Monthly Archives: September 2015

These Washington cities are considered among “most livable” in U.S.

Thanks to the great outdoors, a strong economy and diversity, Washington is teeming with some of the nation’s most livable small to mid-sized cities, according to ranking site Livability.com.  Bellevue ranked No. 2 out of 100 small to mid-sized cities on the list. Rochester, Minnesota ranked No. 1. Madison, Wisconsin, Santa Barbara, California, and Boulder Colorado, rounded out the top five spots on the list.

Other Washington cities that made the list were: Olympia (No. 20), Kirkland (No. 25), Richland (No. 64), Renton (No. 66), Bellingham (No. 72), Bothell (No. 80), Pullman (No. 91) and Issaquah (No. 95).

Livability.com cites Bellevue’s quality schools, proximity to outdoor recreation, mix of businesses and ethnic diversity as key reasons why it ranked so well.

The site collaborated with urbanist Richard Florida, assistant clinical professor Steven Pedigo from the Initiative for Creativity and Innovation in Cities at NYU School of Professional Studies, and data specialists Economic Modeling Specialists International to define the ranking methodology which looks at economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education, and health care.

Russell Wilson buys $6.7M Meydenbauer Bay mansion

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has bought a $6.7 million mansion in the Meydenbauer Bay area of Bellevue on Shoreland Drive.

While the whole transaction is shrouded in legalese and lawyers from coast to coast, the Puget Sound Business Journal has learned that the home belonged to former Microsoft manager Harish Naidu and his wife Shalini Naidu.

Harish Naidu started at Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) in 1988 and rose steadily through the ranks until 2011, when he left the company to run a Bellevue unit of Scantron called GlobalScholar.

Built in 2008, the Bellevue home went on the market at $8.8 million in 2010 and has been on and off the selling block at various prices ever since.

An early listing had this description: “This Mediterranean is truly unique. Sitting above Lake Washington with 220 degree views. Spectacular finishes suited for your world class buyer, 500-year-old hand carved entry, custom crafted cabinets carved by Romanian artists, marble, granite and wrought throughout. Panoramic views from every room.”

The mansion is 10,210 square feet on 0.67 acres with 84 feet of high bank waterfront. It is extremely private, but not gated.

It has towering ceilings, Mediterranean finishes inside and out, a master bedroom with glass turret providing a 180-degree view of everything, but no one can see in. The master suite is one of the seven bedrooms in the home and there are also seven bathrooms.

The kitchen is custom-made with an enormous center island. The media room or theater has huge Tibetan doors. There is a great area for poker, and a wine cellar for 2,000 bottles of vino.

It’s a close-in walk to Old Bellevue, and not far from Bellevue High School where Russell Wilson’s sister is going, and will be playing on the girls’ basketball team.

TMZ is describing the house as “insane,” but those in the know say it is a perfect private sanctuary for Wilson who has been looking for a house for several years. Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood was where folks thought he would land, close to Children’s Hospital where he is so active in helping youngsters in need.

Seattle-area banks rush to transition to new EMV credit cards as analysts warn fraud could increase

Major U.S. credit card companies will next month swap out cards with magnetic strips in favor of new, more secure Europay, Mastercard, Visa (EMV) technology. But transitioning to those little embedded chips could actually increase fraud – at least at first, according to a new report.

Visa and Mastercard set an October deadline to roll out new cards with both traditional magnetic strips and EMV chips, which create temporary payment credentials for each transaction. That’s when consumer finance website NerdWallet says credit card users will be at greater risk for fraud.

As a result, Puget Sound-area banks and credit unions are working overtime to shift to the new cards.

Sean McQuay, NerdWallet’s credit card expert, says EMV chips are more secure when it comes to a physical card. But, while the nation transitions to the new system, traditional cards will be targeted more often.

“Fraudsters will be getting while the getting’s good,” he said Wednesday.

EMV technology is used widely around the world and has been more than a decade. The United Kingdom adopted the chip in 2005, and McQuay says it’s been pretty successful. Since then, the report says counterfeit fraud – when hackers steal credit card information and add it to a physical card – has decreased 63 percent.

But it got worse before it improved. Counterfeit fraud in the UK peaked in 2008 as credit card customers used cards in areas without the infrastructure to support the new chips – especially abroad. McQuay says that will likely happen in the U.S.

Although many users will receive EMV cards this fall, it could be much longer before customers can use those cards universally. Engraved numbers have stuck around for more than 30 years after the magnetic strip was introduced.

Tukwila-based BECU has already started to mass-issue new credit cards and will begin switching out debit cards later this year. BECU spokesman Todd Pietzsch says the company thought delaying the transition would put customers at risk.

“We didn’t want to be late to the party,” he said. “We knew we could be singled out.”

McQuay says a slow transition could create hotspots for fraud, and users who swipe instead of “dip” the chip could be at greater risk. While card issuers and retailers aren’t required to make the switch, they will be liable for fraudulent transactions if they don’t. Making the switch could cost the retail industry between $20 billion and $30 billion, David French of the National Retail Foundation said.

One of the biggest risks, McQuay says, will be swiping cards at gas stations. It’s more expensive for automatic fuel dispensaries to upgrade – they can’t just replace a card reader. They have to tear out the whole pump. Self-serve gas stations will have a two-year extension before liability shifts. Owners won’t be on the hook for fraudulent purchases until 2017, and many may not make the switch until then.

Gas stations already have the most commonly hacked payment systems. McQuay says that will likely get worse as more retailers switch to the more secure system and hackers have fewer places to steal information.

 

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