Snapper Credit Card

Conseco Finance Corp. announced that it has introduced a new private-label credit card for Snapper, Inc., a leading manufacturer of residential and commercial outdoor power equipment. The Snapper card program will launch in February, 2002.

The Snapper credit card offers customers a number of benefits, including easy application and fast approval processes, open lines of credit, competitive rates and special financing options.

Conseco Finance is committed to adding value and increasing card utility for cardholders, according to Greg Pierce, senior vice president with Conseco Finance Corp.’s retail services division. “Today’s outdoor power consumer demands the highest quality product from knowledgeable dealers who offer value, service, and convenient financing. Snapper is a perfect fit for our outdoor power industry program,” said Pierce. “Our program efficiencies and marketing prowess, combined with Snapper promotional financing, will help dealers grow their bottom line.”

“We were impressed by Conseco Finance’s experience in serving the outdoor power equipment industry. Snapper dealers can expect innovative marketing programs and world-class service from the Conseco Finance team,” said Mark J. Chamberlain, executive vice president of Snapper, Inc. “The new Snapper Card will be a powerful sales tool for our dealers, making it easy and convenient for our customers to buy Snapper products.”

“We’re proud to be the leader in innovative credit programs that help outdoor power equipment dealers build their profitability,” said Todd Woodard, president of retail services at Conseco Finance. “We look forward to providing Snapper dealers with the service and support the industry has come to expect from Conseco Finance.”

Snapper Inc., celebrating 50 years of manufacturing commercial and residential lawn mowing equipment, utility vehicles, snow throwers and tillers, is based in McDonough, Ga. Snapper products are available through a nationwide network of more than 4,000 independent outdoor power equipment dealers and many Wal-Mart store locations. Snapper, Inc. is a subsidiary of Metromedia International Group, Inc. (AMEX: MMG). For more information on Snapper products and services call 1-888-477-8650 (residential equipment), 1-888-477-8650 (commercial equipment), or visit them on the Internet at [www.snapper.com][1].

St. Paul, Minn.-based Conseco Finance Corp., with managed assets of $44 billion, is one of America’s largest finance companies and a leader in the home equity, home improvement, manufactured housing and private label credit card businesses. Conseco Finance is a subsidiary of Conseco, Inc. (NYSE: CNC), headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. To learn more about Conseco, visit [www.conseco.com][2].

[1]: http://www.snapper.com/
[2]: http://www.conseco.com/

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NPC 4Q/01

National Processing this morning reported fourth quarter net income of $18.2 million on revenues of $124 million. Total merchant transactions processed were 991 million for the quarter and 3.5 billion for the year, representing respective increases of 19% and 24% over comparable 2000 volumes. Total dollar volume processed was $45.2 billion, up 18% over 4Q/00. Revenue for Merchant Card Services reached $115.7 million and increase of 27% over last year. Merchant Card Services signed new contracts during the quarter with QuikTrip Corporation, Worldwide Restaurant Concepts, Raley’s Supermarkets, and Fandango. Payment Services announced contracts with Humana and Health Alliance Medical Plans for NPC’s ‘AcceleratedPAY’ platform. For complete details on NPC’s 4Q/01 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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CITI CARDS

Citigroup Inc. reported core income for the fourth quarter
ended
December 31, 2001, of $3.86 billion, increasing 16% over the fourth quarter of
2000.

Core income per share, diluted, increased 14%, to $0.74. Results include $228
million pre-tax impact relating to Enron, and $470 million pre-tax impact due
to the turmoil in Argentina. For the full year, Citigroup’s core income
increased 3% over the prior year, while core income per share, diluted, was
$2.81. Net income for the fourth quarter was $3.88 billion, and for the full
year, was $14.13 billion.

“Our objective is to create a company with the geographic and business
diversity necessary to sustain the economic shocks that inevitably occur.
Despite the continued global recession; Enron’s bankruptcy, the largest in
corporate history; and the severe economic turmoil in Argentina; Citigroup
performed extraordinarily well in the fourth quarter, with earnings per share
up 14%,” said Sanford I. Weill, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of
Citigroup.

“It was a difficult year for all of us, as the world has had to deal with the
events of September 11, the global slowdown and unusually turbulent markets.
Citigroup has not been immune from these problems; in fact, we absorbed $1.8
billion in reduced revenues, higher losses and increased provisions as a
result
of September 11, Enron and Argentina and still achieved record results in
2001.

“We continue to reap the benefits of our diverse, market-leading franchises.
During the fourth quarter, Global Consumer income increased 20%, Emerging
Markets rose 9% and the Corporate and Investment Bank posted extraordinary
results relative to its competitors and pared its costs by 7%, growing income
17%. Our planned spin-off of Travelers Property Casualty and our efforts to
integrate Travelers Life & Annuity with our Global Investment Management and
Private Banking segment are important steps that enable us to focus more
intently on our high growth core businesses,” said Weill.

Highlights of the year included:

Strong performance in key businesses:

– Citigroup’s Corporate and Investment Bank topped the league tables as the
number one underwriter of global debt and equity in 2001. Citigroup assisted
its clients in raising $487 billion, a 37% increase over proceeds raised in
2000. The Corporate and Investment Bank also ranked #1 in disclosed fees for
debt and equity underwriting globally and #1 in investment banking fees for
the
year, and was the top-ranked U.S. equity research team in Institutional
Investor’s annual survey.

– Citigroup’s Emerging Markets business earned $3.2 billion in core income,
increasing 21% with 32% growth in the consumer segment and 17% growth in
Corporate Banking and Transaction Services. The business also continued to
increase market share in all regions. It was named “Best Bank in Emerging
Markets” and “Best Bank in Latin America” by Euromoney and “Best Global
Emerging Markets Bank” by Global Finance, in addition to being recognized as
the “Best Bank in Asia” by Finance Asia.

– Performance of Citigroup Asset Management’s funds continued to improve
significantly in 2001, with 66% of its U.S. mutual non-money fund assets
ranked
by Lipper in the 1st or 2nd quartile. Citigroup Asset Management is also the
leader in the fast growing managed accounts segment of the market, with $67
billion in assets under management in U.S. separately-managed accounts.

– Global Cards core income increased 22% in 2001, with 109 million accounts in
43 countries. International accounts grew 21%, driven by the addition of
Banamex.

– Innovative uses of technology to extend our reach and reduce expenses.
Citigroup now has approximately 15.3 million on-line customers and has the
top-ranked consumer on-line banking, brokerage and credit card products. For
corporate customers, CitiDirect now offers on-line transactional banking in 86
countries and 12 languages.

– Increasing operating leverage, as revenue growth of 12% in the fourth
quarter
outpaced expense growth of 4%. For the full year, revenue growth of 8% was
double the level of expense growth at 4%.

– Higher credit losses and revenue impairment stemming from Enron’s recent
bankruptcy filing as well as substantial turmoil in Argentina. Related to
Enron, Citigroup recorded a $228 million pre-tax charge, including increased
credit losses and write-downs on investment securities and trading positions.
The current situation in Argentina has resulted in a $470 million pre-tax
negative impact, including $235 million in a foreign exchange revaluation, and
$235 million in additional credit losses, investment securities write-downs,
and a charge related to the exchange of Argentine debt securities for loans.

– Continued investment in expanding our franchise through acquisitions. During
2001, Citigroup invested over $15 billion in acquisitions, including building
the leading financial institution in Mexico through its purchase of Banamex,
and enhancing its U.S. retail banking operations with the purchase of EAB.

– Significant increases in revenues related to cross-marketing products
through
Citigroup’s proprietary distribution channels, which totaled $12.2 billion in
2001. During the year, revenues for investment banking products sold to
commercial banking customers increased 15% from the prior year to
approximately
$2.4 billion. Citigroup Asset Management’s market share of investment products
sold through proprietary distribution channels increased to 62% from 46% one
year ago. Sales of Travelers Life & Annuity products through Citigroup’s U.S.
distribution channels rose 17%.

– Strengthening capital, as Citigroup’s total equity, including trust
preferred
securities, grew to $88.4 billion at December 31, 2001. Citigroup’s return on
common equity for the fourth quarter was 19.4%, and was 20.4% for the full
year. During the quarter, Citigroup repurchased 7.5 million shares of stock,
bringing the total number of shares repurchased in 2001 to 64.2 million.

GLOBAL CONSUMER

Core income of $2.03 billion for the fourth quarter, up 20%.

Highlights included:

– Global Consumer revenue increased 20% to $11.2 billion, while expenses grew
at a 12% rate.

– CitiFinancial income increased 50% led by continued expense savings related
to the Associates integration, which has led to a $138 million year over year
reduction in expenses. Revenues increased 11%, based on 9% receivables growth,
as a lower cost of funds offset lower yields.

North America Cards income rose 21%, as 6% receivables growth, pricing actions
and a lower cost of funds strengthened the net interest margin by 221 basis
points. The higher revenues, combined with flat expenses, offset a 169 basis
point increase in the net credit loss ratio.

– Citibanking income increased 29%, benefiting from higher spread income and
25% deposit growth, which reflected the addition of EAB, acquired in the third
quarter of 2001.

– Japan consumer income increased 27%, reflecting continued growth in consumer
finance receivables, reduced expenses and funding costs, offset by lower
yields.

– Emerging Markets consumer income rose 44%, which reflects the inclusion of
all operations for Banamex and Citibank Mexico, which together contributed
$207
million in income. Substantial growth was also experienced in Asia, driven by
the continued expansion of Citigroup’s cards business in the region, as
well as
in CEEMEA, reflecting deposit growth in new markets, as well as increases in
cards and investment products sales. Results in Latin America were impacted by
a $235 million pre-tax loss on the revaluation of certain consumer loans in
Argentina.

– Primerica Financial Services’ income increased 8%, driven by higher net
investment income, increased sales of loan products and lower reported claims.

– Travelers Property Casualty Personal Lines income fell 36%, reflecting
continued higher loss trends and lower net investment income, despite 6%
growth
in direct written premiums.

GLOBAL CORPORATE

Core income of $1.32 billion for the fourth quarter, up 4%. Highlights
included:

– Global Corporate revenues of $8.3 billion decreased 1%, while expenses fell
7_.

– Income from Emerging Markets Corporate Banking and Global Transaction
Services declined 14% to $351 million, reflecting a $193 million pre-tax
write-down related to Argentina. The impact of these write-downs overshadowed
strong trading-related revenues throughout all regions as well as tight
expense
controls, as evidenced by the 8% decline in expenses from the year ago
quarter.

– The Corporate & Investment Bank’s income rose 17%, as a 7% reduction in
expenses from the fourth quarter of 2000 more than offset an $84 million
higher
provision for credit losses, including credit losses related to Enron. Despite
a weaker environment, investment banking revenues increased 21% from the prior
year and 30% from the third quarter of 2001, while commission revenue
growth of
4% from the third quarter reflected an 8% increase in retail commissions.

– Travelers Property Casualty Commercial Lines’ income increased 2%,
reflecting
continued rate increases and lower expenses, offsetting lower net investment
income.

GLOBAL INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT AND PRIVATE BANKING

Core income of $371 million for the fourth quarter, up 1%. Highlights
included:

– Travelers Life & Annuity income decreased 3%, as a result of lower net
investment income. Lower investment results mitigated the effect of higher
volumes in group annuity and record volume in life insurance, holding revenue
growth to 11%, offset by higher provisions for policyholder benefits resulting
from the increased volumes.

– Capping a record year for the Private Bank, income rose 12% in the fourth
quarter. Revenues, driven by greater assets under management, stable loan
volumes and increased client trading activity, rose 10% while expense growth
was held to 3%.

– Asset Management and Retirement Services income increased 3% resulting from
strong net flows and significant expense reductions offset by negative market
action and a charge related to the exchange of Argentine debt securities for
loans. Excluding Retirement Services, Asset Management income increased 30%.
Net flows in the quarter were $11.2 billion, and assets under management
reached $417 billion, an increase of 4%.

– Asset Management market share increased in 2001 in proprietary channels,
with
market shares of 59% in the Smith Barney retail channel, 67% at Primerica
Financial Services and 72% in the Citibank North America channel.

INVESTMENT ACTIVITIES AND CORPORATE/OTHER

Income for Citigroup’s Investment Activities was $279 million in the fourth
quarter, reflecting realized gains as well as mark to market increases on
proprietary investments and investments held in the insurance portfolio,
offset
by various technology and telecom write-downs as well as securities
write-downs
related to Enron. Expenses in Corporate/Other were $134 million, $50 million
lower than the fourth quarter of 2000, aided by reduced corporate overhead
expense as well as lower borrowing costs.

Citigroup (NYSE: C), the preeminent global financial services company with 192
million customer accounts in more than 100 countries, provides consumers,
corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial
products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and
investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage, and asset management.
Major brand names under Citigroup’s trademark red umbrella include Citibank,
CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney, Banamex, and Travelers. Additional
information may be found at
http://www.citigroup.com.

Details

Sears 4Q/01

The Sears ‘Gold MasterCard’ portfolio exploded by 111% last year as the number of accounts climbed from 9 million at the end of 2000 to 19 million as of Dec 31, 2001. Receivables tripled during 2001, from $1.5 billion to $5.0 billion. Sears indicated it expects to add more than five million MasterCard accounts during 2002, and average balances to double as the portfolio matures. Sears also indicated it will switch the pricing for its core private label card to a variable rate later this year. For the fourth quarter, Sears reported total credit card receivables of $27.6 billion, a 2.2% increase over 4Q/00. The net charge-off rate for the fourth quarter increased to 5.23% from 4.79% last year, primarily due to increased customer bankruptcy filings during 2001. The delinquency rate was flat at 7.58% for 4Q/01, compared to 7.56% one year ago. For complete details on Sears’ fourth quarter 2001 and prior performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

Details

GOLDFISH SALE

Household International reported fourth quarter earnings per share of
$1.17, its fourteenth consecutive record quarter. Fourth quarter earnings per
share rose 14 percent from $1.03 the prior year. Net income in the fourth
quarter increased 11 percent, to an all-time quarterly record of $549 million.

For the full year, Household reported earnings per share of $4.08,
representing a 15 percent increase from $3.55 in 2000. Net income for 2001
totaled $1.9 billion, also an all-time high, 13 percent above $1.7 billion
earned in 2000.

“Household’s fourth quarter results were simply outstanding,” said William
F. Aldinger, chairman and chief executive officer, “demonstrating the
tremendous strength and earnings power of the Household franchise. Receivable
and revenue growth exceeded our expectations while credit indicators weakened
only modestly in a tough economic environment. Recognizing the importance of
a strong balance sheet, we provided $154 million in excess of owned
chargeoffs, bringing our reserves to their highest level ever.”

Commenting on the full-year results, Aldinger added, “In 2001, we
demonstrated that our business model generates superior results in a weak
economy as well as in the strong economic periods of previous years.
Exceptional revenue growth of 18 percent more than offset the increases in
credit losses during the year. We further strengthened our balance sheet
while investing in sales and marketing to position our franchise for
sustainable growth in the future. We are well-positioned to deliver 13 to
15 percent EPS growth for 2002.”

Fourth Quarter Review

Receivable Growth

At December 31, 2001, the company’s managed portfolio reached
$100.8 billion, up $5.2 billion, or 5.4 percent, from the third quarter.
Growth was strong across all products. The real estate secured portfolio
increased the most, up $2.8 billion in the quarter. This portfolio comprises
over 44 percent of total managed receivables.

During the quarter, the company purchased a private label credit card
portfolio totaling approximately $725 million at December 31, 2001. In
addition, the company sold approximately $1 billion in MasterCard/Visa
receivables in the United Kingdom to Centrica, its former partner in the
Goldfish Card program, as part of a settlement agreement.

Revenues

Fourth quarter managed net revenues grew $506 million, or 21 percent, from
a year ago. An expanded net interest margin and higher receivable volume
drove the increase.

Household’s managed net interest margin for the fourth quarter was
$2.2 billion, an increase of $466 million, or 27 percent, compared to a year
ago. The company’s managed net interest margin percent widened to 8.85 percent
from 8.01 percent a year ago. Lower funding costs were the primary reasons
for the expansion.

Managed fee income increased $17 million, or 4 percent, compared to the
fourth quarter of 2000, principally reflecting higher levels of credit card
fees.

The company’s risk adjusted revenue (managed net revenues less
securitization revenues and chargeoffs) expanded to 7.79 percent from
7.60 percent a year ago.

Operating Expenses

Operating expenses rose 22 percent from a year ago, driven by higher
payroll costs for sales personnel and collectors, higher sales incentives, and
increased marketing and technology spending. Household’s efficiency ratio was
31.2 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to 30.8 percent a year ago.

Credit Quality and Loss Reserves

At December 31st, the managed delinquency ratio (60+days) was
4.46 percent, up 3 basis points from 4.43 percent in the third quarter. The
managed delinquency ratio was 4.20 percent a year ago. The annualized managed
net chargeoff ratio for the fourth quarter was 3.90 percent, up 16 basis
points from 3.74 percent in the third quarter. The managed net chargeoff
ratio in the year-ago quarter was 3.41 percent.

Managed credit loss reserves increased by $256 million during the quarter,
to $3.8 billion. Compared to year-end 2000, credit loss reserves were up
$617 million. The ratio of reserves-to-managed receivables was 3.78 percent
at December 31, 2001 compared to 3.72 percent at September 30th and
3.65 percent a year earlier. Reserves-to-nonperforming loans were 105 percent
at December 31st, compared to 104 percent at September 30th and 107 percent a
year ago.

Capital

The company strengthened its ratio of tangible equity to tangible managed
assets to 7.87 percent at December 31st, from 7.82 percent at September 30th
and 7.41 percent a year earlier.

In connection with its $2 billion share repurchase program, announced on
March 9, 1999, Household bought back 2.2 million shares in the fourth quarter,
totaling $140 million.

The company’s new, two-year $2 billion share repurchase program went into
effect on January 1, 2002. At December 31st, Household had agreements with
third parties to purchase, on a forward basis, approximately 6.5 million
shares of common stock at a weighted average price of $59.14 per share.

Full Year Highlights

— Managed receivables were up over $13 billion, or 15 percent, in 2001,
with the most robust growth in real estate secured receivables.
— Managed revenues increased $1.6 billion, or 18 percent, driven by a
strong net interest margin. The company’s full-year net interest
margin expanded 40 basis points, to 8.50 percent.

— Operating expenses grew 18 percent in 2001, as the company grew its
sales and collection staff to support its growing portfolio. The
company also invested in technology, e-commerce and marketing to
strengthen its franchise for the future. Household’s 2001 efficiency
ratio was 34.0 percent compared to 34.2 percent for 2000.

— Credit losses grew moderately during 2001, with the full-year managed
chargeoff ratio increasing 9 basis points, to 3.73 percent. The
company strengthened its balance sheet throughout the year, providing
$503 million to reserves in excess of owned chargeoffs.

— Risk adjusted revenue for 2001 improved to 7.78 percent from 7.55
percent in 2000.

— During 2001, the company repurchased 17.4 million shares, totaling
$916 million.

About Household

Household’s businesses are leading providers of consumer loan, credit
cards, auto finance and credit insurance products in the United States, United
Kingdom and Canada. In the United States, Household’s largest business,
founded in 1878, operates under the two oldest and most recognized names in
consumer finance — HFC and Beneficial. Household is also one of
the nation’s largest issuers of private label and general purpose credit
cards, including The GM Card(R) and the AFL-CIO’s Union Plus(R) card. For
more information, visit the company’s web site at
http://www.household.com .

Details

AutoSmart

VA-based AutoSmart is harnessing smart card technology for the automotive retail and service industries with the introduction of the ‘AutoSmart’ card. The new card, launching nationally this month, will provide the first independently certified service and maintenance record for each new car sold. The ‘AutoSmart’ system also enables car dealers to develop customized and unique loyalty programs. The ‘AutoSmart’ card will hold manufacturer and technical specifications; roadside service plans and extended warranties; registration; insurance; state and federal safety and emission tests; manufacturers’ recalls; auto-related repairs, service and costs; and debit/credit and other financing information. the card is being rolled-out this month in metro New York, Washington, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, and Seattle.

Details

Metris/Fingerhut

Metris Companies Inc. commented on this week’s announcement by Federated Department Stores that it plans to close its Fingerhut subsidiary. “Obviously we’re saddened by this news,” said Metris Chairman and CEO Ronald N. Zebeck. “Fingerhut has been a highly visible member of the Minnesota business community for more than 50 years, and we feel for the thousands of employees who will be affected.”

“Fingerhut was once an important part of our business, and we want to express our concern for their displaced employees,” said William Anderson, Senior Vice President, Enhancement Services. “We have added numerous strategic partners over the past three years as the Fingerhut business diminished. This development will have no impact on either our credit card or enhancement services business in 2002 and beyond.”

Metris Companies Inc. is one of the nation’s leading providers of financial products and services. The company issues credit cards through its wholly owned subsidiary, Direct Merchants Credit Card Bank, N.A., the 10th-largest bankcard issuer in the United States. As a top-tier enhancement services company, Metris also offers consumers a comprehensive array of value-added products, including credit protection and insurance, extended service plans and membership clubs. For more information, visit [www.metriscompanies.com][1] or [www.directmerchantsbank.com][2].

[1]: http://www.metriscompanies.com/
[2]: http://www.directmerchantsbank.com/

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Tidel Fiscal Loss

Houston-based Tidel Technologies reported a $26 million net loss for its fiscal year ending Sept 30 due to the downfall of its former largest customer, PA-based Credit Card Center. For the fourth quarter ending 9/30/01, Tidel reported an $11.5 million loss compared to a net profit of $2.4 million one year ago. For the quarter, revenues were $6,262,000, a decrease of $13,960,000 from $20,222,000 reported in the same period a year ago. For the fiscal year, revenues were $36,086,000, a decrease of $36,845,000 from $72,931,000 in fiscal 2000. The decline in sales attributable to CCC was $13,250,000 and $33,077,000 for the quarter and year, respectively. For complete details on Tidel’s performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Cubic Deal

Cubic Transportation Systems said this morning it has received a $15.2 million contract from the Metropolitan Council in Minneapolis/St. Paul for a smart card-based ticketing system for light rail and bus rapid transit. However, the fare payment system will use both magnetic and smart card products. The system will employ Cubic’s ‘Nextfare Business Management System’, a central computer package designed for multi-operator regional ticketing systems, and ‘Tri-Reader’, the only card reader that processes all ISO-compliant and Cubic’s ‘GO CARD’ smart cards. The ticketing system will also feature ‘Autoload’, which lets transit users link smart cards to their credit cards for automatic reload of transit value at any ticket vending machine. patrons also will be able to load value on their smart cards at rail and busway ticket vending machines by using either credit or debit cards. The Minneapolis/St. Paul fare collection system will feature Cubic’s new ticket vending machine designed for the light rail and bus rapid transit markets.

Details

ID-CHECK Patent

Intelli-Check, Inc., a developer of advanced document verification systems, announced it has received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office a notice of allowance on a patent application that significantly broadens its patent coverage for its proprietary system for authenticating identification documents.

The notice of allowance is the last step toward receiving approval for a patent. The initial grant of patent rights for this technology was provided to Intelli-Check on January 26, 1999, under U.S. Patent No. 5,864,623.

The continuation patent expands the coverage and thus the potential commercial application of Intelli-Check’s original patent, further substantiating the Company’s leadership role in the emerging document verification market. Currently, most commercial transactions that require proof of ID utilize driver licenses whose format varies from state to state. The heart of Intelli-Check’s patented technology, contained in its ID-CHECK(R) unit, is its capacity to validate the information encoded on all currently issued driver licenses and state issued or military ID cards that conform to standards of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Standards Organization (ISO). Frank Mandelbaum, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Intelli-Check, said, “The Company will hold four issued patents if the continuation patent is formally issued, with three others pending in the United States and overseas. As a result, Intelli-Check possesses a comprehensive intellectual property portfolio which we believe will be a valuable legal tool for thwarting potential infringements on its patents. We also believe that our intellectual property portfolio makes us especially well-positioned to compete in the marketplace.”

Intelli-Check, Inc. ([http://www.intellicheck.com][1]) is a developer and marketer of an advanced state-of-the-art document verification system for authenticating the validity of driver licenses and ID cards used as proof of identity. Intelli-Check’s multi-purpose ID-CHECK(R) units are fully capable of increasing security and as a tool that can be used to deter terrorism at military installations, high profile buildings, airports and other sites and are also an effective tool against “identity theft,” which often is supported by fake IDs and is the fastest growing crime in the U.S. ID-CHECK(R) units enable a user to prevent economic loss from check-cashing, credit card and various other frauds utilizing fake IDs and to determine whether purchasers of age-restricted products such as alcohol and tobacco meet minimum age requirements for their sale. ID-CHECK(R), with its patented technology, analyzes and displays information encoded in magnetic stripes and barcodes found on driver licenses, military identification and other forms of state and government-issued identification from more than 50 jurisdictions.

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

Details

Monopoly Lawsuit

A Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania business filed a lawsuit against credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, alleging that they conspired to monopolize the market for credit card services. The suit claims that Visa, MasterCard and the banks that issue those cards illegally agreed that the banks would not issue any other credit cards like American Express or Discover.

AAG International, Inc., a seller of militaria and other antiques, located at 1266 B Sans Souci Parkway, Wilkes-Barre, and its Chief Executive Officer Stephen L. Flood, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Flood said he was bringing the lawsuit because he believes that competition in the marketplace is essential in bringing consumers lower prices. Flood, who is also the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Controller, recently refused to issue a county check to pay a bill from Joyce Insurance for Luzerne County’s insurance premium, saying that the county’s insurance business should be awarded to the lowest bidder.

The lawsuit, filed as a nationwide class action on behalf of AAG International by attorney Dianne M. Nast, seeks unspecified damages for all businesses that were forced to pay higher fees to accept Visa and MasterCard. Last October, a federal judge in New York found the challenged practice violates the federal antitrust laws.

According to Nast, “The fact that a federal judge has held the conduct of Visa and MasterCard illegal provides a strong foundation for the claims in this suit.” Nast said she expected that more suits would be filed alleging similar violations against Visa and MasterCard.

Details

H&R Block Check Machines

ACE Cash Express, Inc., the nation’s largest check-cashing chain and a significant provider of related retail financial services, today announced ACE and H&R Block have completed the installation of 100 automated self-service machines in select H&R Block offices in 21 states across the country for the 2002 tax season.

The machines will allow H&R Block clients to conveniently cash their tax refund checks in most instances in less than one minute in H&R Block offices. Last year, ACE installed H&R Block with 50 self-service machines during the 2001 tax season.

“Our relationship with H&R Block will introduce ACE to new tax customers, while providing additional convenience and savings to our current customers,” said Jay B. Shipowitz, president and chief operating officer of ACE. “ACE created this opportunity by integrating its check cashing underwriting rules and procedures into an automated self-service environment. We hope that introducing our check processing technology to the H&R Block network will accelerate our self-service business.”

“By building a relationship between companies who are leaders in their industry, we believe we have created an important and convenient service for our mutual consumers,” said Donald H. Neustadt, chief executive officer of ACE.

As part of the agreement, ACE also will refer clients to H&R Block by offering a $10 discount on tax preparation, and H&R Block will make its clients aware in certain offices of a discount on check cashing fees available through ACE.

About ACE

ACE Cash Express, Inc. is headquartered in Irving, Texas and is the largest owner, operator and franchiser of check-cashing stores in the United States. Founded in 1968, the company has a total network of 1,170 stores, consisting of 995 company-owned stores and 175 franchised stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia. ACE also maintains automatic check-cashing machines, which provide financial services without the need for a service associate, at 171 locations, 100 of which are located in H&R Block offices. ACE offers a broad range of financial and check-cashing services and is one of the largest providers of MoneyGram wire transfer transactions. In addition, ACE offers money orders, bill payment services, and prepaid local and long distance telecommunication services. Under ACE’s agreement with Goleta National Bank (GNB), GNB currently makes small consumer loans available to customers at various ACE company-owned stores. The company’s website is found at [http://www.acecashexpress.com][1] .

About H&R Block

H&R Block, Inc. is a diversified company with subsidiaries providing a wide range of financial services and products. In 2001, H&R Block served 19.2 million taxpayers — more than any tax or accounting firm — through its more than 10,400 offices located in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. H&R Block served another 2.3 million tax clients through its award-winning TaxCut(R) software program and its online tax preparation services. Investment services and securities products are offered through H&R Block Financial Advisors, Inc., member NYSE, SIPC. H&R Block, Inc. is not a registered broker-dealer. H&R Block Mortgage Corporation and Option One Mortgage Corporation offer a wide range of home mortgage products. RSM McGladrey, Inc. is a national accounting, tax and consulting firm with more than 100 offices nationwide, as well as an affiliation with 550 offices in 75 countries as the U.S. member of RSM International. Additional information is available on the company’s Web site at [http://www.hrblock.com][2].

[1]: http://www.acecashexpress.com/
[2]: http://www.hrblock.com/

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