Suffice it to say 2015 was a big year for money — not just in terms of how we spend it, but how it’s managed by other entities, namely online dating services, healthcare providers and Uncle Sam. Here’s a look at the year that was in America’s finances.
1. Ashley Madison Gets Hacked
When millions of cheaters were exposed online, infidelity dating site Ashley Madison found itself in hot water. Most users weren’t worried about their credit cards being stolen, but their fidelity was broken and so was their reputation. Many couples wound up filing for divorce and other users even committed suicide. High-profile celebrities like Josh Duggar were also caught in the scandal. Said Lisa Sotto, a cyberlaw expert at Hunton & Williams: “Extortion demands, which forced victims to pay for their valuable data, became noticeable during this hack and things will only get worse.”
2. Gay Marriage Is Legalized
It was history in the making when the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage was constitutional in June 2015. But as LGBT couples rushed to their local courthouse to file marriage certificates, they began to ask themselves the same questions straight couples have been asking for years: Can we afford to get married? Many in the LGBT community had never believed they’d ever get married, so the idea of planning a wedding took a major mind-shift — and a budget adjustment.
3. Anthem & Premera Are Hacked
Computer criminals stole a treasure trove from health insurer Anthem in February, putting consumers on edge. Not only did the info include names, birth dates and medical IDs/Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment info were also taken. It was a recipe for serious identity crimes, wrote consumer advocate Bob Sullivan, including creating new accounts in a victim’s name, bypassing security measures, or in a worst-case scenario, resetting passwords. Not more than three months later, Premera Blue Cross suffered a similar cyberattack.
4. Startup Bros Post Ad for $500-a-Month Crawlspace
The world’s creepiest crawlspace hit the Internet by way of Craigslist on Dec. 15, marking a new low in San Francisco rental prices. For $500 a month, an eager startup employee could live with two 20-somethings — so long as he was willing to sleep an uneven dirt floor and keep his dresser “in the garage.” With median rent in San Francisco topping $4,354, per Zillow, it’s no wonder Craigslist took the post down.
5. Card Issuers Switch to EMV Chips
Okay, so this may have not been a money moment, but card issuers’ decision to eliminate cards with magnetic stripes for cards with fraud-fighting computer chips was still a pretty big deal. On Oct. 1, new rules went in effect making merchants not equipped to accept chip cards responsible for fraud. Of course, not everyone fell head over heels for the new cards. Some consumers were so annoyed, they began avoiding stores that require them.
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