Pittsburgh’s Parking Kiosk System Pays Off

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority doubled its daily parking meter take despite a few speed bumps in converting from the city’s coin-operated machines to solar-powered kiosks that take credit cards and require license plate numbers.

“I do think technology is the way to go, and we are looking to expand what we have,” said David Onorato, Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s executive director.

His agency has had to upgrade the system and educate customers about higher rates and new technology, an effort he said could continue this year as the authority rolls out a pay-by-smartphone application; it would allow customers to pay for their parking from anywhere. Parking officials in a few years could use handheld license plate scanners to log numbers instead of punching them in manually.

“Who doesn’t have a cellphone or smartphone these days?” said Dave Webb, 31, an information technology specialist who lives in the North Side and uses the kiosks. “In terms of technology, I’m glad the Parking Authority is embracing it. I hope they continue that trend.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5004713-74/parking-authority-plate#ixzz2q6xTCIt2
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Neiman Marcus Is Latest Victim Of Security Breach

NEW YORK—Luxury merchant Neiman Marcus confirmed Saturday that thieves may have stolen customers’ credit and debit card information and made unauthorized charges over the holiday season, becoming the second retailer in recent weeks to announce it had fallen victim to a cyber-security attack.

The hacking, coming weeks after Target Corp. revealed its own breach, underscores the increasing challenges that merchants have in thwarting security breaches.

Ginger Reeder, spokeswoman for Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group Ltd., said in an email Saturday that the retailer had been notified in mid-December by its credit card processor about potentially unauthorized payment activity following customer purchases at stores. On Jan. 1, a forensics firm confirmed evidence that the upscale retailer was a victim of a criminal cyber-security intrusion and that some customers’ cards were possibly compromised as a result.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/nation-world/ci_24891807/neiman-marcus-is-victim-cyber-security-attack

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Fees Nibble At Income Of Those Paid With Plastic

An HSBC Solo debit card issued in the UK in 2007

An HSBC Solo debit card issued in the UK in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  It’s generally people with lower incomes that get paid this way :(

On paper, it couldn’t be more convenient: Instead of a check every two weeks, your employer hands you a debit card, depositing your pay automatically and freeing you to spend it immediately.

But then there are the fees: $1.50 to withdraw cash, another $2.50 if you do it from a non-company ATM, the $2 monthly account fee.  For workers making low wages, those fees can eat up a sizable portion of their income, a fact that has sparked lawsuits in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

With one of the nation’s largest banks headquartered here and a slew of local public employers already signed up for similar programs, what role will Pittsburgh play in the payroll debate?

“It really is consistent with best business practices of going as paperless as possible,” said Brad Korinski, chief counsel at the Allegheny County controller’s office.  “On the consumer end of things, the debit cards provide immediate and guaranteed access to funds.  You’re not waiting for the post office to get it to you.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/fees-nibble-at-income-of-those-paid-with-plastic-694438/#ixzz2YHeekGb0

Retailers, Consumers Take Swipe At Credit Card Surcharge

English: Old Visa logo.

English: Old Visa logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Griesemer says there’s no way he would pay a fee to use his credit card at the gas pumps or in checkout lines, calling such a surcharge unfair.

“That would be ripping off the working man,” the Oley Township man said recently while gassing up his pickup truck. “I’d rather go to the bank and get cash.”

For those like Griesemer, who would balk at credit card fees, there is good and bad news.

The bad news is that credit card surcharges of up to 4 percent are now allowed on retail purchases in 40 states, thanks to a settlement retailers reached in July with MasterCard and Visa.

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=453496

A More Simplified Way Of Explaining The U.S. Economy/Debt‏

Editor’s note:  This came in my email today and I liked the comparison between the home budget versus the national budget.  I don’t know anybody who would run their household budget the way our government runs the national budget.  I think this applies across the aisle!

This rather brilliantly cuts thru all the political doublespeak we get.  It puts it into a much better perspective.

Lesson # 1:
* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts so far: $3.85

Got It ?????

OK, now Lesson # 2:

Here’s another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let’s say, you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood….and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do ……

Raise the ceilings, or pump out the crap?