FTC Settles AZ Scam

The FTC reached a $525,000 settlement with a pair of Arizona brothers who allegedly offered nonexistent advance-fee, low-interest credit cards, and bogus identity theft and telemarketing fraud protection services. According to the FTC, the Slonikers, operating out of Arizona, employed large numbers of telemarketers trained to deceive consumers. From their “contract rooms,” the defendants allegedly telemarketed nonexistent advance-fee, low-interest credit cards, and bogus identity theft and telemarketing fraud protection services, often on behalf of third-party client companies.

Details

Concord 4Q/02

Concord EFS yesterday reported that fourth quarter revenues increased 28% over 4Q/01, however, net income for the quarter inched up slightly from $89,082,000 to $89,760,000. The higher revenues were driven growth in PIN-based debit and the addition of new large multi-lane retailers, however, the volume from the new large retailers came at lower-than-average margin, which contributed to the margin decline in the fourth quarter and year over year. Concord also acknowledged yesterday that it faces intensifying competition in renewing bank contracts that has increased price compression and raised the cost of renewing contracts. Concord says it expects that diluted earnings per share will be in the range of $0.75 to $0.79 in 2003, instead of the previous guidance of $0.84 to $0.88 per share. The revised forecast reflects the contract renewing issues plus the ongoing low interest-rate environment and continued uncertainty about the economy. Network Services revenue increased 25% on transaction volume growth of 14% in 2002, plus network price increases effective in January. The transaction growth was largely driven by STAR PIN-debit payment transactions, up 30% in 2002. Network Services transaction volume was 6.3 billion in 2002. The STAR network ended the year with 127 million cardholders, 241,000 ATMs and approximately 1,000,000 point of sale locations that display the STAR mark. Concord also noted that it added a total of 4,800 quick service restaurant locations in 2002, bringing the total number of quick service restaurant locations to 14,800. For complete details on Concord’s 4Q/02 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

Details

LML 4Q/02

Vancouver-based LML Payment Systems reported revenues for the quarter
ending 12/31/02 of $2.5 million, compared to $2.2 million for the same
year-ago quarter, an increase of approximately 13.6%. The revenue increase
was mainly attributable to an increase in revenues derived from the
software license revenues resulting from the company’s partnership with
CheckFree Corporation. There was a net loss of approximately $545,000 for
the quarter compared to a net loss of approximately $969,000 for the
quarter ended December 31, 2001. Revenues from electronic check
verification were approximately $369,000 for the quarter ended December 31,
2002 compared to approximately $249,000 for the third quarter ended
December 31, 2001, an increase of approximately 48.2%. The increase is
mainly attributable to the roll-out of check processing services, including
electronic check verification, to 49 multi-lane grocery stores with 268
locations in the Houston, Texas area during the third quarter ended
December 31, 2002.

Details

Bankruptcies 4Q/02

Bankruptcy filings hit 395,129 for the fourth quarter. For all of 2002, total bankruptcies filed were 1,577,651, up 5.7% from 2001. Previously, the largest number of bankruptcies filed in a single 12-month period was in the period between October 1, 2001-September 30, 2002 when it hit 1,547,669 filings. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, of the total number of bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2002, there were 1,109,923 Chapter 7 filings, up 5.2% from the 1,054,975 Chapter 7 filings in the same period in 2001. The next largest group of filings was Chapter 13 filings at 455,877, up 7.2% from the 425,292 filings in calendar year 2001.

ANNUAL FILINGS BY BANKRUPTCY CHAPTER
Year Chap. 7 Chap. 13
2002 1,109,923 455,877
2001 1,054,975 425,292
2000 859,220 383,894
1999 927,074 382,214
1998 1,035,696 397,619
1997 989,372 403,025
Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Details

USWD 4Q/02

U.S. Wireless Data reported fourth quarter revenue of $899,000, a 61% increase over the same quarter one year ago. Gross profit for the three months ended December 31, was $30,000, compared to gross profit of $231,000 in the same period in the prior fiscal year. Net loss for the quarter totaled $3.42 million, as compared to a net loss of $3.33 million, for the corresponding quarter of the prior fiscal year. The growth in revenues were driven by service revenues which grew to $764,000, up from $428,000 in the prior fiscal year, a 79% jump. Service revenue was derived primarily from the growing base of active sites that use the Company’s proprietary Synapse service to process transactions. For complete details on USWD’s latest quarterly performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

Details

CANADIAN TIRE 4Q/02

Toronto-based Canadian Tire Corporation reported that credit card
receivables ended 2002 at $1.95 billion, 35% ahead of last year’s levels,
driven by the migration of store credit cardholders to the “Options
MasterCard.” At the year-end, MasterCard accounted for 85% of total CTFS
receivables. During 2002, CTFS made in-store acquisitions of more than
439,000 new “Options MasterCard” accounts. Fourth quarter earnings before
taxes for CTFS of $27.0 million were 136.7% ahead of last year reflecting
strong receivables growth, lower rates of write-off as a percentage of
average receivables, tight operating expense
management, and an $8.1 million gain on the sale of receivables. Excluding
the gain on sale of receivables, pretax operating earnings were $18.9
million, up 71.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2001.

Details

Hack Attack

Millions of credit card account numbers were hacked from the database of third-party payment card processor earlier this month. The hacked accounts include 3.4 million VISA cards and 2.2 million MasterCards. An undetermined number of American Express and Discover cards were involved. However, approximately eight million accounts were reportedly involved. The card associations indicated there is no evidence of widespread fraud and affected cardholders have been notified.

Details

MasterCard & Universal

MasterCard International and Vivendi UNIVERSAL Entertainment confirmed their multi-year marketing alliance last week. Under the deal MasterCard will become the “Official Payment Brand” and “Preferred Card” of Universal Entertainment’s theme parks and resorts, movies, music and Internet properties. Also, MasterCard recently launched a new 30-second television ad as part of its “Priceless” advertising campaign. The new creative, which was filmed on location at Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando, features a family experiencing Universal’s “Hulk” Roller Coaster as part of a “Priceless” day at the Park. The spot was produced by McCann-Erickson/New York. In December, MasterCard, Chase and Universal teamed to launch the “Universal Entertainment MasterCard from Chase.”. Cardholders will earn one point per dollar on all everyday purchases and two points per dollar spent at select Universal Parks & Resorts retail locations. Points can be redeemed for movie and concert tickets, DVDs, CDs, advance movie screenings, and cardholders will have the opportunity to redeem reward points for unique Hollywood experiences, including tickets to celebrity events, spending a day on a television or movie set, backstage concert passes, and walking the red carpet at a movie premiere. (CF Library 12/6/02)

Details

WAP PAYMENTS

Ontario-based Payment Services Interactive Gateway a/k/a PSiGate has
reached an agreement with Diginara to enable credit card processing over a
“Wireless Application Protocol.” Under the terms of the agreement, PSiGate
is now licensed to be the exclusive vendor for Diginara’s WAP-enabled
credit card technology and Diginara will resell PSiGate’s credit card
processing capabilities and merchant services to Diginara clients. The
partnership enables users of mobile devices to activate real-time credit
card transactions throughout North America.

Details

TSAI 4Q/02

Transaction Systems Architects reported revenue for the fourth calendar quarter of $62.5 million and net income of $3.0 million. For the year-ago quarter TSAI reported $73.2 million in restated revenues and net income of $2.4 million. The Company completed the fourth quarter with $229.3 million in backlog, consisting of $154.7 million in recurring revenue backlog and $74.6 million in non-recurring revenue backlog. During the quarter, ACI Worldwide, the Company’s largest business unit, added seven new customers. Solutions licensed included BASE24, ACI Proactive Risk Manager, ACI Smart Chip Manager and two BASE24-es licenses on UNIX server technology. Also, ACI Worldwide added 12 capacity upgrades and licensed 15 new applications to existing clients. For complete details on TSAI’s latest quarterly performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

Details