Jeremy Simon

Jeremy Simon

A Texas transplant enjoying live music, barbecue and everything else Austin has to offer, I spent most of my formative years in the Northeast. I graduated with an English degree from Vassar College, before taking a job with Thomson Financial in New York City, where I wrote about stock markets from the same building where Bud Fox worked in "Wall Street" (he strolled through the lobby, that is). Since moving to Austin, my writing career has included an internship in the editorial department of Texas Monthly and the chance to tackle freelance assignments for several local publications before taking a job as staff writer for CreditCards.com, where I worked from 2006-2011.

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Are you a mean, no-good jerk? Then you are more likely to have a good credit score.

According to a study released Wednesday, people with bad attitudes tend to have higher credit scores, the numbers used by lenders to determine whether to loan money and how much interest to charge. Researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU), Texas Tech University and Northern Illinois University found a link between credit scores and consumers' personalities.

You may have heard about "Credit Educator," a new service from credit bureau Experian that offers one-on-one credit education by phone. For a cost of $29.95, consumers can speak with a specially trained Experian representative who can answer questions about the consumer's credit score and report.

I've written about the topic before for CreditCards.com (check out "Experian gets personal to teach about credit, but it'll cost you"), but more recently discussed the topic for U.S. News & World Report's "My Money" blog.

Think being wealthy, successful and having a clever nickname will keep you safe from identity theft? Think again.

Diddy -- formerly known as P. Diddy, formerly formerly known as Puff Daddy and legally known as Sean Combs -- recently fell victim to an identity thief who stole Diddy's American Express Black Card information, TMZ.com reports. If that wasn't bad enough, the thief posted Diddy's AmEx card information online this week for the entire web browsing world to see.

When you think of California, perhaps images of beaches, Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge and "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" come to mind. For the latest Carnival of Personal Finance, host Hope to Prosper had the Golden State in his thoughts when he selected the carnival's "California Dreaming" theme.

That carnival -- which includes a collection of finance-related blog posts from around the web -- includes my post, "U.S. economic recession shifted FICO credit scores," in the "economy" category.

It's no shock that during the devastating economic downturn, a lot of people went from good credit to bad, as job losses and foreclosures took their toll. But here's a surprise: According to FICO data, the number of people with excellent credit didn't fall during the recession -- it grew.

"Many people seem to think that everyone's FICO score must be down these days. However scores have moved in both directions," says Rachel Bell, senior director of global scoring solutions for FICO.

Would you lie to your bank if it meant protecting yourself from identity theft?

Although some cardholders indicate they would stretch the truth to keep themselves safe -- telling the bank a credit card was lost or stolen when, in fact, that wasn't true -- lying could actually end up hurting you, experts say.

I may be stuck to my seat here in Austin, Texas, during the record-breaking heat (we tied a record high at 112 degrees on Sunday -- and I was at a hot sauce festival in that heat), but at least my blog post can soar into the cool expanse of outer space.

Stumble Forward chose my blog post, "Data breach deja vu," for the latest Carnival of Personal Finance, which collects interesting money-related blog posts from around the Web. The carnival host has chosen the theme "The Universe Edition" for this weekly installment.

For the second time this year, my credit card's security has been compromised.

Back in January, I learned that my credit card was reported stolen by FIA Card Services (a Bank of America subsidiary) after I got an email notification from the AAA Texas credit monitoring service about a change to my credit report. At that time, when I called the bank, they confirmed that I was among a group of cardholders who had their information possibly exposed due to transactions at an unnamed merchant. They had decided to preemptively issue me a new card, which I later got in the mail.

And in a case of near déjà vu, late last week, I received both another notification from AAA and a letter containing a new replacement card from FIA. So I decided to find out what merchant was the source of this latest breach.

The U.S. economy's problems could make it harder for you to get a credit card, according to one chief economist.

If you recently applied for a new credit card, you may have found the bank was more likely to grant your request. And you weren't the only one: A recent pair of reports from the Federal Reserve showed that consumers opened 10 million more credit card accounts in the second quarter of this year (April to June) as banks became more willing to approve borrowers for new credit.

But even if you're celebrating now, don't expect the party to last.

"Hello." "All Night Long." "Say You, Say Me." Lionel Richie has always had a gift for penetrating insight into the human condition, set to music. But who knew his heartfelt words could also be applied to the recent political wrangling over the U.S. debt ceiling?

My blog, "Dancing on the (debt) ceiling: Will card rates really rise without a deal?," drew its title (but not exactly its content) from Richie's songwriting catalog -- in this case, the mid-'80s party-starter "Dancing on the Ceiling." While Richie sought to upend the convention of Newton's Law, my blog simply looked at how a downgrade for U.S. debt could mean an increase for credit card APRs.

A warning to credit card holders: The U.S. government's borrowing problems could soon become your borrowing problems.

Right now, in Washington, politicians are fighting over whether to raise the U.S. debt ceiling -- which determines the amount of money that the nation can spend on its debt -- above $14.3 trillion. If the debt ceiling isn't increased, the United States won't have enough money to pay all of its bills. That could result in a default on its financial obligations.

Over the past several years, as the economy has been cooling off, zombies have been heating up.

It seems like the red-hot undead have been cropping up everywhere recently, including starring roles in feature films, popular books and hit TV shows. But zombies have come a long way from their days in the "Thriller" music video. No longer content to just entertain us, zombies now want to teach us something, too.

They said it couldn't be done, but it has: Two blog posts in two blog carnivals -- in one week.

This week, two of my recent blog posts made it into two separate carnivals, establishing what surely must be some sort of Internet record. Yeah, that's right Rebecca Black: You're not the only online phenomenon.

An undisclosed number of HSBC bank customers apparently saw their credit scores briefly tumble because of a credit reporting error that occurred April 1.

This was no April Fool's Day prank: Credit bureau Experian says an "isolated administrative error" altered the information on some HSBC customers' credit reports. According to an MSNBC report, that "glitch" in Experian's credit reporting "temporarily torpedoed an undisclosed number of consumers' credit scores." MSNBC added that HSBC customers who pay for credit monitoring services became aware of the error after they received alerts about a sudden fall in their credit scores.

Borrowers weren't laughing.

The next email bearing my bank's logo could very well be from a hacker.

Earlier today, Chase sent an email warning of a major theft that could affect me and other bank customers. "Chase is letting our customers know that we have been informed by Epsilon, a vendor we use to send emails, that an unauthorized person outside Epsilon accessed files that included email addresses of some Chase customers," the email said.

Chase explained that although some customer email addresses were compromised in the breach, the stolen information "did not include any customer account or financial information. Based on everything we know, your accounts and confidential information remain secure."

Based on news reports, Chase customers aren't the only ones who have been victimized.

When your boss asks whether you'd like to attend South by Southwest Interactive (or SXSWi) -- a five-day smorgasbord of emerging technology talk, networking and fun -- for the first time, the answer is pretty easy: "YES!" While many SXSWi attendees and presenters travel from across the globe to the annual conference in Austin, Texas, I was lucky to only have to head just minutes away to downtown Austin for the event.

A badge and short drive made me doubly fortunate. So how did I make my SXSWi experience worthwhile? By attending all sorts of talks, enjoying several parties and scoring free food and drinks.

While most people think of Valentine's Day as a time for expressing love, personal finance bloggers know the holiday is really just a great theme for the latest Carnival of Personal Finance.

In that carnival -- hosted by Well Heeled Blog -- a clever story about Cupid offering financial advice to four famous fictional couples (Romeo and Juliet, Peter Pan and Wendy, Snow White and her Prince and Pongo and Perdita) is used as the vehicle to offer a roundup of great personal finance blog posts.

Sure, credit cards enable all kinds of fun activities -- such as buying more stuff you don't really need and paying bills online. Super awesome! But until now, payment cards have failed to help with some of the most basic tasks, such as shaving, picking locks and holding people at knifepoint. Thanks to the latest collection of card-sized gadgets, however, credit cards finally are becoming the everyday tools they were always meant to be.

Take a gander at this latest assortment of credit card gadgets, and I'm sure you'll agree.

You don't have to be a bank executive -- or even a personal finance reporter -- to know the last few years have been rough for credit card issuers. Amid the economic downturn and some negative publicity over their treatment of customers, banks decided to bypass the cost and visibility of creating Super Bowl commercials for the most recent NFL championships.

And it looks like we won't see any new credit card promotional spots during the commercial breaks for this year's Super Bowl XLV. Expect a lot of car ads, along with the requisite celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, a Claymationated Eminem and an oddball pairing of Justin Bieber with Ozzy Osbourne (can a duets album be far behind?).

With that grim reality facing those of us who enjoy the commercials as much (or more) than the game itself, here's a look back at some noteworthy credit card ads from Super Bowls gone by:

Over the weekend, AAA told me that my credit card had been stolen.

Getting an e-mail from AAA -- primarily known for roadside assistance, travel information and membership discounts -- about my credit in itself wasn't unusual. That's because back in 2009, I signed up for the free credit monitoring provided through my membership with the Texas chapter of the automobile association.

As part of that monitoring, I receive monthly e-mails alerting me to any changes in my credit report. Typically, those e-mails indicate all is well.

While it's nice to get a nod of approval from lenders, I haven't applied for a loan recently. In the meantime, I'm happy to see that WalletBlog -- host of the latest Carnival of Personal Finance -- approves of my credit score. Or, perhaps more accurately, a recent blog post about my FICO score.

That blog post was selected for inclusion in the carnival along with a score of others.

What do my eight years of credit history, three open accounts and no missed payments equal? According to FICO, a "very good" credit score of 746.

Ahead of the holidays, FICO sent me a gift card with a promotion code that enabled me to request a free score and report from myFICO.com. (Ah, the perks of writing about credit scoring!) The "FICO standard" package (which typically costs $19.95) included information from my TransUnion credit report as well as big, bold letters declaring my TransUnion FICO score to be 746.

"Your TransUnion FICO score is very good," the report informed me. "Your score is above the average score of U.S. consumers and demonstrates to lenders that you are a very dependable borrower." Yes, yes I am!

Want to scare your bank this Halloween? Call up and ask some tough questions about how they treat their customers.

That suggestion -- which is typically good for frightening lenders year round, by the way -- was the focus of my recent blog, "Posing tough credit card questions to your bank."

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They're the pieces of plastic we love, and love to hate. Get the latest news, tips, research and more from the CreditCards.com staff.

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