January 19, 2023

5 Warnings From Ex-Walmart Employees

Millions of Americans turn to Walmart for its low prices and wide selection. But even the most frequent shoppers might not know everything there is to know — until former employees started sharing their inside information. Here are five major warnings from former Walmart employees.

The security cameras can read your texts

Walmart’s security cameras mean business. They cover the entire store and are capable of zooming in to read a shopper’s text messages, according to Athenia Marie, a former employee who goes by @obeygoddess on social media.

“One of the first things they did [during training] was bring us to the loss prevention room and zoom in so far [on a camera image] that you could literally read the date on the newspaper,” she said in a viral video. “They were trying to show us that if you steal from Walmart they will see.”

The self-checkout machines are heavily monitored

It might feel like you’re on an island in the self-checkout lane sometimes, but that is not the case. According to Athenia Marie, Walmart has devices that show employees what each shopper is ringing up at the self-checkout lanes. If they think you may be stealing, they can halt your transaction from afar. When this occurs, it just appears as if your machine is broken.

“At that point, you have no choice but to call for help,” says the employee in another viral video. “When we come over, we pretend something is wrong with the machine.”

At that point, the employee will remove all your items from the bags and ask you to go to a regular checkout instead. And with that, the retailer has covertly thwarted the shoplifting attempt.

Not all security guards wear uniforms

Former Walmart employee Paris Mars, a social media influencer, disclosed that the retailer has undercover security guards working in the store.

“There is security dressed in plain clothes and they look like customers,” Mars said. “They pretend that they’re shopping—they might have a cart, they might have a basket—but they’re watching you.”

And that’s not all. The employees may even be incentivized to catch would-be shoplifters.

“I was told that for every person that they catch in Walmart they get like a percentage, or raise, or commission for the person that they caught,” she said.

Athenia Marie echoed a similar experience.

“At my store, we had two people that would be there [at] all times like every day seemed like… They would walk around the store from morning till night time until we closed,” she explained.

Employees have practically zero product expertise

If you have a question about a particular product at Walmart, the workers likely don’t know any more about it than you do.

“We’re trained to read the box and basically tell you what we see on the box,” Mars said. 

One former employee said Walmart workers don’t have specific expertise about the departments they’re assigned to.

“No, I don’t know which non-clumping litter would be best for your asthmatic rescue cat. Yes, I do work in the pet section. Today, that is. Yesterday, I was in hardware, and tomorrow, I might be in health and beauty, or I might be in paper and chemicals,” the ex-worker wrote on Reddit. “Same goes for everyone else here.”

Beware of hearing “code brown” over the intercom

Your ears may be trained to ignore the announcements that blare over the store’s intercom, but you should be alert for a “code brown.”

Code brown means that there’s a shooter within the building, according to one former employee.

There are other intercom color codes used to convey information to employees as well. Black is a weather condition, green is a hostage situation, blue is a bomb, red is fire, and orange is a chemical hazard.

Sources: The Sun 1, 2 | Mashed

January 17, 2023

USPS Makes More Changes to Your Mail

1946: The United Nations Security Council holds its first meeting.

As Americans continue to battle rising inflation, the United States Postal Service is about to raise some of its prices.

Postal Service raises price of PO Boxes

The USPS sent a notice to certain Post Office (PO) Box holders earlier this month, informing them of a price change that takes effect on Jan. 22.

“Fees paid on or after that date are subject to new rates,” the USPS said.

PO Box rental rates vary significantly by location and the size of your mailbox, but they can start anywhere from $4.33 to $21.50 a month, with some people paying several times that, according to the USPS.

When the new prices kick in this month, certain customers could pay up to $367 for three months or $639 six months — meaning that some prices will increase by almost $40.

Another January price change approaches

PO Boxes aren’t the only USPS service seeing a price increase this month. The Postal Regulatory Commission approved the Postal Service’s proposal to increase its mailing and shipping costs for 2023.

A 4.2% increase for first-class mail, marketing mail, periodicals, package services, and special services kicks in on Jan. 22.

These changes also include:

  • Three-cent increases for the price of First-Class Mail Forever Stamps and domestic letters
  • Four-cent increase for domestic postcards
  • Five-cent increase for international postcards and international letters

Shipping services are also getting more expensive on Jan. 22. Priority Mail services will increase by 5.5%, Priority Mail Express by 6.6%, and First-Class Packages by 7.8%.

Postmaster General defends price hikes

In August, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he believes the USPS needs to make “more aggressive” pricing changes in order to avoid further financial hurdles driven by inflation.

DeJoy has pushed for twice-a-year rate increases at the maximum percentages allowed by law, according to Linn’s Stamp News.

“The Postal Service has been severely damaged by at least 10 years of a defective pricing model,” he told the outlet. “We need to use our authority to adjust market dominant product pricing as part of our Delivering for America plan to become self-sustaining, as required by law.”

Sources: ECommerce Bytes | Linn’s Stamp News | USPS

December 16, 2022

New IRS Rule Could “Shock” Millions of Americans

Financial experts say that Americans who earned income online this year could be in for a major shock when they file their taxes in 2023.

Starting next year, the IRS will require taxpayers to report transactions of at least $600 that are received through apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App.

Previously, the third-party payment processors were only required to report a user’s business transactions to the IRS if they exceeded $20,000 or they had 200 separate transactions throughout the year.

Now, the apps must send users a Form 1099-K if their transactions total at least $600 for the calendar year.

Financial experts believe this will be a “shock” to taxpayers.

“I think it will come as a shock out of nowhere that people are getting these,” said Nancy Dollar, a tax lawyer at Hanson Bridgett.

The change comes as part of the American Rescue Plan, passed by Democrats — without any Republican votes — in March 2021. The adjustment is meant to mitigate tax evasion, but critics say the move is a textbook example of government overreach that could end up hurting small businesses.

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that about one in four Americans earns extra money online — whether it’s selling something, renting their home through sites like AirBNB, etc.

But now, Dollar believes that the change could ultimately discourage Americans from participating in the so-called gig economy.

“Everyone I know offloads old goods that they have on these platforms because it’s so easy,” Dollar said. “Or they’ve been engaging in gig work on a very casual basis, and that affects gig workers as well who have been underreporting their income. I think it’s going to force people to either cut down on those activities or kind of take them more seriously and track them.”

The new rule doesn’t apply to transactions like sending your loved one a gift via Venmo or PayPal, paying your friend back for dinner, or sending your roommate rent money.

“This doesn’t include things like paying your family or friends back using PayPal or Venmo for dinner, gifts, shared trips,” PayPal previously said in a statement.

To clarify, business owners have always been required to report online income to the IRS. The new rule means that the IRS will be aware of money earned by business owners on the third-party payment apps — regardless of what the taxpayer actually reports on their 1099-K.

“For the 2022 tax year, you should consider the amounts shown on your Form 1099-K when calculating gross receipts for your income tax return,” PayPal said. “The IRS will be able to cross-reference both our report and yours.”

The payment apps may request additional information from users, such as their Employer Identification Number (EIN), Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), or Social Security Number (SSN).

Source: Fox Business | Internal Revenue Service

December 5, 2022

McDonald’s Offers Chance to Win Free Food For Life

McDonald’s is offering the chance to win free food for life.

The fast food giant unveiled its “SZN of Sharing” promotion, announcing that customers who use their app in December will have a chance to win the McDonald’s Gold Card for themselves and three friends — giving them free food for life.

The promotion runs from Dec. 5-25. Customers who take advantage of various promos in the app throughout that time will be automatically entered to win the big prize.

“Our fans have been fascinated by the lore of the McDonald’s Card and if it really exists. And now, we’ll make this McDonald’s legend a reality for our fans by giving them the ultimate holiday gift – a chance to win a card and then share access to it with three of their family or friends,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA chief marketing and customer experience officer.

“Just by using the McDonald’s App, everyone can experience the joy that comes with sharing McDonald’s this holiday season.”

The card’s fine print entitles recipients the equivalent of two meals per week for 50 years — potentially a total of 5,200 free McDonald’s meals.

The McGold Card was rumored for years. Business Insider reported that McDonald’s franchisees have previously given the card to individuals they consider heroes.

A handful of celebrities have also snagged the card, including Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Rob Lowe. The actor actually showed off his McGold Card during a 2015 appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Source: Parade

November 22, 2022

Transgender Residents To Receive $1200 Monthly “Guaranteed Income”

San Francisco, California, is launching a program to provide a monthly payment exclusively to transgender residents.

The city started accepting applications for the Guaranteed Income for Trans People (GIFT) program last Wednesday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said. Under the new initiative, 55 transgender residents of San Francisco County will receive $1,200 a month in “guaranteed income” for 18 months.

“Our Guaranteed Income Programs allow us to help our residents when they need it most as part of our city’s economic recovery and our commitment to creating a more just city for all,” Breed told KRON 4 News. “We know that our trans communities experience much higher rates of poverty and discrimination, so this program will target support to lift individuals in this community up.”

According to the program’s website: “Guaranteed Income for Transgender People (G.I.F.T.) will provide economically marginalized transgender people with unrestricted, monthly guaranteed income as a way to combat poverty our most impacted community members face.” 

“The Transgender District and Lyon-Martin Community Health Services, in partnership with municipal city departments in the City and County of San Francisco, will provide 55 Transgender residents of San Francisco County with $1,200 a month in guaranteed income for a year and a half. The program will prioritize enrollment of Transgender, Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming, and Intersex (TGI) people who are also Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), experiencing homelessness, living with disabilities and chronic illnesses, youth and elders, monolingual Spanish-speakers, and those who are legally vulnerable such as TGI people who are undocumented, engaging in survival sex trades, ​or are formerly incarcerated,” the website reads.

The city is accepting applications until Dec. 15.

According to KRON 4 News, the city will launch another two guaranteed income programs in 2023.

Sources: KRON 4 News | The Daily Wire | G.I.F.T.

November 6, 2022

9 Million Americans Entitled to Extra Money From IRS

If you recently received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service — make sure you don’t ignore it. You might be one of the millions of Americans entitled to extra money.

The IRS announced that it was sending out letters to more than 9 million individuals who may qualify for thousands of dollars worth of stimulus payments and tax credits.

The agency said that certain Americans can still claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“The IRS wants to remind potentially eligible people, especially families, that they may qualify for these valuable tax credits,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “We encourage people who haven’t filed a tax return yet for 2021 to review these options. Even if they aren’t required to file a tax return, they may still qualify for several important credits. We don’t want people to overlook these tax credits, and the letters will remind people of their potential eligibility and steps they can take.”

The agency noted that individuals and families can usually get these benefits even if they don’t make very much income. The IRS encourages Americans to file a tax return this year, even if they don’t normally need to do so.

Taxpayers have until Nov. 17 to take advantage of the Free File to claim their benefits. The free-to-use software is available on the IRS website until the aforementioned deadline.

What if I haven’t received a letter?

The IRS says people can file a tax return even if they haven’t yet received their letter.

Source: The Hill

October 27, 2022

Biden Claims Republicans Will “Crash the Economy”

1962: Black Saturday during the Cuban Missile Crisis – An American spy plane is shot down over Cuba and the navy drops warning depth charges on Soviet submarines.

President Joe Biden is ramping up the rhetoric against his political opposition, warning the American public that if the GOP wins control of Congress in the midterm elections, their economic plans would “create more chaos” and “crash the economy.”

Biden’s claims came during remarks delivered before a crowd of Democratic National Committee workers at DNC headquarters. The president highlighted comments from Republican congressional leaders that they may refuse to raise the U.S. debt ceiling next year.

“Republicans are determined to hold the economy hostage,” Biden told the crowd at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. “There is nothing that would create more chaos … Republicans are going to crash the economy.”

If Republicans win control of Congress, it would dampen Biden’s ability to implement his spending agenda. The 79-year-old said he wouldn’t approve any attempts to cut programs such as Social Security benefits.

“Let me be clear: I will not cut Social Security,” Biden said.

The Republican National Committee didn’t take Biden’s jabs lying down.

“Voters know Democrat control of Washington delivered higher prices, more crime, and a nation headed in the wrong direction,” said RNC spokesperson Emma Vaugh.

Source: Reuters

October 21, 2022

IRS Unveils Major Change for Tax Filers in 2023

1944: World War II – U.S. troops capture Aachen, 1st large German city to fall.

The Internal Revenue Service announced inflation-related adjustments for the 2023 tax year, enabling Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money.

The move is a welcome change as sky-high inflation continues to pummel the nation. The IRS adjustments apply to the 2023 tax year, for which tax returns will generally be filed in 2024.

According to The Hill, the adjustments will ward off “bracket creep” — which is when wage hikes aimed at mitigating a higher cost of living end up putting taxpayers into higher tax brackets.

For the 2023 tax year, the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly $27,700 — up $1,800 from 2022. For single filers and married taxpayers filing separately, the standard deduction is $13,850 — a $900 increase.

According to the IRS, the income thresholds for tax brackets are among the changes “of greatest interest to most taxpayers.”

While the tax rates weren’t adjusted, the salary cutoffs have changed.

The top rate, 37%, applies to single taxpayers with income over $578,125 — up from $539,900 — and married couples filing jointly over $693,750 — up from $647,850.

Conversely, the bottom rate of 10% applies to single taxpayers with income $11,000 or less — up from $10,275 — and married couples filing jointly with income $22,000 or less — up from $20,550.

October 11, 2022

What You Need to Know About the Upcoming Social Security COLA Hike

The Social Security Administration is set to announce its largest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in more than 40 years on Thursday, which could make a big difference for recipients.

An increase of 8.7% is expected. Recipients will see the hike in their benefits in 2023. About 25% of Americans receive Social Security, meaning that the adjustment could have a notable impact on the U.S. economy.

Retirees currently receive an average of $1,656 per month. According to the Senior Citizens League, the upcoming COLA would increase that number by $144.10.

Those who receive Social Security can estimate their new monthly benefits by multiplying their gross benefit amount by 0.087.

Yearly COLAs first came about in 1975, but a boost of 8.7% is incredibly rare.

Annual benefit increases help ensure that recipients are able to afford purchases amid rising inflation. COLAs are permanent and will gradually increase annual incomes throughout retirees’ golden years.

But there are still questions over the impact that an extra $144.10 a month can make. According to the National Council on Aging, more than 15 million adults 65 or older are economically insecure, with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.

“Without a COLA that adequately keeps pace with inflation, Social Security benefits purchase less and less over time, and that can create hardships especially as older Americans live longer lives in retirement,” the Senior Citizens League said in a statement.

Source: The Hill

October 3, 2022

Report: Fauci’s Net Worth Spiked $5M During the Pandemic

1990: Reunification of East and West Germany. West German flag is raised above the Brandenburg Gate on the stroke of midnight.

While many Americans struggled with finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony Fauci and his wife were not among them.

Watchdog group OpenTheBooks learned that the Faucis’ net worth grew from $7.5 million in 2019 to $12.6 million in 2021. Fauci, who serves as the president’s chief medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reportedly gained wealth from investments, awards, compensation, and royalties.

“While Dr. Fauci has been a government bureaucrat for more than 55 years, his household net worth skyrocketed during the pandemic,” said OpenTheBooks CEO Adam Andrzejewski. “Fauci’s soaring net worth was based on career-end salary spiking, lucrative cash prizes awarded by non-profit organizations around the world and an ever-larger investment portfolio.”

“Despite becoming a figure of controversy, the system has rewarded Dr. Fauci handsomely,” he said. “For example, he is the top-paid federal employee, his first-year golden parachute retirement pension is the largest in federal history, and he’s accepting $1 million prizes from foreign non-profits.”

In 2021, the nonprofit Dan David Foundation awarded Fauci $1 million for “speaking truth to power” and “defending science” during the Trump administration. OpenTheBooks found that Fauci kept $910,400, while roughly 10% went to scholarship winners.

“Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com relentlessly pursued transparency into the Fauci Family Finances — and those of the NIH itself –— because the stakes are so high,” Andrzejewski said.

“We filed four federal lawsuits to follow the money, and documents are starting to be produced,” he added. “Public health guidance during the pandemic has drastically impacted the lives of every citizen, and Dr. Fauci has been its most visible face. It’s critical to know whether any decision-making is tied up in the financial interests of public leaders, whether they’ve made any ethics disclosures to the government, and how they invested.”

Source: Fox News

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