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Ratehub logo News Roundup: May 2018

A phantom credit card, two back-to-back bank hacks, and postal code discrimination: Here are some personal finance headlines you might have missed last month.

Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate remains at 1.25%

As it keeps a close eye on inflation, high household debt levels, and ongoing NAFTA negotiations, Canada’s central bank announced May 30 that it will keep its benchmark overnight lending rate at 1.25%. Even without a rate hike, it’s already harder for new borrowers to get a mortgage in the first place. Earlier in May, each of Canada’s Big Six banks raised their interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages, prompting the Bank of Canada to raise its mortgage qualifying rate from 5.14% to 5.34%. Economists are now predicting two more rate hikes before the end of 2018, in July and December.

BMO, CIBC’s Simplii warn customer data may have been hacked

The personal data of about 40,000 Simplii Financial customers and 50,000 Bank of Montreal customers was compromised by “fraudsters” in a weekend hack, the banks announced respectively on May 28. BNN Bloomberg reports that both banks are contacting affected clients while enhancing security measures, a response that didn’t sit well with Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian, who told the news network in an interview: “Well, why the heck didn’t they employ enhanced measures to begin with?” CIBC launched Simplii in November after parting ways with Loblaws-owned President’s Choice Bank, converting PC Financial customers to Simplii.

Man’s car insurance shoots up $600 per year after he moves to new neighbourhood

When it comes to car insurance quotes, it’s all about your postal code — even with a clean driving record, move to a new neighbourhood could mean your premiums shoot up. The CBC breaks down one Toronto man’s experience, and the factors actuaries use to assess insurance premiums. As part of their provincial campaign promises, both the Ontario Liberal and NDP parties have promised to end so-called “postal code discrimination.”

Too-good-to-be-true Brim credit card leaves applicants in the dark

Brim Financial has a fully functioning website marketing a new credit card offering flexible rewards, free global Wi-Fi and no foreign transaction fees, and has been taking  applications for months — but to date, no credit card has actually materialized. Yahoo Finance Canada reports that consumers have waited up to six months after submitting their applications with no details, no updates, and no card — even though Brim pulled their credit file as part of the application process. The company itself appears legitimate — albeit mysterious — but so far its business practices aren’t impressing applicants. Brim was also unwilling to answer questions from Yahoo. Have you applied for Brim’s credit card? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Two-year deadline for Fort McMurray insurance claims extended

With only 20% of Fort McMurray homes rebuilt two years after wildfires destroyed the Alberta town, insurers have extended the legislated two-year limit on claims related to the fire. The Canadian Press reports that 97% of residential claims had been resolved, with about 900 outstanding — 85% of those have been granted extensions. The fires caused an estimated $3.7 billion in insurable damage, and is considered by the Insurance Bureau of Canada to be the priciest natural disaster in Canadian history. updates CEO and co-founder Alyssa Furtado was named one of 50 inspiring Canadian women in tech by Inspiring Fifty, an organization that supports and advocates for women in STEM roles.

Director of operations and finance Jennifer Pollock talks about her background as a finance leader and the nuts and bolts of on The Backbone podcast.