Hackers Go Upscale, Infiltrate Neiman Marcus Accounts

Hackers have gone from low-end to high-end retail, as luxury merchant Neiman Marcus became the latest to announce that it’s a victim of a data breach. This comes on the heels of a disclosure last month by Minneapolis-based discounter Target, which reported hackers gained access to payment card data on about 40 million credit and debit accounts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.  On Friday, Target updated its breach investigation, saying the names, mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers …

Want Your FICO Credit Score for Free?

So you want to know your credit score but you don’t want to pay for it? You may be in luck. Accessing your FICO score, which lenders use to judge creditworthiness and decide whether to grant you that loan or credit card, is getting a bit easier. Discover Financial Services is the latest credit card issuer to provide its customers with their FICO scores if they qualify for one of their cards, Bloomberg reports. “Discover it” cardholders will be the …

Shopping With Credit-Card Readers Attached to Smartphones

If my friend Beth’s recent holiday buying is any indication, shoppers are in for a more-connected experience. Last week, my 82-year-old buddy wanted to buy a platter at her church bazaar. She was met with a “newfangled credit-card” gadget. “The salesgirl told me to slide my credit card through a little square thing attached to her phone,” Beth told me.  “She said it was safe, I did it, I hope it was ok.” That small device called Square is a …

Older Patients Steered Into High-Interest Credit Plans

Consider this: An older patient visits the dentist. The treatment she needs is expensive and not covered by Medicare. So the dentist offers her financing, on the spot, through a credit card plan. She accepts and gets the work done right away. When she gets the first month’s bill, she’s stunned to learn that the financing plan carries an interest rate of 30 percent. That scenario, you might be surprised to learn, appears to be a growing trend in doctor’s …

The Constantly Moving Target of Debt Freedom

In my line of work as a professional cheapskate, a week rarely passes when I don’t receive a money-related press release or see a news item that leaves me shaking my head about people’s attitudes and behavior when it comes to money.  Adlai E. Stevenson said it 50+ years ago, but it’s apparently all the more true today.  Stevenson said:  “There was a time when a fool and his money were soon parted, but now it seems to happen to …

Don’t Get Snookered by Sneaky Fees

If you’re using credit and debit cards to pay for purchases – and let’s face it, who isn’t these days? – you’re probably paying hundreds of dollars in fees you didn’t even know about. These sneaky charges typically show up in your statement for things like a membership or subscription that automatically renewed without your authorization, or when a free two-week trial morphs into an ongoing membership that charges you each month (again without your permission), or when extra fees …