Debit Cards, Madoff Settlement: Hot Trends

(Information on government issued prepaid debit cards and the $7.2 billion Madoff settlement updated in today's Hot Trends article.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- "Debit cards" is a popular search topic today after the U.S. Treasury Department launched a pilot program that will give low-income taxpayers a chance to get their federal tax refunds on prepaid debit cards.

"This pilot program will provide low- and moderate-income Americans with a low-cost option for faster delivery of their federal tax refund," Treasury deputy secretary Neal Wolin said. "This innovative card can be used for everyday financial transactions, such as receiving wages by direct deposit, withdrawing cash, making purchases, paying bills and building savings safely and conveniently, giving users more control over their financial futures." 

The Treasury will mail out letters next week to 600,000 households nationwide, offering to put their tax refunds directly on a prepaid debit card from Visa ( V).


"Madoff settlement" is a trending search topic today after a federal court approved a $7.2 billion settlement to resolve claims that one of Bernard Madoff's clients, Jeffry Picower, made money off the financier's Ponzi scheme.

Jeffry Picower's widow, Barbara Picower, has agreed to pay $7.2 billion to settle a lawsuit claiming her husband, who died in October, 2009 from a heart attack, profited from the fraud. Barbara Picower has denied all allegations that he knew Madoff was committing fraud.

This settlement is the largest amount recovered so far in the search for money lost in Madoff's scheme.


"Acetaminophen" is a trending search topic today after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will limit the amount of acetaminophen in medications to 325 milligrams per capsule.

Acetaminophen is the active drug found in Johnson & Johnson's ( JNJ) Tylenol and thousands of other pain reliever. It is used to treat headaches, muscle aches, fever and sore throats. It can also be found in prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet.

Some products on the market currently contain up to 700 milligrams of acetaminophen in a capsule. Regulators are concerned that patients may have a toxic overdose if they combine their prescriptions with a second acetaminophen-containing drug.


"Home foreclosures" is a heavily searched topic today after real estate data tracking firm RealtyTrac released its 2010 report on Thursday.

The data showed that foreclosure levels reached new highs in 2010. The firm reported 3.8 million foreclosure filings on 2.9 million properties, a 2% increase from 2009.

RealtyTrac said that one in every 45 houses received a foreclosure notice in 2010. The foreclosure rate slowed during the fourth quarter, as banks faced a pushback from regulators. In December, one in every 501 homes received a filing.

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The chatter on Main Street (a.k.a. Google) is always of interest to investors on Wall Street. Thus, each day, TheStreet compiles the stories that are trending on Google, and highlights the news that could make stocks move.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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