Jobs Rebound After Hurricane Disruptions, Unemployment Rate Falls to 17-Year Low

Jobs Rebound After Hurricane Disruptions, Unemployment Rate Falls to 17-Year Low

BY: Akin Oyedele

The US economy added 261,000 nonfarm payrolls in October, the most in over a year, rebounding after weakness in September that was caused by hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas.
Economists had forecast a median increase of 313,000 after an initially reported drop by 33,000 in September. The September figure was revised to a gain of 18,000 in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data released Friday.
Restaurants, bars, and hotels made up much of the rebound in jobs, offsetting the decline in September that reflected disruptions from the hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The monthly report does not include Puerto Rico. The BLS data captured people who got paychecks for the month, and many employees in these industries weren’t paid when they were absent from work.
State-level data for September showed that Florida’s jobs market was affected the most by hurricanes, as payrolls declined by 127,000. It’s not certain that all those jobs were regained by the reference week for the October jobs report, which included the 12th day of the month.
“Hurricane job loss is in a given month (e.g., September) is typically followed by a bounce-back over the following three monthly payroll reports,” John Herrmann, a rates strategist at MUFG Securities, said in a note. That means the distortions may continue through the end of this year.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.1%, its lowest since 2000. The size of the workforce also shrank, indicating that the unemployment rate’s drop was caused by fewer people looking for jobs.
Average hourly earnings growth in October was flat (0.2% month-on-month expected), largely skewed by the number of workers in lower-paying jobs who returned to their jobs after the hurricanes. Earnings rose 2.4% year-on-year versus 2.7% expected.
“Today’s number is not a game changer from a market-participant standpoint,” said Tony Bedikian, the head of global markets at Citizens Bank. “It’s probably not from the Fed’s view as well. The market is still anticipating the likelihood of a December hike. Today’s number doesn’t sway that overall market view.”

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The First Back-To-School Spending Forecast is Out

The First Back-To-School Spending Forecast is Out

There is good news for retailers in a just-released 2017 back-to-school spending forecast.

Retail sales during the back-to-school shopping season of July and August 2017 will grow 4.0% over 2016, according to eMarketer’s forecast. Retail sales in the U.S. during those core months will reach an estimated $857.18 billion, accounting for 17.0% of total retail sales for the year.

E-commerce for the back-to-school season will grow 14.8% to $74.03 billion in 2017. That represents 8.6% of total back-to-school retail sales—online and offline—for the period, up from the 7.8% share last year.

“Ecommerce growth this year comes on top of a strong year in 2016, making it that much more impressive,” said eMarketer senior analyst Yory Wurmser. “Younger consumers that shop in preparation for going back to high school and college actually prefer shopping online, so ecommerce growth should continue for the foreseeable future.”

Five product areas play an outsized role during the back-to-school season:
Apparel and accessories
Books, music and video
Computers and consumer electronics
Office equipment and supplies
Toys and hobbies, including sporting goods

Back-to-school ecommerce sales in these core categories during July and August will exceed the quarterly growth rate for ecommerce overall at 15.8%, reaching $37.56 billion.

“Several core product areas are among the sectors with the highest ecommerce penetration,” Wurmser said. “Even apparel, which traditionally has been bought in stores, is increasingly moving online.”

eMarketer excludes home goods from its definition of core back-to-school product categories despite the big role that dorm shopping plays in back-to-school sales. Although important, home goods do not see a significant bump in sales during the season relative to other parts of the year, according to eMarketer.

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U.S. Consumer Comfort Just Reached Its Highest Level in a Decade

U.S. Consumer Comfort Just Reached Its Highest Level in a Decade
by Austin Weinstein

Americans’ confidence continued to mount last week as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reached the highest point in a decade on more-upbeat assessments about the economy and buying climate, figures showed Thursday.

Key Points

Consumer comfort index rose to 50.6 in the period ended March 5, the highest since March 2007, from 49.8
Measure has exceeded 50 just six times since April 2002
Gauge of economy advanced to 48.2, the highest since August 2001, from 46.8
Buying-climate measure rose to 44.5, the strongest reading since April 2002, from 43.7
Index of personal finances was little changed at 58.9 versus 59
Big Picture

Stock indexes near record highs and persistent strength in the job market have lifted the consumer comfort gauge in five of the last six weeks since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The report showed respondents view the buying climate as the most favorable in nearly 15 years, indicating household spending may rebound after a slow start to 2017. While sentiment has been particularly strong among those who vote Republican, the data also showed political independents were the most upbeat since July 2001.

The Details

Confidence among Americans with incomes above $100,000 cooled for the first time in six weeks, easing to 76.8 from a 78.7 reading that matched a record reached in 2006
Republicans’ sentiment exceeded that of Democrats by the most since September 2013
Sentiment rose in the South and Midwest; fell in the West and Northeast
Part-time employees were most confident since October 2015
Comfort among married Americans was highest in a decade

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Dow Hits All-Time High, Cracks 20,000 for the First Time Ever

Dow Hits All-Time High, Cracks 20,000 for the First Time Ever
BY: Adam Shell

The wait is finally over.

Dow 20,000 – a milestone that seemed out of reach and had a science-fiction feel to it at the 2009 market low when it traded at 6,547, 54% below its then-peak – is now a reality.

In a historic moment on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average eclipsed the milestone Wednesday for the first time in its 120-year history. The Dow jumped 155.80 points, or 0.8% to close at a record high of 20,068.51, and touched 20,082, during the day. The rally was broad, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 and the Nasdaq composite also closing at all-time highs.

It took the Dow, a stock gauge made up of 30 of America’s best-known blue-chip companies, just 64 calendar days to climb from 19,000 to 20,000, its second-fastest thousand-point sprint, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The climb from 10,000 to 11,000 back in 1999 took 35 days.

“It’s a nice mile marker,” says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Financial Partners.

The run to Dow 20,000 punctuates a massive 207% move from its bear market low in March 2009, marked by a final dash of more than 1,700 points, or 9.5%, since Election Day when Donald Trump’s surprise White House win and business friendly policy proposals set a rally in motion. The Dow flirted with 20,000 since mid-December, causing great frustration among investors. Dow 20,000-watch hit a fever pitch on Jan. 6 when it got within 0.37 points of the barrier, before dipping in eight of the next 10 sessions.

The breakthrough came just four trading days into Trump’s presidency, a whirlwind in which the billionaire has reaffirmed his commitment to strengthen the U.S. economy and create more jobs and higher wages for workers. Still, nearly half of Americans have not benefited from the so-called “Trump Rally,” which has generated more than $2.2 trillion in paper gains for the Wilshire 5000 Total Stock Index since Election Day. The reason: only 52% of Americans polled by Gallup last April said they “have money invested in stocks” — the lowest stock ownership rate in the 19 years Gallup has tracked the data and down sharply from 65% in 2007 before the financial crisis.

The Dow’s rewriting of the record books also kicks off a debate as to whether the new record marks the start of a new up leg for the nearly 8-year-old bull market, or whether it will mark an eventual market top as Dow 10,000 did in 1999, and usher in another long money-losing period.

To say anyone saw Dow 20,000 coming in early 2009 at the bottom of the worst market meltdown since the Great Depression would probably be telling a fib. On March 9, 2009, the day the Dow hit bottom, pessimism dominated. Chatter about Dow 5,000 – not Dow 20,000 or even Dow 10,000 — was making the rounds. “Dow 5,000? There’s a Case for It,” a Wall Street Journal headline declared.

The pessimists were wrong. The Dow, thanks to bailouts of banks, automakers and other companies engineered by the Obama administration, and unprecedented monetary stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve that enabled the economy to heal and U.S. companies to start making money again, was able to mount a comeback few Wall Street pros saw coming or thought possible.

Bulls are now betting on a better economy and a shift in the key market driver from low interest rates, to fiscal spending by the federal government to push stock prices higher.

“Our market indicators are pointing to a healthy advance and we recommend investing like this is a healthy advance,” said Ari Wald, a stock market analyst at money-management firm Oppenheimer. “Should Dow 20,000 bring sellers in, we expect it to be short-lived and to be followed by higher highs.”

Given that the Dow’s latest surge has been driven mainly by hopes that Trump’s plans to lower corporate taxes, reduce regulations on businesses and spend billions on infrastructure will be enacted and juice the economy, some Wall Street pros are urging caution, given that the stock market is no longer cheap.

“It can be very dangerous to get too caught up in the market’s euphoria about as-yet unfulfilled campaign promises,” says Michael Farr, president of money management firm Farr, Miller & Washington. The Dow’s surge the past two sessions, however, has been partly driven by Trump’s quick start in moving his agenda forward, but many details remain scant, Farr adds. “The trend is up for now, but know it won’t last forever.”

What’s more, market gains often stall near big, round numbers like Dow 20,000.

“Typically, major milestones have acted as ceilings,” says Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, “and for an index to break through convincingly takes a lot of energy.”

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Americans to Spread Holiday Cheer by Spending More Money and Shopping on Mobile This Year

Americans to Spread Holiday Cheer by Spending More Money and Shopping on Mobile This YearAmericans to spend an average of $908 on holiday gifts, up from $839 in 2015 76% of consumers shopping on mobile devices, significantly up from 58% last season
NEW YORK,  November 3, 2016 — 
The holidays may still seem a distant way out, but Americans are already crossing items off of their shopping lists. In fact, as of end-of-September, one-third (33%) of consumers say they have already started their holiday shopping, up significantly from 25% in 2015, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

When it comes to gifts, Americans expect to spend an average of $908, an 8% increase from last year ($839 in 2015), and among affluent consumers, the expected gift spend increases to an average of $1,513.
Across the board, the most popular gifts to give this year are:
• Gift cards (52% vs. 57% in 2015)
• Clothing and accessories (51% vs. 47% in 2015)
• Toys and games (50% vs. 44% in 2015)
“While consumers are spending more money on gifts this year, they are becoming savvier with how they spend their time shopping,” said Kartik Mani, Executive Vice President of Global Consumer Lending at American Express. “With our constant connection to technology, more Americans than ever before are using their mobile devices to help them make holiday purchases.”
More than 3 in 4 Americans (76%) are turning to their mobile devices for their holiday shopping, whether to browse, compare prices or view deals (vs. 58% in 2015). There has also been a significant increase (62%) in Americans planning to purchase and/or redeem e-gift cards on mobile devices this year (26% vs. 16% in 2015).

One-Stop Holiday Shopping
While mobile will play a major role in holiday shopping this year, virtually all consumers (94%) will turn to online, whether they’re researching, comparing prices, looking for hard-to-find gifts, or ultimately to make a purchase.
For the past four years, about 60% of consumers have preferred to make their holiday gift purchases online. The “go to” place for online holiday shopping are shopping networks, such as Amazon and eBay (65%), followed by superstores, like Target and Walmart (48%), which give consumers the convenience of “one-stop shopping” for everyone on their list.

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday
Though many consumers are getting to their holiday shopping earlier and earlier, Black Friday is still a major holiday for retailers and consumers alike. Fifty-three percent (53%) of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday this year, up significantly from 45% in 2015, and it is the highest level of participation since 2010 (the first year polled as part of this study). Not far behind, 50% of consumers have plans to shop on Cyber Monday, up slightly from last year (47%).

Hosting for the Holidays and Managing Stress
Holiday spending goes far beyond shopping for gifts. In fact, Americans expect to spend an average of $443 on holiday-related expenses this year (up 7% from $414 in 2015), like hosting and attending holiday parties, as well as decorating the home for the season. In particular, spending on decorations has increased 58% from 2015 ($185 vs. $117), and costs associated with attending a holiday party have increased 57% from 2015 ($119 vs. $76).
Despite all the joy and warmth that the holiday season brings, it can be a very busy and costly time for consumers. The amount of time consumers are devoting to holiday prep is up 25% (58 hours vs. 47 hours in 2015), which can include time spent at holiday parties, cooking, traveling to see family, and most of all, shopping for gifts (17 hours). Not surprisingly, seven out of ten consumers admit that they find the holidays to be stressful, which can mainly be attributed to shopping, budgeting, and entertaining.

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker
The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,540 adults, including the general U.S. population, an affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Ebiquity from September 14-19, 2016. The results have an overall margin of error of +/- 2.5 at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and
Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, Plenti rewards program, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, corporate card, business travel and corporate responsibility.

About Ebiquity
Ebiquity is a leading independent marketing analytics specialist. They provide objective data insights to major brands worldwide, helping them navigate the evolving marketing landscape to achieve business success. They work with over 80% of the world’s biggest advertisers and offer industry-leading services including Marketing Effectiveness, Multi-channel Analytics, Agency Pitch Management, Agency Contract Compliance, Digital Performance Measurement, and Media Auditing. Ebiquity employs over 900 people in 19 offices in 14 countries worldwide.

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TSG in the News: Gas Stations Fight Hackers – But They’re Going to Have to Pay for It

TSG in the News: Gas Stations Fight Hackers – But They’re Going to Have to Pay for It

By: Jon Marino

Hackers are dialing up the heat on gas stations, but business owners are about to start fighting back.
As U.S. retailers continue the nationwide rollout of payment terminals that accept EMV cards, which are chip-enabled debit and credit cards designed to better stamp out fraud, more than 150,000 convenience stores and gas stations will be the next leg of implementation.
Similar to last year’s deadline rush to update brick-and-mortar stores’ payment systems, it’s expected to cause headaches at the pump and at the register when upgrades begin over the next 12 months.
The deadline for installing payment technology is Oct. 1, 2017, but convenience store operators big and small are expected to begin setting up new systems in less than a year as gas stations get ready for the switch.
It’s going to cost stations and convenience stores about $6 billion, since upgrading the technology comes with a price tag as high as $17,000 per pump, according to Gray Taylor, executive director of industry group Conexxus. That has the potential to cut into the bottom line of small-business owners, who make up the majority of owners of U.S. gas stations and convenience stores.
“It’s an economic calculation for the merchant,” said Jason Oxman, CEO of The Electronic Transactions Association. “It’s a lot harder to replace a gas pump.”
Some U.S. retailers, notably small businesses, balked at the fall 2015 deadline to implement EMV technology at points of sale, because the payment terminals were costly to acquire. They run several thousand dollars, depending on the number of card processing machines. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa — the three entities that created the new standard for payment processing.
Gas stations and convenience stories will have to remove many pumps entirely to install new technology. Retrofitting existing pumps can cost more than $6,000, Taylor said. While it’s expected to cost more than the technology upgrades retailers faced, the loss of gas pumps may create delays for summer drivers next year.
That isn’t to say every gas station in the U.S. will be overhauling technology at once. Still other gas stations may opt to delay their EMV card readers until after the deadline’s passing — making them potentially vulnerable to hackers whose targets are becoming fewer — and likely setting them up for greater losses on identity theft.
At the same time they’re implementing the EMV chip technology, gas stations and convenience stores will also make the upgrade to mobile payments systems, meaning that they will not have to make any big overhauls in the future to accommodate cardless technology.
Gas stations and convenience stores are some of the last U.S. retailers to make the upgrade to the EMV card platform (some ATMs also have until Oct. 1, 2017, to make the technology switch). Because many hackers have been disrupted by retailers, they have increasingly targeted convenience stores and ATMs lacking the security measures, experts said.
“From a criminal perspective, that window of opportunity is shrinking,” said Jared Drieling, business intelligence manager at payment data analysis firm The Strawhecker Group. “There’s going to be a rush to get those updated.”

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You Recognize Mastercard. So Why Is It Changing Its Logo?

You Recognize Mastercard. So Why Is It Changing Its Logo?
By Michael Bierut

The Mastercard in your wallet just expired. You can still use it—but it doesn’t look right anymore, because the company just revamped its look. No more CamelCase; it’s just “Mastercard” now (and in some cases “mastercard,” but we’ll get to that). The logo still has the overlapping red and yellow circles and sans-serif font, but all the elements are slimmer, flatter, less fussy.
You might be thinking: Why bother? You’re one of more than 2.3 billion people who carry the company’s cards, and in Mastercard’s internal tests, more than 80 percent of survey participants identified those circles as its brand. It was familiar. It worked. “This is really one of the most broadly distributed and most widely seen marks in the world,” says Michael Bierut, who designed the new branding with Pentagram partner Luke Hayman. Between them, the acclaimed designers have revamped identities for everyone from Verizon to New York Magazine to Hillary Clinton.
But no matter who’s doing the rethinking, Mastercard’s indelible identity is the kind companies generally prefer to leave alone—especially businesses that handle money. “People just don’t trust financial services,” says John Paolini, head of design at Sullivan, a branding agency that has worked with banks and finance companies. Consistent branding is one way banks and credit cards build trust with their customers. Change is scary.
Change is also constant. Like many 21st-century financial institutions, Mastercard’s business is about more than credit cards. It’s also an online payment platform, a digital wallet, and a technology company. So the branding has to be flexible, too. “It needs to thrive in a digital space,” says Cindy Chastain, head of Mastercard’s customer experience and design. “It’s simplified. It’s modernized and optimized for relevance in an increasingly digital world.”
Translation: Companies want their logos to look good everywhere you encounter them—on a billboard, a laptop screen, a smartwatch, or a phone. The challenge for Bierut and Hayman was to update Mastercard’s logo without throwing out decades of brand recognition. “I think it’s incumbent on us as designers to get out of the way and not try to be clever and get our fingerprints all over it, but just let this powerful stuff do its work,” Bierut says.
So they went with history. The circular elements date all the way back to the company’s logo when it was called Interbank, in 1966. It’s also got the lowercase letters from 1968’s Master Charge logo; the overlapping, rather than interlocking, colors from 1968 and 1979; the vibrant color palette of the ’90s; and the dissociated name (or, in design-speak, “wordmark”) from 2006. You might not recognize that corporate logo, because they didn’t use it on cards.
“We were very enthusiastic about the 1979 version, especially the circular structure of the typography,” says Bierut. “Each letter contains a curve that’s a portion of a circle.” (Even the “m” and “t”—Mastercard has always had a thing for circles.) “It was a godsend because we were actively on the hunt for a typeface that was available in a lot of different weights, that was based largely on a circle, and that looked clear and simple and readable,” Bierut says. the typeface, FFMark, “looks frictionless in a way. We were delirious when we started using it—just the way it pulled everything together.”
It’s like graphic designers are always saying: Complexity often hides behind a veneer of simplicity. The logo needed to work on both black and white backgrounds, so they had to calibrate the colors so that the yellow stood out on white but the red didn’t disappear into black. “We probably did hundreds of tests to get this exactly right,” Beirut says.
Whether it works is as unsure a thing as anything else in business. “There was a time when the role of identity was to be distinctive, to simply stand out,” says Chris Moody, chief design officer at brand consultancy Wolff Olins. “Today it also has to be channel agnostic, be able to partner well and be useful. The stripped down approach may do the latter but will it do the former?”
Bierut’s confident. “To get to something that’s really fundamental is really good,” he says. Is it simple? Sure. But look at the peace sign, the smiley face, the Valentines heart. Besides, he says, not all brands have the permission to embrace this kind of minimalism—it takes a certain scale to make it work. “At the end of the day Mastercard has no interest in being famous for being the company that has the really intricate, clever tricky logo,” he says. The company just wants to be in everyone’s wallet. And on their phones. And everywhere else. Easy, right?

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Retail Sales Rise More Than Forecast as U.S. Consumers Spend

Retail Sales Rise More Than Forecast as U.S. Consumers Spend
By: Victoria Stilwell

Boeing Co. is nearing a $4 billion deal with Russia’s largest air-freight company that would help extend the life of the iconic, hump-nosed 747 jumbo jet amid waning demand for four-engine aircraft, people close to the transaction said.

The U.S. planemaker is in advanced talks with AirBridgeCargo Airlines and its Moscow-based parent, Volga-Dnepr Group, to convert a year-old commitment into more than 10 firm orders for 747-8 freighters, two of the people said. The agreement could be announced as soon as the Farnborough Airshow next month in England, according to four people briefed on the deal, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential.

The deal would provide a crucial lifeline for the “Queen of the Skies” as Boeing tries to preserve production until the air-cargo market revives or shipping companies start to replace aging wide-body fleets. The 747 freighter, prized for a hinged nose that allows large cargo to be loaded at the front, is Boeing’s second-most expensive commercial jet, with a list price of $379.1 million. Buyers typically negotiate discounts.

Converting commitments to firm orders starts the process of allocating manufacturing resources and production slots to build the planes.

Boeing rose 2.6 percent to $133.13 at 9:37 a.m. in New York. The gain was the biggest in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which climbed 1.4 percent in a global rally fueled by signs that the campaign to keep the U.K. in the Europe Union was gaining strength.

A representative of Volga-Dnepr declined to comment on the talks, but said the airline plans to take all 20 jumbos it committed to last year. A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.
Airline Shift

Sales have dwindled for Boeing’s four-engine 747 and the Airbus Group SE A380 superjumbo jetliner as airlines have shifted long-range travel to more-efficient twin-engine models like Boeing’s 777. Boeing had just 22 unfilled orders for the 747 through May, according to its website. The planemaker halved annual output of its largest commercial jet to six planes in January, citing declining sales.

The potential Russian savior for the 747 — which brought long-range travel to the mass consumer market when it was introduced by Pan American World Airways in 1970 — isn’t just a Boeing customer. Volga-Dnepr also transports large aircraft segments for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner from suppliers to the planemaker’s factories.
‘White Tails’

At the Paris Air Show last June, Volga-Dnepr signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 20 of the 747-8 freighter. The shipping company took delivery in November of the first two aircraft, so-called white tails built for other customers whose orders fell through.

The Russian freight hauler confirmed it is the unidentified buyer for two of the four jumbo freighter orders Boeing recorded in March, saying the planes will be delivered later this year. The first of those two 747s has been repainted with the livery of CargoLogicAir Ltd., a Volga-Dnepr subsidiary.

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No purchase is too tiny for today’s debit-card users — right, millennials?

By Lauren Zumbach

Do you roll your eyes in the checkout line when someone pulls out a card to pay for a candy bar or pack of gum? Get used to the feeling.
While 58 percent of Americans still use cash for small purchases, a growing share say they whip out a credit or debit card even when spending less than $5, according to a survey of 616 people with major credit cards.
About 38 percent of people surveyed said they used credit or debit cards for small purchases, up from 33 percent in 2014, the survey found.
“Every sign seems to indicate we’re moving farther and farther away from cash, and it seems like things like mobile payments will only end up accelerating that,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at

For consumers — particularly millennials who didn’t grow up with the habit of carrying cash like their parents or grandparents — the convenience of cards is hard to beat, said expert Bob Sullivan.
According to the survey, 46 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they used debit cards for small purchases, 18 percent used credit cards and only 36 percent used cash.
“There used to be a stigma to using plastic to make small purchases, but that’s clearly gone,” Schulz said.
Some credit-card experts said the shift away from cash isn’t a bad thing, but that the survey results suggest some spenders aren’t picking the right kind of card. The growth in the share of Americans using plastic for small purchases between 2014 and 2016 came entirely from people using debit cards, while the share using credit cards to pay for items under $5 was flat at 11 percent, according to the survey.
Millennials’ preference for debit cards could be driving some of that growth, Schulz said. Many already have student loan debt, came of age in a recession and don’t want to take on a new kind of debt with credit cards, he said.
But treating a debit card like cash is “generally a terrible idea,” said Sullivan, who advocates keeping them tucked in a wallet except during ATM withdrawals.
Although consumer-protection measures have made it harder to get hit with a fee for overdrawing a bank account, “the $5 hamburger that can cost $40 is still a real risk,” Sullivan said.
Fraudulent transactions can also be more problematic with debit cards than credit cards, experts said. A fraudulent credit-card charge doesn’t need to be paid immediately, and companies usually reverse disputed transactions, while a customer whose debit card is targeted may be liable for a portion of the fraudulent charge and doesn’t have access to stolen money until the case is resolved, said Sean McQuay, credit-card expert for NerdWallet.
Debit-card users may also be missing out on rewards, experts said. An increasingly competitive credit-card market has made rewards programs more lucrative than usual for customers who don’t carry a balance, while debit cards with rewards are increasingly rare, Schulz said.
Even if the dollar amount a typical customer earns in rewards isn’t huge, as long as someone pays the card in full every month, “it’s essentially a debit card that also gives you rewards,” McQuay said.
Sullivan said consumers should be wary of making small charges on either type of card, since it can make it harder to stick to a budget.
“When people thoughtlessly swipe, swipe, swipe, it’s less tangible and they often don’t understand how much they’re spending,” he said.
Lots of small charges can also make it harder for customers to spot fraudulent transactions.
A “bad guy” with a stolen card might make a small purchase to test that the card works before racking up big charges, Schulz said. Sullivan said some skip big purchases entirely, hoping many $10 or $20 fraudulent charges will go unnoticed over time.
But others said putting even tiny purchases on credit cards can be a smart idea.
While some people might struggle to keep spending in check when they can’t see a shrinking stack of bills in their wallet, others might find the record of purchases that comes with a credit card helps them budget, McQuay said.
Small, everyday purchases add up more quickly than big-ticket items, so customers whose credit cards offer rewards and don’t carry a balance are missing out by not charging those items, he said.
And despite worries about credit- and debit-card fraud, both offer more protections than cash, which once stolen is nearly always gone for good, Schulz said.
Experts said they expect the greenback may keep losing market share to plastic, mobile and online payments, but that doesn’t mean it’s going away.
“Merchants still pay fees for debit- and credit-card acceptance,” McQuay said. “For the foreseeable future, cash will be part of the mix because of the cost of accepting anything else.”

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61% of Merchants Still Store Unencrypted Payment Card Data

61% of Merchants Still Store Unencrypted Payment Card Data
OREM, Utah, Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/

Businesses continue to struggle with the prohibited storage of unencrypted customer payment data. In its fifth study on unencrypted card data, SecurityMetrics’ patented card discovery tool PANscan® found that 61% of businesses store the unencrypted 16-digit sequence on the front of credit cards, also known as the Primary Account Number (PAN).

In the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 3.0, merchants are instructed that, “Protection methods such as encryption, truncation, masking, and hashing are critical components of cardholder data protection” in PCI DSS Requirement 3.

And yet in six years, PANscan has found more than 1.4 billion unencrypted card numbers on business networks. Fortunately, in the past few years, the amount of merchants storing unencrypted card data has gone down from 63% to 61%.

The study revealed that PANscan scanned 276,584 GB of data on 4,703 computers and found:
•A total of 213,930,199 unencrypted payment cards
•61% of businesses store unencrypted PAN data, the same percentage as 2015’s study
•10% of businesses store full magnetic stripe data, including PIN, CVV, service code, expiration date, cardholder name, and PAN
•An average of 45,488 payment cards per computer

“The trend is encouraging in general, but there is still a long way to go,” said Bill Davis, Director of Product Management at SecurityMetrics. “It surprises me that track data continues to be a problem. That’s the Holy Grail for hackers.”

Card data discovery tools like PANscan simplify the process of identifying and directing users to unencrypted card data. View the infographic ( to learn more about the study, or contact a SecurityMetrics representative at or 801.705.5665 to learn more about PANscan.

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