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Why Your Credit Score Might Be Going Up

Change in way they're calculated will be more forgiving of medical debt

(Newser) - A modification to how one of the most common credit scores is calculated will mean better credit ratings for many Americans, reports the Wall Street Journal . Fair Isaac Corp. said yesterday that it won't place as much emphasis on medical debt when calculating consumers' FICO scores and will turn... More »

Rejected for a Loan? Blame Your Facebook Friends

Some startups using social data to assess loan risk

(Newser) - You're already concerned about your credit score; one day you may also have to be concerned about your Facebook friends—because a few tech startups are using social data when determining whether to loan you money. Lenddo checks out whether your Facebook friends list includes anyone who's ever... More »

S&P Downgrades Nation's Triple-A Rating

Agency delivers historic setback to U.S.

(Newser) - Goodbye AAA, hello AA+. In a rough milestone, S&P has downgraded the nation's Triple-A rating for the first time, reports the Wall Street Journal . The move came even though the Treasury Department pointed out a $2 trillion math error in the agency's debt projections that delayed but... More »

Money Trouble May Signal Alzheimer’s

Financial advisers ponder meaning of 'competence'

(Newser) - The first sign of Arthur Packel's Alzheimer's was the call from the homeowner's association asking for unpaid fees. As his mind began its long slide, it turns out, the first thing he did was simply stop paying bills. When his wife tried to pick up the slack, she found much... More »

Spill May Screw the Gulf, but It Won't Kill BP

Oil giant's profits are prodigious enough to pay for cleanup

(Newser) - If you've been up late worrying about BP , rest easy. Whatever the ultimate toll to the Gulf states, and indeed the nation, the still-gushing oil spill isn't likely to kill BP. The British firm may be shelling out $17.5 million per day in clean-up costs, but it averaged $93... More »

Next Year, You Might Actually Get a Raise

Ten jobs likely to benefit from the improving economy

(Newser) - Unsurprisingly, 2009 was a grim year for many an employee’s wallet, with 85% of big companies doing away with across-the-board merit pay, but 2010 already looks a lot brighter. More than half the companies who froze salaries this year tell Fortune they plan to defrost them next year. Here’... More »

Congress Extends Credit for First-Time Home Buyers

Also adds 20 weeks of jobless benefits

(Newser) - The House voted to extend and expand an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers as part of a stimulus expansion expected to inject $45 billion into the economy. The legislation, which passed the Senate yesterday, also extends unemployment benefits for 20 weeks and creates tax breaks for businesses... More »

Borrowers Ditch Banks, Turn to Peer Loans

Once modest industry will soon lend more than $5 billion annually

(Newser) - As the banking pendulum swings from reckless lending to impossible-to-get credit, people are increasingly turning away from institutions and toward each other for loans, reports the Washington Post. The shaky stock market has made the peer-to-peer market ideal for investors, while borrowers happily trade credit card debt for interest rates... More »

Banks Hit Poorest With $38B in Overdraft Fees

(Newser) - American banks will pull in $38.5 billion in overdraft fees this year, a record sum that's largely coming from pockets of the poorest and most indebted consumers. According to the Financial Times, banks hiked fees on overdrafts and credit cards as the financial crisis took hold; this year's take... More »

Credit Checks Trap Jobless in Financial Spiral

(Newser) - For many unemployed Americans, a new trend is keeping the prospect of a new job out of reach: detailed credit checks of prospective employees. Once used mostly for government positions, cheap credit checks are now routine at private employers seeking to cull huge applicant pools. Businesses say they're just... More »

Obama Pledges Credit Card Reform

Obama backs House bill limiting 'deceptive' practices

(Newser) - President Obama told senior executives of credit-card firms today that he supports congressional efforts to rein in some of their business practices, the Washington Post reports. Both the House and Senate are working on bills to codify new regulations by the Fed that restrict lenders’ ability to arbitrarily raise interest... More »

AmEx to Clients: Here's $300, Now Get Lost

Credit card firm looks to limit exposure

(Newser) - American Express is offering some of its customers $300 to pay their balance and close their accounts, Reuters reports. The firm has been hit with staggering losses, exacerbated by their expansion in recent years to less well-heeled customers. American Express declined to say how many customers had received the buyout... More »

Experian Cuts Access to Credit Scores

Consumers are about to know 33% less about their credit rating

(Newser) - Knowing their credit rating will become one-third harder for consumers as of tomorrow, USA Today reports. Experian, one of the three major companies that calculates credit scores, has canceled its deal with the company that provides the info to consumers, meaning millions will lose access to Experian's version of the... More »

Watch Out for These Economic Recovery Signs

Keep an eye out for slowing pasta sales

(Newser) - We knew the economy was toast when the GDP dropped 3.8% in the last quarter. But such data lags behind the real economy, writes Dan Kadlec in Time, so watch out for these indicators of a turnaround:
  • Home sales. They started the downturn, so any upswing is a good
... More »

Pfizer Snaps Up Wyeth for $68B

Merger would be largest pharma deal since GlaxoWellcome-SmithKline 2000 merger

(Newser) - The world’s largest drugmaker, Pfizer, is poised to become even more gargantuan after it agreed early this morning to buy rival Wyeth for $68 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal. In the first major merger to hit Wall Street in months, Pfizer will borrow $22.5 billion from four... More »

Feds' Cash in Hand, GMAC Kicks Credit Into High Gear

Automaker offering new, low financing options for consumers

(Newser) - Now that the Treasury Department has pumped $6 billion into GMAC, its lending arm, GM, along with its dealers, is rushing out new financing deals for credit-strapped consumers, the Wall Street Journal reports. “The minute the news hit, we began contacting customers,” said one Michigan dealer, whose employees... More »

Crisis Looms for Credit Cards

Soaring defaults could fell normally resilient industry

(Newser) - Credit cards may be the next industry to be pummeled by the financial crisis, Time reports. The charge-off rate—money that lenders don't think they'll collect—is set to hit 10% in 2009. That's double the rate of the last decade and amounts to $96 billion in unpaid debt. Typically... More »

Cash-Strapped Shoppers Remember Layaway

No-interest credit appeals to consumers

(Newser) - With consumers strapped and credit short, retailers are reviving an older kind of financing: layaway. Although the arrangement was considered obsolete when Wal-Mart closed its layaway department in 2006, retailers such as TJ Maxx, Goody’s, Marshalls and the Burlington Coat Factory have moved to offer the service, especially as... More »

China Embraces Credit Cards

Untapped market prompts banks to aggressively market plastic

(Newser) - Banks are moving to tap China’s lucrative market for credit cards, issuing millions in new plastic in recent years, the Los Angeles Times reports. There are about 100 million credit cards today in China, up from 3 million in 2003. And the market is still tiny, by American standards:... More »

Americans Tighten Belts for New Frugal Age

(Newser) - The credit crisis may force Americans to do something truly drastic: live frugally. Benjamin Franklin-style penny-pinching once defined America, but thrift has gone decidedly out of style in recent times, BusinessWeek reports. "I can't help the economy," says one recent convert to the new frugality. "I've... More »

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