Archive for April, 2016

What are the Best Store Credit Cards?

Posted on April 29, 2016 by Laura Lam

It may be tempting to sign up for a store credit card to get a quick discount, but you can get more out of your rewards – and avoid big interest charges – if you’re strategic.  If you’re a regular shopper at a store with a rewards card, opening a store credit card can be worth it if the rewards are enticing enough. “Instant savings on almost everything you buy is a must,” says Matthew Coan, owner of financial website Casavvy.com. He recommends looking for savings of at least 5%, because general rewards cards usually offer 1 or 2% off. If…

Some Merchants See Decline in Fraud with EMV

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Laura Lam

The new chip-enabled cards flowing into the U.S. marketplace have already made a dent in fraud, with some of the biggest merchants seeing a dip of more than 18% in counterfeit transactions, according to Visa.  Among the 25 merchants who were suffering the most instances of counterfeit fraud at the end of 2014, five that began processing credit and debit cards equipped with the new EMV technology saw those infractions fall 18.3% as of the final quarter of 2015, says Visa’s Stephanie Ericksen.  Meanwhile, five of those merchants who were not yet equipped to handle chip-enabled cards saw an increase in fraudulent transactions…

Chip Cards Still Causing Frustration

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Laura Lam

U.S. Credit-card networks began pitching chip cards years ago to protect against counterfeits, and merchants were supposed to join banks and payment processors by Oct. 1, or face liability for some fraudulent charges that occur in their stores. By the end of last year, only about 20% of terminals had been activated to process them, according to a Mercator Advisory Group report. In contrast, almost 60% of credit cards issued by banks are embedded with a chip. The expenses involved and longer transaction times have given many merchants pause in updating their systems. Retailers, from big-box chains to mom-and-pop stores, will spend a…

Banks Consolidate; Local Lenders Vanish

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Laura Lam

Where have all the bankers gone?  The continental lenders, with their corner branches – Wells Fargo and PNC, Citizens, TD and Bank of America – still compete with JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, and other branchless brands for Philadelphia’s corporate and mass consumer clients.  But the local banks that focused on local businesses and their owners have consolidated, to cut costs and squeeze profits from low interest rates and weak loan demand in this slow-growing region. BB&T, from North Carolina, has taken over National Penn and Susquehanna. Souderton- based Univest is absorbing Fox Chase Bank. Philadelphia’s East River Bank agreed to sell to Downingtown’s DNB.  Beneficial Bank, last of the multibillion-dollar banks once based in Philadelphia, made $93 million in…

March Bankruptcy Filings Show Decline from 2015

Posted on April 25, 2016 by Laura Lam

Total U.S. bankruptcy filings continue to decline year-over-year, falling 5% in the first calendar quarter (Jan. 1 – March 31) of 2016 from the same period in 2015, according to a news release from the American Bankruptcy Institute and data provided by Epiq Systems, Inc.  There were 195,565 bankruptcy filings in the first quarter of this year, compared to 205,851 in the first quarter of 2015. “The 186,357 total non-commercial filings recorded in the first calendar quarter of 2016 represented a 6% decrease from the 2015 total of 198,413. However, total commercial filings for the first three months of 2016…

The Wealthy Outlive Poor in Certain Areas

Posted on April 22, 2016 by Laura Lam

The poor in some cities – big ones like New York and Los Angeles, and smaller ones like Birmingham, Ala. – live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or have seen rising life expectancy in the 21st century. But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter. A new study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that people who make more money live longer, but where you live could make a…

Banks, Credit Unions Victims of $4M Cybertheft

Posted on April 21, 2016 by Laura Lam

Cyberthieves using malicious software discovered by IBM Security have stolen $4 million from business customers of two dozen financial services providers this month, according to IBM.  The software, called GozNym, infects devices when people it targets either click a link or open an email attachment. It remains inactive until users log into their bank accounts, when it is able to access and steal information. “The end result is a Trojan in the wild,” said IBM X-Force, IBM’s security research arm.  IBM said GozNym was in active use and that it would continue to monitor it. In terms of its current…

Small Business Loans from Big Banks Continue to Climb

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Saldutti Law

In a recent article by Crowdfund Insider, small business financial technology platform Biz2Credit revealed in their latest Small Business Lending Index that loan approval rates at big banks and institutional lenders have hit new highs in March 2016. In a separate article published by the New York Daily News, more NYC area small business owners and entrepreneurs turned to big banks for loans ahead of tax day as opposed to small banks. This is good news for big banks, lenders, and small businesses alike. It was also noted that small businesses and entrepreneurs are pursuing more traditional loans from big…

Delinquencies Decline as Economy Improves

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Laura Lam

The number of seriously delinquent mortgages reached its lowest level in over 8 years, helped by new job creation and higher wages, CoreLogic reported.  The national foreclosure inventory maintained its steady decline through February, falling 23.9% to about 434,000 homes, or about 1.1% of all homes, compared to the same period last year, according to CoreLogic’s National Foreclosure Report. It’s the lowest inventory total since November 2007. The number of completed foreclosures fell 10% to 34,000 over the same period.  The number of home loans at least 90 days past due fell by 19.9% to 1.3 million mortgages, or 3.2% of…

Lenders Need to Prepare for Cyber Attacks

Posted on April 19, 2016 by Laura Lam

The sudden ordinariness of corporate data breaches has led to feelings of helplessness inside the financial industry.  That sense of despair is apt to be particularly prevalent at smaller institutions, where the resources available to stave off sophisticated cybercrimes may not match the expectations of their regulators.  So what can a small firm do in the face of well-organized bands of hackers? Quite a bit, according to experts who spoke at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s recent annual technology conference.  Here are 4 steps that banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions can take to prepare for a digital attack. Write…