LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015, Written By Lynn Oldshue
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Debit Card Data Thefts at All Kinds of ATMs Soar
Criminals are stealing card data from U.S. automated teller machines at the highest rate in two decades, preying on ATMs while merchants crack down on fraud at the checkout counter. The incidents, in which thieves steal information from debit cards to make counterfeit plastic, are taking place at ATMs that are owned by banks as well as independently owned cash kiosks in shopping centers, convenience stores and restaurants, according to industry executives. From January to April 9, 2015, the number of attacks on debit cards used at ATMs reached the highest level for that period in at least 20 years, according to FICO, a credit-scoring and analytics firm. The company tracks such incidents through its card- monitoring service for financial institutions that represent more than 65% of all U.S. debit cards. Story by Robin Sidel for The Wall Street Journal.

CareFirst Discloses Data Breach; Up to 1.1 Million Customers Affected
On Wednesday, CareFirst, a Blue Cross plan, became the third major health insurer in the United States to disclose this year that hackers had breached its systems and potentially compromised some customer information. The company, which is based in Maryland and serves the Washington, D.C., area, called the attack that occurred last June a “sophisticated” one that could have affected as many as 1.1 million of its customers. In a statement, CareFirst said the breach was limited to information like customer names, email addresses and birth dates but not more confidential information like medical records and Social Security numbers. Story By Matthew Goldstein and Reed Abelson for The New York Times.

The Best Credit Cards for College Students and New Grads
Whether you’re in college or about to graduate, chances are your parents have told you about the importance of establishing and building credit. After all, building your credit history is very important at this age. When used responsibly, a credit card can help you achieve a higher credit score. Every month, usage information is relayed to the three major credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), and if this information reflects on-time payments and low credit utilization (part of being responsible means not using more than 30% of your available credit), your score will rise. Here are some of the best cards for young adults to consider, depending on your personal level of credit experience. Story by Vera Gibbons for MarketWatch.

Secured vs. Unsecured Credit Cards
Credit cards are a vital tool for many Americans. Not only do these products allow access to a secure and convenient line of credit, but it can be difficult to reserve a hotel room or to rent a car without one. In addition, credit cards offer robust benefits that cannot be matched by cash, checks, or even debit cards. But unfortunately, some people are unable to qualify for most cards due to their credit history. Some applicants may have experienced hardships such as illness, divorce, or job loss, while others such as recent immigrants and young adults may not have any credit history. For whatever reason people may find themselves in this position, their only option may be to apply for a secured credit card. Story by Jason Steele for LowCards.com.

Home Depot Still Paying for Data Breach
Home Depot is still paying to recover from its 2014 data breach, reporting $7 million in breach-related costs for the first quarter of 2015. It is estimated that the home improvement retailer has spent more than $50 million to deal with the fallout from the cyberattack in which hackers stole information for 56 million payment cards. Home Depot executives declined to state how much they expect to spend in total on data breach recovery. Diverting funds for legal defense work, computer network improvements and debts owed to payment card networks could “have a material adverse effect on the company’s financial results in fiscal 2015 and/or future periods,” Home Depot said in a statement. Story by Elise Viebeck for The Hill.

MasterCard Seeks to Move Digital Money Fast
MasterCard wants to speed up digital payments. The financial services giant has just launched MasterCard Send, which the company claims as a first-of-its-kind global platform that promises to move funds into your debit accounts in a half-hour or less, compared to the one to three days that is typically how long automated check clearinghouse transactions take. According to MasterCard, more than $1 trillion is spent globally each year on transactions where people are using paper checks or cash. Under MasterCard Send, payments made for insurance claims, rebates, tax refunds and so forth would be made to your debit card and dispatched in near real-time. The program is agnostic across brands. That means you don’t have to use a MasterCard debit card to take advantage of the platform. Story by Edward C. Baig for USA Today.

Fraud Worries: Debit vs. Credit Cards
Finding fraudulent purchases on your credit-card account is bad enough. Having a thief gain access to your bank balance is much worse. Criminals are stealing card data from U.S. automated teller machines at the highest rate in two decades, preying on ATMs while merchants crack down on fraud at the checkout counter. Meanwhile, the risk of unauthorized bank withdrawals is weighing on consumers deciding whether to make purchases with debit cards, which are connected to a bank account, versus credit cards, for which accountholders get a bill to pay later. If fraudulent transactions are made on your credit-card account, there is no immediate financial hit while you straighten things out. By contrast, if a thief is able to withdraw dollars from your bank account, “the horse is out of the barn.” Story by Karen Damato for The Wall Street Journal.

Can Google Outsell Amazon and eBay?
Google Inc. will launch buy buttons on its search-result pages in coming weeks, a controversial step by the company toward becoming an online marketplace rivaling those run by Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. Story by Alistair Barr and Rolfe Winkler for The Wall Street Journal.

E-Paper Display Gives Payment Cards a Changing Security Code
By embedding an e-paper display in the back of credit and debit cards, payment specialist Oberthur Technologies hopes to make online fraud a lot more difficult. An upcoming test in France will show if the underlying technology can cut it. Using payment cards with an embedded chip makes payments more secure in physical stores, but it’s still relatively easy for criminals to copy card details and use them online. Oberthur’s Motion Code technology replaces the printed 3-digit CVV (Card Verification Value) code, usually found on the back of the card, with a small screen, where the code changes periodically. Story by Mikael Ricknäs for Computer World.

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 14.50 percent, the same as last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.49 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.47 percent.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of May 22, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.