Thursday, December 27, 2007

An electronics engineer and her husband charged of credit card fraud

Kolkata police arrested a couple; 26-year-old electronics engineer and her husband were arrested on charges of credit card fraud.
Bornita Das Roy, a resident of Bidhan Abasan in Salt Lake, allegedly stole her aunt’s credit card and made purchases worth Rs 24,998. The police have seized bought items from her unemployed husband’s residence in New Barrackpore.

Both Bornita and Raju Das were produced at Sealdah court today and have been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. Bornita has been residing with her father B N Roy, a doctor, said police. “Bornita is from a well-to-do family but we have found that she stole the credit card and made the purchases,” said Officer-in-Charge, Manicktolla police station, Debasish Baidya.

According to the police, Bornita’s aunt Kalpana Sarkar is a resident of 254, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy Road under Manicktolla police station area. She is a geography teacher at Siksha Niketan School, and she lost her credit card on December 14.

She reported about the loss of her credit card to her bank. Two days later, after her reporting to the bank about the case she discovered that purchases worth Rs 24,998 had been made using her card. Then she lodged a complaint in Manicktolla police station.

During the investigation it was revealed that the card was last seen in her house, the day Bornita had come to visit her.

“She and Raju planned the heist carefully. She knew where the credit card was usually kept in Kalpana’s room. On December 12, both of them purchased jewellery using the credit card in the Big Bazar supermarket off VIP Road. Later, she went to another showroom in Ultadanga and bought a cell phone with the same card,” said an officer of Manicktolla police station.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kashmir people receive credit bills instead of credit cards

Around three to four months back many people have applied for credit card with the biggest bank in Indian administered Kashmir. These people are still waiting for their credit cards but have started receiving bills.

Ajaz Iqbal Bhat of Chakka Bhaderwah applied for a credit card with a Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch in Bhaderwah. Bhat is one of the few people who are waiting for their credit cards, have received a credit statement of INR 26829 detailing the advance and shopping made from his card.

Rajinder Kumar of Paneja received a credit statement of 6000 INR while Arshad Wachkoo of Gatha received a statement of 17000 INR.

All of them had applied for credit cards three or four months back.

According to reports in Doda district more than 100 customers are waiting for their credit cards.

On receiving complaints from people bank has started an investigation into the lapse.

A spokesman of the bank told Kashmir Newz that the bank has summoned the courier company for investigation who was given the work of delivery of cards to the clients.

“We are investigating the cases and the courier service has been called to find out where the cards have been misused,” said Sajjad Bazaz a spokesman of the J&K Bank.

Bazaz did not give the name of the courier service but informed that the customers will not have to pay for the bills sent to them.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Credit cardholder loses RS 81k

Devdas T. Chakravorty, who is employed as a storekeeper with a local construction firm, was stunned to know that he had exceeded his withdrawal limit.

When Devdas T. Chakravorty attempted to withdraw money from ATM his card got stuck. He reported the matter to ICICI Bank's credit card division, where he was told that he had exceeded his withdrawal limit by drawing Rs 81,339 in phases between September 26 and 29 for purchasing tickets of different airlines.

It was shocking for him to know that he has been left poorer by Rs 81,000 as his card was used by an unidentified person to purchase air tickets.

Chakravorty lodged a complaint with the cyber crime cell of the city police, which referred the matter to the Hadapsar police.

Assistant commissioner of police Sunil Phulari, who heads the cell, informed the TOI that the police is investigating the modus operandi that the culprit(s) resorted to.

"The modus operandi could be either by way of internet hacking of the personal identification number (PIN), which is critical to executing an ATM withdrawal process, or by way of accessing other key details related to the card," he said.

Friday, December 21, 2007

ABN AMBRO launched its Platinum credit card collection designed by Rohit Bal

ABN AMRO bank (India) launched its Platinum Credit card collection. It is India’s first designer credit card which has been designed by celebrate fashion designer Rohit Bal exclusively for ABN AMRO bank.

ABN AMRO Platinum Credit Card signifies the highest standards of exclusivity and luxury. The bank targeted affluent, sophisticated and discerning customer audience who are demanding aesthetically superior and feature rich products. The is backed by the promise of exceptional service and offers card members the unique benefit of customizing their package of financial and lifestyle benefits based on their individual tastes and preferences.

Speaking at the launch of Platinum Credit Card Ms. Meera H Sanyal, Corporate Executive Vice President & Country Executive of ABN AMRO in India said: "At ABN AMRO, our ability to innovate in response to changing paradigms and customer influences has been a key strength of the organization. The juxtaposition of the two worlds of finance and fantasy in creating a unique designer credit card proposition is yet another highlight in this journey. And breathing life into this proposition was the creative genius and inspiration of Rohit Bal and our continued partnership with Mastercard.”

Mr. Jim Brown, ABN AMRO’s Head of Consumer Customer Segment in Asia was also present at the at the launch of the card, in his speech he said: "Across the world, customers are seeking premium credit cards as a symbol of status and recognition. The positioning of the ABN AMRO Platinum Credit Cards in the luxury space with a comprehensive set of financial, lifestyle and self expressive benefits is an effort to lead and benchmark the category. We believe this is a very compelling proposition and will appeal to the sophisticated and discerning affluent customer in India."

“As the affluent consumer market in India continues to grow both from a size and purchasing power perspective, so do their lifestyle needs,” said Alan King, Regional Head, Global Accounts, MasterCard Worldwide. “We are committed to offering a mix of products and services that will allow our cardholders to decide what matters most to them. The launch of the ABN AMRO Platinum MasterCard credit card is testament to this and offers affluent consumers choice and customization. We look forward to working closely with ABN AMRO to continuously meet the evolving needs of affluent cardholders throughout India.”

While elaborating on his exclusive association with ABN AMRO, Rohit Bal, added: “A credit card is one of the most personal statements you can make as it carries your name and your signature. The designs I have created for ABN AMRO Platinum attempt to recreate the magic of the natural beauty of some of India’s most powerful and distinctive national symbols through quiet expressions in objects of desire that you can carry with you all the time.”

The ABN AMRO Platinum Card collection features three designs inspired by typical Indian symbols but are expressed visually in striking black and platinum colors to make distinctive statements of individuality. The designs feature the lotus (India’s national flower), the peacock (India’s national bird) and the jharokha (a tribute to Mughal architecture).

The ABN AMRO Platinum Credit Card is offering financial benefits and lifestyle privileges to its members are a result of ABN AMRO’s extensive association with this target audience and an intimate understanding of their requirements. As a result, membership to the ABN AMRO Platinum Credit Card automatically enrolls the card member to the ‘Platinum Gateway’ club – with privileges that complement and enhance their lifestyles at home and around the world. Card members will get the privilege to access to over 500 exclusive airport lounges across the world with a complimentary 2-year membership to Priority Pass, enjoy personalized attention with the 24x7 Concierge Service for assistance for referrals and reservations worldwide, comprehensive insurance cover upto Rs. 1 Crore, stay connected with a complimentary Matrix cellular connection and redeem a wide range of luxury products under the unique ABN AMRO Platinum temptations rewards program.

Furthermore, card members have an option to extend their ABN AMRO Platinum Credit Card membership to one or both of two other clubs that ABN AMRO offers; The Platinum Voyager Club and the Platinum Greens Club.

The Platinum Voyager Club – offering:

  • A complimentary international return air ticket to either Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok
  • The Taj Epicure Card offering discounts, benefits and privileges at all Taj hotels and restaurants worldwide
  • Option to convert reward points into air miles and redeem them against travel related expenses

The Platinum Greens Club – offering:

  • A choice of a Rossa Inza Putter or a Burner Recue – complimentary
  • Complimentary membership to the International Golf Fee card offering discounted access to over 2400 golf courses worldwide

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Credit card designed by fashion designer

Don’t get surprised if you come to know that your credit card has been designed by a fashion designer who was designing suits and clothes for you. Now day’s banks are contacting designers to get cards designed.

Recently a bank contacted Rohit Bal a fashion designer to get their credit card designed by him. “The bank wanted to tie up with a designer. They got in touch with me and gave me the creative freedom to do whatever I want,” says Rohit.

Rohit explained, “I chose to incorporate prominent national symbols like the lotus, peacock and aspects of Mughal architecture. I chose the colour black and silver, as it’s a platinum card. Lotus symbolifies beauty and simplicity and the peacock stands for growth and thirst. The architecture gives it an old world charm,” explains Rohit.

So why does something that gets swiped across machines and has a wallet for home need a design element?

“Plastic has gained momentum in our country like never before. It’s stealing the show from hard cash. It’s convenient and comes in handy for impulsive shopping. I use them a lot, so if a designer can make a mundane looking thing like a credit card stunning why not?” answers Farhan Akhtar who looks stunning in a formal sherwani designed exclusively for the ABN AMRO Platinum card launch.

Chhaya Momaya says, “I am very image conscious. I like anything that’s classy and stylish. I use my credit cards to shop all the time. It also saves you the trouble from carrying cash around. The security levels have also been spruced up by the banks. The card has invoked positive responses from a lot of people who’ve seen it. I’ll definitely flaunt it.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reward cards what they mean to you

Almost every credit card company has reward programs and some have special reward cards. You name your passion, and the credit card companies probably have designed a rewards card for it.

Bank of America is having more than 5,000 partnerships worldwide, offering customers points for everything from travel to merchandise to one-on-one meetings with NASCAR drivers. Chase is advertising about the benefits of its Freedom card, which allows customers to switch between points or cash back. And newcomer Barclays touts its Direct TV Rewards Card for giving "Rewards Money Can't Buy," such as backstage passes to "The Tyra Banks Show" or a chance to meet CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.

"We see rewards programs as an important part of our product offerings," says Ric Struthers, North America Card Services executive for Bank of America.

"Almost every offer out there has some type of rewards component," says Megan Basilio, managing director for marketing at Barclaycard US. "Consumers expect rewards for what they spend."

But are reward cards really all that rewarding?

"A lot of times the sizzle is not as good as the steak," says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of, a site that compares credit card offers. "You have to be very careful and study the offers that you are considering."

One should know that the reward cards make people spend more and the companies are making their money.

"Rewards cards aren't free," says Emily Davidson, a credit card expert at "Credit card marketers are very, very smart. . . . They make a lot of money just by having you use the card."

A report in the Nilson Report which was published in an industry newsletter shows that rewards dramatically increase credit card use and the merchants who sign an agreement with credit card companies get a bonus, as most of the people who redeem rewards end up spending extra at the store.

One must read the fine print carefully actually the rewards aren’t as good as they look.

Some cards will offer 5 percent cash back, for example. But a closer look at the agreement could show that the 5 percent rate kicks in only after spending, say, $2,000 in a month at just 1 percent. And after spending $2,500, the rewards go back down again to 1 percent, or less.

Choose the card carefully. It should work for you means give more benefits to you. Rewards aren't very useful if they don't match your spending habits.

Finally, before even starting down the road of rewards, consumers should review some basic personal finance 101: Don't even think about a rewards card if you can't pay off the card in full every month.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Credit card crooks getting more tech savvy, using wire-tapping gadgets

Before skimmers were used now police officers are of view that the credit card racketeers are using hi-tech operations. This suspicion was strengthened when recently a private bank held a workshop for CID to discuss fraud techniques.

Credit card criminals in Kolkata may be getting more tech savvy, using wire-tapping gadgets to cash in on unsuspecting card users. This has become a new reason of worry for city police and CID. Wire-tapping is a complicated scheme and much more difficult to track down. It's a technical network that involves telephone wires, receiving-terminals and a cable line parallel with telephone cables to copy the card details when it is swiped for a transaction.

When the three Bangladeshis were arrested for using a card whose owner was in Singapore at that time the city police got a clue about fake credit card rackets in kolkata. Another fake card was seized in Burrabazar which was in use in New Zealand. Police is still looking for the clue that how this card was copied.

They are of a view that wire-tapping might be the method. Though they have not identified a racket as yet, cyber detectives are sure the card racketeers are running a hi-tech operation in the city.

"We haven't got any case where wire-tapping was used to dupe somebody but we are sure the racketeers are out there. We are trying to find the right technique to detect such crimes and also adopting safe-guard measures," said a senior CID officer.

Wiretapping works in three phases. In the first phase tapping is done into the wires of the main server to capture card data as it is processed for a legitimate transaction. In the next step the encoded data is transferred to another server, at the fraudster's end, where it is decoded. In the last phase, the data is used to produce counterfeit cards. The technology is definitely more complicated than a skimmer - a gadget which copies the details of a card from a measured distance. In advanced countries, encrypted cables are installed to prevent telephone wire tapping but awareness is low in India.

"The cable linking the electronic data capturing machine (EDC) and the distribution point box is a very sensitive area which is targeted by the racketeers. When the card is swiped on the EDC, the machine records the financial data in the card's magnetic strip and feeds it to the DP box, from where it moves to the main server of the telephone service provider and is finally transferred to the servers of banks where the transaction is recorded. The hackers target the area between the EDC and the DP box, tap into the wires, steal data and send it to another server," said an anti-fraud officer of a private bank.

It is difficult to trace such rackets the police officer said. "For the first phase, the fraudsters need only a map of the telephone wiring, a receiving terminal and cables matching the ones used by the telephone service provider. These are not very difficult to manage and anybody who has a flair for technology can use it to store the data. High-end technology comes in the next level," said an officer.

Police is suspecting that the card fraudsters in Kolkata might be using the technology to copy the data and send it to other cities in India and abroad. They have a enough clues to suspect this. In the last one year, such units have been busted in Delhi, Jaipur and Hyderabad. "We heard about it and are looking for effective measures to prevent wire-tapping," said Jawed Shamim, deputy commissioner, detective department. Kolkata Police can also take tips from south-east Asian countries like Thailand and Philippines, where such rackets are active and law enforcement agencies have more experience in handling such crimes.

RBI to bring transparency in credit card operations

Reserve Bank of India has taken a step to help credit cardholders who have not used their credit cards for more than six months. RBI is bringing transparency in credit card operations. The central bank has made it mandatory for banks to refund the small credit balance to cardholders if the credit card is rendered inactive for more than six months. This is for credit cardholders who have a credit balance of Rs 100 or lower in the account.

RBI has noted that at various instances the foreign and private sector banks stop sending the statements to their customers incase their card rendered to be inactive for six months or have a credit balance of Rs 100 or lower in the account.

After that the credit balance is written off to a suspense account and then transferred to the profit and loss account.

Whereas in the PSU banks the account is kept is on hold for eight years before writing off the account.

Bankers said some of the major foreign banks who have major hold in credit card business have even amended their policy of writing off the credit balance in inactive credit card holders after being pulled up by the RBI in its recent inspection.

Bankers clarified that even if the credit balances are of very small denomination, the amount becomes large after buildup which is transferred to the profit and loss account. In fact, the RBI has asked most of the banks to submit the report about the practice of managing the credit balance of the customer.

It has also asked various banks to justify the practice of writing off small balance in the credit card.

Usually a customer rounds off the amount and tends to give more than the credit card balance. The extra amount more than the credit card bill forms a part of the credit balance in the customers account. This gets adjusted in the next month’s credit card bill but gets increase if the card is not put to use.

Even if the card is rendered inactive, six month is a very less period to suspend the activity and to transfer the amount to the profit and loss account, said a banker.

The RBI observed that the card holder should be informed of the credit balance and amount be refunded if the cardholder confirms that the card is no more valid in transaction.

Monday, December 17, 2007

You can stop Identity theft

Just finished buying holiday gifts online and made payment for your purchases with a debit card or credit card, but what did you do to protect yourself against identity theft?

Maybe not much — most people rarely do anything, if ever, look over their shoulder before handing over their credit card. Most of people don't bother to double-check that a Web site is secure before typing in the digits. But with an estimated 10 million cases of identity theft each year, is asking for a little attention to be paid protect your personal information and your money, safe.

Yes there are more ways to protect your identity theft. There are credit-monitoring services, which can cost more than you feel like spending with the holiday bills rolling in. Also, reviewer argue that they may not be all that effective either, since they're somewhat similar to a fire alarm — it can alert you to a bad situation, but often just a bit too late.

Till now the best solution we have is probably the security freeze, which has been recently made available nationwide by all three credit bureaus. It's basically a padlock for your credit report and perhaps the best way to keep from becoming a victim.

"A credit freeze is an order to the three credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax — that you do not want them selling your personal information to any third party. What this does is make your credit report unavailable to banks, credit card companies, utility and cell phone companies — anyone who might want to look at your credit report before issuing credit," explains Scott Mitic, CEO and co-founder of TrustedID, an identity-theft protection service. If lenders can't see your credit report, they can't issue a thief credit in your name.

But there is negative aspect, is that unless you lift the freeze, you can't get credit either. So is it worth the hassle? Here, a briefing on security freezes and other ways to keep your identity to yourself.

Weigh the cost
The fee for a security freeze will vary state by state, but $10 per bureau seems to be the norm. (Unless you've already been a victim of ID theft, then it's free.)

It would be right to put a freeze on your file at each of the three credit bureaus, otherwise it would be like contacting just one is akin to locking the front door of your house, then leaving the back and side doors wide open. So now we're at about $30. If you have to lift the freeze because you need a new car or want to apply for a mortgage, it's another $10 a pop. Deciding whether it's worth the $60 bucks (more if you have to repeat the process) is really a matter of looking to the future. If you're happy with your house and car, and don't foresee a need for any additional credit cards or loans in the next several years, it may be worth it to place the freeze.

But if your situation is at all in halfway house — say you've just graduated from college, for example, and may be shopping for a home soon — you're probably better off fighting the identity theft battle another way.

Know yourself
Credit freezing help you, they force you to stop and think before spending money you don't have. It might take a few days for the freeze on your credit report to lift, which is long enough for you to decide you don't really need that department store credit card after all. But if you're not the kind of person who plans in advance, you may find yourself in a sticky situation if you forget to lift the freeze and need access to credit immediately.

Then there is a fraud flag. It's basically a note, attached to your credit report by all three bureaus, requesting that lenders contact you by phone before issuing credit in your name. One plus to a fraud flag over a freeze is that it's free. It's also a lot easier to manage than a freeze, but it might not turn out to be quite effective as freeze.

"It's not foolproof," says Mitic. "It's not as safe or as guaranteed as a freeze because you're counting on tens of thousands of different lenders to correctly see this note, correctly call you and correctly verify your identity." Still, lenders are by law required to read and respond to a fraud flag, so it's definitely worth a try.

Arm your computer by updating anti-spyware and anti-virus software. It is always worth the investment. For about $30, you'll protect yourself against programs that can worm into your computer, scan the hard drive for your personal information, and then send the findings into the waiting hands of thieves.

Careful ness is the best way to be protected. If you can't stop an identity theft — and all the protections in the world may not be enough, frankly — you can at least catch it early on. The crime generally comes with one or two red flags.

"If you start to get bills from people or companies you've never heard of, it's a strong sign that someone is impersonating you," says Gail Hillebrand, a senior attorney with Consumer's Union. She also advises to have a closer look to the details of your credit card and bank statements for any suspicious charges, something that is particularly important at this time of year, when we've spent more money than usual at places we may not normally shop. Any charges you don't recognize, no matter how small, should be disputed with the bank or credit card company.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Manage your debt do not add debt

In India most of the people are living paycheck to paycheck. When people are not left with spare cash credit cards make an attractive option to finance necessities such as getting the gas filled in your car, buying groceries and clothes etc.
People are in a habit of overspending one’s future earnings at a time when the economy is booming. But in case of credit cards it becomes necessary to keep a check.
When people start using plastic money for these recurring expenses then there rises the problem of out of control debt. There could be many reasons for this like easy availability of credit cards, intensified marketing campaigns to boost profits etc.

Especially young men and women earning small salaries and spiraling financial responsibilities easily get tempted with credit cards to help them get through the month. This along with the burden of student loans adds to the debt burden faced by them.

According to statistics available shows that in a month, an average household receives eight credit card offers and on an average an individual has around three credit cards.

Credit cards have two distinct features:
a) A convenient medium though which one can spend first and pay later in full
b) The ability to spend higher levels than would be otherwise possible
People think that they can pay off the debt whenever they get a better job or that they would be fine as long as they make the minimum payment.

There are charges and fees from which the credit card company earns the income. With credit card companies charging interest rates as high as 2.95 per cent and including fees for late payment, transaction fees, penalty if the account balance is over the limit, penalty if payment is not honored etc, fee income accounts to almost one-fourth of the credit card companies’ total income.

One should keep track of their spending for some months to see where they are spending their money.

All over the world, people are trying out various techniques to get rid of plastic money trap and manage better their debt problems.

One such method is “Debt Consolidation”. It means replacement of multiple loans with a single loan, often with a lower monthly payment and a longer repayment period. Rather than paying off several separate bills each month, a consumer consolidates his / her debts with a financial institution that will arrange for one lower monthly payment extending over a period of time.

But one's worries are not over if one adopts this approach. Debt consolidation also have limits it is also not without problems. In America, if a person takes a home equity loan or any other loan to pay off credit cards end up with the same debt load within two years. It again feeds on the same tendencies that got the consumer in his present position in the first place. By taking yet another creditor, one is adding even more fuel to the fire. In the end, it is the consumer's money that is burning. Also if a consumer is already buried under debt, chances are that he won't get qualified for those low interest rates.

To come out of debt trap what is required is debt management and not debt addition. Getting professional help in managing debt can help change credit behavior. People that have taken on too much debt tend to go into denial; they'd rather not know how much debt they owe. A professional debt manager will make them face up to their obligations.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Axis bank widening its network throughout the world

According to the reports in Business Line Axis Bank is getting upon an ambitious plan to make its presence felt throughout the world. Working on this line Axis Bank opened its 15th branch in Kerala at Willingdon Island

The bank has 596 branches and 2,500 ATMs. At international level the bank has opened its branches in Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE and China.

The trading of bank shares is going smooth. According to the last figures available the shares of the bank were last trading up Rs 8, or 0.85%, at Rs 945.45. The total volume of shares traded at the BSE was 55,633. (12.51 p.m., Tuesday)

Credit card details cloned and money withdrawn in India

This is the second time in the six months that hundreds of British citizens have become victims of international gangs who manage to clone credit card details here and withdraw money from their accounts in India, Philippines, Australia and Canada.

In the latest incidence hundred of villagers of Houghton on the Hill in Leicestershire have become victims of credit card fraud. Their card details were reportedly cloned at a petrol station in the village, and soon found money being withdrawn from their accounts world-wide.

A similar scam was discovered in Buckinghamshire in April this year, where credit card details were cloned at a petrol station. A Sri Lankan embassy spokesman here had alleged when the scam was unearthed that it was linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to fund its violent activities.

According to reports from Leicester in the latest instance, international gang members managed to install a fake card reader at the till inside the Houghton Garage, in Houghton on the Hill, and used it to clone customers' card details.

The reports further states that the criminals might have installed a tiny needle camera in the garage to spy on customers as they entered their PIN numbers. The card data and the PIN numbers were matched up, and then e-mailed to gang members around the world, where fake cards were created and used at cash machines.

In Britain, most banks have installed machines using ‘chip and pin' system for transactions in shops using credit and debit cards. This means that for every purchase, apart from the card, the customer also needs to punch in an exclusive pin number.

To prevent card fraud signing for purchases using cards has been virtually phased out to and instead introduced the 'chip and pin' system which has led to a considerable fall in the scale of card frauds. Industry figures say that the fraud has been slashed by 3 percent, to £428 million last year.

But the criminals are also tech savvy they also search new ways for targeting the customers which has raised a concern over new ways being used to target customer bank details using lost, stolen or counterfeit cards on the phone, Internet, email and overseas instead. Experts believe the real victims of card fraud are mostly banks as they have to pay back customers for money taken illegally from their accounts.

A Leicestershire police spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that we are investigating a number of instances of card fraud."

John Stobart, a solicitor with Harvey Ingram LLP Solicitors in Leicester and a victim of this scam, narrated his story following reports of the scam: "My card was used last week in New York to withdraw US$500 and an attempt was made the same day in Canada. The bank intervened.

"I have been in both Singapore and Hungary on business in the last month and I thought the card must have been copied at one of these places. In fact it was more local - Houghton on The Hill".

Garage owner Jim Funnell told the Leicester Mercury, a local daily: "It's wiped out most of east Leicestershire and pretty much all of the village. Of course, as an independent business, you rely on your local customers, and we were scared that this would ruin us".

"We've been the centre of a credit card scam which has affected every house in the village. It's probably hundreds of people. It's pretty much every customer who used the garage in the last three weeks to a month.

"I first had a couple of calls from customers about odd transactions, but I dismissed it, as we have never had a problem before with card fraud. But when I had a couple more, I thought there had got to be substance to it and rang the police.

"It looks as though there were cameras involved and they may have switched the card reader in the shop. It could have involved staff or an ex-member of staff, or it may have been a distraction, when they switched it while the cashier was off the till.

"Something happened, but I don't know what. At the moment, all 15 of us in the store are suspects, me included. We thought we were safe, squeaky clean even. It has been a mighty blow to find out we've been hit."

In the April incident in Buckinghamshire, several residents had complained that the money was being withdrawn from their accounts from ATMs in Mumbai and other places in India.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lucky American Express Platinum card holder to get Lamborghini

Amongst American Express Platinum card holders one of will be the lucky winner to get Lamborghini Gallardo an Italian car.

American Express has announced an 'Ultimate Platinum Experiences' for its Platinum credit card holder. The bank will offer Lamborghini Gallardo to its platinum cardholder.

According to reports from American Express credit card holder under the 'Ultimate Platinum Experiences' scheme will get an opportunity to win sports machine.

The report stated five card-holders, including the winner of the car, will also get opportunity to visit to the Lamborghini test drive track in Rome.

It further stated all the platinum card holders can participate in this promotion. They can even earn points during the promotion period, every Rs 10,000 spent will get them one point or one chance to enter the draw.

The program is valid from December 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008.

Friday, December 7, 2007

HSBC and Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos in a joint venture to launch its first credit card in Japan

HSBC is one to the world’s largest banking and financial services organization. It plans to launch its first credit card in Japan in collaboration with MasterCard and Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos.The new HSBC Premier Credit Card (international brand – MasterCard®) is the most premium type of card offered globally by HSBC group and will be available exclusively to HSBC Premier Customers for no annual fee following the planned commencement of the HSBC Premier wealth management service in January 2008.

The card will be issued and managed by corporation with Mitsubishi UFJ NICOS Co., Ltd.

HSBC Premier Customers will get range of special privileges and personalized services to match their needs and lifestyles.

Main Features of the HSBC Premier Credit Card

• No Annual Fees & Free Supplementary Card for Family Members
HSBC Premier Credit Card is available to all HSBC Premier account holders and do not carry any annual fee. Free Supplementary cards for family members entitling them to the same benefits and services as the primary account holder.

• Rewards and Mileage Programme
The card have a reward and mileage programme. It offers Best-in-class rewards programme offering one point per 100 yen spent, or one percent of the total amount spent.

The reward programme points can be redeemed for:
.. Air miles
.. Charitable donations to Earthwatch Institute - Japan
.. Gift coupons for use at department stores, home centers and other retail stores
.. Cash

Additional programme partners will be announced in the near future.

• Home and Away Programme
Exclusive worldwide shopping, dining, leisure and entertainment discounts and privileges at around 9,000 merchant outlets in over 40 nations and territories. Card holders can choose from a wide range of exclusive deals and offers from world famous brands, luxury hotels and Michelin-star restaurants both in Japan and overseas.

• MasterCard Moments
HSBC Premier Credit Card cardholders qualify for participation in the MasterCard Moments service. This online service introduces the benefits and privileges being offered by MasterCard Moments partners both overseas and in Japan. When traveling overseas, cardholders can avail themselves of specially selected luxury hotel resorts, spas and golf courses. In Japan, cardholders can enjoy discounts of up to 20% at select Japanese-style luxury hotels known as “Shifuku-no-yado”, as well as “The Taste of Premium” luxury lifestyle programme offering reservation services and special discounts that apply to more than 300 participating luxury hotel resorts, spas, golf courses, cruise services and private jets.

It also offers access to over 25 airport lounges in Japan

• Insurance Coverage
The card provides insurance coverage for goods purchased with this card. The insurance is up to a value of 3 million yen in the event of damage.

The card is accepted at over 25 million locations worldwide, one of the largest global member store networks.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Banks provide service for drafting will and execute it too

Before any one wanted to draft a will, execute and grant trusteeship for management of property, they had to consult lawyer. Now you can get it done from the bank. Bank! Yes.

More and more banks are ardent on offering services such as will drafting, execution and trusteeship for management of property of the deceased which used to be the domain of legal practitioners.

It will be a good opportunity for the banks to earn fee income from this and also be able to sell other investment products. For customers, it perhaps makes more sense to entrust their wealth to a bank, which already has experience in handling financial matters.

Already some banks such as Canara Bank and Bank of Maharashtra have been offering the service for quite some years now and the latest candidate in this segment is Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP). CBoP will be offering this service through its joint venture, Centurion Executorship, Trusteeship, Real Estate Management and Advisory Services Pvt Limited (CERMA) and Bank of Maharashtra through its fully-owned subsidiary, Maharashtra Executor and Trustee Company (METCO).

CBoP is providing the service to customers with a net worth of $1 million, while Canara Bank and Bank of Maharashtra offer this service to everyone. The services include advising, drafting and safe keeping of wills, preparation of trust deeds, registering trusts and taking care of other trust related formalities, executorships services; real estate advisory and escrow and custodial services.

Charges for drafting range from Rs 3,000-Rs 5,000. For execution and management of trusts, banks charge about 1-2 per cent of the value of the assets as fees.

Senior bank officials said people are not aware about this service. According to Ms Madhuri Kulkarni, Chief Executive Officer, METCO, “People need to be educated about such services. We are trying to increase awareness through NGOs like Rotary Club.”

A senior official of Canara Bank said, “Anyone who wants to make a will can approach the bank and appoint it as the co-executor for execution of the will, along with a family member.”

CBoP, is providing this service in joint venture with the law firm, S. N. Gupta & Co, takes care of any legal disputes arising out of property dispute or over execution of the will. In case of Canara Bank, the bank’s legal department handles the cases. The bank also has empanelled legal practitioners across the country whose services are availed as and when necessary.

“Will writing culture is not prevalent in India. But we have noticed trends like people wanting to set up trusts to manage money for religious or charitable activities after they die. Most people who avail this service belong to middle class or upper middle class,” the official from Canara Bank said.

Even Mr Harpreet Singh, business director, wealth management, distribution and loans, CBoP, agree that the increase in wealth has led to more money going for philanthropic services. Going ahead, the demand for such niche services will increase, he added.

American Express and Jumeirah Group together launches Membership Reward programme

American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network Services Company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in travellers cheques, insurance and international banking. American Express cards are accepted at millions of locations in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

At present it is operating in 18 markets in the Middle East and North Africa region, AEME issues dollar currency credit and charge cards: Personal (Green), Gold, Platinum as well as company and corporate cards. In 2001, it introduced its first local currency credit card in the United Arab Emirates, from then AEME has been introducing a range of local currency credit cards across the region.

Jumeirah properties are regarded as among the most luxurious and innovative in the world and have won numerous international travel and tourism awards. The fast growing Dubai-based luxury international hospitality management group encompasses the world renowned Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel, the multi-award winning Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Madinat Jumeirah and Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in London and the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South in New York.

Both American Express Middle East and Jumeirah Group are leading players in premium payments and hospitality sectors have announced a partnership that will create rewarding new opportunities for customers in their respective award-winning loyalty programmes.

Both have signed a global agreement under which the American Express card-members from over 60 countries, including the Middle East and North Africa, who are enrolled in participating membership rewards programmes, will be able to transfer their rewards points to Jumeirah’s Sirius Recognition and Rewards programme.

The members will be able to redeem the transferred points for a wide range of rewards, including luxurious hotel stays, dinners and spa treatments, at any of the Jumeirah properties around the world.

Trevor Stokes, CEO of American Express Middle East and North Africa, said: “Jumeirah Group is our valued strategic partner, sharing similar brand values and a commitment to delivering prestigious offerings, world-class service and comprehensive loyalty programmes, backed by a pioneering approach to business. We are proud that such a distinguished international company is the first from the Middle East to sign a global partnership for the American Express Membership Rewards programme.

“The Membership Rewards programme is about giving the card-members choice and flexibility to get the rewards they really want, and our partnership with Jumeirah Group will ensure that we continue to provide our customers with premium rewards that meet their lifestyle needs.”

Membership Rewards were launched in 1991, and is the world’s largest card-based rewards programme. It allows the card-members to earn points based on their spending on the card and redeem them for retail, travel, dining and entertainment benefits, as well as use the points to make charitable donations.

Natasha de Bodt, director of loyalty of the Sirius Programme, said: “As a rapidly growing name in luxury hospitality, we work with the best partners across every industry. With global expertise, a bespoke style of service and premium clientele, American Express is among our most valued partners. Through their Membership Rewards and our Sirius programmes, we will usher in a new world of rewards to our customers and their card-members — both of whom are discerning of new trends in luxury living.

“At a time when the Jumeirah Group is fast expanding its global operations, the support of partners such as American Express is integral to our offering the very best to our customers.”

In 2003 Sirius, Jumerirah’s unique Recognition and Rewards programme was launched. This programme allows members to experience a host of sensational awards and privileges. Sirius is divided into three tiers – Blue, Silver and Gold. Members earn Sirius points on everything from room stays to dining, spa visits to Jumeirah retail products worldwide, which can be redeemed against an impressive array of awards. Sirius Silver and Gold members also receive an exclusive package of privileges whenever they visit any Jumeirah hotel or resort.

The group’s activities are, not restricted to hotel and resort management only. The Jumeirah Group portfolio also includes Wild Wadi, regarded as one of the premier water parks outside of North America and The Emirates Academy, the region’s only third level academic institution specializing in the hospitality and tourism sectors. Gaining success in this Jumeirah Group became a member of Dubai Holding in 2004, a collection of leading Dubai based businesses and projects. This was a step taken to initiate a new phase of growth and development for the group. Jumeirah’s striving expansion plans to grow its portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts worldwide to 57 by 2011 are well in progress with projects currently under development in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Aqaba, Doha, Phuket, Shanghai, Bermuda, Mallorca and London.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

ESave prepaid card for eGroup customers with powered by PrePay technologies

UK-based eGroup, a direct insurance business announced the launch of the eSave prepaid card created, managed and operated by PrePay Technologies. The card has been acknowledged by Mastero and is designed for the eGroup customers who want independence and control over their spending. It is expected to facilitate eGroup customers to enjoy all the benefits of plastic payments with no risk of overdrawing. The eSave card has no link with bank account or a credit scoring process and is available to all.

The eSave card is powered by PrePay Technologies on its 360money platform; it allows users to securely load money onto the card at over 34,000 Post Office and PayPoint locations across the UK. The users of eSave card can make online purchases, in-store and over the phone at over 9 million locations worldwide that accept Maestro card. The card can also be loaded by using credit/debit cards online as well as bank/wage transfers.

Anthony Graham, marketing director at PrePay Technologies, said: "I am delighted that eGroup have chosen to partner with PrePay Technologies and become part of the ever growing 360money portfolio. Customers are always seeking greater peace of mind when they shop on line and want simple hassle free access to ATM's and retail outlets worldwide. eGroup customers will now be able to enjoy this through their prepaid card as well as the trust, security and stability available to all customers on the 360money network."

Simon Jones of eGroup said: "The new eSave card is an ideal product for students/young adults who want to budget their spending as well as an increasing number of overseas workers who find them ideal to use both in the UK and worldwide where Maestro cards are accepted. We are delighted to be partnering with PrePay Technologies to deliver this wonderful new product to our customers."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Loss of plastic money—credit and debit cards—can lead to huge monetary setbacks

Plastic money, debit and credit cards are taking place of cash in your wallets. There are two main reasons for this firstly as cash earns interest in the bank so it would be right to keep it there as long as possible. Secondly, cards are safe to carry than cash, in case you lose a card you will be limited to pay the replacing cost of the card. But are the cards really safe?

When you lose cash the loss is limited to the amount you were having in the wallet. But when you lose your plastic card and do not report about the loss immediately then there could be a great loss. When you report the loss immediately, the transaction would be blocked and the loss will be zero. Always remember to keep your card’s 24-hour helpline number with you. Ravi Shankar, head of direct banking at YES BANK, says cards have a loss protection policy cover. “Under this, if the card is lost and misused, the liability shifts from the customer to the bank, usually after the customer informs the bank.”

If your loss of card goes ignored and, hence, unreported, and goes into wrong hands then there are chances of misuse of your card. In that case you could end up taking a much bigger hit than if you used cash. For instance, your credit card can be used to buy merchandise up to your credit limit, or whatever part of it is available. Your debit card can be used similarly till cash in your account runs out, inclusive of overdraft. In case you have not reported loss of your card, it is up to you to prove that your card details were being misused. Yogesh Sangle, head, marketing (cards), Barclays Bank, “Any misuse or loss before the customer informs the bank is taken on a case-to-case basis.” Barclays Bank launched its credit card in India recently. This kind of loss is not a possible in case of cash.

At times people write their ATM Pin number on the card so that it is easy to use. But if you lose your card then, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to withdraw cash using them.

Now see the other possibility, your credit card does not get stolen or misplaced, you are doing transaction on the internet with your card. The card has a number and a CVV number. The latter is usually embossed on the card, so you cannot even scrape it off. If someone notes the two numbers down, it will be possible to use your card, although not at a merchant location or ATM. The advantage in this case is that it may be possible to track down purchases since, in most cases; deliveries of goods will have to be made at some physical destination.

So, it is apparent that if used smartly, it is possible to limit the loss on plastic money, but not in the case of cash if it gets pick pocket. Then from both the cards which one is the best to choose in terms of safety?

Amuleek Bijral, country manager, RSA, a security solutions provider says, “The biggest disadvantage with the debit card is that it hits your own account directly.” So, till the money is restored back into your account, you may have a cash flow problem.

On the contrary to it, if any mala fide transaction on a credit card is done, it is possible to withhold payment. Another way of containing loss on a credit card, says Rohit Tripathy, director and founder-promoter of ControlCase, India’s first payment card industry (PCI) auditing certification company, “is through chargeback”. This is done globally, where banks reverse the entire transaction in case of theft. And it is the possessing bank—the one on whose terminal the card is swiped—that usually bears the liability. Check about the chargeback policy with the bank before taking the card. So, there is a chance opting for a credit over debit cards.

By the end of this year, all merchant establishments will have to conform to the standards for processing credit cards itemized by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI-SSC), a global body.

Try to be safe and smart enough while using your plastic cards to prevent misuse of card.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New credit scoring model by Cibil and TransUnion to assess your worth

A new credit scoring model was launched for individual borrowers by Credit Information Bureau of India (Cibil) and TransUnion. A new model will be help lenders in evaluating borrowers‘creditworthiness.

In the mean time, banking regulator the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will soon be issuing rules which will make possible for co-operative banks to be members of CIBIL.

The new credit scoring model — Cibil TransUnion score — will foresee the possibility of a customer becoming a defaulter in more than 91 days on one or more lines of credit.

In starting the creditworthiness would be decided on products like credit cards, personal, home and auto loans. TransUnion has launched a similar model in four other countries — Hong Kong, Shanghai, Korea and South Africa.

Speaking at the press conference on the launch of the product, TransUnion vice-president for international solutions and operations Geoffrey Miller said, “The scoring model factors in the payments history, outstanding debt, credit account history, recent credit inquiries and the different types of credit the borrower has availed of.”

The model does not feature statistic information like the religion, place from where the loan was availed of, or the employment history like the type of job and the salary drawn by the borrower.

The criteria for rating the borrower under the new credit scoring model is an individual should have availed of at least one loan six months ago for Cibil. The range of the scoring starts from 300-900 points, where the 300 is for the worst-rated individual, while the best rates would be 900 points.

Cibil chairman V Santhanakrishnan pointed out that at initial stage only the schedule co-operative banks will be allowed to be members of Cibil, and later on, regional rural banks will be permitted to become the members of Cibil.

The list of CIBIL members include 77 banks, 32 NBFCs, six state financial corporations, 10 financial institutions and two credit card companies. On the peripheral, Mr Santhanakrishnan pointed out that co-operative banks would derive maximum benefits from Cibil since they have information of over 90 million individuals.

He said,“Similarly, insurance companies, telecom companies and credit rating agencies have shown interest in becoming member of Cibil. However, RBI will issue guidelines on this.” While speaking to at the press conference during the launch of the product, Mr Santhanakrishnan said that with the increase in available credit options, borrowers took advantage of the system by moving from one institution to another even though they had defaulted in earlier banking relationships.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Experience the luxury in three months complimentary trial period given by RBS Black Card

Premium credit card, RBS Black Card is giving a complimentary offer to its new customers. The customers will get a chance to experience all the luxury benefits of the product in a three month complimentary trial.

The RBS Black Card, supported by MasterCard Worldwide, is having a range of first-class services for its cardholders which include worldwide travel insurance for all the family and complimentary priority pass to over 500 international airport lounges.

In addition, to the above services there is a 24 hour, multi-lingual personal assistance service which can help you with any type of special arrangements: be it from reservations for the theatre; personalized party plans; bespoke travel plans to more day-to-day duties such as decorating and cleaning. In total, value of these combined services is over £1,000 annually.

Dennis Jones, Director of Personal Cards at RBS said: “We are so confident that the service provided to RBS Black cardholders is amongst the best offered by any premium card provider that we have decided to offer new customers the chance to experience these quality services free of charge for three months.”

Other benefits of the RBS Black Card include:

Worldwide usability through MasterCard
An automatic minimum credit limit of £15,000
Up to three additional cardholders free of charge
24-hour, multi-lingual, personal assistant service
Extensive travel insurance cover for you, partner and any dependent children
Enjoy access to over 500 executive airport lounges as a Priority Pass™ holder
Round-the-clock travel service to make all your travel arrangements for cardholder
24-hour home or roadside response cover for cardholder’s main car, be this in the UK or Europe
24-hour support service for emergencies involving plumbing, electrics, drains, windows and doors
Card protection for all credit cards – whether at home or overseas
Exclusive offers including RBS Black Card invite-only events throughout the year

After the three month trial, customers can select to sign-up for twelve months annual membership at £250. There is no compulsion to continue with this after completing the trial period.

To get an RBS Black Card, the applicant has to fulfill eligibility criteria. An applicant must have an income of £75,000 or more and be over the age of 25. Credit status is subject to terms and conditions of the card issuing company.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Credit card customer’s complaints increase in number- RBI gives indication

There has been increase in the number of complaints regarding banking services specially credit card. The maximum number of complaints relate to public sector banks (PSBs) even though they have a very small credit card base compared with their counterparts in private and foreign banks. One-fifth of the banking services-related complaints come from credit card customers.

Reserve Bank of India deputy governor Usha Thorat speaking at Bancon seminar gave this indication. The grievances on home loans related lacked the transparency in fixing and reset of interest rates. She said, “Customers of floating rate loans have complained about the spread that banks charge over the benchmark rate. Other issues include the process regarding resets of interest rates and changes in the interest rates.”

If we look at the figures PSBs, complaint per every 1,000 customers is 0.79. For foreign banks, the same stands at 0.26 and for private banks, it’s 0.20. Currently there are over 40 million credit card customers in the country and the industry is growing at 35-40% on a compounded annual growth rate for the past few years, of this from the private sector banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank are among the biggest players. Other big players include SBI Cards — a joint venture between SBI and GE — and Citi.

With regards to the overall complaints, excluding credit cards, Ms Thorat said for every 1000 accounts, the maximum complaints are from customers of foreign banks at 0.61, 0.33 for new private banks, 0.07 for PSBs and 0.05 for old private banks. And the other complaints received by RBI include time taken for collection of outstation cheques, charges levied by the bank and entries not properly recorded.

Speaking at the seminar, Ms Thorat said till recently, in India customers were loyal to their banks, but slowly the change can be seen and the study by Mckinsey shows that the affluent are becoming shrewd. She added that the consumer market is growing like never before and because of financial inclusion, the growth in numbers would be such that which was never seen before.

“New generation private banks, which have got enhanced market share of the mass affluent and affluent customers, what is also being observed is that they have high negative moments of truth,” she said, indicating that customers may shift loyalties if they find the services not up to the mark.

New Credit Card rules for the Merchants set by PCI Standards

Christmas is coming start of holiday season! But no jingle bells or caroling choirs can be heard these days but the ka-ching of the cash register or say the hiss of swiped credit cards.

This year those happy holidays sounds have been dampened a bit for merchants because of ongoing security fears and a grinch as PCI SSC, or the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council call it.

A November report by Pleasanton Calif.-based research firm Javelin Strategy & Research reveals that sixty- three percent of consumers believe merchants are the “weak link" when it comes to data security.

Retailers find themselves exposed to credit card fraud at numerous points along the payment chain: data thieves -- sometimes store employees -- cull data as shoppers swipe cards at the register, intercept it as it is being sent out for processing, or steal it straight out of storage files that may not be properly protected.

The PCI SSC is a quasi-independent group founded by the world's credit card networks -- American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa International. The aim to form this group was to improve data security standards throughout the payments industry.

According to the group the merchants need to beef up security to avoid credit card fraud, but the Merchants say the council's demands are too high, and might not solve the problem anyway. A few small payments companies, including one in Delaware, have come forward to provide potential solutions they say will protect both merchants and customers.

PCI standards directive how everyone along the payment chain -- including merchants, processors and gateways, banks, card issuers, and credit card networks themselves -- should store, transmit and process sensitive credit card data.

PCI Standards the world’s credit card networks have directed the merchants that to keep their customers swiping, they should comply with PCI Standards.

The card networks have marked a deadline and have said they'll slap fees on any merchant that doesn't get into shape by deadline. Merchants that process more than 6 million credit card transactions per year were supposed to comply by Sept. 30 or face monthly fines of $5,000 to $25,000. The second tier of merchants, those that process between 1 million and 6 million transactions annually, are supposed to be compliant by Dec. 31.

The goal is to keep credit card data safe and avoid another TJX nightmare. TJX Cos., which owns off-price retailers like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, had stated publicly earlier this year, it had lost 45.7 million credit card numbers (court documents now say the number could be closer to 100 million) and has since set aside more than $256 million for damage control.

Javelin said that complying with PCI's security standards is costly for merchants. Depending on the size of the company and the payment system it uses, the price tag for technology upgrades, audits and maintenance could range from several thousand dollars to seven figures.

Reports by Bruce Cundiff co-author says "Merchants are feeling overburdened by this." "They're really the ones who are feeling the pressure from Visa and MasterCard."

Merchants are agreeing with the group that something should be done, but beefing up security at the retail level is not the best answer, they say.

"All of us -- merchants, banks, credit card companies and our customers -- want to eliminate credit card fraud," the National Retail Federation's Chief Information Officer David Hogan wrote to the PCI SSC in October. "But if the goal is to make credit card data less vulnerable, the ultimate solution is to stop requiring merchants to store card data in the first place ... it makes more sense for credit card companies to protect their credit card data from thieves by keeping it in relatively few secure locations than to expect millions of merchants scattered across the nation to lock up their data for them."

A recent study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of security company RSA has found that eighty-one percent of merchants store credit card numbers and 73 percent store credit card expiration data.

A Delaware company thinks it has found a solution: skip over the merchant entirely, never allowing retail stores to collect the card data, much less store it.

According to Jason J. Gwynn, vice president of sales at a Wilmington-based payment processing company, Electronic Payment Exchange (EPX), "At the end of the day, if you don't have the cardholder numbers, you're in no danger of exposing them if you're compromised."

The Delaware company, have about 20 people as its employs at its headquarters on Naamans Road and about 20 more in a Phoenix-based payment processing facility, revealed that its system transmits data from the card directly to the payment processor, leaving the merchant with a unique 19-digit code that can be used later to trace the transaction in case of returns, charge-backs, or customer disputes. But this code is useless for data thieves because it cannot be traced to the card.

Similar type of product is being offered by Shift4 Corp., a Las Vegas-based payment gateway that gives merchants a digital "token" for each transaction.

"We take the data completely out and then give the merchant something else," says Randy Carr, the company's vice president of marketing. "Technology in the security space is the equivalent of building higher walls around the data. ... Hackers just bring taller ladders ... the only way to really win this fight is to take the data out of the end points."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Top 10 ways to protect yourself from identity theft

Helen Monks reveals some simple steps to stop you falling victim to identity theft and cash-related crimes

1. Never reveal your place of birth to anyone you've just met.

2. Always cover your pin with your hand when you use an ATM.

3. Register with the telephone-, email- and mail-preference services.

4. Check your bank statements regularly.

5. Never throw out statements, or junk-mail loan and credit card applications without ripping them up or, better still, shredding them.

6. Never give out bank details asked for via unsolicited phone calls or emails.

7. Never carry around any more cards than you need. If the credit card you use only once every few months goes missing, when would

you notice?

8. Never keep your name and address in your wallet, even keep your driver's licence separate.

9. Never put your home address on your luggage when you travel abroad, put your work address.

10. If you suspect your mail is being stolen, contact the Royal Mail customer enquiry line (0845 774 0740) to check whether a mail redirection order has been made in your name without your knowledge.

Credit card holders time to work out the EMIs

People spend lavishly during Diwali, they exhaust their budgets. Now diwali festivity is over burst the crackers, savored sweets and distributed gifts, so it’s time to make up for all that spending. Most of the people have taken personal loans and shopped using credit cards now its time to work out the EMIs.

Varun Singh, a senior database manager, went all out with his expenditure this Diwali. He spent heavily on clothes, jewellery, food and a new refrigerator, which took his expenditure beyond the Rs1 lakh mark.

“The festive season has landed me in a big financial crunch. Having a big family means meeting everyone’s demands. Thankfully, the Diwali bonus my company gave helped soften the blow a little. I’ll now have start saving seriously to pay the numerous EMIs over the next few months.”

Like Singh there are many spent lavishly during Diwali. With an upswing in the economy and an increase in the spending power of the middle-class, retailers made a killing profit this Diwali.

Atul Takle, media representative of Pantaloons India told media “There was an almost 50 per cent growth in sales during Diwali. People don’t mind shelling a few extra bucks during the festival. Besides, there are a number of promotional offers that help boost sales.”

The consumer appliances chains saw increase in the sales, Vijay Sales saw a 40 per cent increase in sales during the last week of Diwali as compared to the rest of the year.

During Diwali many attractive promotional schemes, in the form of heavy discounts on certain goods, and the facility of purchasing products are offered on Easy Monthly Installments (EMIs), which result in higher sales.

But, the difficult part for consumers begins now, when they have to start paying the EMIs, which means cost-cutting and saving to make up for the shopping spree.

Some people start saving for Diwali from the beginning of the year so that don’t have to disturb their budget as Hardik Shah, a senior tele-caller, starts saving for Diwali from March. This year, he went grossly over-budget during Diwali.

Then how does he plan to cope now?

He says, “I am going to refrain from going out, even on weekends, for a few months. I have shopped so much over the festive season that I’d hate the sight of another shop for a few weeks.

I think I’ll have to work overtime in order to manage the EMIs.”

After Diwali celebrations the consumers are taking easy so the sales are set to face a slowdown over the next few weeks.

According to Shailesh Ghatlia, owner, Premsons, “Since a lot of people exhaust their budgets during Diwali, there’ll be a lull in sales over the next few weeks. People will look at saving money for a few months. Even though they’ll be back with a vengeance in a few weeks, it will not be the same as it was during Diwali.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Credit Bank Worldwide launched the new website for consumers

Credit Bank Worldwide launched the newest website ( to help consumers choose the card that is worry free because when it comes to choose the right card it becomes difficult as there are so many options available and with different features and benefits. The site is designed to help the consumers locate the credit product and service that match their individual current financial situation.

This site will be helpful for both current and prospective consumers in ways that effectively uses the credit system to achieve their goal.

The newly opened site has searched and compiled the best deals on credit card offers, auto loans, mortgage, and debt consolidation on the internet. With the continuous updating, consumers can search, review, and apply online for instant results on the lowest interest rates available. All of the credit card offers are linked to a secure website for an online application provided by the card issuer to help instantly apply for credit cards of the consumers' choice. All this can be done from the comfort of your home.

Company’s CEO, Tony Underhill said, "With the total debt on credit cards at $2.46 trillion in June 2007 (1) consumers need a lower interest rate to consolidate or when choosing a new credit card." He further added, "This is the simplest, stress free way to provide consumers with an answer right in the comfort of their home."

Obtaining online approval is not difficult to do with the simple online applications available within just a few minutes. comes with online tools with a mortgage calculator and tips to help navigate the credit card process.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Indians started living life on plastic money

In India in financial services plastic money business is growing faster. People have finally started using plastic money, though the number of users is too less as compared to western countries.

In India there are around 25 million credit cards from which ICICI Bank is the largest competitor with 8.5 million cards issued. Citibank, SBI-GE Card and HDFC Bank are the other prominent players in the sector.

The lifestyle of the people has changed so as the spending power. From traveling to dining to paying small bills to apparel purchases; they pay everything through their credit cards. Fuel accounts of a very small amount of these credit purchases, unlike what is usually believed, as most of it is done through debit cards.

According to the reports of the credit card companies the consumers are spending Rs 50,000 crore annually which is expected to grow at 50 percent over the next four to five years. Experts are of a view that with changing lifestyle this trend will catch momentum in the future.

"Travel and dining corner about one-fourth of the total credit card purchases which signifies the shift in Indian spending habits. According to industry expert analysis earlier, purchases of both consumer durables and jewellery items were larger than the hospitality segment. Going forward, this trend should continue."

HDFC Bank VP and head (credit cards and product portfolio) Parag Rao says, "Jewellery, consumer durables, fuel purchases, apparel are a much smaller segment than travel and dining which comprise the largest chunk of credit card purchases. Eating out has in fact become a big concept now."

According to the experts while travel and hotel bills along with dining, account for about 25-35 percent of the total value of purchases through credit cards, purchase of jewellery accounts for 10-11 percent of the purchases. Apparel purchases account for eight to 10 percent and consumer durables like TV and mobile phones account for nearly six to seven percent of the purchases through plastic money. Besides this, a utility payment is yet another segment where plastic money is making inroads.

Of course this is good news for the credit card companies, but there is a hitch attached to it. While there is no doubt that more and more Indians are turning towards plastic money, not many of them are able to repay their debts. Bad news! But sadly its true.

The default rate on credit cards is the highest across different loan categories in the country. The rate for credit cards has risen from seven to nine percent of total outstanding payments last year to about 10-12 percent this year. In contrast, the default rate is three to four percent for personal loans, two percent for auto and two-wheeler loans and is less than one percent for mortgage loans.

Experts are of a view that with growing daily expenses and rising EMIs on existing loans, the number of customers defaulting on credit card payments has risen significantly. But volume games will slowly remove this hitch.