Today’s banking system is failing middle-class Americans. Around 8.4 million U.S. households do not have a bank account, and nearly one in five households are underbanked. One of the biggest complaints low-income consumers have is that the overdraft fees and penalties charged by big banks whittle away the meager funds in their bank accounts. Unfortunately, the problem is not likely to improve as many banks, despite generating massive profits, are increasing their fees, closing branches, and laying off workers. Compounding the harms identified above, since 2008, 93 percent of branch closures have occurred in neighborhoods with a median income below the national average, which—unsurprisingly—only worsens socioeconomic inequality.
The scenario is all too familiar to thousands of District residents: while looking over a credit card bill, you notice a mysterious charge from a company or service you vaguely remember doing business with a year ago. Why do you keep getting charged for a cleaning service you only used once? If this sounds familiar, chances are that you are the unwitting victim of an automatic renewal clause.
NCL recently debuted the first issue of The #DataInsecurity Digest, a twice monthly publication curated by NCL's own, John Breyault, to deliver important consumer-focused data security news, policy and news analysis, and information about upcoming events directly to your inbox. Click here to subscribe.
In 2013, there were 614 data breaches that led to more than 550 million identities compromised. New data breaches means more identity theft and other fraud, and more consumers facing financial loss, great inconvenience, and a loss of trust in the marketplace. That is why NCL is working on the #DataInsecurity Project -- to raise awareness about the need for reforms aimed at better protecting consumer data.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which is a good time for consumers to take stock of their online safety habits and practices. Great tips and tricks for creating stronger passwords, taking advantage of two-factor authentication and learning to spot phishing scams and other cyber threats abound from organizations like the Federal Trade Commission, Stop. Think. Connect., and NCL’s own Fraud.org.
Millions of young people are arriving on the nation’s college campuses this month—finally, life without parents for the first time for many! Unfortunately, many of these young people will be entering the consumer marketplace with little understanding of how to navigate it successfully—credit cards? utility bills? rent? And even worse—many students may fall prey to scams targeting college students.
Let's say you're at the auto dealership, negotiating terms for your new car. At the next sales desk is a family whose income, credit score, and assets are identical to yours. When all is said and done, however, your loan costs $300 more than your fellow customer's. How come? Most likely, it's because you're African-American and your fellow customer is white. Wait a minute, isn't that illegal, you wonder? Well, sure, but how do you prove it?
This time of year, many parents are thinking about giving their college-bound children a credit or debit card to help pay for living expenses. Once they get to campus, many students may be shocked at the costs they encounter and be tempted to open their own credit card accounts. For these young consumers and their families, abiding by a few simple rules could help them avoid costly headaches down the road.
Have you run into problems with your health plan? You’re not alone! Half of all consumers experience problems with them, but fewer than 1 in every 10,000 tries to fight, or appeal, when a claim has been denied. But appealing a denied claim works—maybe more often than you’d think!
Debit cards are convenient and safer to carry than cash, and they're more widely accepted by merchants these days than personal checks. But just because they look and feel like a credit card doesn't mean they work exactly like one, and not understanding the differences could cost you.