Like you, I've seen the pundits and the pols on TV fighting like overgrown kids for control of the sandbox we call Washington, D.C., as the government shutdown continues.
Until now, I've found it easy to ignore the folly. I'm not a federal worker, and I don't much care for partisan bickering. Trouble is, the government shutdown affects various aspects of our financial lives. Services I care about as a consumer and investor aren't available.
Here are three things you can't do during the shutdown:
1. Add your name to the "Do Not Call" list. The website is down, which means you can't add your home phone number to the national database marketers must check before they call at dinner with a no-hassle survey about your current car insurance. Welcome to playtime for marketers.
2. Submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC tracks all sorts of complaints, but none so critical to financial consumers as episodes of identity theft. The agency tracked some 369,000 ID theft incidences last year, up 3%. Forget about filing a complaint during the shutdown, though you can still download a copy of the agency's affidavit form for use in filing a police report or notifying credit bureaus. You can also file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which gets its funding not from Congress but the Federal Reserve.
3. Get tax questions answered. No one wants to deal with the Internal Revenue Service, right? I'm usually happy to keep my distance. There's just one problem: Individuals who filed extensions still must pay what they owe by Oct. 15, and corporations that pay employment taxes still must get their paperwork in by Oct. 31. And if you have a question? Sorry, the IRS help line is closed.
Of course, it's not all bad news: Twitter's hotly anticipated S-1 is now live at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) site. The agency remains open thanks to provisions that allow the agency to use "carryover" funds from prior fiscal years to keep the lights on for a few weeks.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. How is the shutdown impacting you, and why? Leave a comment to let us know what you think.
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