Posts Tagged ‘money’

Apple Pay hit by high levels of scams

March 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple pay 300x169 Apple Pay hit by high levels of scamsApple Pay is taking off in the US, however, it isn’t all peaches and cream. Banks have been surprised at the level of payments being made with card details, leaving them desperately trying to find and fix the flaws in security and trying to quickly work on better verification and checking systems.

It is worth pointing out that criminals haven’t cracked open Apple Pay’s secure encryption system, but rather, they’re setting up new iPhones with stolen personal info and then ringing banks up to set up cards on the phones, before spending victim’s money.

Why Apple Pay? Well, one of the reasons that they’re being targeted is because you can buy expensive things at Apple Stores with Apple Pay. Then, all you have to do is flog your ill gotten gains down the pub for cash, and you’re away.

Reports suggest that total losses have already run into millions.

A spokesman for Apple says: “Apple Pay is designed to be extremely secure and protect a user’s personal information. During setup Apple Pay requires banks to verify each and every card and the bank then determines and approves whether a card can be added to Apple Pay. Banks are always reviewing and improving their approval process, which varies by bank.”

So, it looks like banks need to do a bit more when it comes to customers’ security regarding NFC payments and the like. If you’re worried that this all feels like a disaster waiting to happen, stick to Chip & Pin or cash-only, until the flaws get ironed out.

Bank of England to launch their own Bitcoin?

February 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

bitcoin1 300x300 Bank of England to launch their own Bitcoin?Bitcoin is getting taken a bit more seriously lately, and the Bank of England’s (BoE) ears have pricked-up and they’re looking at getting in on the action.

They reckon that digital currencies are going to become as vital and commonplace as banknotes. With that, they’ll ‘mint’ their own version. In a paper, talking about virtual currency, they said that this money could erase the need for a third party (aka A Bank) but they’re worried about the impact it’ll have on the shops and that there’s inevitably a need to have a central bank to regulate everything.

Of course, Bitcoin enthusiasts will be spitting their brews through their noses at the idea of The Man getting involved with their pennies. Having an authority, which people may not wholly trust, centralise the currency, pretty much goes against the enjoyment people get with the increased privacy that comes with digital currency.

“The emergence of private digital currencies (such as Bitcoin) has shown that it is possible to transfer value securely without a trusted third party,” said the Bank of England in a discussion paper. However, they’d like to control the mining of money and they think someone needs to control it, to make it less volatile.

“There are several different ways in which a central bank might make use of a digital currency,” the BoE said. “It could be used as a new way of undertaking interbank settlement, or it could be made available to a wider range of banks and NBFIs [non-bank financial institutions]. In principle, it might also be made available to non-financial firms and individuals generally, as banknotes are today.”

If you want to read the Bank of England’s paper on all of this, click here.

rbs RBS report £3.5bn loss   did that stop them paying out massive bonuses?RBS have gone and reported a £3.5bn loss for 2014. Seeing as we own them, they’ll probably make out like it is our fault. There’s small good news for the state-owned bank, as this loss is down from £9bn the previous year.

Chief exec Ross McEwan has said, ever so graciously, that he won’t be getting a bonus this year. Not that anyone will mind at the company, as they handed out £421m in bonuses in 2014, so they’ll manage for a year. McEwan himself is on a wage of £2.7m, so he won’t be buying rolling tobacco and scadging pints off his mate just yet.

McEwan has said that these bonuses are fair and talking on the Today programme, he said that they’re ‘fair pay’ and it is necessary to pay out these bonuses if they want to get the right people in the business to carry out “fairly technical jobs.”

Chancellor George Osborne has written a letter to the new chairman of the bank, Howard Davies, pointing out that he didn’t expect the bank to give bonuses to senior executives: ”I would also expect that, as in the past, no executive directors or members of the executive committee will receive bonuses, despite improved profitability.”

“Given the extraordinary support it has enjoyed in the past from taxpayers, I know you recognise that RBS must remain a backmarker on pay and continue to show responsibility and restraint.”

McEwan responded to all this by saying: “What’s really important is that given the success of the last year we want to go further and faster in reforming this bank.”

We’ll see, eh?

google plus logo Google, Apple and Samsung are fighting over your walletsGoogle are revamping their Google Wallet service, upping their game to take on Samsung and Apple to make the battle for your money a three-way dogfight. Well, if you don’t include all the other companies that is.

Anyway, Wallet is getting improved and incorporating Softcard (which used to be called Isis Mobile Wallet, which would’ve been interesting if it were still called that in today’s climate) and in the States, will be a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Similar deals are being worked on in a number of other markets and Wallet, of course, is already installed on loads of Android handsets, so look out for updates.

Google clearly want to take-on Apple Pay and the search giant’s announcement makes particular reference to the “tap and pay functionality” of Wallet, meaning that this is a move to make Android fans take their NFC app seriously, after years of indifference.

Seeing as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile had previously blocked Wallet on their phones, this teaming-up means that the new platform is going to be more robust than previous efforts.

Of course, only last week, Samsung bought into LoopPay, which means there could be a scrap between the mobile maker and Google, which is a problem that Apple don’t have.

However, with the UK being rather slow to embrace NFC payments, Google might hold out to see what Apple do first. With contactless payments being increased, things could get going sooner, rather than later.

Banks facing huge fines for evading tax

February 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

taxwall 300x224 Banks facing huge fines for evading taxBanks, accountants and businesses that help people evade tax are looking at giganto fines, according to George Osborne. The Chancellor is clearly responding to the HSBC scandal where their Swiss wing helped a load of bad sorts sidestep that pesky business of taxation.

Apparently, Gideon will be using the platform of a policy statement before the election to say that companies and organisations who are enabling tax-dodging will face the same penalties as those who benefit from dodging. Words being thrown around are “corporate failure” and the severe sounding “economic crime.”

People who fund political parties across the board will be hoping that he’s bluffing, eh?

Of course, this is a headache for Osborne, as he batted away questions about whether or not he’d talked about the HSBC scandal with Lord Green who just so happens to be a former HSBC chairman and was given the role of Trade Minister by the Government in 2011. Speaking about that, Osborne said: “Some very serious allegations have been made about HSBC Swiss and its role in knowingly advising people on tax evasion. Of course this is a matter that our criminal authorities, prosecuting authorities will want to look into.”

“We are currently in active discussion which I think will come to a fruitful end to get the French to allow us to pass some of this information to the Serious Fraud Office and other prosecuting authorities to address the concern… about the potential or alleged role of banks in this affair.”

Inflation drops to record low

February 17th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

child saving money 300x204 Inflation drops to record lowInflation has dropped to a record low (even though figures only started in 1989) which is something to be cheerful of.

That’ll lift the mood just before a General Election won’t it?

The annual CPI fell to 0.3% according to official figures, down from December’s 0.5%. So what does that mean to you? In real terms, it means that if you spent £100 on some shopping last year, right now, it will cost you £100.30.

The Bank of England think that inflation will turn negative for the first time in fifty-odd years within the next couple of months, which is exciting. That might mean things get cheaper for once (although, don’t make any bets on it – retailers aren’t that kind). In addition to that, economists reckon that their data crunching will show that wages actually rose by 1.8% in the three months to December.

George Osborne, naturally, cheered this news on, saying that it was a “milestone in the British economy.” While this is good news, we need to see an upward trend beyond just food and fuel. It is a start though.

“There is certainly no sign of the systemic deflation that took a grip on Japan in the 1990s,” said John Hawksworth, chief economist at accountancy firm PwC; “Domestic demand growth remains relatively buoyant.”

Osborne added: “It’s great news for families, whose budgets will stretch even further. It shows that those who went around predicting a cost of living crisis were plain wrong. And it demonstrates the clear choice between a long-term economic plan that’s delivering stability and rising living standards, and the chaos of the alternatives.”

$1bn stolen from banks by hackers

February 16th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

cyber crime 300x223 $1bn stolen from banks by hackersCyber criminals have been having a prosperous time as (up to) 100 financial institutions have had $1 BILLION stolen from them what has been described as an “unprecedented cyber robbery”.

Security firm Kaspersky Lab reckon that, what equates to £648m, has been swiped which started in 2013 and are still going. It seems that these criminals are all based in Russia, Ukraine and China. Commies, eh?

Kaspersky have been working with Interpol and Europol to investigate this thievery, and that the money was nicked from Germany, Russia, North America, China, Ukraine and Canada. Not the UK though. Presumably criminals have got a respect for the villains that work in our banks.

“These attacks again underline the fact that criminals will exploit any vulnerability in any system,” said Sanjay Virmani, director of Interpol’s digital crime centre. Kaspersky added that these ne’er-do-wells herald a new era in cyber crime where ”malicious users steal money directly from banks and avoid targeting end users”.

The crooks have been given a name too, with Kaspersky calling them Carbanak. The name is hardly the Crips or the Sinaloa Cartel, and sounds more like a silo full of pasta, but we can’t have everything. Anyway, the gang are using computer viruses to get into networks with malware, which sometimes includes surveillance hacks which allows them to see and record everything that happens on staff screens. Very clever.

They can also transfer funds as well as, rather excitingly, tell cash machines to give out money at designated times of the day. Maybe that’s what was happening in Stanground last week?

Kaspersky say that each robbery took between two and four months, with around $10m taken each time: ”It was a very slick and professional cyber robbery,” said Kaspersky Lab’s principal security researcher, Sergey Golovanov.

HSBC HSBC sorry, thereby transforming banking culture overnightThe culture around banking has been a cesspool since the ’80s, when they were let off the lead to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Successive governments didn’t do anything about it either, letting them crack on… until they mucked everything up and loads of information came out about them which painted them in a bleak light.

Of course, the current government isn’t going to do anything about it either. And why would they? The whole rotten system can be fixed by simply saying ‘sorry’.

And that’s what HSBC have done and, with their apology, we can all sleep soundly, knowing that that simple phrase has transformed decades of awful behaviour in the world of finance.

You’ll know that HSBC have been doing all manner of dodgy tax business via their Swiss arm,  helping clients to sidestep taxes – many of whom just so happen to be fundraisers for the Conservative Party.

Anyway, the bank was so very, very sorry that they took out a full-page advert in the Sunday papers, saying that the whole thing had been a painful experience and that standards in place today “were not universally in place” in years gone by. Fixing all the problems in banking, HSBC said: ”We therefore offer our sincerest apologies.”

Nice that all those shady dealings are now consigned to the past, eh? It really is a big relief to us all and, more importantly, it was so nice to see MPs across the board talking about the issue and not ignoring it at all.

That said, now we think of it, it would’ve been nicer if HSBC had said something along the lines of ‘this won’t happen again’, and maybe some assurances from politicians that they might want to put penalties or rules in place to ensure that huge amounts of money don’t vanish like this, and that massive institutions actually bolster the tax pot for the UK, so maybe we wouldn’t have to see so many cuts made to public services.

All that is by-the-by now, because HSBC have said sorry, which makes absolutely everything right and proper in the world. God bless every one of them.

Contactless payment limit up to £30

February 13th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

contactless payment Contactless payment limit up to £30Wafting your cash card at a machine and a payment going through still feels impossibly futuristic to many of us (okay, just us) and from September, you’ll be able to do a contactless payment up to the value of £30, rather than the £20 limit we now have.

This means you’ll be able to tap-and-go on fancy wine or thirty things from a pound shop. It is all very exciting.

There was initial reluctance to utilise contactless payments, mostly through not being able to let go of the old habit of jamming your card into the machine, but last year, contactless spending trebled as more shops and more consumers got into the idea.

2014 saw a whopping £2.32bn spent by people waving their cards at machines, but it there’s some way to go before it comes close to matching the amounts we spend with chip-and-pin and good ol’ cash. Even so, that is a 255% increase on the previous year, and more than double the spending of the previous six years combined.

According to the Payments Council, they think that 2015 is going to be the first year where we see the amount of cash payments being made falling below the number of card transactions.

We’ll just have to wait and see about that. Either way – £30 limit! The next round is on you.

david cameron government Britain needs a payrise, reckons PM during election driveDavid Cameron thinks that businesses need to pass on some of those lovely profits to everyone else. And he’s right of course, even if his timing is a little bit suspect and there’s a strong chance he’ll do absolutely nothing to ensure that it happens.

The Prime Minister says that trading conditions in Britain have ‘not been this good for a long time’, so it is about time that employees got a pay rise. With energy bills falling slightly and the price of oil down, the UK’s recovery has been growing at the quickest rate since the economic downturn.

Cameron says: “The most recent figures show that wages are already growing faster than inflation, and as the economy continues to grow it’s important this continues and that everyone benefits. Put simply – it’s time Britain had a pay rise.”

Obviously, this sentiment comes after years of everything becoming more expensive and wages staying relatively frozen. It would’ve been nice if someone had done something about it years ago, but there we go.

Cameron will be talking to the British Chambers of Commerce in a bid to persuade the nation’s bosses that staff should be given an increase in their wages.

He adds: “To make sure more of those workers feel the effects of this recovery, this Government has already delivered the first real-terms increase in the minimum wage since the crisis. I want that to go further – indeed we are on a trajectory to over £8 an hour by 2020. As for business – the conditions have not been this good for a long time.”

“Now that your costs are falling and it’s cheaper to do business, I’m confident that more businesses will pass on that good economic news to their workers, in rising pay cheques and higher earnings.”

One thing Cameron could oversee, is a raise in the minimum wage and make a move to giving everyone a living wage and put an end to zero-hour contracts, but holding your breath on that would be ill-advised. Not that the Opposition look at all useful either.

pensions 300x187 Women to miss out on pensioner bonds thanks to age limitWhen you retire, you can invest in pensioner bonds, however, there’s an admin problem if you’re a woman. The age limit for investing in these is 65, so if you’re a woman who retires at 62, you’re barred from joining in until you’ve reached the age limit.

Somewhere in advance of 900,000 woman won’t be able to take advantage of the scheme, which some critics have said is tantamount to punishment for women having a lower state pension age and that all pensioners should be granted access to the high-interest fixed-term bonds.

The bonds themselves offer 2.8% interest for one year and 4% for three years, which is nearly double the rates you’ll get on the high street.

However, The Treasury aren’t having it, saying that it would be ‘unlawful’ to lower the age limit just for women, under equality regulations. This has resulted in a lot of peeved pensioners signing a petition in protest against this, which was launched as a lifeline for elderly people who are suffering from low interest rates on their savings (a record low, in fact).

Personal finance expert Sarah Pennells, who kicked off the petition, said: “These women have already seen their state pension age rise and they feel doubly penalised by the Government. Many female pensioners over 62 feel really hacked off they are excluded from this.”

On the petition, some older ladies have vented spleen. Sylvia Corlett, 62, wrote: “I am classed as a pensioner in all other aspects, claiming state pension, pension credit, bus pass, winter fuel allowance etc. Yet I am NOT classed as a pensioner regarding the new pensioner bonds. Why?.” E S added: “I am one of the several hundred thousand women who paid Married Women’s contributions in return for absolutely nothing and this is another example of women being treated unfairly.”

Many of the women talk of ‘discrimination’ and point out that after being paid less than men their entire lives, this felt like another kick in the teeth.

Dr Ros Altmann, the Government’s older workers adviser, isn’t impressed: “If the Government is trying to help pensioners to live off their savings then surely that should include women who are under 65 but already taking a pension. This is a group of women who have already lost out as a result of changes to the pension system.”

“They have not saved as much as men of their age because they did not earn as much. And they will also have lower state pension entitlements than men because many had shorter working lives or took breaks from the labour market to care for children.”

HSBC have been avoiding tax, eh?

February 9th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

HSBC HSBC have been avoiding tax, eh?Prepare yourself, as we have some news that will shock you to your core to the point where you might never be able to trust or love anyone ever again – a bank has been up to no good.

While Team Bitterwallet sets up helplines for all of you who are emotionally unprepared for this betrayal, we’ll give you the low-down.

A huge cache of files have been leaked which show that HSBC helped their clients to sidestep taxes and hid millions of dollars. These files cover the period from 2005 to 2007, concerning 30,000 accounts and concealing around £78 billion.

At the time, HSBC was led by Lord Green, who was a trade minister and just so happens to sit in the House of Lords.

The shadow financial secretary to the treasury Cathy Jamieson said: “HMRC were made fully aware of these practices back in 2010. There are serious questions for the Chancellor to answer about why just one person out of over a thousand have been prosecuted in five years. And why the Government’s Swiss tax deal has been such an embarrassing flop, raising a fraction of the amounts initially boasted of by ministers. Tax avoidance and evasion harms every taxpayer in Britain, and undermines public services like the NHS.”

It is HSBC’s Swiss banking arm that indulged in this behaviour, helping rich people to not pay tax. Obtained through the collaboration of a number of media outlets, the reports show that HSBC’s Swiss private bank regularly allow their clients to withdraw bricks of cash while allowing wealthy people to avoid taxes all over European and were in cahoots with some conceal undeclared “black” accounts from their domestic tax authorities.

They also gave accounts to international criminals, corrupt businessmen and a load of other high-risk people.

This is the biggest banking leak in history and will see even more pressure being put on the banks who are already fantastically unpopular with everyone after a serious of scandals.

HSBC have said: “We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures.” There’ll be a special Panorama on the BBC about the whole thing tonight, with talk of blood-diamond criminals and the like.

wonga ladies 300x282 Wonga wont be facing criminal investigation for sending fake legal lettersRemember when Wonga sent out a load of fake legal letters to frighten their own customers for money? Well, they won’t be facing a criminal probe, because the City of London Police said that, after giving the whole thing a ‘thorough review’, they decided that ‘there is not sufficient evidence to progress a criminal investigation’.

The letters themselves, which you can see online and presumably in someone’s hand with them pointing at it and saying ‘this is one of the fake legal letters I got’ isn’t evidence enough.

Wonga paid out £2.6 million in compensation for the letters from non-existent firms and the City of London Police weighed-up whether or not the payday loan company should face a criminal investigation, especially given that Wonga had added charges to some customers’ accounts to cover admin fees, y’know, for the law firms. The law firms that didn’t exist.

So, while Chainey, D’Amato & Shannon and Barker and Lowe Legal Recoveries were fictitious, the FCA said that they couldn’t hand out a fine to Wonga because all this happened under a previous regulatory regime, and they can’t dole out retrospective penalties.

And the police have decided that this sort of thing is best dealt with by regulators, even though we’ve just established that they can’t do anything about it.

Compensation aside, that’s it. The case is closed.

Santander add £20m to PPI compensation pot

February 2nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

santander g Santander add £20m to PPI compensation potThe never-ending saga that is the misselling of PPI to the people of the UK rumbles on, taking a fresh turn with Santander’s UK wing adding more money to the naughty pot as it looks like there’s going to be more compensation being paid out to customers.

Sky News has found that the bank, alongside announcing their full-year results, will also be putting £20 million aside for PPI misselling, which will be the third time they’ve done it over the scandal.

This follows the news that the FCA are still looking into this giant mess, and that it looks like there’s going to be a time-limit added to proceedings in a bid to get this all sorted, once and for all.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would “consider whether further interventions may be appropriate – which could include a consumer communication campaign; a possible time limit on complaints; or other rule changes or guidance – or whether the continuation of the PPI scheme in its current form best meets its objectives”.

Since January 2011, the various banks involved in this fiasco have handled over 14 million PPI consumer complaints, upholding somewhere in advance of 70% of them, paying out billions in compensation.

Santander themselves, put aside £751m in 2011 to give to customers, and a further £65m in 2014. And now, there’s going to be a further £20m, which adds to to a whole lot of money.

A time limit is expected to be welcomed by Santander, and to be honest, everyone else involved in this as it would be beneficial for not just the banks, but for customers too.

If you think you’re owed compensation from your bank, wait until the official announcement tomorrow and they’ll invariably be in touch. Failing that, call the bank at 0845 600 6014 on a landline, or 0345 600 6014 from a mobile, 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturdays. Or you can do it online.

Register to vote and improve your credit score?

January 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

vote Register to vote and improve your credit score?Voting is a pain – not least because picking a candidate to vote for is often like choosing which debilitating disease you’d like to contract.

However, your credit score could depend on it, which means that, come the general election, it’d be worth voting for someone or spoiling your ballot, just to keep your credit score up.

So what’s all this about? Well, in 2014, the UK started moving toward the Individual Electoral Registration (IER), which means that the head of the household no longer registers everyone who lives under their roof. Mercifully, you can register online, so you don’t have to try and cajole any lazybum teenagers into getting off the couch for too long.

People who have moved house are less likely to be on the voting register because of reasons, which causes voting problems in the renting sector.

And all this will affect your ratings because, for example, credit reference agencies use the electoral register to confirm that you live where you say you live and companies use the electoral roll to confirm you are who you say you are. If you’re thinking about getting a mortgage, then being on the electoral list is paramount. Basically, it is used to try and stop fraud.

As well as that, if you’re not on the list, you can’t vote, which means you might be shunned at dinner parties by your chest-beating pals who like to parp on about such things… not that Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand vote, but there you go.

Either way, being included on the electoral register means you’ll have a healthier credit score. Now, conspiracy theorists: Do your worst.