FTC Halts Deceptive Calling Card Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission has stopped advertising claims by prepaid phone card provider Alternatel, claiming deceptive practices have been used to misrepresent the number of minutes available for use. The cards are marketed under a wide variety of names, including “Alo Mama,” “Coffee Time,” “Rey de Florida,” “Tree Monkey,” and “Voz do Brasil.” The ads make bold claims about the number of minutes the cards will provide for calls to a wide range of international locations but FTC alleges that consumers don’t receive the number of minutes advertised. For example, while a poster advertised that a calling card would deliver 360 minutes to Panama, the card delivered only 23 minutes of calling time. In fact, in 87 tests of the defendants’ cards, the cards delivered an average of only 50 percent of the advertised minutes. In addition, the FTC alleges the cards carry hidden fees. The defendants’ ads for their cards often boast that there are “no connection fees,” but fail to clearly disclose there are other random fees, such as “hang-up” and “maintenance” fees and “destination surcharges” that can wipe out the value of the card after even one short call. Such fees are disclosed in tiny font and in vague terms that are mostly incomprehensible in any language. A U. S. District Court has ordered a temporary halt to the deceptive advertising claims used to promote prepaid phone cards marketed by Alternatel, Inc.; G.F.G. Enterprises, LLC, also d/b/a Mystic Prepaid; Voice Prepaid, Inc.; Voice Distributors, Inc.; Telecom Express, Inc.; and their principals, pending trial.

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FASTER PAYMENTS

In the first three days’ operation of the new “Faster Payments
Service,” launched on May 27th, more than 315,000 payments with a value of GBP 200 million were processed. The “Faster Payments Service” enables banks to process one-off payments made over the Internet or by phone within a couple of hours. Customers are also able to make Internet and phone payments outside of banking hours even at the weekend. The service will also speed up standing order payments, enabling them to be cleared on the day they are sent on bank working days. Standing orders will start to be processed through the “Faster Payments Service” on June 6th.
Any payment that is not processed through the new service will continue to be made using the existing Bacs three-day service. There is a maximum limit placed on the value of each payment sent through the new service, with the maximum value for Internet and phone payments set at GBP 10,000 and standing orders to GBP 100,000.

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U.S. Bank Expands Visa payWave in the West

U.S. Bank is introducing the Visa “payWave” to existing debit cardholders in California, Colorado, Missouri, and Utah. The bank is working with USA Technologies to install 400 contactless vending machines in the Denver area to increase the market for the “payWave” solution. U.S. Bank has designated Denver one of its “PowerBank” markets. In September Visa reported that “payWave” had 41 issuers in 11 countries, including seven of the top ten Visa issuers in the USA. National merchants already accepting “VISA payWave” in the U.S. include BP, 7 Eleven, CVS Pharmacy, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Jack in the Box. National merchants in the process of upgrading POS terminals to “payWave” include Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Circle K, Office Depot, and PETCO. (CF Library 9/20/07)

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AmEx and Marriott Offer a Meeting Bonus

Marriott Rewards members can now 25,000 Marriott Rewards bonus points when meetings and events are booked through the American Express Card. Qualified meetings and events must include 10 rooms booked for at least one night and/or catering-only events such as receptions, coffee breaks, banquets, weddings or teleconferencing. In order to receive bonus points, events require a signed contract and membership in Marriott Rewards. In addition, qualifying events must include a minimum payment of $5,000 on any American Express Card, excluding taxes and gratuities. Bonus points can be earned at over 2,100 Marriott International hotels around the world.

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Infusionsoft Software is PCI DSS Compliant

Infusionsoft’s small business marketing automation web-based software has been designated as PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) Compliant, ensuring small businesses protection from identify theft. The PCI DSS was created by credit card companies and is considered the highest industry level in security of customer data with its implementation of 12 requirements for safeguarding payment card data. With Infusionsoft processing millions of online transactions for its customers using marketing automation software, it is imperative the organization implements such secure solutions. Research demonstrates, however, PCI compliance is estimated at 39% for Visa USA level-one merchants and 33% for Visa USA level-two merchants.

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WU EXECS

Western Union has appointed Stewart A. Stockdale Executive VP and
President, effective Late June 2008 to oversee U.S. and Canadian
operations, and David G. Barnes as chief strategy officer. Since 2002,
Stockdale served as chief marketing officer for the publicly held U.S.
real estate company, Simon Property Group, and served as president of
Simon Brand Ventures having seceded his prior role as executive vp &
chief marketing officer of Conseco. Preceding his career at Conseco,
Stewart began his career in brand management with Procter & Gamble.
Meanwhile, David G. Barnes is to focus on WU’s overall strategy,
accelerate growth initiatives and to oversee the organization’s bank
strategy in his new role as the chief strategy officer. Western Union
provides global money transfer services through a network of over
345,000 agent locations in over 200 countries.

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SCM Microsystems to Focus on NFC

Germany’s SCM Microsystems has announced its shift in focus to the growing contactless technology market with its first major contactless initiative — a MOU with Sony to supply contactless “FeliCa” physical access control terminals in Japan and other international markets. Also emphasizing this shift in focus, SCM launched its first NFC-enabled USB dongle for mobile payment applications in April and intends to develop technology to support NFC in all readers and terminals, including its “FeliCa” products. The latter is to ensure contactless infrastructures will cooperate with NFC-enabled mobile phones in the future. Japan consumers have over 250 million electronic payment cards and FeliCa-enabled mobile phones in circulation today with a large, growing demand for readers and payment terminals interoperable with the “FeliCa” standard.

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Microsoft and VitalPay Team

Symmetric Systems has entered into an agreement with Microsoft to develop “VitalPay” business payment solutions. Among the industries to which VitalPay provides client services are retail and specialty retail merchants; mail and telephone order facilities and card-not-present transactions; Internet e-tailers; catalog, travel, and airline industries; government agencies and others. The services of VitalPay are PCI Level 1 compliant and consistent with the industries required security and privacy standards.

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Orbitz Relaunches a Co-Brand Visa with Capital One

Capital One and Orbitz have teamed to launch a new card that offers triple travel rewards. The new “Orbitz Visa” with Capital One “No Hassle Rewards” offers one point for every purchase dollar and three points for each dollar spent booking travel on Orbitz.com. Cardholders can redeem points for travel on Orbitz.com, cash, gift cards and name brand merchandise. Orbitz previously co-branded a “Platinum MasterCard” with Juniper Bank in 2002. Under the Juniper card deal, cardholders received two Rewards points for every dollar spent on airline tickets purchased on Orbitz and one point for every dollar spent everywhere else. Launched in June 2001, Orbitz now offers consumers the power to search more than 80,000 suppliers worldwide including airlines, hotels and car rental companies.(CF Library 9/19/01; 5/14/02)

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SCM NFC

SCM Microsystems has announced its shift in focus to the growing
contactless technology market with its first major contactless
initiative — a Memorandum of Understanding with Sony Co to supply
contactless “FeliCa” physical access control terminals in Japan and
other international markets. Also emphasizing this shift in focus, SCM
launched its first NFC-enabled USB dongle for mobile payment
applications in April and intends to develop technology to support NFC
in all readers and terminals, including its “FeliCa” products. The
latter is to ensure contactless infrastructures will cooperate with
NFC-enabled mobile phones in the future. Japan consumers have over 250
million electronic payment cards and FeliCa-enabled mobile phones in
circulation today with a large, growing demand for readers and payment
terminals interoperable with the “FeliCa” standard.

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KIC and the Clean Team Form KICTeam

ME-based cleaning card supplier KIC Products has teamed with CA-based Clean Team Company to become KICTeam. KICTeam will provide innovative and cost efficient solutions to a diverse marketplace. The company’s product line include “Waffletechnology”-based products for magnetic card readers, bill acceptors, optical readers, smart card readers, thermal printers, ID card printers, ATMs and point of sale thermal credit and check readers. The merger makes KICTeam the world market leader providing more than 400 technical cleaning product solutions and servicing over 1,300 customers worldwide. KICTeam will continue to work from Auburn, Maine and San Diego, Calif., with Auburn serving as its headquarters.

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MTS QSA

MTS Allstream has been certified as a “Qualified Security Assessor” by
the PCI Data Security Standards Council, ensuring information security
controls, processes and data confidentiality for secure customer card
information. With this, MTS Allstream can better address overall
security and networking needs because of the PCI DSS industry-wide
standard developed by credit card companies to verify merchants and
service providers who store, process or transmit cardholder data adopt
the protective standards. Additionally, as a “Qualified Security
Assessor,” MTS Allstream is certified to help merchants adhere to PCI
compliance standards with the building and maintaining of a secure
network with appropriate firewall configurations, protecting cardholder
data through encryption, maintaining a vulnerability-management program,
implementing strong access control measures, monitoring networks and
maintaining an information security policy.

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