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VOL. 133 | NO. 1 | Monday, January 1, 2018

Daily Digest

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Tenn. Agency Reminds of Scam Reimbursement Deadline

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s Division of Consumers Affairs is reminding Tennesseans that they must file claims before Feb. 12 to be reimbursed for money lost in scams using Western Union.

According to a consumer alert by the Federal Trade Commission, consumers who lost money to scammers using Western Union’s money transfer system between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017, can now file a claim to ask for their money back by going to ftc.gov/wu before the February deadline.

The refund program follows a settlement with Western Union, which in January 2017 admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud and agreed to pay $586 million to resolve charges brought by the FTC, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Filing a claim is free, so consumers should not pay anyone to file a claim on their behalf. And no one associated with the claims process will call to ask for consumers’ bank account or credit card number.

However, the claim form does ask for applicants’ Social Security number to verify they do not owe any money to the federal government, in which case the refund check may be reduced by the amount owed.

– Andy Meek

Boyd Reports Earning $42.4M With Release of 2015, 2016 Tax Returns

Republican contender for governor Randy Boyd has released federal and state income tax returns for 2015 and 2016 that show he and his wife earned $42.4 million from business investments across both years.

The returns, released Thursday, Dec. 28, also show the Boyds generated $30.1 million in taxable income and paid $8.5 million in federal and state tax while donating $10.3 million.

The tax returns cover Boyd’s tenure as Tennessee commissioner of economic and community development.

Boyd returned his state salary to the state and paid his own travel and other expenses from his work as ECD commissioner. That included the use of state aircraft.

Boyd, who is running in the August Republican primary for governor, is the founder of Radio Systems Corp. of Knoxville. The company, which makes pet products, has more than 700 employees and annual revenues of more than $400 million.

– Bill Dries

Mississippi Casinos Report Higher November Revenue

Casino revenue rebounded in November after a dismal October, with Gulf Coast casinos posting strong gains and gambling halls along the Mississippi River showing smaller declines,

Mississippi Revenue Department figures released this month show gamblers lost $161 million statewide in November, up almost 4 percent from November 2016’s $155 million.

Receipts rose 8 percent to $95 million at the 12 coastal casinos.

The 16 river casinos posted winnings of $66 million, down 2 percent from November 2016.

Statewide revenue is down 2.5 percent so far in 2017, with coast casinos flat and river casinos losing about 5 percent. Casinos in that region have seen years of declines, while those on the coast have seen three years of gains.

Numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which don’t report winnings to the state.

– The Associated Press

Eastman Expects to Reopen Tenn. Plant in Early ’18

A company expects its Tennessee chemical plant to be operating at full production in early 2018 after coal gas explosions in October.

Eastman Chemical Co. said this week that it has completed work on the coal gasification plant in Kingsport and is in the process of restarting it.

During the explosions, neighbors were warned to shelter in place amid a black smoke plume. People living within a half-mile had to stay put for 4 1/2 hours. Eastman said no injuries were reported beyond first aid.

Eastman has said it doesn’t expect the explosions to threaten human health or cause long-term environmental impacts.

Eastman says the site produces chemicals for paints, adhesives, textiles and other products.

– The Associated Press

Apple Apologizes for Secretly Slowing Older iPhones

Apple apologized for secretly slowing down older iPhones, a move it said was necessary to avoid unexpected shutdowns related to battery fatigue.

Many customers had interpreted the move as a way to for Apple to juice demand for newer iPhone models, their suspicions fueled by the fact that the company didn’t initially disclose the slowdowns or its reasons for them.

Apple also said it will cut the price of a battery replacement by $50 to $29 through next year. New batteries had previously cost $79 for those who didn’t purchase the Apple Care maintenance plan.

“We apologize,” the company said on its website. “We have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

The replacement plan begins in late January for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later that requires a new battery.

Apple said it will also issue an update to its operating system early next year to give users a better understanding of the health of their battery, so they can see if its condition is affecting performance.

Hostile customer reaction was swift after a report this month uncovered the intentional slowdown in speed tests.

Only then did Apple acknowledge that the slowdown was due to a fix it rolled out last year.

At least five groups seeking class action status, involving consumers in Texas, Illinois, California and New York, have also sued the company in the wake of the slowdown revelation.

– The Associated Press

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 69 357 17,741
MORTGAGES 66 403 20,438
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 26 2,671
BUILDING PERMITS 208 696 36,641
BANKRUPTCIES 52 210 11,374
BUSINESS LICENSES 22 115 5,824
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 25 90 6,804
MARRIAGE LICENSES 21 107 4,023