LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014, Written By Lynn Oldshue
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A Line of Defense Against the Theft of Personal Data
Credit-monitoring is often backward-looking, informing you of new accounts that thieves may have already opened in your name. But a freeze prohibits the bureaus from releasing your credit reports to any company or other entity that doesn’t already have a relationship with you. This prohibition is crucial, since credit card issuers, mobile phone providers, loan officers and others in similar roles almost never open a new account for people without seeing a credit report first. If they can’t get access to the credit file, they probably won’t open that new account. Given that this sort of new account fraud can be especially damaging, security freezes are one of the best tools consumers have to protect themselves from identity theft. Story by Ron Lieber for The New York Times.

Capital One Says It Can Show Up at Cardholders’ Homes, Workplaces
Ding-dong, Cap One calling. Credit card issuer Capital One isn’t shy about getting into customers’ faces. The company recently sent a contract update to cardholders that makes clear it can drop by any time it pleases. The update specifies that “we may contact you in any manner we choose” and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a “personal visit.” As if that weren’t creepy enough, Cap One says these visits can be “at your home and at your place of employment.” The company’s contract update also includes this little road apple: “We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose.” Now that’s just freaky. Cap One is saying it can trick you into picking up the phone by using what looks like a local number or masquerading as something it’s not. Story by David Lazarus for the Los Angeles Times.

Why Retailers Aren’t Protecting You from Hackers
Big American retail stores have become a top target of cybercriminals, but the retail industry has very little incentive to beef up its security. Massive retailers have resisted expensive changes to their point-of-sale systems and security standards that could help thwart the kind of major attacks at Target and Neiman Marcus last year. For one thing, they fear that newer credit card technology could slow down checkout lines. Story by Jose Paglieri for CNN Money.

Banks Spend $40 Million Reissuing 4 Million Credit Cards
Retail credit breaches like those at Target and Neiman Marcus have forced community banks to reissue 4 million cards at a cost of more than $40 million, a banking group reported Wednesday. Story by Greg Edwards for St. Louis Business Journal.

Should I Pay My Taxes with a Credit Card
April 15 is less than two months away, and many of us are already trying to figure out how to pay our taxes. Using a credit card to pay taxes may seem like an easy way to appease the IRS, but this may not be the most financially prudent thing to do. Before you pay taxes with a credit card, you need to know the pros and cons, and what other options might be available. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

No Quick Solution to Payment Card Hacking
Consumers shell-shocked by the escalating size and frequency of payment card hacks like the one that recently struck Target aren’t likely to get much relief any time soon. If anything, security experts say, the situation will worsen for American shoppers before it improves, if it ever does. The U.S. relies largely on payment cards with magnetic strips–described by one retail trade group as “antiquated” and especially prone to fraud–instead of more secure systems already in place in most other countries. The vulnerability makes the U.S. a prime target for hackers. A belated switch to credit cards with encrypted chips is set to kick in next year, but security experts are skeptical of its ability to keep cybercriminals at bay. And despite the growing costs of payment card hacks, the retailers, card companies and banks responsible for safeguarding consumers’ financial information continue to butt heads over how best to stem the losses. Story by Chris O’Brien and Tiffany Hsu for the Los Angeles Times.

PayPal President Victim of Credit Card Skimming
PayPal President David Marcus recently tweeted that his credit card information was stolen during a trip to the U.K. The card was supposedly “skimmed” at the hotel where he was staying, and then used to make an array of purchases in a short period of time. Skimming is a process in which a special device is illegally placed in a card processing machine to collect card information, such as card numbers and PINs. This process is not supposed to be effective against EMV chipped cards used in Europe, but Marcus says his card had a chip. Story by Lynn Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Kickstarter Says Customer Data Accessed in Hack
Crowdfunding site Kickstarter said some customer data was accessed in a computer attack. The company, which has set up an exchange in which people can contribute often small amounts of money to fund projects said in a blog post and emails to users that no credit card data was compromised. The data accessed included usernames, encrypted passwords, email and mailing addresses and phone numbers. Breaches like Kickstarter’s that don’t involve financial data still concern security experts. Hackers with email addresses and knowledge of personal interests, such as funding Kickstarter projects, can craft more-sophisticated “phishing” emails aimed at getting recipients to disclose more sensitive information. Story by Andrew Dowell for The Wall Street Journal.

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report
Based on the 1,000+ cards in the LowCards.com Complete Credit Card Index, the average advertised APR for credit cards is 14.48 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.36 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.36 percent.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 21, 2014. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.