iovation/Merchant911 Target Device Fraud

OR-based Security device provider iovation has teamed with Merchant911
promote the use of device-based fraud prevention solutions to reduce
the risk of online retail fraud. The partnership will introduce Merchant911’s member-based community of
more than 3,800 online merchants to iovation’s “ReputationManager” fraud
management service technology that allows online
retailers to determine in milliseconds whether a transaction is coming
from a computer that has been associated with fraudulent or abusive
behavior in the past. The service is built on iovation’s shared “Device
Reputation Authority” fraud network, which manages the reputations of
more than 80 million unique computers and mobile devices worldwide.
Businesses using this real-time service can immediately act on this
information to prevent all forms of online fraud.

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2008 Holiday Spending – Unlike Any Other

It is an unprecedented time for a holiday season as Americans hoard cash, clip coupons and pop pills to deal with a “Great Depression” like economy. Despite the abundance of holiday spending projections in prior years, there are too many “X-Factors” for the 2008 XMAS season. The modeling techniques used for prior years are simply inoperable in uncharted waters. Among the major factors in play for this year’s holiday season: rising unemployment; reduced wages; lower credit limits; no home equity; shaky retailers; investment erosion; and a governmental leadership vacuum. Retail sales projections for this year range from -1.0% to +4.7%. The Deloitte forecast expects holiday sales, excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, to increase 2.5% to 3.0% during the November-to-January period, less than last year’s 3.4% increase, and one of the smallest gains since 1991’s 2% uptick. The Nielsen Company forecasts 4.7% growth in dollar sales or $98 billion across grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers and convenience stores, for the holiday shopping season. FTI Consulting is forecasting a 1.0% decrease in holiday season sales due to the deceleration of real income growth and the severe deterioration in consumer confidence. The National Retail Federation forecasts that sales will rise 2.2% to $470.4 billion for 2008. Archstone Consulting predicts that holiday retail sales will nominally increase 0.5% to 1.0%; lagging the core inflation rate of 2.6%. St. Louis-based Maritz found that U.S. shoppers plan an average total spend of $546 this year, which is a 14% decline compared to last year. BDO Seidman predicts that overall sales for “Black Friday” (Nov 28th) will only grow 1.2% this holiday season. BIGresearch expects that gift card sales will decline about 6% this year to about $25 billion.
Finally, the Commerce Department recently reported that retail sales collapsed by 1.2% in September, a figure much larger than expected.

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CARDHOLDERS EXPOSED

Major British credit card issuers are gearing up to share behavioral data on their customers as a way to identify accounts that are in trouble. Barclaycard, Capital One, GE Money, HBOS and MBNA will be sharing the data amongst each other in response to the revised “Banking Code” which calls for more responsible lending. Traditionally, shared data for credit cards has included the customer’s balance, credit limit and whether payments are up to date. The new data will now also include the amount of their last payment, and whether this was equivalent to the minimum payment; changes to credit limits; the extent to which they withdraw cash on their account and if the customer is signed up to any promotional deals. This last category is particularly important because it makes it possible for a lender to distinguish between someone only ever paying the minimum repayment because they may be in financial difficulty, from someone who has the means to repay, but chooses not to because of a deal they have obtained. APACS says the
data will be shared through the credit reference agencies.

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Datacard Unveils Instant Issuance Printers

Card personalizer Datacard Group has launched the
“FP65i” and “RP90i” financial card printers to address the needs of the financial and retail instant
issuance markets. The “Datacard FP65i” financial card printer is a cost effective option
that gives financial and retail issuers the flexibility to custom print
color backgrounds on blank card stock or to simply personalize a
preprinted card. Its unique rear indent printing feature builds security
into card programs by helping to deter card counterfeiting and meets
MasterCard security character recommendations for instant issuance.
The “Datacard RP90i” financial card printer features retransfer printing
technology that delivers vibrant, over-the-edge full-color cards and features
the RP90i printer’s security-erase function, which helps obscure
confidential personalization information on the used ribbon.

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Visa Promotes NYC’s WIRED Store

Lincoln and Visa are co-presenting sponsors
of the fourth annual WIRED Store in New York City.
For five weeks during the holiday season the WIRED
Store will have more than 150 items on display including the latest
televisions, cameras, cell phones, snowboards, skateboards, home goods,
clothing, children’s toys and accessories, a motorcycle, and the Lincoln
MKS. The WIRED Store is located at 15 West 18th Street between 5th and 6th
Avenues in Manhattan’s Flatiron District and will host a range of
events including weekly WIRED Music Spotlights with special guest DJs,
How-To’s with WIRED’s Joe Brown: how to fine tune your HDTV,
maximize your audio system, and choose which smartphone is right for you.

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Affinion Group Names a New CFO

CT-based Affinion Group announced that Tom Williams will be leaving and
Todd Siegel, EVP and General Counsel has been appointed as the new CFO.
Siegel has been with Affinion since 1999 and was previously employed
by Ernst & Young as a Certified Public Accountant, and by the law firm
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. In addition to his
responsibilities as General Counsel, Mr. Siegel has also been
responsible for the Company’s corporate strategy and development, as
well as mergers and acquisitions. Affinion Group enhances the value of
its partners’ customer relationships by
developing and marketing loyalty and membership programs.

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SEPT INDEX

The Conference Board announced that the leading index for Mexico declined 1.9% and the coincident index
remained unchanged in September. The leading index declined sharply in September, its second
consecutive steep decline, as a result of very large negative contributions from oil
prices, the real exchange rate and stock prices. Since March
2008, the coincident index declined by 0.1% well
below the 1.4% September 2007 and March 2008. However, strengths have remained more
widespread than weaknesses among the coincident indicators over the past six months.
Meanwhile, real GDP increased at a 0.1% average annual rate in
the first half of 2008 (including a 0.6 percent annual rate of growth in the
second quarter), well below the 4.2% average annual rate of growth in the second
half of 2007. None of the six components that make up the leading
index increased in September. The negative contributors to the index are the US refiners’
acquisition cost of domestic and imported crude oil, the (inverted) real exchange rate,
stock prices, net insufficient inventories, the industrial production construction
component and the (inverted) federal funds rate. The leading index now stands
at 168.4.

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Legends Business Tests New Card Platform

Legends Business Group is conducting beta
testing of its credit card platform which will soon include Automated Clearing House
payment alternatives. The testing is being conducted in conjunction with one of LGBS’ largest
client companies and a provider of Identity Theft
Protection Services to individuals throughout the United States and
already utilizes several methods of online marketing and alternative
billing. The testing is to assess whether the platform will reach its
target audience and perform acceptably to its users. ACH payment alternatives create the ability
to pay reoccurring monthly charges directly from checking and or savings
accounts.

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BofA Beefs-Up Security with SafePass Card

Bank of America has introduced a new wallet-sized card that offers a
one-time-use, six-digit code sent as a text message to consumers’ mobile
devices to authorize and help safeguard sensitive transactions. The new
“SafePass Card” builds on BofA’s “SafePass” service. The “SafePass Card”
is available for a one-time fee of $19.99, while the mobile-phone-based
“SafePass” is free to all customers.
The “SafePass” service offers an additional layer of security for online
transfers and BillPay; can authorize new individual or company payees;
allows for increased transfer limits; and supplements the security of
“SiteKey” authentication for transactions from unrecognized computers
and mobile devices.

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Collins Financial Lands Mezzanine Funding

TX-based Debt collector Collins Financial Services USA has received debt
financing from LBC Credit Partners, a mezzanine fund that provides
privately negotiated loans to middle market businesses. The funding will
be used to support the
company’s portfolio growth by capitalizing on the favorable purchase
opportunities currently available in the market. In additional to the
debt funding from LBC Credit Partners, Collins has
a credit facility with the Lender Finance unit of Wells Fargo Foothill,
part of Wells Fargo & Company. Collins Financial’s majority
owner is Brazos Private Equity Partners, LLC. Over the last two years,
Collins has strengthened its management team, invested in industry
leading technologies and analytical tools, improved its operational
efficiency and now has further strengthened its balance sheet to fund
new portfolio purchases.

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Americans Switch Back to Cash for Budgeting

More evidence is emerging that Americans are switching back to cash to
manage budgets and control credit card spending. A new survey from
Coinstar shows that 23% of consumers reported using cash more often to
pay for purchases compared to one year ago. Eighty-four percent of
respondents who reported using cash more often than one year ago to pay
for purchases said this was to help control spending and manage their
budgets. Six years ago when poll respondents who used cash more often
were asked the same question, only 46% said they were using cash for
this same reason. Nearly seven in 10 Americans who use cash more often
say it’s because they are concerned about credit card debt. This
compares to 48% in 2002, nearly a 50% increase. Last week Western Union
released a similar survey which found that 67% of consumers indicated
that cold hard cash may be the hot Xmas gift this year. About 53% of
those who would prefer cash would use that money on basic living
expenses such as gas, groceries and bills.

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