CONSUMER PROTECTION

Variation on hoax IRS calls

Those pesky IRS scam calls have a new twist: persuading victims to pay with an iTunes card.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers to beware of callers who claim to represent the IRS and ask for payments via iTunes gift cards, after 10 Ohioans recently reported losing between $1,000 and $11,500 to the ploy.

As a reminder, the IRS does not call consumers. The scam has also taken other twists, including scammers pretending to be with other government agencies or law enforcement.

ECONOMY

Fed chief hints at rate hike

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Friday that an interest rate increase would be appropriate in the coming months if the economy keeps improving.

While economic growth was relatively weak at the end of last year and beginning of this year, it appears to be picking up now based on recent data, Yellen said during a discussion at Harvard University.

She said she expects the Fed to “gradually and cautiously increase” its key interest rate “and probably in the coming months, such a move would be appropriate.”

Anticipation of a rate increase at either the next June meeting or in July have been rising since the Fed last week released the minutes of its discussions at its April meeting.

HEALTH CARE

Pain clinic sues CareSource

A Cleveland-area pain clinic is suing CareSource for $2.5 million, alleging breach of contract for failure to pay about two years of claims submitted to the downtown Dayton-based health insurer.

CareSource, a nonprofit Medicaid managed care provider that contracts with various clinics and physicians’ practices to provide medical services to its members, said it suspended payments to the plaintiff, Cleveland Back and Pain Management Center Inc., after its Medicaid provider status was suspended by the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

The pain clinic was disqualified as a Medicaid provider after it was indicted for fraud and other violations. An attorney representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit, filed in Montgomery County common pleas court, declined to comment.

BEER

Craft brewers band together

A legal trade group has been formed for the makers of craft beer and other alcoholic beverages, recognizing the rapid rise of the industry and a desire to deal with a thick brew of regulations across the United States.

The Craft Beverage Lawyers Guild launched this week to represent mainly small, independent breweries, but also wineries and distilleries. The guild’s governing committee consists of about a dozen lawyers specializing in the craft beverage industry, including attorneys working directly for some of the nation’s biggest brewpubs and microbreweries.

Industry officials say there are roughly 4,200 U.S. breweries operating today — an all-time high that surpasses even pre-Prohibition levels.

AUTOS

Air bag inflator recall widens

Eight automakers are recalling more than 12 million vehicles in the United States to replace potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators.

Documents detailing recalls by Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Ferrari and Mitsubishi were posted Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

They’re part of a massive expansion of Takata air bag recalls announced earlier this month. Seventeen automakers are adding 35 million to 40 million inflators to what already was the largest auto recall in U.S. history. In addition, the Japanese transport ministry on Friday announced 7 million more Takata-related recalls covering air bag inflators without a chemical drying agent.

Friday’s U.S. recalls include passenger air bags in older models in areas along the Gulf Coast with high heat and humidity.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.