ID Theft Tops Fraud Complaints in 2005

The Federal Trade Commission reports it processed 255,000 complaints regarding identity theft last year. Identity theft complaints represented 37% of the 686,683 complaints filed in 2005. Credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud and employment fraud. The most frequently reported type of identity theft bank fraud was electronic funds transfers. Internet-related complaints accounted for 46% of all fraud complaints. The percent of Internet-related fraud complaints with wire transfer as the reported payment method more than tripled between 2003 and 2005.

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U.S. Consumers Repulsed at POS Fees

A new study has determined that 62% of American adults would abandon their purchase if charged a check out fee for using a debit or credit card. Eighty-two percent of those who reported being surcharged were charged check out fees in the past year. And, 62% percent of those who have been surcharged said getting hit with the fee gave them a negative impression of the retailer. The survey was conducted by the Americans for Consumer Education and Competition. ACEC says less than 20 states have laws that ban merchants from charging consumers check out fees when they pay with a credit or debit card.

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Russian Post to Offer Western Union Money Transfer

Western Union has entered into an agreement with Russian national postal
operator Federal State Unitary Enterprise, known as “Russian Post,” to
provide international money transfer services. The agreement offers
Western Union’s Russian customers a substantial
benefit and convenient access to Western Union’s Money Transfer
services, while Russian Post will increase its geography of
international money transfers from CIS and Baltic countries to the
entire Western Union worldwide network. Russian Post is the national
postal operator and leader in the Russian
intra money transfer market with more than 40,000 outlets. Through this
agreement, Western Union Money Transfer Services will be available in up
to 2,500 post office outlets across Russia serving both rural and urban
populations.

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GECF Forms Strategic Alliance with Cosmos Bank

GE Consumer Finance has agreed to make a strategic investment in Cosmos
Bank. Under the agreement, GE Consumer Finance will acquire a 10% stake
in Cosmos through a share subscription of 197 million common shares, at
an aggregate price of $86 million. GE Consumer Finance will retain
rights to increase its total stake in Cosmos to 24.9% at a later point
through a convertible bond structure. Cosmos Bank is a pioneer of the
cash card product in Taiwan and a leading provider of consumer finance
products. Cosmos Bank has assets of $8.7 billion. GE Consumer Finance
has more than $163 billion in assets.

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Americans Are Cash-Strapped Consumers

A new survey by ACNielsen has found that the United States and Portugal have the most cash-strapped consumers. About 22% of U.S. respondents said that once they have covered their essential living expenses, they have no money left over. While the U.S. may have the highest percentage of consumers with no spare cash, this number has dropped 6 percentage points since the last ACNielsen survey in May 2005. The improvement dovetails with other signs that U.S. consumers are trying to improve their financial situation. For example, of U.S. consumers who do have spare cash, their first priority for that money is debt repayment (42%). This number has increased nine percentage points since October 2004.

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Voyager Fleet Card Teams with QuikTrip

U.S. Bank Voyager Fleet Systems has entered into an arrangement with QuikTrip to provide customers with the ability to purchase fuel at all 461 QuikTrip locations in nine states. The service complements an existing partnership that QuikTrip has with U.S. Bank, in which U.S. Bank ATMs are available in St. Louis area QuikTrip locations. U.S. Bank Voyager Fleet Systems is a leading provider of the universal fleet fueling and maintenance card for over 1.6 million vehicles and is a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp with assets in excess of $209 billion.

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Samsung S1 Joins VISA’s Smart Card Program

Samsung S1 Corporation has joined VISA’s “Smart Breakthrough” (VSB) card
program, an initiative by VISA International designed to help chip
suppliers market their VISA-approved chip/OS packages to
Visa-approved card manufacturers. S1 aims to provide new opportunities
for VISA members in reducing costs, improving efficiencies and boosting
the adoption of chip technology. A key step that S1 has taken is the
development of a smart card priced at US 89 cents last year, the lowest
in the industry. The newly developed TiEx-8J is a Java-based chip card
that is EMV compliant, can store up to 10 bank accounts-worth of
information and includes the functionality of both
credit and debit cards. Samsung S1 Corporation offers total security
solutions, smart card and RFID products.

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AutoMart Signs MOU with Bank of China

Beijing Sino-US Jinche Yingang Auto Technological Services (“AutoMart”), the premier automobile after service company in Beijing,
China, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the
Beijing branch of the Bank of China. Under the MOU, AutoMart and the
Bank of China will jointly issue a bank
united name card, which is a combination club membership card/credit
card. The card serves two purposes: it allows holders to receive
preferential treatment at AutoMart repair centers, and it enables
customers to actually utilize credit. By making credit cards available
to its customers with the backing of Bank of China, AutoMart provides a
funding mechanism for the customers to more regularly inspect and repair
their cars. Lack of funds has historically been the reason that most
customers have resisted repairing their cars as often as they need to.

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National City Q4 Card Volume Up 7%

While MI-based National City card loans have been contracting over the past two years, volume has been growing steadily. During the fourth quarter National City posted volume of $1.6 billion, a 7% gain over the prior year. Card loans slipped to $2.4 billion, compared to $2.5 billion for 4Q/04 and $2.6 billion for 4Q/03. At the end of the fourth quarter, National City had 1,141,622 active accounts. For complete details on National City’s fourth quarter results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

NATL CITY CARD VOLUME HISTORICAL
4Q/01: $1186 million
4Q/02: $1276 million
4Q/03: $1577 million
4Q/04: $1530 million
4Q/05: $1639 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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BSG Targets North American Processing

Europe-based BSG Clearing Solutions has announced the immediate availability of its credit card processing solution in North America which also adds a comprehensive analytic fraud service for transaction risk management. BSG Clearing Solutions currently supports merchants in the telecom and ecommerce industries. BSG’s processing portfolio now includes LEC invoicing, mobile roaming clearing, direct billing, revenue recovery and credit card processing. BSG Clearing Solutions is a provider of clearing and settlement, payment services, and financial risk management solutions for communications service providers.

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Valentine’s Day Online Sales to be Strong

Massachusettes-based Constant Contact has found that Valentine’s Day online sales will be much stronger this year. Of the U.S. small businesses owners who responded to the 2006 Small Business Valentine’s Day Outlook survey, 55 percent of those surveyed anticipate strong Valentine’s Day sales, an additional 71 percent are predicting stronger online sales this year. Hospitality (restaurant, travel, and lodging) led with 76 percent expecting strong sales this year, followed by Retail (specialty shop, clothing store, florist) at 63 percent, and Consumer Services (i.e. jewelers, spas, beauty salons, fitness and photography) at 48 percent. Constant Contact is an email marketing service for small businesses, associations and nonprofits.

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SEB Selects Arcot TransFort Authentication Solution

Arcot Systems announced that SEB, one of Sweden’s leading banks, has
selected Arcot’s 3-D Secure solution, TransFort, to support
adoption of the Verified by VISA payment authentication program. The
Verified by Visa and SecureCode programs are designed to bring the
same level of security to the virtual world as is available in the
physical world by confirming to participating e-merchants that the
online buyer is the actual cardholder. Arcot’s TransFort was the first
solution to be compliant with the 3-D Secure Interoperability protocol
developed by the Visa Compliance Testing Facility. The SEB Group is a
North European financial banking group with assets
under management totaled SEK 858 billion (approximately $183.04 billion
US dollars and $111.86 billion USD respectively). Arcot is a provider
of secure e-payment, digital signature, and
strong authentication software solutions and is the only provider of all
three components of the 3-D Secure
solution (issuer, payment processor, merchant) that supports the
Verified by VISA, MasterCard SecureCode and JCB J-Secure
programs.

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