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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

IRS can do more to protect against tax fraudsters, watchdog says

A government watchdog has said that the Internal Revenue Service could do more to prevent tax fraud if it invested more money in ensuring that the identities of taxpayers are properly verified.

From the IRS’s own data, fraudsters scammed the agency out of at least $1.6 billion in tax refunds during the 2016 tax season that belonged to taxpayers. That’s a drop in the ocean to the $383 billion paid out in legitimate tax returns. But the new report by the Government Accountability Office said that the IRS still has a way to go to prevent further fraudulent activity.

“While IRS regularly assesses risks to and monitors its online authentication applications, it has not established equally rigorous internal controls for its telephone, in-person, and correspondence channels, including mechanisms to collect reliable, useful data to monitor authentication outcomes,” said the report. “As a result, IRS may not identify current or emerging threats to the tax system.”

In other words, the IRS can’t always guarantee that it’s you calling up about your tax affairs or logging in to the website.

That’s a problem because around tax season, scammers obtain tax returns or filings — through leaks or breaches — and use that information to impersonate taxpayers. By filing fake tax returns before the legitimate taxpayer does, the scammer can collect the fraudulently obtained return.

These breaches aren’t helping matters, said IRS chief information officer Gina Garza at a House committee hearing on Thursday. Indeed, the IRS had to clean up after its own data breach last year, in which 100,000 taxpayers had their tax information stolen — just two years after a separate IRS breach affected 300,000 taxpayers.

Although the government watchdog said that the IRS has made some steps to improve its taxpayer verification efforts, the agency “does not have clear plans and timelines” to implement guidance provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that would properly authenticate taxpayers.

One of the ideas was to notify taxpayers when a tax return had been filed in their name, which would help get ahead of scammers trying to cash in on fraudulent returns. But the watchdog said that the IRS hasn’t found the funding to roll out notifications.

Some of the measures could still take between six months and three years to complete, the report said, leaving millions of taxpayers to defend themselves against the ongoing threat of tax fraud.

The IRS accepted all of GAO’s 11 recommendations. IRS spokesperson Cecilia Barreda declined to comment further.


Source: TechCrunch

May Mobility puts autonomous shuttles on the streets of Columbus, Ohio

This December a set of autonomous vehicles will start roaming the streets of Columbus, Ohio, in an effort to turn this bustling Midwestern community into the first smart city. The project, which is part of the Smart Columbus and DriveOhio initiatives, is the first step in launching a fully autonomous shuttle route in the city.

“We’re proud to have the first self-driving shuttle in Ohio being tested on the streets of Columbus,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “This pilot will shape future uses of this emerging technology in Columbus and the nation. Residents win when we add more mobility options to our transportation ecosystem – making it easier to get to work, school or local attractions.”

Michigan-based May Mobility provided the shuttles and the team is training the autonomous vehicles to navigate Columbus streets. May Mobility already launched their vehicles in Detroit and this is the second full implementation of the tech.

The six-seater electric shuttles will follow a 3 mile route through downtown Columbus and the vehicles will start picking up passengers on December 1. Rides are free. May Mobility has already performed over 10,000 successful trips in Detroit. In Columbus the shuttles will drive the Scioto Mile loop, a scenic route through the city and by the Ohio River. A large digital display will show system information and there will be a single operator to oversee the trip and take control in case of emergency.

Founder Edwin Olson is a robotics professor at the University of Michigan and his team won the original DARPA challenge in 2007.

“Cities are seeking cost-effective transportation services that will improve congestion in urban cores, and self-driving shuttles can offer a huge relief,” he said. “As we work toward a future where people can drive less and live more, we’re thrilled to be working with partners from Columbus to provide a new transportation experience that will make traveling through Columbus safe, reliable and personal.”

Columbus won the $40 million Smart City Challenge in June 2016 to test and implement smart city tech.


Source: TechCrunch

Fortnite season 6 gets spooky with new pets and big map changes – CNET

“Darkness rises” in Fortnite’s latest major update.
Source: CNET

Compound launches easy way to short cryptocurrencies

Think Ethereum and other crypto coins are overvalued? Now you can make money when their prices fall via Compound, which is launching its money market protocol for shorting cryptocurrencies today. The Coinbase and Andreessen Horowitz-funded startup today opens its simple web interface allowing users to borrow and short Ethereum, 0x’s ZRX, Brave’s BAT, and Augur’s REP token, or lend them through Compound to earn interest.

Compound’s protocol isn’t just useful for crypto haters, or HODLers who want to generate interest instead of just having their coins gathering dust in a wallet.  “If/when Compound scales, this will lead to some really interesting improvements in market structure, namely, fairer prices” Compound CEO Robert Leshner tells me.

The startup spent the summer completing a security audit by Trail Of Bits and adding 26 hedge fund partners who will trade with Compound, offering liquidity to independent investors looking to be matched with borrowers or lenders. Next, the startup wants to offer a stablecoin on its protocol, bring in big financial institutions to add even more liquidity, and partner with a wallet provider to make signup faster.

Compound users visit its site through a Web3 browser such as MetaMask or Coinbase Wallet and enter their Ethereum price. They can then view the interest rates for borrowing and shorting or lending and earning interest for each of the supported tokens. Compound’s secret sauce is that those interest rates are set algorithmically based on demand, though eventually it wants a community governance body to oversee this process. “It ranges from 5 percent to 45 percent APR depending on how scarce liquidity is . . . in general, we expect supply to outnumber borrowing about 5-1, and borrowing rates to be about 10 percent”.

To make sure no one thinks they’re getting scammed, Compound is also releasing a transparency dashboard users can view to check up on all the assets moving through the protocol and see what Compound is earning. It charges 10 percent of what borrowers pay in interest, with the rest going to the lender. That margin is what attracted the $8.2 seed round for Compound that also included Polychain Capital and Bain Capital Ventures.

It could also make crypto exchanges like Coinbase or Robinhood less attractive to users because leaving their coins there comes with the opportunity cost of not lending them for profit. Meanwhile, shorts could pop the volatile crypto bubble and push prices to more sensible and stable levels. That’s market health is a critical precursor to big banks and traditional investors diving into crypto.

[Disclosure: The author owns small positions in Bitcoin and Ethereum, but has no financial motive for writing this article, did not make trades in the week prior to this article, and doesn not plan to make trades in the 72 hours following publication.]


Source: TechCrunch

The best cheap printers of 2018

Need a new printer for the home or office, but don’t want to spend tons of money? Here’s our picks for the best cheap printers you can buy for around $100 with Wi-Fi support and high-print quality guaranteed.

The post The best cheap printers of 2018 appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Google launches new travel-planning tools

Slowly but surely, Google is expanding its portfolio of travel offerings that now range from hotel- and flight-booking services to trip planning tools. Today, it’s launching yet another set of new travel features that focus on travel planning and hotel bookings.

Maybe the most interesting new tool, especially if you are planning to travel over the holidays, is a new landing page that shows you when to best book your flights ahead of Thanksgiving, the December holidays and New Year’s based on 2017’s price changes. The tool is a bit limited in the number of city pairs it supports, but if you plan to fly on one of the 25 supported routes, then it could definitely save you a few dollars (assuming this year’s price trends are comparable to last year’s).

The same page will also show you hotel deals, though that’s more of a lead-generation tool for Google Maps’ hotel search feature, which many people probably don’t yet know about.

Once you have decided on a destination, Google’s new hotel location score can then help you find the neighborhood that’s best for you. The score summarizes information like nearby bars, landmarks and access to public transportation based on data from Google Maps. It’ll also tell you how to get to and from the airport, which is a smart addition.

Come October, Google will also launch Your Trips, a new feature that’ll help you organize your travel plans. Your Trips is not a new feature, but when this update goes live, it’ll collect all of your flight price tracking, hotel research and everything else you may have saved about a potential trip in one place. It’s a bit like Inbox’s (RIP) trip bundles, but for trips that you are still planning.

And finally, if you perform a regular search for a popular travel destination in Google Search, the result page will automatically highlight these trip-planning features, including day plans and articles about the destination. Once you start booking a trip, these results will also include information about your bookings and additional information based on this data.


Source: TechCrunch

Inside the Secret Conference Plotting to Launch Flying Cars

Over two days in Bentonville, Arkansas, the new aerial mobility nobility gathered away from the public eye to craft strategies for launching the next age of aviation.
Source: Wired

Lyft Will Pay You to Ditch Your Car. Will It Work?

The company’s new challenge is a PR stunt. It’s also a useful way to learn about the quirks of user behavior.
Source: Wired

‘LoJax’ rootkit malware can infect UEFI, a core computer interface

Security researchers at ESET have discovered a malicious rootkit, known as Lojax, that can infect the UEFI of host machines, surviving operating system reinstalls and even complete internal drive replacements.

The post ‘LoJax’ rootkit malware can infect UEFI, a core computer interface appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Lenovo sets computer to stun, shows off Star Trek Enterprise PC

Lenovo unveiled Star Trek Enterprise designed PC at its Tech World Conference, packed with Nvidia’s latest next-generation GeForce RTX 2080 GPU and an overclocked ninth-generation Intel CPU.

The post Lenovo sets computer to stun, shows off Star Trek Enterprise PC appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

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