LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–October 3, 2014

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–October 3, 2014

October 3, 2014         Written By Lynn Oldshue

Cyberattack Against JPMorgan Chase Affects 76 Million Households
A cyberattack this summer on JPMorgan Chase compromised the accounts of 76 million households and seven million small businesses, a tally that dwarfs previous estimates by the bank and puts the intrusion among the largest ever. The details of the breach–disclosed in a securities filing on Thursday–emerge at a time when consumer confidence in the digital operations of corporate America has already been shaken. Target, Home Depot and a number of other retailers have sustained major data breaches. But unlike retailers, JPMorgan, as the largest bank in the nation, has financial information in its computer systems that goes beyond customers’ credit card details and potentially includes more sensitive data. Story by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Matthew Goldstein and Nicole Perlroth for The New York Times.

Student Loans May Drag Down Economy for Years
Soaring levels of student loan debt are not only burdening recent graduates but have created entire generations that aren’t able to save and invest, potentially hurting long-term economic growth. College-educated members of Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, have accumulated less wealth than their parents had at the same point in their lives, according to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Gen Xers have built up $20,000 less home equity than their parents, adjusted for inflation, and a median debt seven times higher. Story by Sean Higgins for the Washington Examiner.

U.S. to Shield Military from High Interest Debt
The Obama administration plans to propose tougher financial protections for personal loans made to the military amid concerns lenders are circumventing rules designed to protect servicemembers from taking on high-interest debt. The Defense Department plan is expected to extend a 36% cap on interest rates on loans to troops to include a broader swath of products–such as credit cards–that previously had been exempt. Story by Alan Zibel and Ben Kesling for The Wall Street Journal.

Stolen Medical Data Worth 10 Times More Than Credit Card Information
How much are your medical records worth? About $10 on the open market, which is 10 times more than the average stolen credit card number. According to Reuters, cyber criminals are beginning to turn their attention to medical records in place of credit card numbers due to inadequate security systems in the healthcare industry. Last month, one of the largest hospital groups in the United States, Community Health Systems, said hackers from China stole the personal information of more than 4.5 million patients. Hackers may have obtained the patient names, birth dates, addresses, telephone and social security number. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Lesser-Known Credit Card Perks Hide in Plain Sight
You probably know whether your credit card gives you cash back or rewards points when you use it to make a purchase. After all, that’s most likely why you chose it. But many major credit cards also offer a menu of lesser-known, potentially helpful perks–some offered by the issuing bank and others provided by the card payment networks. These ancillary benefits, typically provided at no extra cost, can include rental car insurance, extended warranties, damage protection for your cellphone, lost-luggage coverage and even free admission to museums. Story by Ann Carrns for The New York Times.

Consumer Debt Hits an All-time High
For many American households, the recession was a time to pay off debt and get their finances in order–whether they wanted to or not. But according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds, Americans are taking on debt once again. The difference is that this time we’re borrowing to finance new cars, college tuition, and other consumer goods. American household debt peaked in 2007 and has since fallen 15 percent. Home mortgage debt accounted for much of the decline–it’s dropped 22 percent since 2007. Consumer debt, on the other hand, has continued to increase and just reached an all-time high of $3.2 trillion. Story by Allison Schrager for Bloomberg Businessweek.

At Last, More Consumers Say They are Better Off Than a Year Ago
A survey by Absolute Strategy Research shows U.S. households feel much better about their personal finances, job security and future economic prospects than they have at any point since mid-2009 when ASR began the survey, a time period that corresponds to the start of the current expansion. For the first time in this upturn, more consumers say they are better off financially now than a year ago compared with the share saying they are worse off. Plus, a high 83% of workers feel very or fairly secure in their current jobs. Story by Kathleen Madigan for The Wall Street Journal.

Bank of America “Chips” its Debit Cards
Bank of America is the first major U.S. bank to issue debit cards with chip technology, a move that other banks are sure to follow. The bank says it already offers the chips on credit cards and will issue cards with chips when replacing expired cards and to new customers. The chip technology essentially holds the same information the magnetic strip does on credit cards. It works with a pin number which, when verified, allows the transaction to be processed. Story by Sital Patel for MarketWatch.

U.S. Bank to Refund $48 Million for Improper Credit Card Practices
Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lowered the boom on U.S. Bank for improper credit card practices. The CFPB ordered the bank to refund $48 million to customers. The bank must also pay fines of $5 million to the CFPB and $4 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The CFPB found that U.S. Bank charged its customers for certain identity protection and credit monitoring services that were never activated. Story by Lynn Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Apple Pay Signals New Era at Cash Register
Not a single purchase has been made with Apple’s new payment system, Apple Pay, which will allow people to pay for everyday goods with their smartphone. But the service, expected in the coming weeks, already has the technology industry scrambling to profit from a future in which apps could regularly replace cash, checks and credit cards. Story by Mike Isaac for The New York Times.

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 14.54 percent, slightly higher than last week’s average of 14.53 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.45 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.40 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