LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014, Written By Lynn Oldshue
LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–April 4, 2014

Forget Stealing Credit Cards, Now Hackers Just Straight-Up Blackmail You
While hackers tried to get rich by stealing millions of credit cards from Target, other cybercriminals have quietly tried another method to make a quick buck: Asking companies to pay them to go away. In recent weeks, two companies have publicly described their experiences with what has become a popular hacker tactic: cyber extortion. Cybercriminals have threatened to disclose sensitive data or cripple websites unless their victims pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in ransom. Story by Gerry Smith for Huffington Post.

Loans are Finally Easier to Get
No one’s ready to say “party like it’s 2007,” but it’s looking more and more like bankers are finally putting the financial crash behind them. It’s easier to get a loan these days for a new home or new car than it’s been in five years–the darkest days of the Great Recession. To be sure, for some borrowers the purse strings are being loosened only a little. So while money is easier to borrow than it had been, the lending landscape is far from normal, experts say. It’s still very difficult for borrowers with tarnished credit to borrow, and even on credit cards, where banks are more willing to lend, regulatory changes have generally lowered borrowing limits. Story by Tom Lauricella for The Wall Street Journal.

What’s More Valuable: A Stolen Twitter Account or a Stolen Credit Card?
Stolen Twitter accounts are now more valuable than credit cards on the cybercrime black market, according to a new report. The study found that high-profile data breaches–think Target’s data hack–create influxes of available credit card data online. The more data available, the less valuable it becomes, especially when banks react to hacks by cancelling and replacing stolen cards. In the wake of a mass credit hack, there’s a flood of card numbers available on the black market, even if most of them are no longer useful. In comparison, the supply of stolen social media account details rarely surges from a single event in the same way. Story by Elana Zak for The Wall Street Journal.

Wells Fargo Continues Credit Card Push
For the past year, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has had a major corporate directive for his bank to capture a greater share of the credit card market. Wells Fargo took another step toward this goal by entering into a credit card agreement with Dillard’s. Wells Fargo will fund, issue and service Dillard’s-branded private label and co-branded credit cards. In addition, the nation’s fourth-largest bank will manage the retailer’s cardholder loyalty program. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

Postal Workers Use Government Credit Cards to Gamble, Bowl
Postal employees have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on gambling, bills and other personal expenses, according to a series of reports by the U.S. Postal Service inspector general. Federal employees may use government credit cards for official travel expenses, but some used theirs to withdraw cash before hitting casinos. Story by Michal Conger for the Washington Examiner.

Latest Cyberscam Enables Crooks To Extract Huge Sums from ATMs
Regulators are warning bankers that hackers have succeeded in changing the controls on automated teller machines to enable thieves to make nearly unlimited withdrawals using fraudulent debit, prepaid and ATM cards. The hackers often schedule the withdrawals for holidays and weekends, when extra cash is loaded into ATMs and monitoring by the banks drops off. Story by E. Scott Rechard for the Los Angeles Times.

Some Americans Paid Off Credit Card While Waiting for Foreclosure
The sheer number of foreclosures during the recession may have helped some Americans pay off other debts, such as credit card bills. Foreclosures rose sharply during the recession, peaking around 2009, and the timeline for processing them stretched out in some states to as long as three years. That allowed people to remain in their homes longer without making mortgage payments, freeing up money for other expenses, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Story by Ben Leubsdorf for The Wall Street Journal.

Time to Reconsider Your Airline Credit Card?
If you have an airline credit card, now may be the time to ditch it for something better. Delta is the latest airline to revamp its program to reward people based on how much they spend for their tickets, rather than how far they fly. That’s great news if you’re an elite frequent flier whose employer pays for last-minute business-class seats. You’ll be first in line for rewards even as planes fly more full (reducing available free seats) and programs crank up the number of miles required for flights and upgrades. But these program changes don’t bode well for leisure travelers, who may find themselves grounded when they try to cash in their miles for flights. Story by Liz Weston for Fox Business.

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 14.45 percent, slightly below last week’s average of 14.47 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.40 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.29 percent.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of April 4, 2014. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.

About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for LowCards.com for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue