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Consumer Confidential: Retail sales up, easier credit score access, more missing data

July 7, 2011 | 10:22 am

Shoppic Here's your you-better-think Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Shoppers are shopping, but they're also looking for bargains. Deep discounts and falling gas prices helped boost June retail sales, with 85% of retailers reporting that results exceeded expectations. Sales at stores open at least a year rose by 7.2% compared with the same period last year, led by strong discount retailers’ performance, including Costco and Target. Gas prices fell 85 cents on average nationally from the same period in 2010, according to government figures, and that helped. Luxury retailers showed strong performance, with sales at Neiman-Marcus and Saks up 12.5% and 11.9%, respectively. The bulk of mid-market retailers reported increasing same-store sales for the month. Victoria’s Secret posted a 17% jump, while Gap logged a 1% increase.

-- You'll soon have easier access to your credit score. Consumers who are denied credit or whose existing loan terms become less favorable will soon be able to get free credit scores under new rules from the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Trade Commission. Effective July 21, if a credit score is used to set certain credit terms or to deny or revoke credit or change existing terms banks and others will be required to disclose credit scores and related information to consumers. Credit scores are often used by lenders to set or adjust loan terms, such as interest rates charged, and can change over time to reflect changes in a borrower’s financial history.

-- Heads up: Brokerage Morgan Stanley Smith Barney says two CDs containing personal information belonging to about 34,000 investment clients were lost in transit to a government office. The information included clients' names, addresses, account and tax identification numbers, the income earned on investments in 2010, and some clients' Social Security numbers. The CDs, which were password protected but not encrypted, were lost after the company mailed them to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The package appeared to be intact when it reached the department, but the CDs were gone by the time the package reached the intended recipient.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Deep discounts are drawing shoppers back into stores. Credit: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times