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Why Does the Younger Generation Lack “Credit” Awareness


These days, credit cards are used by Americans of all ages and from a wide range of backgrounds in order to provide a financial lifeline or an emergency backup. They are also used for ease and convenience by many. Even younger people such as students are now able to get credit cards so that they can enjoy the ease of convenience having a credit line and being able to use plastic.

However, a recent report has suggested that many younger people lack awareness and knowledge when it comes to credit card use, and this is something that poses real financial dangers to them. The research was carried out by Experian, which surveyed a number of younger consumers on credit cards and credit ratings.

Many mistakes leading from lack of knowledge

According to an official from Experian, this lack of knowledge that many younger consumers have when it comes to credit cards is resulting in them making costly mistakes when it comes to using plastic. She said that there were a number of common mistakes and problems that were stemming from this lack of awareness and that these could ultimately affect younger cardholders over the longer term as well as in the short term.

One of the mistakes that younger people tend to make when it comes to using credit cards is not even knowing the credit limit on the card. This means that they are more likely to exceed the credit limit on the card, which in turn will result in costly fees being added to their balance as well as a black mark on their credit file. Around 30 percent of those polled said that they had maxed out their cards because they did not know what the limit was.

Another key issue that has arisen from this lack of knowledge is failure to understand how interest rates and charges work. Without this knowledge, younger consumers are more likely to be hit with costly interest charges, which will bump up their balance and increase their debt levels. Many did not know that they could avoid interest by paying off their balance in full and others did not know that there was a higher charge for cash advances than for purchases.

An expert from Experian said that younger consumers needed to be aware that failing to look into the finer details of credit card use could have a profound effect on their credit score, which in turn could impact on their financial future. However, she added that many of those polled also had a lack of awareness when it came to how credit scoring worked and the importance of maintaining a good credit rating.

Bad Credit Loan Lenders Face Operation Choke Point Lawsuit

Department of Justice

United States regulators are being accused of requesting financial institutions to cease serving certain bad credit loan lenders as part of an anti-fraud campaign called “Operation Choke Point.”

Operation Choke Point is an initiative started by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013 to circumvent access to payment systems by companies that have been identified as high-risk or fraudulent in nature. However, opponents of the endeavor say it’s a program that simply targets businesses that the Obama administration does not like.
Payday loan lenders may be one of them.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington, D.C ruled Friday that the Community Financial Services Association of America, a main industry trade group representing payday lenders could file claims against the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The judge warned the main trade group could accuse the U.S. regulators of violating its members’ due process rights.

Advance America and Cash Advance Centers, which have more than 2,400 offices and are plaintiffs, allege that defendants had installed “back-room pressure” on banks to help shut their doors. According to documents, they say more than 80 banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Capital One Financial Corp and Bank of America Corp, have ended relationships with payday lenders due to the crackdown.

Bad credit loan stores lend funds through money they borrowed from financial institutions.

The judge threw out claims that said there were violations of federal administrative procedure law.

“Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that their liberty interests are implicated by defendants’ alleged actions and that the alleged stigma has deprived them of their rights to bank accounts and their chosen line of business, so as to state a claim for violation of constitutional due process,” Kessler wrote.

When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its series of proposals to curtail the payday loan industry and adopt a number of reforms, President Obama showed his support for the measures. The proposed regulations include capping interest rates and mandating lenders to ensure borrowers repay their online loans. The CFPB believes its new rules would end so-called payday debt traps.

“As Americans, we don’t mind folks making a profit,” Obama said earlier this year in Alabama. “But if you’re making that profit by trapping hardworking Americans in a vicious cycle of debt, then you need to find a new business model. You need to find a new way of doing business.”

Over the next several months, we could see Congress introduce legislation and debate the merits of CFPB’s proposals. This past summer, CFPB officials have been meeting with many states across the country to gather feedback and gage public support. Florida has been a fierce opponent of the rules as they say their model strikes the right balance.

The case is Community Financial Services Association of America et al v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp et al, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 14-00953.

Apple Under Fire In India Over iPhone Brand Name


India is one of the fastest growing market in the world at the moment, and has perhaps the fastest growing tech industry in the world, especially in the software division. India is now the focus of most tech companies, including Google, Microsoft (especially Microsoft), and Apple, all of which are adamant to take advantage of the booming industry. However, Apple is now facing a roadblock in the industry, as the company has come under fire by a local smartphone manufacturer over the iPhone brand name rights, hampering Apple’s initiative to double its smartphone sales in the region.

iVoice Enterprises, the company bringing forward the case against Apple Inc., filed the complaint at the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) based in Chennai against the iPhone maker. According to the rectification filing, iVoice Enterprises has requested the board to remove Apple’s trademark associated with the iPhone, as it exists in the Indian Trademark Registry. The filing, if given in iVoice’s favor, would disallow Apple from using the iPhone trademark in India, both registered and of a pending nature.

The clash arised due to the fact that iVoice wished to release a cheap yet high-tech smartphone in India under the brand name ‘iFon’, which, in tone and style, resembles that used by Apple’s iPhone in the country. Due to the fact that Apple has already registered the trademark in relevant authorities of the country, iVoice cannot release its brand until the Apple-owned rights are revoked and assigned to iVoice.

According to reports, Apple failed to respond to the filing made by iVoice to the IPAB, which it rectified by paying ‘late fee’ to the board in order to submit a response. Details of the response, however, have not been released by either IPAB or Apple Inc. itself.

But iVoice is highly confident the case will go in its favor, considering the fact that the company has made it publicly known its plans to further its IPR lawsuit against Apple Inc. According to an iVoice spokesperson, the company would now also be pursuing against one of Apple’s most crucial pending Trademark, the one that deals with iPhones being sold with the Apple Logo.

This poses extreme inconvenience to Apple Inc., as the company looks to the Indian market as one of its most lucrative one in the world, losing which will result in a heavy setback for the company. However, Apple Inc. seems calmer than usual in dealing with a seemingly serious matter, which, according to some experts, is probably due to the fact that companies as big as Apple Inc. face such opposition at regular intervals.

However, most experts see this as a failing battle for Apple in all probability, as the company has lost out a couple of time before over Trademark rights in international markets. Apple lost the iPhone trademark to Brazil IGP Electronica. The company lost a case against Schenzhen Proview Technology in China over the ‘iPad’ trademark, losing out $60 million in order to settle the dispute.

Consumers Warned of Online Payday Loan Sites


According to a recent warning issued by CFPB industry, consumers should take caution in responding to ads that appear on related websites. A large number of these websites offer payday loans online at an interest rate of 650%. So, if you have taken 100$ loan, your interest would be $30. A survey done by CFA says – that consumers which provide sensitive financial information over online servers are at more risk zone as banks can misuse this information and its security is not assured with a private lending company. Jean Ann Fox, the director of consumer protection believes that payday loans are a costly choice for people looking to ease their financial burden through their payday check.

If a payday loan repayment is after two weeks of receiving the loan, the interest for $500 loan would be $150, so automatically $650 would be withdrawn from the borrower’s account. As part of this survey, many payday lenders were found automatically renewing the loans when the borrower’s bank account had insufficient funds. In some cases, lenders and banks, both impose an additional charge in the name of ‘insufficient funds’ on the borrowers. The online payday loans advertise their services through emails, online search, paid ads and referrals.

Generally, these lenders request information like, social security number, bank account number, employer information and sensitive personal information through an online application. The signed paperwork is deposited into the lender’s office along with proof of recent pay cheque.

“The payday loans are a risky financial decision as these require sending sensitive financial information to unknown lenders over an insecure internet connection” – told Ms. Fox. The payday loan is a dangerous choice for consumers already facing scarcity of cash. On doing a survey of 100 internet payday lenders, CFA found that loans as high as $25,000 were available with the minimum amount being $500. The most frequently used interest rate was $25 on $100.

The time for repaying the loan is borrower’s next payday, which can also be shorter than two weeks making the interest rate rise up to 650% annual. Only 38 internet loan providers declared the annual interest rates to prospective borrowers before filling and submitting the application form. Many lenders were found guilty of automatically renewing loans without client’s consent. After many such renewals, borrowers cannot simply repay their pending loan amount without taking some extra measures. CFA has urged borrowers to seek credit counselling and legal assistance in specific payday loan cases.

Google Drones Will Be Airborne By Year End


Reports have been circulating the web for quite a while now regarding the development of drones by Google Inc. Now, it has been revealed by the company itself that it would conduct tests for its first-ever drones sometime this year. The move has been made possible only recently, when Google Inc. took over Titan Aerospace, a manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The company most known for running the most famous search engine giant on the internet, Google Search Engine, has undertaken many developmental projects in recent years that deal with technology at a much larger scale than the scale of development done by its competitors such as Apple Inc. Google Inc. is currently working on developing technologically advanced systems for generating electricity, agriculture, medical health care, education, and travel, to name a few.

The drone technology, however, seems more in line with technological development for a military cause than a domestic one, an idea that Google Inc., however, abhors. So, what else does Google Inc. expect to gain from the drones at all?

According to the company, the drones have been designed to act as atmospheric satellites, and will be used by the company to spread the internet to those remote areas where it is impractical to establish ground-based network infrastructure. Analyzing the scope of its drone technology, Google estimates the satellites would be able to provide internet access to 4 billion people all over the world who currently remain disconnected from the cyber world due to inaccessibility of the internet.

Google SVP for Products, Sundar Pichai, also called the Titan drones ‘similar’ to the Project Loon the company undertook in 2013. Project Loon incorporated the use of balloons to provide aerial internet access to certain parts of New Zealand where internet access was not available. So far, the project has launched 30 balloons into New Zealand’s airspace, all of which are functional. Pichai hopes that the Titan drones will also be just as successful, considering the fact that the project is transitioning from one stage to the other very similarly to the pattern that was followed by Project Loon.

The drone technology being developed by Google for this purpose is solar-powered, so that it can sustain itself in higher altitudes and hence provide internet access to a wider span of area. The drones are not actually satellites, however, they will be able to ‘beam’ the internet signals onto a large area, allowing receptors to harvest and provide the service to the general public, much like how the Sky provides its satellite TV services.

The best thing about Titan drones, according to Pichai, is their mobility. In times of crisis or political unrest causing disconnection from the internet in a particular area, Titan drones can easily be relocated to provide internet access to such areas.

Ultimately, Pichai explained, Google aims to develop a service system, partnering with local internet service providers, which would allow users to connect to the internet wherever they are without worrying about only connecting to their subscribed internet service, providing for a hassle free internet connectivity system.

The Titan drone technology is expected to be launched by the end of this year, sources claim, although no confirmation has been received from Google in this respect.

Private Employers Add 212,000 Jobs to U.S. Economy

employment rate

The labor force may be on the road to revving up as United States businesses continued to add jobs in the past month, which could give the Federal Reserve renewed confidence to raise interest rates this summer.

According to the February ADP Small Business Report, private employers hired 212,000 workers last month, and since the end of 2013, businesses have created 2.8 million jobs. Although this is still a positive sign of the overall workforce, economists had projected a jobs gain of 220,000.

Small businesses were great contributors to the jobs numbers. The report noted that companies with one to 19 employees added 39,000 jobs, while enterprises with 20 to 49 employees produced 55,000 jobs.

When it came to down the sector, service providing had the edge compared to goods producing. The former created between 31,000 and 79,000 (based upon one to 49 staff members) and the ladder hired between 7,000 and 15,000 employees.

Franchise jobs, meanwhile, also made a dent in the employment statistics. As part of ADP’s National Franchise Report, about 29,000 private sector franchise jobs were added to the economy.

“Franchise job gains in February were up slightly from January and continued above the twelve-month average,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute, in a statement. “Employment increased despite the fact that Restaurant jobs were down by almost half from last month.”

The ADP’s jobs report is usually an indicator as to what economists could expect from the Department of Labor, which is scheduled to release its jobs data at the end of this week. According to the USA Today, economists are predicting 240,000 additional payroll jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent – it should be noted, however, that jobs reports are usually revised upwards or downwards two months after its initial release.

In any case, the forecasts would see both numbers down from 257,000 job creations and a 5.7 percent jobless rate.

Visa Partnerships Creating Growing In-car Commerce


Step aside e-commerce and mobile commerce in favor of in-car commerce? This is the latest move that Visa’s partnerships are hoping will be the next big thing in the world of commerce.

Visa announced it is collaborating with Accenture and Pizza Hut to allow consumers to purchase goods from the comfort and convenience of their cars, a business measure that will be featured at the Mobile World Congress this week.

The three brands are partnering to establish a connected car that would be installed with Visa Checkout, an online payment service. Also, the trio will work on cellular connectivity, Bluetooth Low Energy and Beacon technology installed at Pizza Hut restaurants, which will inform staff of when the customer has arrived and is ready to pick up their order.

In addition, Visa noted that an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) will be used to permit the drive to order their item and authenticate the purchase as they keep both hands on the steering wheel.

Accenture will be the one to manage the system integrations. The companies expect to test out the in-car purchase experience in Northern California this spring for three months. Visa says this is an important development because of the exponential growth in the connected car market.

“By 2020 it is estimated that more than 250 million vehicles worldwide will include some form of embedded connectivity,” said Bill Gajda, Visa’s senior vice president of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, in a statement. “As the number of connected cars on the road increases, so does our ability to bring secure online commerce to consumers everywhere. We initially focused on a specific use case – ordering a meal on your way home – but we envision a world where consumers can seamlessly make many of their everyday purchases from the car.”

Gajda’s estimations isn’t much of an exaggeration. A previous Gartner marketing report projected the number of Wi-Fi enabled vehicles to rise to approximately 150 million by 2020.

Soon, motorists could very well buy a box of pizza or purchase cups of coffee while they’re in the middle of a traffic jam.

Google Is Breaking Up Google+


After many failed attempts to revive the almost-dormant social networking service Google+, Google Inc. has finally decided to break it up into smaller chunks that it hopes will generate more demand and, hence, revenue, as has been announced by the Vice President of Google+, Bradley Horowitz.

Google+, Google’s version of Facebook-like social networking website, has received much criticism ever since its inception in 2011. The company has built upon the framework set three years ago, however has failed to garner much demand for the service from the general public, thanks to the ever-increasing demand of Facebook, the largest social network on cyber net, which hosts around a billion people on it at the time.

According to Horowitz, some specialized services offered in Google+, that have garnered much attention from the general public, will be separated from the social networking service, and be operational and accessible by the public as standalone services. The two most demanded services on Google+ are “Photos” and “Streams”, and these are what Horowitz wishes to continue with as Google+ slowly fades away into the background.

This indicates that Google+ will cease to exist altogether, and what will remain are these two services. Industry analysts have applauded this move by Horowitz, calling it a step in the right direction to save Google from any further embarrassment being caused by Google+. The service has been termed as ‘dormant’ by many industry experts, who term Google+ as existing for the sake of existing. Some experts also call Google+ the worst project put forward by the company, considering the indestructible market dominance that Facebook enjoys in the market.

The two services that Horowitz plans to offer from the remains of Google+ are unique in their functions, and this fact will garner Google Inc. much reward when the services are officially launched in the market as standalone ones. “Photos” is especially popular among the general public, as it offers built-in tools to edit the picture before posting it on social networking websites. The service is expected to support all the major social networking websites, including Facebook, allowing users to edit their pictures and post it on their desired service without any extra work.

No official announcement about the ultimate fate of Google+ has been made by Google Inc. However, Sundar Pichai, the SVP of products at the company, has intimated that it will cease to exist, stating that the service will be split up into services that will better be able to cater to the needs of the users. In a statement given to the press, Pichai said that the company will increasingly “focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas” in the future.

Another Google service that may be next to be split off into pieces is Google Hangouts, Google’s much demanded service on all platforms. Although the service is doing excellently in the market, it may not be able to sustain its demand in the market due to increasing competition, some experts have predicted. However, for now, Hangouts remains as it is, and Google+ is witnessing its final days.