Sep 30, 2013

FTC | Warnings September 30, 2013: FTC Warns of Utility Bill Scam That Asks for Payment via GreenDot, Paypal or Prepaid Gift Card

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Imagine receiving a phone call from your utility company saying they’re about to cut off your electricity. The caller ID looks like it might be a legitimate phone number, but you know you’ve paid your bill. The caller says, “I can stop this, but only if you pay me.”
It’s a scam, but there’s a new twist.  Instead of asking you to wire money, a new scam wants you to use GreenDot, buy a prepaid gift card, or use PayPal. Scammers using reloadable debit cards, gift cards, or PayPal is not new, but it’s growing. It lets them get your money in a way that you’ll never get it back.
Scammers can use computers to make it look like they’re calling from one place – when, in fact, they’re someplace else.  If you get a call, email, text, or even a visit from someone telling you to make a payment via PayPal, or to buy a GreenDot card or a gift card, it’s probably a scam.  Call your utility company on the phone number that appears on your bill, describe what happened, and report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission, online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
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NFA | Notice to Members September 30, 2013: Filing Requirements for Exemtions Notices under CFTC's Recently Adopted Harminization Rules

CNBC | U.S Credit Rating by S&P September 30, 2013: S&P to Hold Fire on U.S. Credit Downgrade - for Now.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The U.S. debt ceiling debate is unlikely to change Standard & Poor's AA+ U.S. sovereign rating, the credit ratings agency said Monday, but warned a protracted battle or a breach of next month's deadline that results in a missed debt payment could alter their calculus.

In a research note, S&P appeared to lower the probability of a repeat performance of the downgrade drama that paralyzed markets in 2011. In a controversial move two years ago, the impasse between the Congress and the White House led S&P to strip the U.S. of its AAA credit rating. The ratings agency was the only one of its peers to do so—leading it to accuse the U.S. of retaliation when the federal government sued S&P for its part in the 2008 financial crisis.

Yet at least for the moment, S&P appeared to take a more tempered approach to the saga unfolding in the nation's capitol, even as it decried the "political brinkmanship" at the heart of the current spending crisis.

"In our opinion, the current impasse over the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling creates an atmosphere of uncertainty that could affect confidence, investment, and hiring in the U.S. However, as long as it is short-lived, we do not anticipate the impasse to lead to a change in the sovereign rating," S&P said.

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NYT | Global Update September 30, 2013Senate Rejects House's Terms on Budget With Shutdown Near.

The New York Times International Herald Tribune
September 30, 2013
Compiled 20:45 GMT

Global Update


Senate Rejects House's Terms on Budget With Shutdown Near

Within minutes of convening, the Senate voted 54 to 46 to strip the health care provisions from a measure passed by the House early Sunday morning and send it back to the House.

As Congress Spars Over Budget, Obama Stays on the Sidelines

Watching as Congress debated government spending and his signature health care law, President Obama welcomed and met with the Israeli prime minister.

Markets Slide Worldwide Amid U.S. Budget Battle

On Wall Street, investors were concerned that a shutdown could make it more likely that the United States will default on its outstanding debt when it reaches its borrowing limit.
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Op-Ed Contributor

The White Gold of Jihad

Al Shabab helps finance terrorist operations by poaching elephants. The United States should join the fight to stop them.

Officials Struggle With Tangled Web of Financing for Somali Militants

The Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the deadly mall siege in Nairobi, makes money through various illegal endeavors and even employs a team of accountants.

Release of Decades-Old Death Lists Stirs Anger and Grief in Afghanistan

Names of and details about nearly 5,000 people killed by the Afghan Communist government in 1978 and 1979, have been made public only now.

Westerners' Smuggled Letters Offer Rare Glimpse of Egyptian Prisons

Missives by two Canadians and one American caught up in the crackdown in Egypt reveal a new willingness to subject Westerners to the same brutal treatment as Egyptians.

F.A.A. Panel Would Ease Policy on Electronic Devices Aloft

Passengers should be allowed to use the entertainment features on their phones and tablets throughout the flight, the panel said.

Health Insurance Exchanges Scramble to Be Ready as Opening Day Nears

Officials are warning that despite fevered efforts, their new online markets where people can shop for health plans will not be fully operational at first.

CNN Documentary Is Off; Filmmaker Blames Pressure From Clintons

The filmmaker, Charles H. Ferguson, said that he was unable to get access to prospective sources for a project on the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

India in Tax Dispute With Nokia Ahead of Microsoft Deal

Nokia said the tax authorities froze all of its Indian assets, including bank accounts and factories, to ensure that the company could pay its future tax bill.

Shrinking List of Video Games Is Dominated by Blockbusters

As video game players' tastes shift toward smartphones and tablets, more and more of the money spent on console games goes to a small number of blockbusters.

Grand Theft Auto Franchise Playfully Flicks Mud at Its Birthplace: Scotland

Far from the crime-scarred turf its avatars inhabit, Grand Theft Auto was created in Dundee, Scotland. Its authors fondly seeded it with inside jokes.

Kipsang Sets World Record at Berlin Marathon

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For the Washington Area, a Second Lightning Strike

A shutdown of much of the federal government would hurt the capital region, already hobbled by sequestration and a stalled economy.

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DealBook P.M. Edition September 30, 2013: Goldman as Case Study, Not Hero or Villain

Monday, September 30, 2013
Goldman as Case Study, Not Hero or Villain
Goldman as Case Study, Not Hero or Villain Goldman Sachs has been a symbol for Wall Street's dark side. Its depiction as a blood-sucking "vampire squid" in a Rolling Stone article captured the public's imagination. Amid the vitriol, Goldman has had plenty of defenders who argue that the bank performed far better than its peers during the financial crisis and continues to be a profit-making machine. So which is it? Steven G. Mandis, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Columbia University, takes a measured, academic approach to the question in a new book, "What Happened to Goldman Sachs."
    No Limit on Strikes for JPMorgan Chase
    Henning: No Limit on Strikes for JPMorgan Chase Simply paying money to get rid of investigations raises questions about whether JPMorgan Chase should be viewed as a recidivist, and if so how the law should treat the bank. Peter J. Henning explores the issues in the White Collar Watch column.
    Former Xstrata Chief in New Mining Venture The trading house Noble Group and the American private equity firm TPG Capital will each invest $500 million in a private mining venture led by Mick Davis, the former Xstrata chief executive who lost out in the Glencore takeover.
    Mutual Fund Billionaire Gives $250 Million to Yale
    Mutual Fund Billionaire Gives $250 Million to Yale Charles B. Johnson, the retired chairman of the money management company Franklin Resources, has pledged $250 million to Yale.
    Active Network in $1.05 Billion Buyout Active Network, which provides online tools and data management for events, has agreed to be acquired by the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in a deal valued at $1.05 billion.
    Barclays Names Top Aerospace Banker Barclays has announced that Jay Caldwell will join the bank as global head of its aerospace and defense team.
    Apollo's Energy I.P.O. Gives New Life to Quick Flips Apollo Global Management is showing that private equity can still dig into its old bag of tricks, writes Christopher Swann of Reuters Breakingviews.
    A shutdown of the federal government is set to begin. Empire State Realty Trust, owner of the Empire State Building in Manhattan, is expected to price its initial public offering.

Wall Street at Close Report by RTTNews September 30, 2013: Washington Budget Battle Takes Toll On Stocks - U.S. Commentary

Washington Budget Battle Takes Toll On Stocks - U.S. Commentary

Washington Budget Battle Takes Toll On Stocks - U.S. Commentary
9/30/2013 4:47 PM ET
Wall Street suffered a notable decline on Monday, as worries about a looming government shutdown weighed on the market. Investors ignored some upbeat statistics on the manufacturing sector and focused on the budget fight in Washington.
Shares dropped at the outset of trading as the deadline for a spending deal came into view. There was a moderation during the mid-morning, but stocks slipped back toward their lows of the day during the afternoon.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average eventually finished lower by 128.57 points, or 0.8 percent, closing at 15,129.67. The Nasdaq retreated 10.12 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 3,771.48. The S&P 500 slipped 10.20 points, or 0.6 percent, to finish at 1,681.55.
Congress continues to wrangle over a spending bill. Without a last-minute deal, many federal government operations are scheduled to shut down at midnight due to lack of funds.
The Senate rejected a bill that would have financed operations until mid-December. The bill, passed over the weekend by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, also called for a one-year delay in the implementation of the health care reform bill, major provisions of which are set to go into effect tomorrow.
Though it was overshadowed by the worries about the budget fight in Washington, some fresh economic statistics came out today. Industry data released this morning showed that manufacturing activity in the Chicago area experienced improved growth in September.
Specifically, the Chicago Purchasing Managers index rose to 55.7 compared to a reading of 53.0 in August. Any ready above 50 indicates expansion in the sector. The Chicago PMI is considered one of the most important regional manufacturing reports.
Looking to overseas markets, Asian stocks suffered sharp declines, hurt by the prospect of a U.S. budget deadlock.
Japan's Nikkei index fell over 2 percent to end at its lowest level in about two weeks. The index dropped about 304 points, or nearly 2.1 percent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index retreated 347 points, or 1.5 percent. There were also losses in South Korea and Australia. China bucked the overall trend in the region, with the Shanghai composite edging up 0.7 percent.
Shares lost ground in Europe as well. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index dropped 50.44 points, or 0.8 percent, to finish at 6,462.22. Germany's DAX index retreated 67.11 points, or 0.8 percent, to end at 8,594.40. France's CAC 40 index slipped 43.33 points, or 1 percent, to close at 4,143.44.

Wall Street at Close Report by MarketWatch September 30, 2013: U.S. stocks gain for third straight quarter, but drop 0.84% .

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch 
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) U.S. stocks dropped on Monday, taking a little shine off the third straight quarter of gains, as investors worried about a standoff on Capitol Hill and the likely duration of a possible government shutdown. 

“This is not a doomsday situation; at some point someone will blink and there will be an agreement. I’m not optimistic we’re going to avert a shutdown, but I don’t think it’ll last more than a few days,” said Dan Heckman, senior fixed-income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
“I don’t see a tremendous amount of panic in the markets, and that to me is a hopeful sign that markets sense an agreement, and maybe an agreement that’’s positive,” Heckman added. 

Lawmakers have until midnight to pass an emergency measure to keep the federal government running starting Tuesday, the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year. If an accord is not reached, hundreds of thousands of government workers could find themselves on unpaid leave. 

The Senate on Monday afternoon voted 54-46 to remove a House-passed delay of the Affordable Care Act, and sent a “clean” budget bill back to the House. Senate and House Republicans are reportedly looking at a one-week measure to avoid a partial government shutdown. 

The vote on Capitol Hill follows a weekend that offered no indications of progress between Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans in the House looking to stall President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act for a year, in addition to other changes to the law. Democrats have said they would not allow that scenario to play out. Read: Five market lessons from past government crises.

Reuters Enlarge Image
President Barack Obama
“Will the voices of government workers not getting paychecks and others in the private economy affected by a government shutdown be loud enough for a certain group of House Republicans to get off their ‘principles’ and do the right thing for the country? If not, then maybe they need to see more than a 175-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to get their attention,” noted Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., in afternoon emailed commentary. 

After a 191-point decline, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.84% finished at 15,129.67, down 128.57 points, or 0.8%. The blue-chip index climbed 2.2% in September and 1.5% for the quarter. 

The S&P 500 index SPX -0.60% lost 10.2 points, or 0.6%, to 1,681.55, with consumer staples and energy the leading laggards among its 10 major industry groups, all of which fell. The index rose 3% in September and 4.7% for the quarter. 

The Nasdaq Composite COMP -0.27% declined 10.12 points, or 0.3%, to 3,771.48, rising 5.1% for the month and nearly 11% for the quarter. 

Government shutdown: Winners and losers
Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Elaine Kamarck, a former Clinton administration staffer, explains what it was like in the White House during the last government shutdown in 1995. (Photo: Getty) 

For every two shares rising, roughly three fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 878 million shares traded. Composite volume approached 3.3 billion. 

“It’s difficult to say what these politicians will eventually put together, but the largest problem the market faces here is not per se the budget controversy, or the debt ceiling, or even quarterly earnings, it’s complacency, which is unsettling because it opens the possibility of a larger decline on any negative news,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co. 

The market’s significant climb during the past 18 months has much to do with “zero-percent interest rates and quantitative easing,” said Bittles of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, which includes the central bank purchasing $85 billion a month in bonds. The Fed’s monetary easing both encourages investors to buy stocks and discourages investors from selling equities, said Bittles, given the policy has reduced interest rates and returns on government bonds. 

The price of oil and gold fell, with oil CLX3 -0.56%   off 54 cents, or 0.5%, at $102.33 a barrel, leaving the most-active contract off 4.9% for the month but up 6% for the quarter. December gold GCZ3 -0.83%  fell $12.20, or 0.9%, to $1,327 an ounce, leaving the precious metal up 8.4% from the end of June. 

Treasury prices were mostly higher, with the yield on the 10-year note 10_YEAR -0.12%   used in figuring mortgages and other consumer loans down 1 basis point at 2.615%. The 10-year note closed 13 basis points higher on the quarter. 

The dollar DXY -0.03% fell against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners excluding the yen USDJPY +0.01% but including the euro EURUSD -0.01%

Equities held their losses as a barometer of business activity in the Chicago region rose to 55.7 in September from 53 the prior month, with the latest reading “consistent with modest economic growth,” according to the ISM-Chicago association.
The U.S. Labor Department said it would not release the nonfarm-payrolls report this week should the government shut down, but Bittles views the September report as likely to be a nonevent, given the budget battle and the looming partisan dispute over the nation’s debt ceiling. 

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @MWKateGibson.

The Economist | New Selected Articles September 30, 2013: Clmate change, Esperanto and apocalypse.

Monday September 30th 2013
Editor's picks
A selection of new stories from
Free exchange: Get a life
The Economist explains: Who converts to Islam?

Climate change: it's still our fault
The UN's climate-change panel pins the blame on man
Free exchange:
Get a life
If you're more productive, you get to work less
Simple, logical and doomed
Why Esperanto will never quite become the international language of choice
Free exchange:
Who converts to Islam?
Samantha Lewthwaite, a British convert to Islam, is wanted by Interpol over an alleged bomb-plot. How many people convert to Islam, and why?
The politics of apocalypse

Talk of the end times (recently toned down in Iran) often surfaces in bewildering moments

Click Here!

CMI Gold & Silver Spot Prices at NY Close September 30, 2013.

CMI Gold and Silver

Spot Prices as of close of trading in New York
Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated 9/30/2013 Today Change Week Ago Month Ago Year Ago
GOLD $1,326.75 -$12.50 $1,328.05 $1,396.40 $1,772.60
SILVER $21.74 -$0.11 $21.86 $23.52 $34.61
PLATINUM $1,405.10 -$12.40 $1,428.80 $1,531.10 $1,665.00
PALLADIUM $730.00 -$4.00 $718.25 $725.20 $643.60

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