LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–March 10, 2017

March 10, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Why the Humble Router Remains One of the Most Insecure Devices in Your Home
For all the time that we spend thinking about the security of our phones and laptops—about encryption, strong passwords and two-factor authentication—comparatively little attention is paid to the humble internet router. The tiny box is probably one of the most important pieces of technology you have in your home. It’s the one device through which all of your other devices connect to the internet. But despite being responsible for such an important task, most routers remain hidden away, rarely monitored and even more rarely updated—if their software is updated at all. It’s why, for intelligence agencies and criminals alike, routers—plentiful and often insecure—are ever-increasing targets for attack. Story by Matthew Braga for CBC News.

Move Over, ID Theft–Here’s the New No. 1 Fraud
Beware of bogus IRS agents, fake offers of tech support and faux beaus—in other words, impostors. They’ve overtaken identity thieves to become the nation’s top fraudsters, according to the latest consumer complaint data. The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel project, which tallies up the number and type of consumer complaints received each year, reported more than 3 million of them in 2016. Debt collection remains the No. 1 gripe, accounting for some 28 percent of reported complaints. However, the bulk of debt-collection complaints involve overly aggressive collection tactics, not fraud. When it comes to consumer frauds, impostor scams are now leading the list, having leapfrogged ID theft for the first time since the government started keeping records in 1997. Notably, these frauds can be devastatingly costly. Although not all consumers report their losses, those that did got taken for $744.5 million in total, with the average loss weighing in at $1,124, government officials said. Story by Kathy Kristof for CBS Moneywatch.

New York Pols Call on Visa and MasterCard to Stop Hate-Inspired Sales, Purchases
A group of nearly 40 New York state lawmakers called on Visa and MasterCard on Tuesday to stop allowing hate groups to use their credit cards to sell products. In letters to heads of both credit card companies, the lawmakers, led by Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, said it was disturbing that Visa and MasterCard were profiting from the sale of race-baiting products on websites operated by hate groups. “Visa and MasterCard are contributing to the widespread wave of racism, bigotry, and unadulterated hatred that currently plague our society,” said Hikind, a Democrat. “Regardless of whether or not they have done so unwittingly, now that we’ve brought their attention to the matter, we expect them to cease immediately.” Story by Glenn Blain for the New York Daily News.

US Credit Card Debt Shrinks in January
Consumers pulled back on credit card debt in January, leading to the smallest increase in consumer borrowing in more than four years. Total borrowing rose $8.8 billion in January compared to an increase of $14.8 billion in December, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. It was the smallest monthly gain since borrowing only went up $7.6 billion in July 2012. The slowdown reflected a big reduction in the category that covers credit card debt, which fell $3.8 billion in January. It marked the first time credit card debt has declined since February 2016 and was the biggest reduction since October 2010. Consumer borrowing is closely watched for signs of consumers’ willingness to take on more debt to support their spending. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Story by Martin Crutsinger for the Associated Press.

UK Sees 250% Rise in NFC Mobile Payments in Stores
The number of mobile transactions as a percentage of all in-store transactions has grown by 247% in the UK over the last year, analysis of transaction data and a consumer survey conducted by payments processor Worldpay has found. Workers paying for lunch on the go and payments for drinks in bars are the main drivers of the increase in transaction volume. “Lunchtime ‘Meal Deal’ hotspots, including supermarkets and grocery stores accounted for 54% of all mobile tap and pay transactions processed by Worldpay in 2016,” the company says. “Pubs, bars and restaurants made up 20% of the total.” The launch of Android Pay in the UK in September 2016 also led to “a notable lift-off in adoption.” Story by Sarah Clark for NFC World.

Payments Giant Verifone Investigating Breach
Credit and debit card payments giant Verifone is investigating a breach of its internal computer networks that appears to have impacted a number of companies running its point-of-sale solutions, according to sources. Verifone says the extent of the breach was limited to its corporate network and that its payment services network was not impacted. Verifone is the largest maker of credit card terminals used in the United States. It sells point-of-sale terminals and services to support the swiping and processing of credit and debit card payments at a variety of businesses, including retailers, taxis, and fuel stations. On Jan. 23, 2017, Verifone sent an “urgent” email to all company staff and contractors, warning they had 24 hours to change all company passwords. The internal Verifone memo also informed employees they would no longer be allowed to install software of any kind on company computers and laptops. Story by Brian Krebs for Krebs on Security.

PayPal, Google Join Fight to Repeal CFPB Prepaid Rule
Mobile-wallet providers like PayPal and Google have their own ax to grind in the prepaid card industry’s push to have Congress quash a pending rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The companies are particularly unhappy with a provision that would require a 30-day waiting period before extending credit to cover overdrafts. The far-reaching CFPB rule, issued in October 2016 and set to take effect in October 2017, could be rolled back via the Congressional Review Act. Republicans in both chambers of Congress have introduced a CRA resolution on the prepaid-card rule amid a lobbying effort by the prepaid industry and mobile wallet providers. The rule largely deals with fee disclosures, fraud protection, dispute resolution and credit features for prepaid cards, the debit-card-like products that are sold widely in convenience stores and other retail outlets, loaded by the purchaser with money in advance and typically can be reloaded online. But the rule also takes in mobile wallets that allow customers to store money on the wallets. Examples include PayPal’s Venmo and Google Wallet. Story by Gregory Roberts for Bloomberg BNA.

Nonprime Americans Struggle to Pay Emergency Expenses
Nonprime Americans, those with a credit score below 700, struggle to find credit, which makes it hard for them to pay for unexpected expenses. New research indicates it is also difficult for these consumers to borrow money from friends and family. 70% of nonprime borrowers could not cover emergency expenses of $500 or more with their savings, and 64% could not borrow this money from their family or friends. Even those who have credit cards are struggling to meet emergency expenses. 72% of nonprime Americans would not be able to charge $500 on their card. More than half (59%) “regularly” carry a credit card balance each month. Many are resorting to desperate measures. 7% use overdraft protection strategically and use it to cover expenses for which they do not have the cash on hand. Story by Natalie Rutledge for LowCards.com.

AmEx Fights Back Against Credit Card Churners
American Express is looking to weed out customers who jump from credit card to credit card just for the sign-on bonus. An increase in incentive bonuses has boosted so-called gaming by credit card applicants looking for a quick reward, Doug Buckminster, president of global consumer services, said Wednesday at the firm’s investor day in New York. AmEx is using analytics to identify and “suppress” gamers, while creating offers that incentivize long-term loyalty, the company said. AmEx sees an “opportunity to use our analytics and technology to surgically remove gaming and reinvest in higher-quality, more loyal new customers,” he said. Story by Jennifer Surane for Bloomberg.

A Smart Corporate Credit Card with a Touchscreen and a Battery Inside
Concur Technologies made a name for itself streamlining and simplifying expense reports, and now its longtime CEO Steve Singh is back to disrupt another budget line item known to cause headaches for companies: the corporate credit card. Singh pulled back the curtain on his latest venture: a combination hardware/software company called Center, which is producing a next generation corporate credit card, complete with a built-in touchscreen and battery, as well as the software to integrate the card into a company’s budget. Digitizing the card, Singh says, will allow companies to get real-time updates on spending and adjust budgets on-the-fly. Despite everything going on under the hood, the card looks, feels and acts just like any other credit card. Story by Nat Levy for Geek Wire.

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 15.00 percent, slightly higher than last week’s average of 14.99 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.64 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.80 percent.

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