When you arrive in Myanmar, you can see how eager the people are to do business. At the airport in Yangon, new signs in English welcome tourists. A guy in a booth offers to rent me a local cellphone — and he's glad to take U.S. dollars. But when I pull out my money, he shakes his head.
"I'm sorry," he says.
He points to the crease mark in the middle of the $20 bill. No creases allowed.
Eight people in New York have been charged as part of what prosecutors say was a global ring of cybercriminals who stole $45 million by hacking into prepaid credit card accounts and then using the data to get cash from thousands of ATMs around the world.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch described the alleged scheme as "a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe. In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet."
Consumer advocates call them "debt" traps. The banks that offer them call them direct-deposit advances and describe them as available funds for short-term emergencies.
But the cash advances have many of the negative characteristics of payday loans. And on Thursday, U.S. bank regulators took a step toward protecting consumers from the risks they pose. The regulators proposed standards for "deposit-advance products."
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 4:27 pm
Credit Paul Goyette / Flickr
Hi, it's another installment of Ask A Banker. We've gotten lots of good questions, and also lots of bad questions, on Twitter and email, but answered only a fraction of them, in part because in some columns I just answered questions that I or Planet Money made up. Sorry. So let's make up for lost time by giving short answers to a bunch of real questions from real people, or at least real email accounts.