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BlackBerry Leaps Back to Touchscreens with New Phone

BlackBerry(BARCELONA) -- BlackBerry is hoping people shopping for a mid-market smartphone will take a leap on its latest device.

The Canadian company unveiled the BlackBerry Leap at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday, marking a shift from the traditional QWERTY phones that have come to define the device.

Geared to young professionals, the device boasts a 5-inch full touchscreen and a $275 price tag -- making it an ideal replacement for the mid-market touchscreen BlackBerry Z3 that was released last year but failed to gain traction among enterprise users.

Aside from the device's edge-to-edge touchscreen, BlackBerry is also playing up its mobility features that could make it attractive to the enterprise crowd. With more than 25 hours of battery life and the BlackBerry virtual assistant that was unveiled last year, the device can easily withstand a long workday.

"BlackBerry Leap was built specifically for mobile professionals who see their smartphone device as a powerful and durable productivity tool that also safeguards sensitive communications at all times," Ron Louks, president of devices and emerging solutions, said in a statement.

The smartphone is expected to go on sale in April.

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Three Signs Your 'Loan' Is Really a Scam

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What kind of crook would take money from a poor person?

In one of the most despicable -- but unfortunately, common -- scams, con artists are offering bogus loans to people with poor credit histories who need cash to pay their bills.

It’s called an “advance-fee loan” but it’s not a loan at all. It’s a scam.

These schemes can be quite sophisticated, using fancy websites, loan applications and even fake “loan officers” who are really just in on the scheme. After the scammers collect an upfront payment from the borrower, they disappear, leaving the consumer in even worse financial shape.

The ABC News Fixer has heard from numerous victims of this scam.

Make sure you don’t fall for it by noting these three red flags:

  • The supposed lender doesn’t seem to care about your credit history.
  • The lender guarantees you’ll get a loan, no matter what.
  • The lender claims that you’ve been approved for a loan, but then starts demanding fees upfront for vague reasons like “insurance,” “processing” or “paperwork.”

The Federal Trade Commission says a demand for any upfront fee is a clue to walk away.

If you need to borrow money, be sure to deal only with legitimate lenders that disclose all their fees clearly and conspicuously.

A legitimate lender will take its fees from the amount that you borrow -- and not ask you to give them your own money in advance to get a loan.

If you have poor credit, you’ll have a hard time getting a legitimate loan. You’ll need to put in time and effort to rebuild your credit history. If you’re falling behind on your bills, contact your creditors to ask for help and consider getting assistance from a nonprofit credit counseling service.

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Quick, Go Grab Some Free Pancakes Today at IHOP

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Happy National Pancake Day!

Now, before you have a chance to do anything else, run down to your local IHOP.

The International House of Pancakes is giving away free pancakes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday, the 10th year that the chain has done so.

The free short stack (three total) of buttermilk pancakes are for dine-in only and come with no strings attached, but IHOP does ask that you donate to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or other local charities.

Click here to find the closest location to you, and then go!

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Taco Bell Testing Cap'n Crunch Doughnut Holes

Taco Bell(NEW YORK) -- From the folks who brought us creations such as the Doritos Locos Tacos and Sriracha Quesarito comes a new mash-up dish sure to excite the kid in all of us.

Taco Bell’s latest menu item is the Cap’n Crunch Delight, a warm pastry coated with fruity Cap’n Crunch Berries cereal and filled with creamy, sweet milk icing.

“The idea for Cap’n Crunch Delights came from our passion to incorporate cereal into our breakfast platform, paired with thinking about nostalgic brands from childhood,” Taco Bell's senior director of brand marketing, Amanda Clark, told ABC News.

“From this, Cap’n Crunch came to mind and in doing research, we found that Cap’n Crunch was a very popular brand with our consumers. We feel that this will appeal to what we call ‘kid-ults,’ or the ‘kid-adults’ out there,” she continued.

Taco Bell is currently testing the Delights at 26 restaurants in Bakersfield, California. They’re offering them in packs of two for $1, four for $1.69 and 12 for $4.49.

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These Two Men May Succeed Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Followers of the "Oracle of Omaha" have been on the edge of their seats with hints that Warren Buffett may have picked his successor.

Alongside Buffett's annual letter to shareholders released on Saturday, Berkshire's vice chairman Charlie Munger named two candidates -- the company's reinsurance chief, Ajit Jain, and the head of its utility company, Greg Abel.

Munger wrote that the two "are proven performers who would probably be under-described as 'world-class.' 'World-leading' would be the description I would choose. In some important ways, each is a better business executive than Buffett."

Here's more about the men who could succeed the third-richest man in the world:

1. Ajit Jain

Born in India, Jain, 63, manages the Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group and has worked for the company since 1986. Educated at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and the Harvard Business School, Jain worked for McKinsey & Co. and IBM.

"Ajit insures risks that no one else has the desire or the capital to take on," Buffett wrote in Berkshire's annual report. "His operation combines capacity, speed, decisiveness and, most important, brains in a manner unique in the insurance business. Yet he never exposes Berkshire to risks that are inappropriate in relation to our resources."

Berkshire's board discusses the succession plan at every meeting and knows the company, Buffett told CNBC. The investing guru has stated he wants his son Howard to succeed him as non-executive chairman of Berkshire's board.

2. Gregory Abel

Greg Abel, 52, is chairman, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which is based in Des Moines, Iowa. The companies he has overseen include Pacific Power, Rocky Mountain Power and PacifiCorp Energy.

He's been called Buffett's "go-to energy guy" -- and Abel is proud of it.

With billions of Berkshire's money invested in projects like wind-farms in Iowa, even that state's driver’s licenses now have wind turbines in the background.

“That’s how proud we are," Abel told the Wall Street Journal last year.

Like Ajit, Abel is an immigrant to the U.S.

Born in Canada, Abel has a background in accounting and has been a director of H. J. Heinz Company since 2013. He graduated from the University Of Alberta in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in commerce.

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Tax Tip: Do You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit?

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Couples with children who have a joint annual income of $52,000 or less may have a great way to save on their taxes.

"Low- and moderate-income working families usually qualify for something called the earned income tax credit,” Internal Revenue Service spokesman Eric Smith explains.

As Smith notes, taxpayers who meet the criteria might qualify to receive hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars back.

"The earned income credit is a refundable credit, so it can zero-out your taxes and yet still end up with a credit that you receive beyond taxes paid,” he says.

Tax accountant Janice Hayman says the tax credit is for wage earners, and many people who qualify don’t claim it.

“A lot of people receive a letter perhaps from the IRS after their filing, alerting them to the fact that they may qualify, and that they should revisit,” she says.

The annual credit amount depends on how many children you have.

You can get more information on the earned income credit at

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Bill Gates Tops "Forbes" Billionaires List

TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Bill Gates topped Forbes' list of world billionaires for the second consecutive year, with his net worth nearing $80 billion.

In 2014, Gates' net worth was placed by the magazine at $79.2 billion. For the second consecutive year, Forbes placed Gates one spot ahead of telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu. Helu, worth $77.1 billion, topped the list in 2013.

Investor Warren Buffett came in third place.

Forbes said that there were 1,826 billionaires on this year's list -- the most ever -- including 290 newcomers. Additionally, a record 46 billionaires on the list are under the age of 40.

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Costco to Enter into Credit Card Agreement with Visa Next Year

snyferok/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After an announcement last month that Costco would cease accepting American Express cards as payment at its stores at the end of a current agreement, the company announced Monday that it had entered into a credit card agreement with Visa.

According to a press release, Costco will unveil a new co-brand credit card program with Citi, while agreeing to an incentive agreement with Visa. Those deals would make Citi the "exclusive issuer of Costco's co-brand credit cards" and allow Visa to "replace American Express as the credit card network for Costco in the United States and Puerto Rico beginning April 1, 2016."

On Feb. 12, American Express Chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault said in a statement that the two sides had been unable to reach terms for a new agreement.

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Why Tinder Is Charging People Over 30 More for Tinder Plus

Tinder(NEW YORK) -- Tinder is taking an extra-large swipe at the wallets of users 30 and over who sign up for Tinder Plus, a premium service the dating app rolled out Monday in the United States.

For the unindoctrinated, Tinder allows users to swipe right on their smartphone if they're interested in a person and left if they are not. Many users swipe so fast that it's common to occasionally nix a person they would have otherwise been interested in meeting.

For the privilege of undoing the damage of an itchy Tinder finger, a.k.a. a left swipe, users can sign up for Tinder Plus for the price of $9.99 a month -- that is, if they're under 30 years old.

The 30-and-over crowd will have to pony up $19.99 per month for the service, which also allows subscribers to use a passport feature and swipe with potential matches around the world. (Or if you look at it another way, it's just another opportunity to be rejected by more people.)

"Younger users are just as excited about Tinder Plus, but are more budget constrained, and need a lower price to pull the trigger," Rosette Pambakian, vice president of corporate communications at Tinder, told ABC News in an email.

After testing Tinder Plus in several countries, Pambakian said the tiered subscription model was created "based on a combination of factors, including what we've learned through our testing, and we've found that these price points were adopted very well by certain age demographics."

Tinder users who don't subscribe will also have to start carefully determining who is worthy of a right swipe. The app will begin placing limits on how many people a free user can right-swipe.

Explaining why you just can't like everyone, a Tinder blog post said, "The validity of the swipe is core to the Tinder experience. Tinder works best when swipes are genuine reflections of a user's desire to connect."

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Stocks Climb to Record Highs Despite Slight Drop in Consumer Spending, Higher Gas Prices

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks soared during Monday's session, with the Nasdaq reaching 5,000 for the first time in 15 years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 155.54 to a close of 18,288.24, a new all-time high.

The Nasdaq slipped back from its daily zenith, but still posted gains of 44.57 to 5,008.10. The index has only closed about 5,000 twice before -- on back-to-back days in 2000, just before the tech bubble burst.

The S&P 500 ended the day at 2,117.35, up 12.85 from its open.

The Commerce Department said on Monday Americans spent slightly less in January. The blame for that drop-off, though, was attributed mostly to low gas prices.

Gas prices jumped 14 cents from last week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average cost of a gallon of gas is now $2.47 nationally. The cheapest gas is available in the Rocky Mountain region, while the most expensive -- $3.13 per gallon -- is on the West Coast.

In California, gas prices climbed by 46 cents in the last week, hitting $3.42 per gallon on average.

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Google+ Breaks Out Photos and Streams

Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Google is breaking up into photos and streams -- but is it enough to entice people to actually use the social network?

Bradley Horowitz, a longtime Google executive, announced in a Google post Sunday night that he would be taking over what he called Google’s Photos and Streams products.

"It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users," he wrote.

Photos continue to be one of the most popular ways to use Google and so the element will be stripped out to create its own part, while a separate social stream will also exist.

"Google Plus was always two big things: one was building a stream and one was what you call a social sharing works across our products and services," Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of products, said Monday at the Mobile World Conference, according to Mashable.

Launched in 2011 to plenty of fanfare, Google was designed to be a social feed that could rival the power of Facebook, allowing people to share updates with specific circles of friends. Despite many people signing up, usage eventually faded.

Google did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on how soon the changes would be implemented and what else users could expect.

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Stocks 'Party Like It’s 2000' During Record Highs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are trading to new record highs, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ is "partying like it’s 2000." The NASDAQ broke through 5,000 Monday morning for the first time in 15 years, since the height of the tech bubble in March 2000.

Many stocks hit new all-time-highs Monday morning including: Disney, Apple and Starbucks. The Walt Disney Company is the parent of ABC News.

One stock not enjoying Monday’s run: Lumber Liquidators. After a damning 60 Minutes report Sunday night, the stock was down 25 percent before markets opened for the week and is now halted with news pending.

Last Wednesday, the stock cratered 26 percent when CEO Robert Lynch mentioned in the Lumber Liquidators earnings conference call that the 60 Minutes report was coming, as well as the possibility of a criminal charges from the Department of Justice.

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Five Biggest Challenges Facing New McDonald's CEO

McDonald's(NEW YORK) -- McDonald's has a new CEO on the job starting Monday, and he has his work cut out for him.

Steve Easterbrook, formerly head of McDonald’s U.K. and Europe, takes the helm of the world's biggest burger chain amid sagging sales and intense competition from the growing category of fast-casual restaurants.

Here are challenges Easterbrook, an accountant by training, will face:

1. Carrying the burger bullhorn

What's been especially impressive about Easterbrook is that he wants to be an "activist for change in the organization," according to RJ Hottovy, senior analyst with Morningstar.

Soon after Easterbrook's new appointment was announced on Jan. 28, the executive has told investors that he wants to look at McDonald's business and enact change, which Hottovy calls a "good starting point."

2. Choices, choices

Part of Easterbrook's changes, Hottovy suggests, will be to simplify the McDonald's menu.

"Right out of the gate, he should take a look at the menu and reduce items on the menu. It's one of the first things he should look at," Hottovy said.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s declined to comment, because McDonald’s is in a “quiet period” ahead of its February sales release on March 9.

3. Where's the meat?

After consumers began asking questions about McDonald's meat sourcing over the last few years, McDonald's has said that it hopes to begin purchasing verified sustainable beef for its restaurants worldwide in 2016. Natural Resources Defense Council's food and agriculture program director Jonathan Kaplan said the company hasn't defined what that means, but he is hopeful about the potential changes.

When asked what advice he would give to Easterbrook this week, Kaplan said he hopes the incoming executive can do his part against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

"I’d say, 'Steve, you personally can save modern medicine as we know it. There are not a lot of people on the planet who are in that position,'" Kaplan told ABC News.

Kaplan said the chain can become the global leader in promoting healthier, antibiotic-free meat production.

"It’s both McDonald’s challenge and opportunity. When you look around, you see that’s what the forward thinking businesses are claiming and McDonald’s can make a big turnaround by leading with antibiotic stewardship," Kaplan said.

4. Super-sizing worker pay?

Many restaurant and retail workers continue to demand higher pay, as much as $15 an hour, and companies like Walmart and TJX Companies, the parent of TJ Maxx, are responding. Both companies are raising starting wages to around $9 an hour across the country.

The most recent nationwide fast-food strike on Dec. 4 took place in as many as 190 cities across the country.

5. Franchisees not just small fries

McDonald's already has a strong relationship with franchisees, but Hottovy said there can be improvements, such as putting more locations in the hands of top franchise operators. He also thinks McDonald's executive compensation should be more closely tied to franchisee profitability, which he says is in "good health."

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Your Mobile World Congress Cheat Sheet

Smeyye Dalkln/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BARCELONA) -- The Mobile World Congress begins on Monday, but that didn't stop some of the biggest technology companies in the world from showing off their new devices in Barcelona over the weekend.

With 1,900 exhibitors, most of the big-name companies are wrapping up their press events, clearing the way for the exhibition floor to take the spotlight the rest of the week.

Here's a wrap-up of some of the biggest hits from the weekend:

Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung stole the show with a futuristic presentation on Sunday showing off its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones -- both living up to the company's new rallying cry of "relentless innovation."

Both devices have ditched the plastic backing of previous Galaxy phones, replacing it with durable Gorilla Glass for a sleeker appearance. Aside from the new look, the technological advancements in the phone are also noteworthy.

Both phones are outfitted with wireless charging, making power cords obsolete. In just 10 minutes, Samsung says the devices can get enough charge for four hours of everyday use. Following the success of Apple Pay, Samsung also said its new devices would be equipped with Samsung Pay, a contact-less payment system.

When the new Galaxy phones go on sale in April, users can also expect a sharper than ever camera that Samsung claims outperforms the iPhone 6, as well as the ability to launch the camera in less than a second.

HTC One M9

HTC showed off its latest flagship phone, the One M9, which looks strikingly similar to its predecessor.

The sleek smartphone has an all-metal body and a 20 megappixel camera with a sapphire cover lens.

While it may look like more of the same, HTC said users can expect "more customizable options" that will allow them to change the look and feel of their phone.

HTC Grip

Following a recent partnership with sports retailer Under Armor, HTC unveiled the Grip, a fitness band that works with the clothing company's Record app for iOS and Android.

The waterproof band is designed to move with athletes and can take workout metrics, including speed and distance, allowing the wearer to track their progress.

It also lets the wearer take messages and easily skip through their music while on the go.

Mozilla OS Expands

When is the last time you heard news about a flip phone?

Standing in stark contrast to the glamorous Galaxy S6 phones, Mozilla announced plans to bring its operating system to flip phones and slider phones, working with several big telecommunications partners.

In doing so, Mozilla also hopes to entice more developers to create apps for its operating system.

Ikea's Smart Furniture

Ikea unveiled its "Home Smart" collection of wireless charging furniture, including bedside tables, lamps and desks. A sign on the furniture indicates the area where users should place their devices that need power -- negating the need for cable clutter and looking for your phone charger.

While the integration of wireless charging and furniture could make some lives easier, it is important to note that there are currently two dueling standards, PMA and Qi.

Ikea has chosen to work with Wireless Power Consortium, integrating their Qi standard into the furniture, meaning it won't directly work with an iPhone.

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Goodbye, Cheap Gas: Prices Continuing to Rise

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The days of gas prices being lower than $2 are firmly in the U.S. drivers’ rear-view mirrors.

The national average price for a gallon of gas is now $2.38 -- 10 cents more than a week ago. And GasBuddy expects those prices to keep climbing -- seven cents to 10 cents -- during the weekend.

No state in the country on Monday has pump prices lower than $2. One state, however, is experiencing the biggest single-day jump in prices ever: California.

In Los Angeles, prices were up 20 cents in just 24 hours, according to GasBuddy. Driving the spike is an ExxonMobil oil refinery fire on Feb. 18 in Torrance, California.

California refineries also have been switching over to their spring gasoline blend, which is why the state’s drivers see prices start to increase during this time of year.

The spring gasoline blend gets cars better mileage -- and reduces pollution -- but is more expensive.

The good news: Even with the recent spike, prices are still more than $1 less than they were last year.

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