Thursday, June 11, 2009

iTunes & Amazon Targeted in Credit Card Fraud Scheme

Amazon & iTunes Targeted in £470,000 Credit Card Fraud -
Amazon & iTunes Targeted in £470,000 Credit Card Fraud

A gang of nine have been arrested after they were accused of downloading their own tracks off Amazon and iTunes using stolen credit card details AND then claiming royalties on that.

The scam involved recording 19 song compilations, uploading them to the aforementioned online music stores at a cost of £18 each by using a New York-based online music store intermediary.

The lot then created up to 1500 iTunes and Amazon accounts using stolen US and UK credit card details before setting out on a massive spending spree that saw them spend nearly £470,000 on buying their own album.

Having purchased around 75,000 of their own albums, they also raked in significant royalties - which amounted to an estimated £400,000 - and the sales allowed them to rise rapidly in the charts. The con was only spotted when credit card companies became suspicious over the transactions.

The nine involved are all based in UK and are being held "on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering". Up to 60 officers have been involved in coordinated raids and were led by Scotland Yard's E-Crime Unit.

Continue Reading

PayPal Blog - Now Available on American Airlines & Emirates Airlines in UK

The PayPal Blog » Blog Archive » PayPal Now Available on American Airlines and Emirates Airlines in the UK
Hi everyone. I¹m Cameron McLean, PayPal¹s General Manager for UK Merchant Services. With the summer holidays fast approaching, many families are planning their summer getaways. While traveling abroad with the family inevitably requires some extra patience, booking your tickets in the first place shouldn¹t, which is why I¹m delighted that customers of American Airlines and Emirates Airlines in the UK can now speed through checkout as quickly as their cousins across the pond, by paying via PayPal.

Customers paying for Emirates or American Airlines flights through PayPal won¹t have to enter any financial or billing information, making booking flights faster and easier. What¹s more, UK residents will be able to pay for flights on or using PayPal with the flexibility to fund their tickets via PayPal balance, along with local payment methods such as UK debit cards and local bank account funds, a move we expect to be really popular with American Airline¹s and Emirates customers.

Emirates joined PayPal following some interesting customer research on which alternative payments methods are likely to most appeal to customers in over 37 countries served by the site. We¹re delighted that, unsurprisingly, PayPal was at the top of their list!

Paying for Paying with Plastic

We All Pay for the Privilege of Paying With Plastic

The Government Accountability Office has been ordered to study the use of credit by consumers, and in particular the effect interchange fees have on consumers and merchants.

Many people may not be aware of these fees, but for lenders, merchants and consumer advocates, the fees are the next controversial credit-related issue Congress may take up.

An interchange fee is paid by a merchant's bank to a customer's bank or credit union when the business accepts purchases by credit or debit cards. Typically the fees are 1 to 2 percent of the total cost of a purchase. For example, if a consumer buys $100 of merchandise or services, the interchange fee paid by the merchant could be $2.

This may not seem like a lot of money, but multiply that by the millions of people making electronic purchases and it's not chump change. Moreover, everybody pays, whether you use plastic or not, according to consumer advocates and retailers. The interchange fees result in higher prices for everyone, including those paying with cash.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act that President Obama recently signed into law includes a provision to investigate the fees that businesses pay to allow their customers to use credit. The idea is to provide more transparency to consumers.

Demanding that credit card companies give more information about interchange fees would put them on par with food producers who are required to provide nutritional information on packaging. The nutritional details are meant to help people make healthier choices. And yet Americans are fatter than ever.

The same can be said about our appetite for credit.

Continue Reading at the Washington Post

Microsoft Money Shelved

Important notice: Microsoft Money Plus will not be available for purchase after June 30, 2009. All purchased Money Plus products must be activated prior to Jan. 31, 2011.

With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed. After suspending annual updates of Money Plus in 2008, Microsoft is announcing today that we will no longer offer Microsoft Money Plus for purchase after June 30, 2009.

We would like to thank the many dedicated users who have been enthusiastic supporters of Microsoft Money over the years, as well as our partner financial institutions who helped pioneer a digital vision of financial management.

Microsoft remains committed to helping customers chart a course to financial well-being. The MSN Money Web site will continue to provide personal finance information and advice plus comprehensive market news and quotes. We will continue to evolve and enhance the online MSN offering in the coming months.

Current Money Plus customers who have questions or concerns can find additional information here.

Additional Content

MSN Money - Stay up to date with the latest market news, handy toolsand objective information from some of the Web’s leading financialcolumnists at

Doctors Operate Without Interchange Fees

Rising Fees Could Be Culprit As Fewer Doctors Accept Credit Cards
While credit card acceptance is making inroads in a slew of new markets like transit and parking, it turns out the plastic is losing ground among physicians.

Some 32.7% of doctors’ offices do not accept credit cards, up almost 4.5 percentage points from a year ago, according to a survey from SK&A Information Services Inc., a research firm specializing in health care.

Rising interchange rates may be to blame, according to Jack Schember, director of marketing for the Irvine, Calif.-based company, which surveyed physicians in April following its first survey in April of last year.

Continue Readinig at Digital Transaction News


Minnesota Calling Off Online Gambling Dogs? You Betcha!

Minnesota (Land of the Loons) Withdraws Planned Internet Gambling Blackout

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division has sent letters to 11 of the world’s largest internet service providers (ISPs) rescinding its notice to block 200 internet gambling websites.

In April, John Willems, Director of the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DAGED), served notice to 11 ISP’s calling for the blockage of 200 gambling sites to Minnesota residents.

These threats have been rescinded and no action will be taken to block internet gambling sites in the state.

The withdraw is down to the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), who, shortly after the list of 200 sites was made public, filed a lawsuit against Willems and his actions. iMEGA charged that Minnesota did not have jurisdiction to act and the State’s actions represented a breach of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

In response to The Gambling Enforcement Divisions wanted crackdown iMEGA outlined their stance in a letter to the ISPs themselves. 

“Because website operators are not subscribers of yours, have no contracts with you, and are not provided facilities by you, you should be aware that the Minnesota Department of Public Safety is attempting to mislead you into believing you are bound by federal law.” 

You Betcha!

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The (P)assword Is: Oxymoron

Online transaction security: Tips for staying safe
By Alex Kidman on 09 June 2009

The online economy is massive, with billions of dollars changing hands every single day. Online shopping has brought consumers lower prices, incredibly diverse choice and an ease of buying that simply can't be matched in the physical world.

At the same time, however, it's not without its perils. Any time that much money is changing hands on a regular basis, there will be sharks circling trying to snap off a chunk of cash.

Consultants QPR recently released a report into credit card fraud in which they estimated the cost of "Card Not Present: fraud in Australia (which logically includes all internet-based transactions) was a problem worth $71,578,908 in 2008, a rise of 33 per cent over the previous year.

So, online buying presents challenges to keeping your money safe, but if you're smart, they're challenges that aren't too hard to overcome. 

Online banking

Banks love online banking; it's cheaper for them to deliver than over-the-counter services, and the convenience of being able to check your balances, transfer funds and pay bills online make it a real winner for consumers as well. The Commonwealth bank, for example, is reported to have at least 2.6 million active online banking customers, with a take-up rate of 60,000 more each month.

In order to access your online banking, you typically need your account number and a password. Needless to say, it's a very bad idea indeed to write your password down somewhere that somebody might find it. That doesn't have to be the end of your banking security, however.

To access your account, you'll typically need an username or client number and a password  Some banks extend their security with additional measures, which range from floating on-screen keyboards (which stop automatic attacks that rely on the position of the entry field being absolute) to the ability to have a secondary code automatically generated, either via a security dongle the bank supplies, (Question:  If you hook up your dongle to your Blackberry would it be called a dongleberry?) or even by having the code sent via SMS to your mobile phone.

Picking a secure password (Editor's Note:  Here's a suggestion for a secure password...Oxymoron!  There is NO such thing as a secure password.  Passwords have two functions.  1.  They provide a false sense of security.  2.  They provide jobs for people who email you your password when you forget it.

But when it comes to providing security never forget these eight words:If you type it...hackers can swipe it.

Editor's Note 2:  I have a better idea.  Lets Keep It about taking out your bank issued card, swiping it and then entering your bank issued PIN?  No card, No PIN, No access. Sealed with KISS.

Continue Reading at cnet Australia

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More On ATM Malware from McAfee Blog

ATM Malware Makes Withdrawals in Russia
Francois Paget


We frequently encounter password stealers and backdoors in computers after their owners have browsed unsafe websites or opened unknown email attachments. It is more unusual, however, to see these malware directly implemented in banks’ automated teller machines. In these cases, Trojans have to be installed by people who have physical access to the machines. Data collecting and malware removal would need yet another visit or visits. It should seem obvious that such malware installation requires a high level of “cooperation” from the bank staff.

One of the first attacks occurred in Russia more than one year ago. It was announced in January 2009 when Diebold Inc. released a security fix for its Opteva Windows-based ATMs. At that time, the company said some suspects were apprehended. But it seems the gang was not fully dismantled. In May, we heard of new suspicious files discovered in Eastern European ATM machines. The security firm Trustwave published a study concerning this matter. The software had been updated and new virtual robberies had been launched.

On June 3, The Register also raised public awareness by covering the story. When active, the Trojan intercepts transactions and records them on log files. To control an infected ATM, the attacker uses dedicated credit cards that allow him to activate some administrative rules. Via the ATM’s display, he can select various options from the keypad to display statistics (numbers of transactions, cards, keys), print collected data, force the machine to dispense all its cash, uninstall the malware set, and reboot the ATM.

Continue Reading

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Spam with Eggs Maybe...Just Not with Mobile e-Mail

Mobile Phone Activities* of Young Adult Mobile Phone Users in Select Countries in Asia-Pacific, Q4 2008 (% of respondents)Japanese Mobile Moves Online

JUNE 11, 2009

E-mail is important, too.

For many years the mobile market in Japan has served the rest of the world as a model of the future of mobile development. If that holds true, expect more mobile users online.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, mobile Internet in Japan reached nearly 83% penetration among mobile phone users.

A total of 75.1 million users in Japan accessed the Internet via mobile phones in 2008.

One of the most popular mobile phone activities for young adults in Japan was e-mail, with 72% of users ages 8 to 24 reading and answering e-mails on the go.

Japan’s culture of connectivity pushed penetration far above the 13% average for Asia-Pacific, according to a Synovate study sponsored by Microsoft Advertising, MTV and Yahoo!.  Marketers should be cautious about tapping into this tech-savvy demographic with tried-and-true e-mail marketing, however.

According to a survey by Point On Research, 86% of mobile phone users in Japan check their e-mail every day—but they are highly sensitive to spam. Mobile spam was seen as unsettling by more than 85% of respondents surveyed by goo Research.

The same survey found that 33% of those users received at least one piece of spam in their mobile e-mail each day.
Mobile marketing campaigns should take a more personal route. “The ability to stimulate user action will be the key to success in mobile advertising,” said Yeunsil Lee, an ROA Group analyst.

Just don’t “stimulate” them with anything that looks like spam.

Bank of America Pressured by Feds to Buy Merrill Lynch?

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Board of Governo...
The saga of BofA CEO Ken Lewis continues...

Documents released by Republicans paint a not-so-flattering portrait of federal regulators exerting pressure on Bank of America to conclude its deal with Merrill Lynch, even though the the deal was fast deteriorating. Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis testified that federal officials pressured him to the point that his job was at stake.

Reuters notes an email from Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker that cites Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Lewis' belief that he could exercise a "material adverse change" (MAC) clause to scuttle the Merrill agreement. "Just had a long talk with Ben...Says they think the MAC threat is irrelevant because it's not credible. Also intends to make it even more clear that if they play that card and they need assistance, management is gone."

The New York Times suggests the government was alarmed as Merrill's condition weakened. They hashed out a plan to save Merrill in the event the deal fell through. The news coincides with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today. It will feature Lewis as the sole witness and examine the deal.

For more:
- here's the Reuters article
- here's the New York Times article

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MasterCard Announces Annual Meeting Results

Stockholders Re-elect Four Members to Board of Directors
and Announces Regular Quarterly Dividend Closing of 2009 Class B Conversion Program

PURCHASE, N.Y., June 11 (PIN Payments News) -- MasterCard Incorporated (NYSE: MA) announced the results of its Annual Meeting of Stockholders, held earlier today at the company's worldwide headquarters in Purchase, NY.

MasterCard stockholders:
  • Re-elected the following Class A Directors with a term to expire in 2012: Richard Haythornthwaite, Chairman of the Company's Board of Directors, President of PSA Energy Holdings SPC and an advisor to Star Capital Partners Limited; David R. Carlucci, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of IMS Health Incorporated; and, Robert W. Selander, President and Chief Executive Officer of MasterCard Incorporated;
  • Re-elected Steven J. Freiberg, Executive Vice President of Citibank, N.A., Class M Director, with a term to expire in 2012;
  • Approved amendments to the Company's amended and restated certificate of incorporation allowing, among other things, the Company's Board of Directors to have increased flexibility to appoint and/or nominate for election by the stockholders up to three additional directors; and
  • Ratified the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as the company's independent registered public accounting firm for 2009.
Addressing stockholders on the company's business, MasterCard President and Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Selander noted that while the financial services industry has experienced challenging economic conditions recently, MasterCard continues to deliver shareholder value and the company is well positioned for the long-term.

"During these unprecedented times, we are taking a flexible and adaptive approach to managing our business," commented Selander. "Like any industry we face a number of challenges, however, we believe there is significant opportunity for growth as more and more consumers and businesses continue to demand easier, more efficient, convenient and safer forms of payment." (Editor's Note:  More efficient and safer than card not present, signature debit? Hmmm...wonder if they mean, card present TRUE PIN debit?) 

MasterCard's Board of Directors also declared today a cash dividend of $0.15 per share, payable on August 10, 2009, to holders of record of its Class A common stock and Class B common stock as of July 10, 2009.

In February 2009, the MasterCard Board of Directors authorized the conversion and sale or transfer of up to 11 million shares of Class B common stock into Class A common stock. In May 2009, the Company implemented a conversion program, and announced today that the program has been closed. Under this program, approximately 10.9 million authorized shares of Class B common stock were converted into an equal number of shares of Class A common stock and subsequently have been or will be transferred by participating holders of Class B Common Stock or sold to public investors.

About MasterCard Incorporated

MasterCard Incorporated advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide. As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payment solutions, processes approximately 21 billion transactions each year, and provides industry-leading analysis and consulting services to financial-institution customers and merchants. Powered by the MasterCard Worldwide Network and through its family of brands, including MasterCard(R), Maestro(R) and Cirrus(R), MasterCard serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information go to

SOURCE MasterCard Incorporated

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