaac and opens on April 10.MeerkatTwo weeks after its launch, the live video streaming app took SXSW by storm as festival attendees used it to broadcast their experiences from Austin live to their Twitter followers.What makes Meerkat so attractive is the easy way users can leverage their existing social networks with just a smartphone.After downloading the app and logging in via Twitter, users can schedule a live stream or begin one with the push of a button. A tweet is then sent out from the user's account, inviting people to click the link to watch the live stream.When the person is done broadcasting, the users can save their stream or choose for it to disappear -- offering the same ephemeral content that has turned Snapchat into a success.Your Brain on BarbecueIt wouldn't be SXSW without some awesome Texas barbecue. GE paired delicious food with science at their Barbecue Research Center, showing diners how their brains react to barbecue, coleslaw, banana pudding and other dishes.Diners strapped on brain wave reading head bands while screens next to their picnic tables showed the variance in their brain waves.The hypothesis is that the more the composite brain waves zig-zag on the screen, the more likely it is the person was tasting the variance in their food.

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‘Race Together': Starbucks Wants Employees, Customers to Talk Race Relations

‘Race Together': Starbucks Wants Employees, Customers to Talk Race Relations

Starbucks(NEW YORK) -- The next time you go to Starbucks, you may see more than your name scribbled on the side of your cup.The Seattle-based coffee chain is launching a new campaign to address race relations by asking employees to write "Race Together" on the side of customers' cups. The idea is to spark a conversation between baristas and customers."What if we were to write 'Race Together' on every Starbucks cup, and that facilitated a conversation between you and our customers?" Starbucks CEO Howard Schutlz says in a video message to employees, explaining the campaign. "And what if our customers as a result of that had a renewed level of understanding and sensitivity about the issue, and they themselves would spread that to their own sphere of influence?"The initiative has created quite a stir on social media -- so much so that the company's senior vice president of communications temporarily deleted his Twitter account under an avalanche of criticism, saying he felt "personally attacked in a cascade of negativity."Despite the negative reactions, Schutlz says the campaign is happening."Some people have said, 'Howard, this is not a subject we should touch. This is not for you. This is not for a company. This is for someone else.' I reject that. I reject that completely," he says in the video.

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Are Peer-to-Peer Money Transfer Services Safe?

Are Peer-to-Peer Money Transfer Services Safe?

iStock/Thinkstock(BERKELEY, Calif.) — On a Tuesday afternoon in Berkeley, California, ABC News’ Becky Worley asked about 20 students how they split a bill in a restaurant or pay back a roommate for shared bills.“Venmo,” they answered.Venmo is a smartphone app that lets you transfer money to another person’s account without fees and without credit cards. Roughly two-thirds of the students said they used this smartphone app for the task; only a handful said they write checks to pay each other back. For these digital natives, Venmo is clearly convenient, but is it safe?Venmo isn’t for buying things from a merchant. It’s not a direct competitor to Google Wallet or Apple Pay. It’s for peer-to-peer transfers to people you know. You can tie a credit card to your Venmo account for transfers, but there’s a 3 percent surcharge. Tying Venmo directly to a bank account eliminates those fees.That’s how Mohsin Charania says he had his account set up. In making transfers and receiving them from friends, Charania had built up a surplus of cash that Venmo held in his account -- kind of like an escrow account that Charania hadn’t cashed out. But last fall the professional poker player from Chicago says his account was hacked.“It was frustrating. I had over $2,000 on there from various transfers that I received from friends and I had no way of finding out what happened to my account,” he said.He says he tried to make a transfer using the app and it displayed a message saying his account had been closed and the money was gone. But he says this was the first he’d heard of any activity; he hadn’t used the app for about a week.“There was no notification on my phone saying ‘$2,000 on your Venmo account has been cashed out’ or that your account has been shut down,” he said. “I was kind of dumbfounded that something like that could happen. It took four days and I still didn’t get a response on my cellphone regarding my account until I discovered that it had been hacked and then I reached out to [Venmo].”Venmo is incredibly social for a financial app. It can broadcast your transfers within the app to other people in your social graph. One of the ways it has spread so fast amongst millennials is that it combs a user’s Facebook friends and asks if it can send them invitations to join Venmo.But Venmo has had a run of complaints across social media, and the one rising to the top was the same one Charania complained about: users said Venmo did not email them when changes were made to their accounts. The security issue here is that a hacker could change your password or email address and you would never know until the money was gone.An article detailing another hack of a Venmo user was published by Slate and got a lot of attention. And as the media honed in on the app-maker about this and other security issues (and a day after ABC’s Good Morning America Investigates contacted the company), it improved that notification feature.“If customers don't feel like they're secure they won't use the application,” James Wester, mobile payments analyst at IDC, a market research firm, told ABC News.On the Venmo blog, their general manager, Michael Vaughan, explained the changes. "To enhance the security of your Venmo account, any time there is a change to your primary email address, password or phone number, we will send you an email notification."To test the change out, we teamed up with Wester to simulate an account takeover. Because Venmo publishes my use of the app to others in my social graph, it’s not impossible that an acquaintance could take my email and guess my password. Imagining that scenario. Wester uses my email address to log on to Venmo with a password I provide. As soon as he makes the change to my primary email address, the app notifies me at my old address.It worked, but here’s the existing problem: If my account had truly been hacked, Venmo offers no phone or live support; you can only submit complaints through an online form.That’s what Charania says he did, and I ask him, “Did you ever get a phone call or reach a Venmo rep on the phone?”“No. No one ever contacted me on the phone,” he replied.He says he eventually got his money back, but he says only after he took to Twitter to complain and enlisted friends with a lot of followers to retweet his issue. According to Wester, users are protected when using an app like this because it’s tied to your bank or credit card so their umbrella protections apply: with a credit card, as soon as the fraud is reported the money is credited back.With a debit card or bank account, users have two days after learning of the fraud to alert the bank and only after they verify it is fraud is the money credited back into the user’s account. But in Charania’s case, the money stolen was ostensibly being held in escrow by Venmo. It had never come from his bank, but was transferred in by other users paying him back.The California Department of Business Oversight cited more than 20 unsafe practices by Venmo last year. On Wednesday, the department told GMA Investigates in a written statement: “We continue to work with Venmo to obtain full compliance with the order.”Venmo, which is owned by PayPal, responded to GMA Investigates with a blog it wrote to customers. “We're working to be more responsive to your support inquiries,” the blog read. "We’ve made significant progress and will continue to improve in this area.”Despite the issues, Mohsin and others say they experienced, Wester points to the overall security improvements in digital payments.“Even with the issues that are happening with these peer-to-peer payment networks and mobile networks, they really are more secure than a lot of other payment methods,” he said.He suggested that people who use Venmo and other digital payments apps put a passcode on their phones, use a hard-to-guess password, and dive into the settings of all financial apps to enact any extra security features they may offer, such as a PIN number for each transaction (two-factor authentication).The bottom line is, in this race to win the lucrative digital payments market, it may be the services that make users feel safest that ultimately win.“When you’re selling an application it’s supposed to be more convenient. Just the inconvenience of having to get your own many back is not good,” Wester said. “If customers don’t feel like they’re secure, they won’t use the application.”

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Elon Musk Predicts the End of Human Drivers

Elon Musk Predicts the End of Human Drivers

Paul Warner/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Elon Musk has predicted a future where human drivers are outlawed in favor of self-driving cars.The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is known for his ideas that seem straight out of a science fiction novel, but when Musk talks, people listen."In the distant future, they may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous," Musk said at computing company NVIDIA's annual conference this week.Musk has spoken out about the need for humans to be careful with artificial intelligence, however he said he believes autonomous vehicles aren't something humans need to worry about.He made the point that elevator operators used to be common and are now obsolete with modern circuitry that lets passengers get where they need to go with the press of a button. The same could happen with self-driving cars.Tesla has added some self-driving features to its cars, however the company's vehicles are not yet entirely autonomous. Musk has previously spoken about the potential that self-driving technology has to save lives.Musk took to Twitter after his NVIDIA appearance to make it clear that he's in full support of Tesla owners always being able to drive their cars.

However, when self-driving cars become safer than human-driven cars, the public may outlaw the latter. Hopefully not.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2015

 

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Tax Tip: The Best Tax Write-Off

Tax Tip: The Best Tax Write-Off

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the time comes time to do your taxes, it really pays to be a parent."If you're supporting your kids and they're living at home, chances are you qualify to claim them as a dependent, and those will help you save you on your taxes,” says Eric Smith of the Internal Revenue Service.Each child declared as a dependent can shave $3,950 off of your taxable income.  Smith says there's even more savings to be had for a middle-income family with a child under 17 years of age, via the Child Tax Credit."It's a credit of up to $1,000 and it will reduce your tax liability. And, if you're in a lower- to moderate-income range, it can actually be what we refer to in tax lingo as refundable,” says Smith.A person caring for an elderly parent and paying 50 percent of their living expenses can also claim the parent as a dependent.

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Sorry, SXSW, That Sexy Tinder User’s a Robot Plugging a Robot Movie

Sorry, SXSW, That Sexy Tinder User’s a Robot Plugging a Robot Movie

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — You're single, you're in town for a pop culture festival -- what could be better than finding an attractive woman to spend some time with via Tinder? That's just what scores of attendees to the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, thought when they "swiped right" over the past few days for Ava, a 25-year-old woman who was also in town for the event.Tinder users found out that Ava is pretty, attentive, and deep -- but they are only just finding out that she's not real. In fact, she's a chatbot meant, surreptitiously though appropriately, to plug Ex Machina, a sci-fi thriller that centers on a sexy robot named Ava, whose feminine wiles are tested on a human test subject.  One of those taken by "Ava" was a Tinder user named Brock, who lamented the bot, "toyed with my emotions so hard." He shared one of his exchanges with "Ava" on AdWeek.com.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tax Refunds – Just What Are They Good For?

Tax Refunds – Just What Are They Good For?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — So you've gotten your IRS refund. Now what are you going to do with it?If you're like most Americans, according to Bankrate.com, you're not going to paint the town red. In fact, just three percent will use their refunds towards a shopping spree or perhaps, pay for a vacation.With the average refund nearing $3,300 in 2015, people plan to be more pragmatic with their windfalls. About one in four, says the Bankrate survey, will use it for everyday needs like groceries, utilities or rent.Meanwhile, a third of the respondents have plans to either invest their money, stick it in their savings account or hold onto their refund for an emergency expense.Slightly more, 34 percent hope to get on better financial footing by paying down debt.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How Bed Bath & Beyond Will Punish Customers Making Returns Without Receipts

How Bed Bath & Beyond Will Punish Customers Making Returns Without Receipts

Photo by Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Bed Bath & Beyond shoppers will soon have to bid farewell to a key part of the home retail store's extremely forgiving return policy.Beginning April 20, all returns made without a receipt will be honored for the lowest current price.Furthermore, the reimbursed store credit or exchange will have an additional 20 percent deducted from its value.Those with a receipt need not worry; all exchanges and refunds will be honored for the full amount as purchased."Effective April 20, 2015, we are expanding nationwide a modification to our return policy for Bed Bath & Beyond, buybuy BABY and Harmon Face Values that will only affect customers whose purchase cannot be located to process a return, either because the receipt was not provided or because we could not identify the purchase through a query of our transaction records," a Bed Bath & Beyond spokesperson told ABC News."We have been providing advance notice of the upcoming change to our customers via signs and handouts in our stores, encouraging customers to hold onto their receipts to avoid being impacted by this change in any manner. Customers making returns with a gift receipt or returning items from their gift registry for which we have a record will not be affected by this change. At Bed Bath & Beyond, we pride ourselves on providing customers with a noticeably better shopping experience and modifications such as this will allow us to continue to deliver exceptional service in the future."The store's former policy allowed customers to return items with or without a receipt for an exchange or full merchandise credit.There's no word if any changes will be made to Bed Bath & Beyond's famed non-expiring coupons.To ease the blow of Bed Bath's new method for returns, here's some incredible store policies that still exist today.Costco

Costco customers may return purchased products to any Costco warehouse, with or without its original packaging. If you don't have a receipt, Costco will do their best to refund the item anyway. Electronic items must be returned within 90 days of purchase. This includes televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, touchscreen tablets, MP3 players and cell phones. Items bought from Costco.com may be returned to any warehouse location.ZapposZappos' 365-day policy allows customers to ship return items for free, so long as they're sent back in the original packaging.Bloomingdale'sBloomingdale's has a no-time-limit policy on returns. Unused gift cards may be returned where customers will be reimbursed for their full value. There are, however, special guidelines for items like furniture, mattresses, and area rugs. Bloomingdale's accepts returned items with or without receipts.Kohl'sKohl's offers a "no questions asked - hassle-free" return policy, meaning that there are no time restrictions. If customers make a purchase with a Kohl's store credit card, then no receipt is needed. Those purchases can be located up to 12 months after being bought.buybuy Babybuybuy Baby provides free return shipping to all customers. Returns with receipts are accepted within 90 days of purchase. Items returned without receipts or over 90 days will receive full store credit, but no refunds.NordstromWhile they don't actually have a return policy, Nordstrom handles each situation case by case, according to their website. Depending on the method of purchase, customers are not required to show a receipt for the returned purchase.Nordstrom Rack stores have a bit of a stricter policy. All returns are required within 90 days of purchase, must be accompanied by a receipt, and still have the original price tag.

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Facebook to Roll Out Feature Allowing Friends to Send, Receive Money

Facebook to Roll Out Feature Allowing Friends to Send, Receive Money

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Facebook will roll out a new feature in its Messenger app that will allow users to send or receive money.In a move that seems to be a strike at money-transfer app Venmo, Facebook will allow its users to open a conversation with a friend and add their debit card to either accept or send money to their friends. The feature will be rolled out in the U.S. in the coming months. "The money you send is transferred right away," Facebook said in a press release. Still, "it may take one to three business days to make the money available to you depending on your bank, just as it does with other deposits."Facebook will also prompt users to create a PIN once they add a debit card that will provide extra security for future money-sending attempts.Tech site Mashable says that the choice to only allow debit card use -- for now -- was made to "minimize fraud and avoid fees." The Venmo app allows users to transfer money using credit cards, but charges a three-percent fee on those transactions.

"These payment systems are kept in a secured environment that is separate from other parts of the Facebook network and that receive additional monitoring and control," Facebook's blog post said.Adding to that protection is an anti-fraud team that will monitor for suspicious activity to make sure users' financial information remains secure.

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Federal Reserve Meeting Begins, Wall Street Posts Losses

Federal Reserve Meeting Begins, Wall Street Posts Losses

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks rallied back from early-session deficits on Tuesday, but finished mostly below their open, caused in part by the ongoing Federal Reserve policy meeting.The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid to 17,849.08, losing 128.34 on the day.The Nasdaq climbed 7.92 to 4,937.43, while the S&P 500 stumbled to 2,074.20, dropping 6.99. The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee opened a two-day meeting on Tuesday, with one major topic of discussion being the potential increase of interest rates. For months, the committee has said that increased interest rates are coming as the economy continues to heal. It's not clear how much more patient the committee will choose to be. Also on Tuesday, health insurance company Premera Blue Cross announced that it had been the victim of a data breach. The personal information of approximately 11 million customers may have been accessed by hackers.

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11 Million Compromised in Premera Blue Cross Cyberattack

11 Million Compromised in Premera Blue Cross Cyberattack

Premera Blue Cross(NEW YORK) -- The FBI is investigating a data breach involving health insurance company Premera Blue Cross, potentially exposing the information of up to 11 million customers.The company said in a press release that it had discovered the intrusion on Jan. 29 and that it later determined the initial attack had happened in May 2014. The company has since determined that "attackers may have gained unauthorized access to members' information, which could include members' name, date of birth, Social Security number, mailing address, email address, telephone number, member identification number, bank account information, and claims information, including clinical information.

Premera immediately notified the FBI and enlisted a leading cybersecurity firm, Mandiant, to help remove “infection” created by the attack, the statement added.The FBI applauded Premera for “quickly notifying” the U.S. government, saying the company’s response “is a model for other companies facing cyber intrusions, as rapid notification allows the FBI to quickly deploy our cyber experts to preserve evidence and work with a company's incident responders to help recover their networks.”“Cybercrime remains a significant threat and the FBI will continue to devote substantial resources and efforts to bringing cyber criminals to justice,” FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell said in a statement. The data does not appear to have been removed from Premera's systems, the company says. There is also "no evidence to date that such data has been used inappropriately."Still, the company plans to mail letters to approximately 11 million affected users and provide them with two years of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. The company also set up a website for its impacted customers.Premera is associated with Blue Cross Blue Shield. According to the company, the intrusion affected Premera Blue Cross, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, and its affiliate brands Vivacity and Connexion Insurance Solutions.

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SXSW 2015: Mophie Dogs Are Superheroes of the Festival

SXSW 2015: Mophie Dogs Are Superheroes of the Festival

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Adorable dogs have been turned into superheroes at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas -- rescuing the tech-dependent attendees when their smartphone batteries are about to die.Festival goers who tweet their location, a screenshot of their low battery and the hashtag #mophierescue may have a rescue dog save the day for them by bringing along a mophie power pack to help breathe life back into their devices.Working with the Saint Bernard Rescue Foundation, mophie added the service to not only help the crowd on hand in Austin for the festival, but to also raise awareness about the superhero dogs who need loving homes.

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Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Brand Is Dead

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Brand Is Dead

Microsoft(NEW YORK) -- The Internet Explorer brand is dead as we know it.The ubiquitous browser, which made its debut two decades ago, has been officially put out to pasture to make way for its younger relative, Project Spartan, which is set to become the star of Windows 10."We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10. We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we will also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is code-named Project Spartan," Chris Capossela said at Microsoft's Convergence event Monday night. "We have to name the thing."Internet Explorer will exist on some versions of Windows 10 but solely for compatibility purposes, according to The Verge.Taking the place of Internet Explorer, which has a long-established love-hate relationship with office workers around the world, will be a faster browser with a streamlined user experience to compete with Chrome, Firefox and others.Internet Explorer came a long way from its infancy, when it rendered basic HTML and grew into adolescence each year with a progressively better interface and user experience.After Internet Explorer 6 was released in 2001, the browser hit its first real speed bump in its digital life.An alert from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned users in 2004 that holes in Internet Explorer could lead to their passwords and other personal information falling into the hands of hackers.Microsoft rolled out a fix, however, security issues continued to snowball, leading to Internet Explorer having a severe image problem.Five years after Internet Explorer 6, Microsoft released a series of updates to the browser, however it was never quite able to recover from its battle scars.With one last-ditch attempt to put the long-suffering Internet Explorer out of its misery, Microsoft rolled out a clever new campaign to breathe life back into the brand for the Internet Explorer 10 release.The joke: We've moved on from being the "browser you loved to hate.""Project Spartan is Microsoft’s next generation browser, built just for Windows 10," Microsoft said in a statement to ABC News. "We will continue to make Internet Explorer available with Windows 10 for enterprises and other customers who require legacy browser support."While critics heralded the updated browser for Windows 8 as a step in the right direction, it seems luck has finally run out for Microsoft's browser of the past two decades.Whatever Microsoft decides to name Project Spartan, one thing is clear: It's the fresh start Microsoft has been looking for.

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