April 10, 2018

Paying with a credit card is an almost entirely electronic process except for one notable step: the signature. Although this final part of the transaction is meant to provide another layer of security, many consumers quickly squiggle something down on the line just to get the procedure over with. Then there are people like Doug Taylor, who goes the extra mile by signing his receipts with a doodle of a little dog wagging its tail. “It gets a laugh, most Continue reading

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March 23, 2018

In the aftermath of Facebook’s data sharing scandal, critics of the company are calling on lawmakers to discuss ways that the social network could be regulated. To these concerned citizens, Facebook has grown too large to be trusted with so much of the public’s information. The video below looks at how America’s tech giants became so big and the ways that regulators could possibly target these companies in the future.

Questions:

  1. Do you think big tech companies like Facebook, Continue reading
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March 22, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the hyperscale data centers that Facebook relies on to handle its userbase of more than 2 billion accounts. With so much information swirling around these enormous structures, it’s easy to assume that any data you provide to the social network will fade away in an ever-increasing crowd. But not only can Facebook access much of the data it collects, the company also routinely shares this information with scholars and researchers. Users consent Continue reading

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March 6, 2018

Last year, hackers targeted the credit reporting firm Equifax in one of the biggest data breaches in history. While the company initially estimated the cyberattack had affected 143 million consumers, it increased that number by 2.5 million a month later. Then last week Equifax announced a further 2.4 million people had been harmed by the hack, placing the grand total somewhere in the neighborhood of 148 million. Unlike the vast majority of consumers who had their social security information leaked, Continue reading

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January 30, 2018

Yesterday, the filing period officially opened for the 2018 tax season, an annual event that many Americans dread. Along with the standard pain that comes with writing checks to Uncle Sam, people also get stressed by worrying whether or not they calculated their tax bill correctly. Matters can become even worse for these anxious earners if they receive a phone call from the Internal Revenue Service regarding back taxes they never knew about.

But while these calls are certainly intimidating, Continue reading

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September 8, 2017

codeYesterday the credit reporting company Equifax announced that hackers had breached their security systems and stolen personal information from 143 million customers. Along with names and birthdates, the hackers also obtained social security and driver’s license numbers. These pieces of data are basically gold to identity thieves, allowing them to make purchases, borrow money and more all under the victim’s name. “This is about as bad as it gets,” said World Privacy Forum executive director Pamela Dixon. “If you have Continue reading

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August 22, 2017

max-pixelWhen Bitcoin launched in 2008, a single unit of the mysterious cryptocurrency was worth just a little more than half a cent. Bitcoin’s value remained under a dollar for years afterward, leading many to wonder why anyone would invest in a strange new currency that couldn’t be controlled by any government or company. Besides being seemingly worthless, Bitcoin also operated through a decentralized network of computers whose owner was impossible to verify. This anonymity extended to Bitcoin’s users as well, Continue reading

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June 29, 2017

Christiaan-ColenOn Tuesday Roman Klimenko headed into his Kiev accounting office for work just like he does every day. A few hours after he opened his tax preparation software, however, something went horribly wrong. “The screen became red,” said Klimenko. “A warning appeared, and everything on the hard drive was scrambled.” In a matter of moments he lost all of his filings from last year.

This same situation played out across tens of thousands of Ukrainian computers in that same instant. Continue reading

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virus-attackLast Friday hackers launched a massive cyberattack that targeted hundreds of thousands of users and organizations in more than 150 countries. Using a “ransomware” virus called WannaCry, the malware infected computer systems by locking users out of their files and demanding money to set them free. Regardless of whether the user paid up or not, though, the virus was easily able to spread to other computers linked within the same network. Eventually one lucky researcher discovered a “kill switch” in Continue reading

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February 23, 2017

cafecreditdotcomFormed in 2011 with the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aims to keep citizens safe from unfair or deceptive practices by businesses. One of the ways the government organization accomplishes this task is by maintaining a database of complaints made by consumers against companies. And people have certainly taken advantage of this service since its creation two years ago. In that time, the CFPB has received more than 700,000 complaints aimed primarily at Continue reading

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