Conn. gun owners rush to register weapons, ammo

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut gun owners are rushing to register certain firearms and ammunition that will be considered illegal contraband in the new year.

People have been lining up early in the morning at the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s headquarters in Middletown in recent days to turn in applications for assault weapons certificates and high-capacity magazine declaration forms so they can legally keep the items.

Under a wide-ranging gun control law, passed earlier this year in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, gun owners have until Tuesday to submit the paperwork.

Michael Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s undersecretary for criminal justice, predicted a flood of registrations over the final days of 2013.

“It sounds like a lot of these folks were holding off on doing it in anticipation of a potential decision or something,” Lawlor said, referring to pending legal challenges to the state law, which expanded the definition of assault weapons in Connecticut to include more banned weapons. The law also bans the sale or purchase of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Like the newly defined assault weapons, existing magazines can be kept so long as they’re registered with the state.

“One thing is clear,” Lawlor said. “If you haven’t registered it, on the following day, it is completely illegal contraband” starting on Jan. 1.

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which is participating in a legal challenge of the new law, has been working to remind gun owners that the deadline to register and declare the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is approaching quickly.

“Many people are still not aware of the law itself, or the actual date of implementation,” President Scott Wilson said. “While CCDL wholeheartedly believes that this law is unconstitutional, we want to make sure that law-abiding gun owners do not become felons on Jan. 1.”



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Chase Imposes Debit Card Limits

Two million debit card holders will be limited to $100 at ATMs unless they go to branches

 

At the peak of the holiday shopping rush, JPMorgan Chase said Saturday it is putting daily cash and spending limits on about 2 million debit cards that were used at Target stores that could be susceptible to fraud.

It also plans to begin reissuing new cards to customers who could have been affected by the recently revealed data breach affecting 40 million debit and credit card customers who shopped at the nation’s second-retailer after Thanksgiving through Dec. 15.

Chase customers will be limited to withdrawing no more than $100 a day from ATMs on the affected debit cards. A statement on the website says tellers will help them at the bank’s branches if they need more. In addition, customers with the affected cards will be limited to $300 a day in purchases, Chase says. The limits affect about 2 million of Chase’s 23 million card customers.

MORE: Target offers 10% discount as credit fraud apology

The limits will be in effect as Chase begins the process of reissuing the debit cards by mail. The process could take at least two weeks. The bank says, however, that about half of its 5,600 branches in 23 states can issue new cards on the spot for customers who want the limits lifted faster. Late Saturday, Chase said it had decided to open about a third of its branches on Sunday, when they were normally closed, to help affected customers.

The action is being taken because of the data theft involving 40 million debit and credit cards issued by a variety of large banks and used at Target stores from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15. It included cards from all issuers, not just Target’s own credit card.

The data included names, numbers, expiration dates and data taken from the magnetic strip when the card is swiped could have been captured by the thieves.

Cyber Monday Sets Sales Record – Strong Retail Spending Growth

Sometimes retail trends reveal themselves slowly over time, but occasionally they smack you square in the face. An example of the latter occurred this year on Cyber Monday, the quintessential Monday following Thanksgiving: online sales jumped by 20 percent or more FFLNET2over 2012’s one-day e-commerce yardstick.

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark put the Cyber Monday online payments increase at 20.6 percent, with traffic from mobile devices growing to 31.7 percent of all online traffic. This represents a 45 percent jump from the same day in 2012. Additionally, mobile-based transactions increased by 55.4 percent year-over-year, IBM reported.

Internet analytics firm comScore Inc. set total desktop online spending on Cyber Monday at $1.735 billion, an 18 percent rise from the previous year. The researchers thus pronounced Cyber Monday 2013 as the “heaviest online spending day in history and the second day this season (in addition to Black Friday’s $1.198 billion) to surpass $1 billion in sales.”

Meanwhile, online identity verification firm CardinalCommerce Corp. reported that the number of Cyber Monday transactions touching its network were up by 61 percent from 2012.

Visa Inc. analysis of its Cyber Monday shopping data confirmed this data. On its Dec. 3, 2013, corporate blog, Visa’s chief economist, Wayne Best, said $2.6 billion was spent online using Visa-branded cards, a 28 percent increase from the same day in 2012. An accompanying infographic stated that Visa cardholders made 28 million transactions on Monday, up by 29 percent from 2012.

Going mobile

Details from IBM’s report shed light on additional e-commerce trends. The report found that consumers surf the Internet more often with smartphones than tablets, but tablets were used to make purchases more than twice as often as smartphones. Additionally, tablet users spent more on average than smartphone users, $126.30 to $106.49, respectively.

A majority of online retailers are being aggressive in their mobile marketing campaigns, as well. In comparing daily marketing activity over the previous two months to the five-day shopping period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, IBM said retailers sent 77 percent more “push” notifications (text messages and popup messages within mobile apps) to customers.

Furthermore, the shopping cart conversion rate went up by 12.6 percent on Cyber Monday compared with Black Friday. IBM attributed the rise to consumers believing they were getting the best deals on Monday.

Foot traffic follows awareness

While the staggering increase in e-commerce activity on Cyber Monday is good news for online businesses, it is less joyful for primarily brick-and-mortar retailers. Small businesses without web presences, or with limited presences, are likely experiencing a decline in sales as consumers shift to purchasing online via smartphones and tablets.

ISOs and merchant level salespeople can increase small businesses’ share of the growing e-commerce pie by bolstering their online presences. The August 2012 Small Business Happiness Index survey from online business card provider Vistaprint N.V. said 69 percent of micro businesses surveyed had websites, but only 46 percent of them were actually selling products via those sites.

Brick-and-mortar merchants can also leverage awareness and loyalty campaigns, such as Small Business Saturday, to drive traffic into physical stores. Payments industry consultant Linda S. Perry believes the results of the American Express Co.-created annual promotion for small businesses is reason for optimism. “I think it’s a great promotion,” she said. “It’s well-run and easy to use.”

Since 2010, AmEx has urged its U.S. cardholders to shop at local small businesses on the Saturday following Black Friday. According to data compiled by AmEx and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, spending at smaller merchants on Small Business Saturday reached $5.7 billion, up by 3.6 percent from the same day in 2012.

The figure may not be as impressive as Cyber Monday results, but it represents a positive trend that can be built upon through awareness and participation. In the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, which was conducted by Redshift Research for AmEx using email invitations and an online survey, consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday rose to 71 percent from 67 percent a year ago. And of consumers who were aware of the day, 46 percent said they shopped at small businesses on that day, the survey said.

“With awareness up, the end result was increased spending at small businesses,” AmEx and the NFIB said.

 

First Data releases Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2013 SpendTrend analysis

Atlanta, Dec. 6, 2013 – First Data Corporation , a global leader in payments processing and electronic commerce solutions, today released its First Data SpendTrend® analysis for Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2013 compared to Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2012. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.

Earlier Store Openings Led to Strong Retail Spending Growth

Black Friday lost some of its luster as retailers opened their doors earlier this year in order to vie for a piece of the holiday spending pie, especially with this year’s shorter-than-usual window between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Year-over-year retail dollar volume growth during Thanksgiving and Black Friday was strong at 9.0%, and a significant increase compared to last year’s growth of 5.6%. Most of the 9.0% retail spending growth was driven by shopping on Thanksgiving as opposed to Black Friday; with 3.4% growth on Black Friday.

The growth was also supported by the cold and dry weather across most of the nation, which attracted retail foot traffic for seasonal merchandise and offered consumers perfect holiday shopping weather. The Electronics sub-category saw a big jump with an increase of 9.1%, and Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book and Music Stores was the top performer with growth of 27.3%.

Average Ticket and Transaction Growth Spiked as Consumers Opened their Wallets

Retail average ticket growth was healthy and strong at 3.8% versus last year’s growth of 1.9% as consumers opened their wallets and spent more per visit while also focusing on bigger-ticket items. Overall transaction growth was 4.9% during the two-day period, and most of that growth again was driven by shopper foot-traffic on Thanksgiving; with Black Friday transaction growth at 2.2%. Similar to trends seen during rest of the year, shopping on credit cards experienced strong growth at 8.8%.

“In addition to promotions and early openings, we saw many retailers make it even easier for consumers to shop by providing a seamless integration of in-store, online and mobile initiatives that allowed shoppers to buy products wherever and whenever,” said Krish Mantripragada, SVP, Information and Analytics Solutions, First Data. “While the start of the holiday spending season was robust, merchants will continue to monitor shoppers to see if they can sustain the spending growth through the holiday season.”

Overall Retail Growth Rates/Change
Dollar Volume: +9.0%
Average Ticket: +3.8%
Transactions: +4.9%

Note: All transactions are same-store growth.

For more information on First Data SpendTrend, visit www.spendtrend.com or call SpendTrend Customer Care at 800-430-0169.

To participate in the SpendTrend conversation, please follow First Data at http://twitter.com/spendtrend .

Around the world, every second of every day, First Data makes payment transactions secure, fast and easy for merchants, financial institutions and their customers. First Data leverages its vast product portfolio and expertise to drive client revenue and profitability. Whether the choice of payment is by debit or credit card, gift card, check or mobile phone, online or at the checkout counter, First Data takes every opportunity to go beyond the transaction. More information about the company is available on FirstData.com as well as on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

Source: Company press release.



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Data Breach at Several Stores in the Northwest

SPOKANE, Wash.–Customers are still worried about whether it is safe to shop at popular grocery stores across the Inland Northwest. Credit card hackers targeted URM supplied stores such as Rosauers, Super One, Yokes and others.

Store leaders said customers still need to check their card statements and call their bank if they see any unusual charges. Rosauers and some Super One Foods locations hope to have their regular credit card system working in the next several days.

Stores like Rosauers started using a dial-up phone line to let customers make secure charges on a credit or debit card. Rosauers and Super One are offering 10% off percent purchases through Wednesday.

Some impacted stores may still not be a safe place to use a credit card.

WATCH: URM stores upgrading security following credit card fraud attack

“We cannot guarantee that their credit cards used in our stores could not fraudulently be used in the future,” said CEO of URM stores Ray Sprinkle.

Cases of fraud have been reported as recently late November. The companies involved do not know when the attack happened so they still can not say how far back customers need to check for fraud. The company said they are working hard to figure out what went wrong.

“From a URM perspective, as we work with our member owners stores, that we are working very diligently around the clock to secure our system,” said Sprinkle.

It is unclear when customers will know for sure they can use their credit or debit cards again at all stores. Various law enforcement agencies were working to try to figure out how this happened.

WATCH: Credit card fraud victimizes URM shoppers across E. Washington

“The investigators are continuing to work as well as law enforcement, I don’t know how long that investigation will continue,” said Sprinkle.

Customers can use the dial up connection for a credit card and debit card. Staff said they can not say when the regular system will be back to normal.



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