LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 27, 2015
Google Buys Softcard, Teams Up with Carriers on Mobile Payments
Google and the mobile carriers have long been at odds over mobile payments, but faced with the runaway success of Apple Pay, the two rivals have become friends. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are selling their mobile wallet joint venture Softcard to Google for an undisclosed amount, Google and Softcard revealed on Monday in separate blog posts, and they have agreed to pre-install Google Wallet on their Android smartphones starting this fall. Story by Kevin Fitchard for Gigaom.
American Express Raises Interest Rates on Some Credit Cards
American Express increased interest rates on some of its credit card accounts by an average of 2.5 percentage points in recent weeks, Elizabeth Crosta, a spokeswoman for the company said Wednesday. American Express had been charging a lower interest rate, as much as 3.25 percentage points, on its credit cards compared with rates its competitors charge for customers with similar credit scores, Crosta said. The rate increase was authorized after an analysis showed the difference. Customers affected will be notified and will have the option to keep the card at the higher interest rate or cancel their cards. The new interest rate only affects new purchases and balance transfers. American Express’ move is unusual for the industry. Credit card rates have been going down, not up. Story by Ken Sweet for the Associated Press.
Two Million Americans Were Victims of Medical Identity Theft in 2014
More than two million Americans were victims of medical identity theft in 2014, according to new information from the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. The number of consumers affected by medical identity theft has doubled in the last five years. In 2014, there were nearly 500,000 more victims than a year ago, a 22% increase. For consumers, medical identity theft can be more complicated and costly to resolve than credit card theft, since stolen medical data can sometimes include permanent information such as a consumer’s name, Social Security number and date of birth. Tragically, 65% of victims surveyed said they paid more than $13,000 in out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the fraud, a significant increase from 36% in 2013. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.
CFPB Wants Better, Faster Database Of Credit Card Agreements
Much like a restaurant that has to shutter for a short time while installing new kitchen equipment, federal regulators occasionally have to press pause on an important process to fix things for the long haul. So in order to improve the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public database of credit card agreements, the agency is planning to give banks a brief break from having to file those documents with the system. Under the CARD Act, each quarter certain banks are required to send their customer agreements to the CFPB, which then posts the document to an online database that consumers can use to compare terms and conditions. However, the Bureau says the current system for receiving and posting agreements is too slow, sometimes taking up to a month for the documents to appear in the database. As a result, the CFPB is proposing a one year suspension on credit card issuers’ obligations to manually submit the agreements so that the Bureau can develop a new submission system. Story by Ashlee Kieler for Consumerist.
The $14 Billion Difference: How Visa, MasterCard, and American Express Make Money
Credit card companies are basically the same, right? They make money whenever we swipe our cards or use them to buy something online. To a degree that’s true, but there are key differences between how American Express and its monster rivals Visa and MasterCard bring in their revenue. Here’s a little primer on the two business models. Story by Eric Volkman for Motley Fool.
Big Fish Games Website Hacked, Users Credit Card Data Compromised
Seattle-based casual gaming company Big Fish Games has reported that its website was compromised in Dec to Jan period and the hackers may have stolen Big Fish customers personal and financial information like credit card numbers, CVV numbers. Big Fish Games was founded in 2002, and has distributed more than 2.5 billion games to customers in as many as 150 countries. As of now, it is not known as to how many Big Fish Games customers are affected by this compromise or which countries they belong to. In a letter sent to the potentially affected customers, Big Fish Games CTO, Ian Hurlock-Jones stated that”An unknown criminal installed malware on the billing and payment pages of our website that appears to have intercepted customer payment information.” Story by Vijay in TechWorm.
The Liability Shift and its Impact on Mobile Payments
This is going to be a major year for innovation in mobile payments, and credit card payments in general, as the fundamentals of credit card-based payments are being shaken by the “liability shift” that occurs later in the year. Essentially, “liability shift” places the burden for fraudulent credit card charges in the hands of merchants and issuing banks that don’t implement new technology to accommodate chip-based credit cards that offer superior fraud protection versus magnetic stripes common in the US. The motivation behind this policy is fundamentally that the US has become the global capital for credit card fraud, with a predicted $10B US in losses due to fraud in 2015. There are several broad trends and technologies to watch in 2015 as the payment space evolves. Story by Patrick Gray for Tech Republic.
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, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.49 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.50 percent.