September 23, 2016

Yahoo: Divulges 500 Million Accounts Hacked ... 2 YEARS After It Happened

Do you have a Yahoo account?  It may have been hacked.  Two years ago.  And we're only finding out about it now.

Bad, Yahoo.  Very Bad.
Yahoo reported yesterday that some 500 million Yahoo accounts were hacked in 2014.  That's right, 2 years ago.  And 500 million accounts.  The hackers supposedly stole user names, passwords, email address, and possibly other information.

And why did it take so long for Yahoo to inform the world about this humongous account breach?  No one currently knows, as Yahoo is staying tight lipped and has so far only stated the breach was discovered during a "recent investigation".  If that is true, what amount of security oversight does Yahoo incorporate in its business practices?  Apparently very little, if it took  Yahoo 2 years to discover that 500 million user accounts were hacked.

Glad I don't have a Yahoo account.  But if you do, here is what you should consider doing to protect your personal information.

Mary Rae Fouts

September 20, 2016

IRS: TIGTA Audit Shows Reports Of Poor Customer Service Are Not Exaggerated

Mark Twain once said, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Unfortunately, reports of poor Customer Service at the IRS are not.

You've likely heard reports of poor customer service from both walk-in IRS assistance centers and IRS call centers:  long wait times, rude service, and wrong answers.  If you've questioned the validity of the statistics, I suggest you do no longer.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ("TIGTA") recently released the results of an audit they performed, in which they examined front-line IRS customer service.  The audit specifically centered on front-line employees' use of the Contact Analytics software tool, introduced from October 2011 through December 2014.  This tool was supposed .... supposed ... to not only improve IRS customer services, but also reduce the cost of providing such services to taxpayers.

What could go wrong with that, you ask?


TIGTA's audit found out that 71% of the front-line IRA customer service agents examined during the audit lacked sufficient training and knowledge of the Contact Analytics software tool to use it correctly.  That's right:  71%.  You can read the audit report here.

And that's simply appalling.  What a waste of taxpayer money.

I'm not holding my breath for the day I'll be able to say, in Mark Twain fashion, that "the reports of poor customer service from front-line employees at the Internal Revenue Service are greatly exaggerated."  Are you?

Questions about Tax Matters?

I am an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury which allows me to provide tax services to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.  I provide tax services to individual income, business, estate, and trust clients.  Please contact me if you have questions about tax preparation, tax planning, or taxpayer representation (audit and collection) matters.

For information about my nationwide Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

September 19, 2016

Sid the Dog's Slider Birthday Dinner ... Yum!

As I posted earlier, our Husky-mix Sid celebrated his 5th Birthday on Friday, September 16.  We had a special Slider Birthday Dinner, and a yummy decorated Birthday Cake.

I made the sliders with Grass Fed Ground Beef.  The patties were topped with a bit of freshly-chopped garden basil and sweet Hungarian paprika, baked in the oven until medium done, then topped with Swiss Cheese.  Served on fresh bakery buns with Dijon mustard and olive oil mayonnaise.  The humans had butter lettuce, bread and butter pickles, bacon, and chips on the side.

The sliders were beyond delicious, Lunardi's Grass Fed Ground Beef is simply the best, the only ground beef I use when cooking.

We all had a wonderful Birthday Dinner, humans and dogs alike.  Sid's photos are a bit blurry, he was so excited he wouldn't stop whining and jumping up and down.  Wish you could have joined us!

Sid's 5th Birthday Sliders

Sid's 5th Birthday Slider Dinner:  Chopped Grass Fed Ground Beef Sliders, steamed organic brown basmati rice, organic pumpkin, and whole milk plain yogurt.  Sid was so excited he could not contain himself!
Chow-mix Lexi got the same dinner, just a smaller portion.
No surprise, both dogs ate the Sliders first.

Sid:  "So Daddy, you mean Lexi and I really really really get Sliders for my Birthday Dinner?!"
Daddy:  "Of course, Sid.  Happy Birthday!"

Sid:  "Sliders!  I get Sliders!  Yum!"

Thanks for a great 5th Birthday, Sid! 

Mary Rae Fouts

September 17, 2016

Sid the Dog's 5th Birthday Cake

Yesterday was our Husky-mix Sid's 5th Birthday.  All of us, humans and canines alike, had a great day.  Here is Sid's birthday cake, I'll post about his special Slider Birthday Dinner later.

Sid whispering to Lexi:  "Hey, Sis!  Mommy got a Birthday Cake for my 5th Birthday today!"
"And we get a special Slider Birthday Dinner, too.  Sweet!"

Sid's 5th Birthday Cake, made by the bakery at my favorite grocer Lunardi's Market in Walnut Creek.  Is this a wonderfully-decorated cake for a dog's birthday, or what?!  Family-owned Lunardi's is simply the best, including their bakery and catering/deli departments.

  The cake is oh-so-delicious, a 2-layer white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream filling.  Sid and his fur sister Chow-mix Lexi shared a small piece.  It's a birthday day, after all!

Thanks for a great 5th Birthday day, Sid!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 16, 2016

Happy Birthday Sid!

Happy Birthday to my Faithful Canine Companion, Husky-mix Sid!!

Sid turns 5 years old today.

Later this month we'll celebrate Sid Day, which marks the 2nd anniversary of Sid's adoption from the Contra Costa Amimal Services shelter in Pinole, California.  Sid was found as a stray in Richmond, California, and never claimed by his owner.

Sid is a goofy, happy, spectacular dog.  A wonderful Canine Companion to us humans and his very bonded fur sister, Chow-mix Lexi.

We're having a special Birthday Dinner today, Sliders (yum!) and a decorated birthday cake.  I'll post pics later.

Thanks for choosing us for your Forever Home, Sid!
Happy 5th Birthday Big Boy! 

Mary Rae Fouts