Twitter account @NeedADebitCard collects pictures of debit and credit cards that people post to Twitter. Seriously? I’m guessing these people aren’t on top of their Facebook privacy settings, either, which makes them sitting ducks for identity thieves.
People, don’t be stupid. If you have to take pictures of your debit and credit cards, put them in the same place you keep your sex tapes.
Tonight, I received the following official-sounding message from “the Transaction Review Department of Wells Fargo Bank” asking me to “verify recent transactions on [my] credit Visa card.” While I do have a Wells Fargo business card, this message doesn’t sound quite right. First, I’ve never heard anyone refer to a “credit Visa card.” Second, as far as I can tell, Wells Fargo does not have a “Transaction Review Department.” Third, there are no unusual charges to my account—by me or anyone else.
I haven’t called the number, because I’m pretty sure this is a phishing attempt, and I’m not interested in giving the phisher in question any verification that it has the correct phone number.
It is just good enough that many people would probably respond. I’m quite certain those who respond will be asked for their account information, and would find their cards maxed shortly after.
Be on the lookout for scams like this. Don’t believe anything that doesn’t sound right, and don’t ever give out your account information over the phone.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just released a prototype 2-page credit card agreement (PDF) that anyone can understand. This is exactly why the credit card industry will never adopt it.
In consumer transactions, knowledge is power. If you could actually understand the terms and conditions of an account, see them beforehand, and compare them to other credit cards, you might be able to make intelligent decisions about which card to use. That doesn’t serve the banks at all. Instead, since the banks are required to disclose that information, they do it in 13-page agreements in unreadable 8-point font, using blocks of boldface and all-caps text for the most important parts to discourage you from reading them.
The point is to make it difficult, if not impossible, to compare cards and make intelligent decisions about credit. Unless the CFPB has the power to force banks to use this disclosure form, they never will.
Gerri Willis from Fox Business News did just that. On the air.
Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com
Turns out SunTrust is also planning to add a monthly debit card charge. If you’re banking with Bank of America, SunTrust, or Wells Fargo, are you sticking with your bank, or are you planning to switch to a bank that will continue to let you use your debit card without nickel-and-diming you?
The Fed decided to expand the CARD Act’s limit on fees charged to credit card holders during the first year of an account to include fees charged before the account was opened, and the banks used to halt enforcement by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And so far, the banks are winning.
As Consumer Law & Policy Blog’s Brian Wolfman points out, “This decision may be the first addressing the validity of a rule enforced by the CFPB. No doubt there will be many more, as the banks try to extricate themselves from as many CFPB regs as possible.”
Intellectual property is the new legal battlefield, as one industry after another lawyers up to try to make money from its IP, instead of making money from, say, a product people want to buy.
Righthaven, for example, has been running around suing bloggers and website owners who use quotations of copyrighted works. This is fair use, but Righthaven doesn’t care. Which is why it just got slapped with an order to pay $34,045.50 in attorney fees. Trying to weasel out of the inevitable, Righthaven tried to argue that it shouldn’t have to pay attorney fees because its claims were frivolous in the first place. Right. Props to the Randazza Legal Group and J. Malcolm DeVoy for a well-deserved check.
Porn producer Mick Haig Productions has another approach. Read More ⇒
In the wake of the CARD Act, credit card interest rates are rising. This should not be a surprise, since the CARD Act forces lenders to put the true cost of a credit card front-and-center. Credit card issuers cannot advertise a low rate and then use fees to jack up the true cost of the card.
By forcing this sort of honesty, the CARD Act has exposed a secret: high interest rates aren’t the result of the market. If consumers know that a card has an interest rate of, say, 79.99%, they won’t pay it.
Read More ⇒
Minnesota debt collection defense attorney John Rossman wrote this breathless warning for debt collectors for InsideARM:
An army of Debtors—fully equipped with scripts drafted by consumer attorneys and recording devices—are using their telephones as weapons to wage war on unsuspecting Debt Collectors across our nation.
Rossman warns debt collectors that consumers are trying to “entrap” collectors and “trick” them into violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by asking the following questions:
Read More ⇒
Payoff amount is how much you would actually have to pay to satisfy the debt. It is not the same thing as the current balance that shows up on your statement, but is not necessarily the amount you owe. This is not obvious, but the difference between current balance and payoff amount is crucial when you are ready to pay off a debt.
Current balance means the amount you owe as of the date of the statement. As of the day after the statement, you owe more. In other words, if you are trying to pay off a credit card, and the statement says your balance is $514, you may not be able to bring your balance to zero by writing a check for $514. Instead, you would need to contact the lender to find out your payoff amount.
The payoff amount is really just a more-current balance number. But if you are trying to eliminate a debt, you need to pay it all off. If you just pay the current balance, you may be left with a few cents or dollars left in the account. Over time, that could become more than an irritation; it could become a significant obstacle to eliminating your debt.
So before you pay off a debt, call the lender to find out exactly how much you owe, and how much it will take to pay the debt off, in full.
Many retail stores constantly push you to sign up for a store card. They offer great discounts on your first purchase, and promise future discounts. They also charge interest rates of up to 29%, which means store charge cards are a terrible deal if you carry a balance.
But if you do pay off your balance every month, there are some great deals worth considering. Consumer Reports says Barnes & Noble, Gap, Banana Republic, Piperlime, Athleta, and Old Navy are worth a look. I’ve had a Macy’s charge card for years, because I often get extra discounts whenever the store puts on a sale.
Used responsibly, store charge cards can be a great deal. But at 29% interest, they can become a huge mistake very quickly. Pay them off every month, or cut them off and close your account.