LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–January 5, 2018

January 5, 2018, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Businesses Can Charge Extra for Credit Card Payments, Appeals Court Rules
A California law prohibiting retailers from charging customers extra for using credit cards violates the businesses’ right to free speech, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. The law, passed in 1985, doesn’t prohibit charging less to those who pay by cash or check, as long as the seller calls it a discount rather than a credit card surcharge. Such a description is preferred by credit card companies but opposed by retailers, who say the prospect of avoiding a surcharge is more attractive to customers than getting a discount, even if the price is the same. As a result, the state is regulating speech and not conduct, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Story by Bob Egelko for the San Francisco Chronicle

The Perils of a Cashless Society
Doing away with cash may indeed sound appealing. Proponents often note that China and India have already gone further in this direction than the United States. But a few drawbacks are obvious: Card companies such as Visa charge merchants high processing fees, the risk of fraud balances out the lower risk of theft, older customers may not wish to make the change, and consumers will lose yet more privacy (corporations will have the ability to track every purchase made). Perhaps less obvious is that a cashless system will exclude the poor and near-poor. Many impoverished people don’t have credit cards or bank accounts. Your millennial friend may be happy to accept money via Paypal or another app, your cafe may use an iPad instead of a cash register, but landlords in low-income areas still prefer money orders. It’s convenient for consumers to charge, say, an outing to the nail salon. But when you add the tip to your credit card bill, it may never make it to the worker. Story by Mikki Kendall for The Los Angeles Times

Holiday Hangover: Americans Racked Up More Than $1,000 Each in Holiday Debt
Americans racked up an average of $1,054 of debt over the period, about 5 percent more than last year, according to MagnifyMoney’s annual post-holiday debt survey. Nearly half, or 46 percent, of Americans said they plan to pay off their credit cards within a month after the holidays. Another 16 percent will need one to three months, that survey found. A full quarter of consumers said it will take more than six months to pay off their holiday spending. The mobile banking start-up polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults in November. Story by Jessica Dickler for CNBC

Forever 21 Confirms Breach Exposed Customer Credit Card Info
A breach at Forever 21 left customer payment card information exposed to hackers, the retailer confirmed in a press release. The company didn’t specify how many customers had information stolen, but said various point of sales terminals were affected between April 3 and November 18, 2017. Hackers collected credit card numbers, expiration dates, verification codes and sometimes cardholder names. In its notification to customers, Forever 21 said hackers installed malicious software on some point of sales terminals in stores throughout the country. Story by Laura Hautala for CNet

More Banks Warming Up to Cannabis Business Accounts
Banks are starting to take marijuana into account. Though financial institutions remain skittish because cannabis is classified illegal at the federal level, 2017 did see some double-digit growth in terms of banks and credit unions accepting marijuana companies into the fold. A recent Forbes report found that there are more than 400 financial institutions nationally who are accepting cannabis business accounts. Admittedly, that number is awfully small. But it does represent a 198 percent increase over the first nine months of 2017. Story by Rick Schettino for Pot Network

In-app Spending Jumped 12% on Christmas Day
Global spending on in-app purchases, subscriptions and premium apps rose 12% on Christmas Day from a year earlier, per Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data. Spending grew to $196 million from $174 million the year before in Apple’s App Store and Google Play; however, the figure doesn’t include Android app purchases in China. Entertainment apps, which include Netflix and HBO Now, saw the fastest growth in spending, which nearly doubled to $9.5 million on the holiday from $4.8 million a year earlier. Spending on non-game apps jumped 66% to $38 million from $24 million a year earlier, while mobile games rose 5.2% to $158 million from $150 million, the researcher said. Story by Robert Williams for Mobile Marketer

UK Banning Stores from Charging Debit/Credit Card & Apple Pay Fees
The UK will soon start banning shops and stores from charging a fee for credit card and debit card transactions. The new law goes into effect on January 13th and will permanently do away with additional fees for credit and debit transactions, including Apple Pay. The new law is applicable both in-store and online and extends to debit cards, credit cards, American Express, PayPal, and Apple Pay. The new law in the U.K. follows an EU directive, which means that other countries in the European Union will also be rolling out bans for debit and credit card surcharges. Story by Chance Miller for 9 to 5 Mac

SEC Warns Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Investors at Risk
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission warned Thursday that investors should “exercise caution” with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, noting state and federal regulators may not be able to recoup any lost investments from illegal actors. Many promoters of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and other cryptocurrency investments are not following federal and state securities laws, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioners Kara Stein and Michael Piwowar said in a statement. While regulators are trying to police these quickly growing markets, the SEC urged investors to be vigilant. Story by Pete Schroeder for Reuters

Cyber Security Concerns Grow, But Actions Stay the Same
Over half of consumers are more concerned about cyber security today than they were five years ago, however many still do not uphold this view in their behaviour. McAfee’s latest study revealed that despite the growing concerns around cyber security, after the increased amount of attacks and breaches, there is still inconsistency between the concerns of consumers and their behaviours. Today 61% of consumers are more concerned about cyber security, but few have taken any action amid their concerns. A total of 37% have signed up for an identity theft protection solution, despite the risk of identity theft and fraud growing as well as cyber security concerns. This leaves almost three quarters of consumers failing to take proactive steps to protecting themselves, despite 33% ranking cyber security as their top priority. Story by April Slattery for Computer Business Review

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.
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