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The war on cash is escalating. A big driver isn’t central banks who want to be able to inflict negative interest rates on savers, or Treasuries who see cash transactions as hiding revenues from their tax collectors, but the payment networks that want to kill cash (and checks!) as competitors to their oh so terrific (and fee-gouging) credit and debit cards.
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H/t reader squodgy:
Here it comes….”
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Americans have spent much of 2016 lamenting the addition of chips into their credit and debit cards. In exchange for the extra few moments consumers spend checking out, however, they are promised enhanced security to protect their accounts.
But a new discovery unveiled Wednesday by professional hackers at the Black Hat USA summit in Las Vegas called into question the supposed ironclad security of the new chips, which are referred to as EMV technology.
Retailers and banks began replacing regular magnetic stripe card readers with EMV last October after credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard threatened to hold them responsible for false charges made on cards during magnetic strip transactions. The mandate came amid high-profile breaches of retailers like Home Depot and Target.
For the first time ever, total credit card debt in the United States is approaching a trillion dollars. Instead of learning painful lessons from the last recession, Americans continue to make the same horrendous financial mistakes over and over again. In fact, U.S. consumers accumulated more new credit card debt during the 4th quarter of 2015 than they did during the years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined. That is absolutely insanity, because other than payday loans, credit card debt is just about the worst kind of debt that consumers could possibly go into. Extremely high rates of interest, combined with severe penalties and fees, can choke the financial life out of almost any family in no time at all.
These days, most Americans use credit cards for various purposes, and they can be very convenient.
Jun 29, 2014
UPDATED – Newer bank cards DO NOT have the divot in the plastic to easily locate the RFID chip embedded into them. You must use a high powered flashlight to “see through” the card to locate the chip. Once located, use a hole punch to break through the chip, disabling the RFID function.
The software I used on my Samsung SGS3 cellphone is called “Electronic Pickpocket RFID” and can be found in the Google Play Store for free. It will not give you all the credit card information, but enough to test if the card does or does not have a RFID chip embedded. You must have a cell phone that has NFC technology for the app to work.
– MasterCard to comply with new rules and remain in Russia – CEO (RT, Oct 13, 2014):
The MasterCard international payment system will continue operating in Russia and comply with the new rules set out by the Central Bank of Russia, CEO Ajay Banga has said.
“We have intentions to remain in Russia,” TASS quotes Ajay Banga the President and Chief Executive of MasterCard.
“My approach is that we will follow the new rules. The law requires a partnership with the Central Bank of Russia. We think, this is reasonable for Russia,” he said.
– Russia launches China UnionPay credit card (RT, Aug 15, Edited Aug 18, 2014):
Forget Visa and MasterCard. After the two American credit system payment companies froze accounts without notice in March, Russia has been looking for an alternative in China UnionPay.
China UnionPay plans to have 2 million cards in Russia in the next three years.
Instead of seeing the small Visa and MasterCard logo on credits cards, ATMs, and retail outlets, Russians will start to see the three words “China. Union. Pay.”
– Visa, Mastercard block US-sanctioned Russian banks (RT, March 21, 2014):
International payment system Mastercard has stopped serving clients of seven Russian lenders, after the US issued sanctions against it regarding Russia’s position over the Ukrainian turmoil.
Rossiya Bank was blocked by both – Master Card and Visa, and with the latter also cutting ties with Sobinbank, SMP Bank and Investcapitalbank.
Seven Russian banks are involved in the suspension, according to Timur Batyrev, the head of the national payment system department at the Central Bank of Russia.
The blockade came without warning, Rossiya bank said.
The credit card company’s recent contract update includes terms that sound menacing and creepy.
– Capital One Now Makes House-Calls Says It Can Show Up At Cardholders’ Homes, Workplaces (Los Angeles Times, Feb 17, 2014):
Ding-dong, Cap One calling.
Credit card issuer Capital One isn’t shy about getting into customers’ faces. The company recently sent a contract update to cardholders that makes clear it can drop by any time it pleases.
The update specifies that “we may contact you in any manner we choose” and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a “personal visit.”
As if that weren’t creepy enough, Cap One says these visits can be “at your home and at your place of employment.”
The police need a court order to pull off something like that. But Cap One says it has the right to get up close and personal anytime, anywhere.
– MasterCard joining push for fingerprint ID standard (USA Today, Oct 2, 2013):
The addition of MasterCard will help FIDO expand its standard to more types of transactions. The company’s experience handling the multitude of existing payments industry standards will also be valuable.
SAN FRANCISCO — MasterCard is joining the FIDO Alliance, signaling that the payment network is getting interested in using fingerprints and other biometric data to identify people for online payments.
MasterCard will be the first major payment network to join FIDO. The Alliance is developing an open industry standard for biometric data such as fingerprints to be used for identification online. The goal is to replace clunky passwords and take friction out of logging on and purchasing using mobile devices.
Apple’s new iPhone 5s smartphone has a fingerprint sensor, but the tech giant is not part of FIDO. However, Google is part of the Alliance, and devices running Google’s Android operating system will have fingerprint sensors by next year.
– Multiple Government Agencies Are Keeping Records Of Your Credit Card Transactions (Economic Collapse, June 28, 2013):
Were you under the impression that your credit card transactions are private? If so, I am sorry to burst your bubble. As you will see below, there are actually multiple government agencies that are gathering and storing records of your credit card transactions. And in turn, those government agencies share that information with other government agencies that want it. So if you are making a purchase that you don’t want anyone to know about, don’t use a credit card. This is one of the reasons why the government hates cash so much. It is just so hard to track. In this day and age, the federal government seems to be absolutely obsessed with gathering as much information about all of us as it possibly can. But there is one big problem. What they are doing directly violates the U.S. Constitution. For those that are not familiar with it, the following is what the Fourth Amendment actually says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment is essentially dead at this point. The federal government is investigating all of us and gathering information on all of us all day, every day without end.
Many Americans have never even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Judicial Watch has discovered that they are spending millions of dollars to collect and analyze our financial transactions…
– Android app steals contactless credit card data (SC Magazine, June 21, 2012):
A German penetration tester has posted to the Google store an Android application capable of siphoning credit card data from contactless bank cards.
The app, dubbed paycardreader, will skim card numbers and expiry dates, along with transactions and merchant IDs, and was successfully tested against a German PayPass Mastercard.
YouTube Added: 17.03.2012
Starting June 25 of this year, Bank of America will start charging more and more of their credit card customers an APR of almost 30%. According to a letter that came in the mail today, that new rate would apply “indefinitely.” If you make a single late payment, B of A may raise your interest rate to as much as 29.99%. The new rate would only apply to new purchases, not existing balances (that’s one of the few good things about the CARD act), but according to recent surveys over 15% of customers have made at least one late payment in the last 12 months. (I know we’ve done it once or twice.)
From a free market perspective, the new late payment policy isn’t terrible, but in practice it still stinks. That’s because, like most fees and penalties charged by banks and credit card companies, it will be more onerous for the poorest and most vulnerable. Think about it, if you have good credit and a good job, who cares if you make a late payment? If your credit card company assesses a penalty rate of 30% on new purchases, you can just switch to a different card. But if your Bank of America card is your only source of revolving credit, then you’re pretty much stuck with the new interest rate. And over time, more and more customers will end up with the new penalty rate because of a late payment. Moreover, it will end up being those customers who can least afford it who end up paying the new rate because B of A will most likely refrain from instituting high penalty rates on customers they know can simply walk away.
The MBNA bank has been accused by a High Court judge of “torturing” a customer with repeated phone calls demanding he repay his credit card.
Keith Harrison had his debt of £20,270 written off by the judge, Nicholas Chambers QC, at Mold in North Wales.
The judge said MBNA had failed to give Mr Harrison the terms and conditions for the card, when he took it out.
MBNA said it was reviewing the comments and said it had been unable to have “meaningful dialogue” with Mr Harrison.
“[We] were unable to ascertain the reason for non-payment,” the bank added.
The judge denounced the tactics that MBNA and its debt collection firm had used to force him to pay up.
“In my view, the claimant rightly complains that, mainly by MBNA but also by the defendant [debt collectors Link Financial], he was hounded by telephone calls seeking payment of what was said to be due,” said Mr Justice Chambers.
“The calls were a form of torture oppressively frequent in amount and often without attribution to an identifiable number.”
59.9 Percent? Americans Are Racking Up Huge Credit Card Balances Once Again And Some Of The Interest Rates Are Absolutely Outrageous!
Well, it was nice while it lasted. One of the really good things that came out of the recent economic downturn was that millions of American families decided to get out of debt. In particular, we had seen a sustained trend of reduced credit card usage in the United States. It looked like Americans had finally wised up. But we should have known that Americans would not be willing to tighten their belts forever.
Unfortunately, it appears that getting out of debt is no longer so “trendy”. In fact, the month of December was the third month in a row in which consumer credit grew in the United States. Prior to that, consumer credit in the United States had declined for 20 months in a row. The American people were doing so, so good. Why did they have to stop? It appears that the American people have fallen off the wagon and have gotten a taste for credit card debt once again.
This time, however, the credit card companies are back with interest rates that are higher than ever. In fact, one national credit card company has hundreds of thousands of customers signed up for a card that charges interest rates of up to 59.9%.
You mean there are people that are stupid enough to actually sign up for a credit card that will charge them 59.9% interest?
Unfortunately the answer is yes.
In fact, the top rate was 79.9% before First Premier Bank lowered it.
These cards are targeted at Americans that have a poor credit history, and these days there are a whole lot of those.
A recent story on the website of CNN described how large numbers of U.S. consumers with poor credit are gobbling up credit cards like these. Unfortunately, many of these consumers are also not smart enough to realize what they are getting into. The CNN story contained a quote from a woman who was in complete shock when she discovered that her interest rate was going to go up by 50 percentage points….
“I about had a heart attack when I got a disclosure notice saying that my starting rate of 29.9% was going up to 79.9%.”
First Premier Bank has since lowered the top rate on those cards to 59.9%, but that it still completely outrageous.
Not only are the interest rates on those cards super high, but they also charge a whole bunch of fees on those cards as well. The following are some of the fees that First Premier Bank charges….
*$45 processing fee to open the account
*Annual fee of $30 for the first year
*$45 fee for every subsequent year
*A monthly servicing fee of $6.25
So you would think that nobody in their right mind would ever sign up for such a card, right?
CNN is reporting that almost 700,000 Americans have signed up for the card.
In fact, CNN says that First Premier Bank gets between 200,000 to 300,000 new applications a month for the card, but that they only open about 50,000 new accounts each month.
Are there really this many Americans that are this gullible?
If Americans would just remember the “DBS” rule they would be so much better off.
DBS = Don’t Be Stupid
Do you know how long it would take to pay off a credit card with a 59.9 percent interest rate?
Federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations without getting a court order, a new document released under a government sunshine request shows.
The document, obtained by security researcher Christopher Soghoian, explains how so-called “Hotwatch” orders allow for real-time tracking of individuals in a criminal investigation via credit card companies, rental car agencies, calling cards, and even grocery store loyalty programs. The revelation sheds a little more light on the Justice Department’s increasing power and willingness to surveil Americans with little to no judicial or Congressional oversight.
For credit cards, agents can get real-time information on a person’s purchases by writing their own subpoena, followed up by a order from a judge that the surveillance not be disclosed. Agents can also go the traditional route — going to a judge, proving probable cause and getting a search warrant — which means the target will eventually be notified they were spied on.
The document suggests that the normal practice is to ask for all historical records on an account or individual from a credit card company, since getting stored records is generally legally easy. Then the agent sends a request for “Any and all records and information relating directly or indirectly to any and all ongoing and future transactions or events relating to any and all of the following person(s), entitities, account numbers, addresses and other matters…” That gets them a live feed of transaction data.
It’s not clear what standards an agent would have to follow to get a “Hotwatch” order. The Justice Department told Sogohian the document is the only one it could find relating to “hotwatches” — which means there is either no policy or the department is witholding relevant documents.
The Justice Department did not return a call for comment.
Every year, the Justice Department does have to report to Congress the numbers of criminal and national security wiretaps undertaken, as well as the number of National Security Letters issued. Tens of thousands of NSLs are issued yearly — most with gag orders that forbid ISPs or librarians from ever saying they have ever been served with such a subpoena.
But the Justice Department does not report or make public the number of times it got real time or historic cell phone location information, nor how often it is using these so-called “hotwatch” orders.
Photo courtesy of TheTruthAbout
By Ryan Singel
December 2, 2010