Insolvency Practitioners Freeman Jones Have Commented That Ivas Remain A Very Useful Alternative That Can Avoid Many Of The Negative Consequences Associated With Bankruptcy

Responding to new statistics showing a rise in the number of people in debt applying for bankruptcy, Insolvency Practitioners Freeman Jones have highlighted the importance of addressing debt problems early, especially with a recession looming, and have pointed to the IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) as a useful alternative to bankruptcy that could lessen the blow of insolvency.

The statistics, compiled by the Ministry of Justice, showed a total of 13,653 petitions for bankruptcy in the three months between July and September – 7% more compared with the same time last year, and a 1% increase on the previous quarter.

In the same time, creditors themselves filed 5,499 bankruptcy petitions against borrowers – 2% less than the previous quarter, but 10% more than July-September 2007.

In an earlier report, the Insolvency Service reported a 3.3% rise in individuals taking up IVAs in the third quarter of 2008, although the number had actually fallen by 3.1% compared with the same period last year.

A spokesperson for Freeman Jones commented: “Bankruptcy can be the best way out of debt for some people, but in many cases an IVA is a preferable alternative, as it can avoid a lot of the negative consequences associated with bankruptcy.

“Unlike bankruptcy, an IVA almost always allows borrowers to keep hold of their home – although they will be expected to release some of the equity in their home in the fourth year – and it does not carry the publicity or social stigma that bankruptcy does. It also does not prevent people from running a business or taking other positions, like bankruptcy does.

“There are some people who feel that bankruptcy is a more appropriate way out of insolvency than an IVA,” continued the spokesperson. “That’s mainly because bankruptcy is over more quickly – normally after a year – and it typically results in less of the overall debt being paid off by the borrower.

“However the restrictions placed upon borrowers by bankruptcy can sometimes outweigh the benefits, and although an IVA lasts for longer, it will do less damage to the borrower’s future prospects in the long run.

But the Freeman Jones spokesperson was quick to acknowledge that bankruptcy can sometimes be the better option. “Since an IVA requires regular monthly payments for a number of years, people with a low or unpredictable income may find that bankruptcy better suits their needs,” she said.

“Likewise, if the borrower does not have much in the way of assets, and their circumstances are unlikely to improve, then bankruptcy may be their best choice.

“It can often be difficult for people in debt to decide whether bankruptcy or an IVA is the best option – and as always, we advise anyone facing debt problems to seek expert debt advice.”

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US Mortgage, a diversified mortgage products and services provider that offers net branch affiliate programs, commented today about how mortgage rates held even despite last week’s historic changes, which has resulted in a time for consumers to take advantage of historically low interest rates

In a time of historic changes last week in the US financial markets, mortgage interest rates held pretty much even across the board. With the market making the largest one-day drop in decades and also one of the largest one day gains in a long time to mention nothing of the historic $700 billion bailout package, the country would have expected something to happen with mortgage rates. Instead, the country experienced the smallest changes in mortgage rates it’s seen all year.

US MortgageMany experts think the markets reacted somewhat positively to the bailout but at the same time the economic outlook has soured. Additionally, the initial positive reaction to the bailout has softened as some have started to question whether the bailout will actually work. Subsequently, in a week of unprecedented changes in the mortgage industry, mortgage rates didn’t move an inch.

“Despite all the historic moves economic moves as of late,” added Frank Kuri, Vice President of Net Branch Development at US Mortgage Corp.,“there has never been a better time to take advantage of historically low interest rates. Our net branch affiliates are ready to help our customers leverage these opportune times.”

About US Mortgage
Headquartered in Pine Brook, NJ, US Mortgage is a licensed mortgage banker founded in 1996. US Mortgage’s owners and principals founded West Jersey Community Bank, a de novo corporation, prior to the incorporation of US Mortgage. Sharing the vision of a national, multi-platform, mortgage banking organization, the company subsequently broadened the business with the formation of CU National Mortgage, a national provider of transparent mortgage services for credit unions; US Capital Markets, a secondary market resource to investors and sellers; Icon Residential Capital, a national wholesale lender and BranchLink, the branch affiliate program that is bringing US Mortgage to locations throughout the United States.

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Individuals Who Are Investing Their 401k & IRA Money In Ventures Outside The Stock Market Can Have A Brighter Retirement And Growing Wealth

The stock market implosion of 2008 has millions of Americans feeling financially helpless. Yet individuals who are investing their 401k & IRA money in ventures outside the stock market are singing a different tune.

One such cheerful investor is Janice Stoddard, who along with her husband, Jack, owns a real estate business in Arkansas. In 2004, Janice learned about “self-directed investing” from a seminar that taught how to invest IRA money into real estate. She returned home excited about the prospect of setting up her own self directed IRA.

The Stoddards established two IRAs, rolling over investments from their traditional IRAs to fund them. They used the IRAs to make small real estate transactions, purchasing and reselling property at a profit with all proceeds staying in the IRA.

In 2006, an opportunity to buy and then immediately re-sell 60 acres of undeveloped land at a profit came up. Concerns over structuring the deal and keeping everything above board led her and her husband to consult with Jeff Nabers, well known as one of the nation’s top experts on self directed investing.

“Jeff helped us establish a Solo 401k that could be used to handle the 60 acre transaction. The Solo 401k was a key component to our funding because we were able to contribute 10 times more to it than we could to an IRA. Meanwhile, our son, who works in oil and gas, alerted us to keeping our eyes open for property with mineral rights for future transactions,” Janice says.

With the proceeds from the 60 acre sale, the Stoddards began looking for their next investment. They found a 57 acre property with 54 acres of undeveloped land and a house that was sitting on three acres. The property, valued at $435,000, was more than the couple had in cash in their Solo 401k, so they began looking at options.

They contacted friends in Dallas and asked if they’d be interested in joining them in the investment. Their goal was to buy it and sub-divide it for resale in five and ten acre parcels. Their friends, both physicians, agreed.

Nabers Group helped the couples form a Limited Liability Company for purposes of purchasing the land. The LLC is owned jointly by the Stoddard’s Solo 401k and their friend’s IRA.

The owner had originally listed the property for $5,250 an acre with only 50% of the mineral rights. At the time no drilling was taking place on the property and no natural gas had been pulled from the ground. The Stoddards negotiated for full mineral rights and bought them with the property for $5,875 per acre.

Over the next few months, natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy put a well on the property, and soon the LLC was receiving large monthly royalty checks for the natural gas on the property. Over 18 months, those checks totaled more than $100,000. When the Stoddards were approached by a buyer who wanted to purchase the mineral rights and not the land for $8700 an acre, they sold the rights, netting another $465,000 while retaining the land, now valued at an estimated $435,000.

“Janice knows real estate and knew how to identify an under-valued property that was a good investment. With her son’s knowledge of oil and gas, her strategy became as much about the mineral rights as the real estate. Mineral rights prices had been skyrocketing and lease values had been increasing in her area, and Janice knew she could resell the land and improvements alone and at least break even while keeping what she was really after – the mineral rights,” Nabers said.

Within six real estate transactions, the LLC’s asset value had gone from $350,000 to more than $950,000 in under two years. The Stoddards have more than quadrupled their initial investment, and they aren’t stopping there. Other property and mineral rights deals are already on the table for purchase with their Solo 401k funds.

Nabers, whose firm regularly structures self directed IRA & Solo 401k investment plans, says the growth in the Stoddards’ investments is exceptional, but not unique for someone who is as diligent in their investing as they are.

“I will admit to being a researcher,” Janice Stoddard says. “When I found out that as a self-employed individual I could set up a retirement plan that would allow me to invest in real estate, which is something I know very well, I was excited about that. The hard part was finding a financial expert who would embrace the concept of self directed investing. Everyone I talked to told me I should buy stocks instead. The Nabers Group has a wealth of experience in this area and Jeff has been very instrumental in giving us a thorough understanding of our options and the opportunities,” she says.

Today Stoddard advises other real estate professionals to do the same thing, and she’s joined the IRA Association of America to ensure that she is aware of regulations and new opportunities available to individual investors.

“I talk to my friends, and they are absolutely despondent over what is happening to money they thought they had for retirement or college. A lot of people have lost a lot of money in recent months. When I tell them I didn’t lose a dime and that I’ve quadrupled the value of my Solo 401k over the last eighteen months, they want to know how,” Stoddard says.

According to Nabers, “My business is growing because there are plenty of people who are not willing to ‘wait and see what happens’ with the stock market. They want control over their finances, and they want to replace their restrictive IRA or 401k with one that offers unlimited possibilities.”

Stoddard says she never hesitates to tell people to take charge of their own retirement money.

“If we had not established our self directed investment accounts we would not have the cash available for investing that we now have. That’s what allows us the ability to act fast with real estate and mineral rights opportunities. It’s a lot different than helplessly watching the market, and it has absolutely changed our future,” she says.

For more information on self-directed investing, visit the IRA Association of America or Jeff Nabers’ blog.

About The Company:
Jeff Nabers is an expert on self directed investing, Solo 401ks, the future of social security, alternative IRA investment options, and other topics that are of interest to individuals at all income levels. His firm, Nabers Group, is located in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Nabers can be reached at 866-253-7746. You may also contact his publicist, Connie Holubar, at 903 880 8217 to arrange for an interview or to request photos or other background materials.

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The latest report from the Insolvency Service shows a rapid rise in the numbers of people being declared insolvent

Commenting on statistics from the Insolvency Service showing a sharp rise in insolvencies, both over the last quarter and over the past year, Debt Advisers Direct have said that it is now more important than ever for people to get their finances in order and tackle any debt problems as soon as possible.

Commenting on new statistics showing an increase in the number of personal insolvencies in the third quarter of 2008, Debt Advisers Direct ( have said that this is further confirmation of the difficulties faced by many British households due to rising inflation and worsening economic conditions, and have emphasised the importance of good debt advice as the economy faces a recession.

The latest report from the Insolvency Service shows a rapid rise in the numbers of people being declared insolvent. Between July and September there were 27,087 personal insolvencies, an 8.8% increase on the previous quarter. It was also 4.6% higher than the number of insolvencies reported a year earlier.

Despite falling in the second quarter of the year, bankruptcies were up 12.1% over the quarter. IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements), meanwhile, were up 3.3% over the quarter.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct said: “Higher costs of living and the credit crunch have put a lot of pressure on British households’ finances this year, so we expected to see a rise in personal insolvencies over the course of this year.

“However, the extent of the rise in insolvencies shows the seriousness of the problems we are facing – and highlights the need to tackle debt problems early, before they become unmanageable..”

The Insolvency Service report also showed that despite the quarterly rise, IVAs were down by 3.1% compared with the same period last year – with The Telegraph concluding that it may be becoming more difficult to enter into an IVA.

“There are a few possible reasons why the number of IVAs may be lower than this time last year,” the spokesperson commented. “It may simply be that more people are taking the bankruptcy route, perhaps because they are unaware that an IVA can avoid many of the downsides of bankruptcy.

“IVAs are usually considered a preferable alternative to bankruptcy. People on IVAs do not lose control of their assets, unlike bankruptcy, and they typically carry fewer restrictions.

“The rise in IVAs over the quarter shows that lenders still consider it a valid means of reclaiming some of the money they are owed – and it remains that if you are in significant debt, an IVA can be a very useful way of getting debt-free.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson was keen to emphasise the importance of tackling debts before they grow unmanageable. “For anyone struggling with debt, there are a number of ways out. With a recession approaching, it’s important that people do not feel powerless, and that they tackle the issue head-on.

“There are a number of debt solutions, such as debt consolidation and debt management plans, that can help people to stop their debts growing before they become unmanageable. We advise anyone with debt problems to seek professional advice at the first sign of trouble.”

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Debt Advisers Direct have warned that the squeeze on incomes could become tighter in the coming months

Debt Advisers Direct have responded to findings that Britons’ disposable incomes have fallen by nearly 30% on average in the past two years, warning that the pressure on incomes could increase as the economic crisis progresses, and have advised consumers to take care of any debts as soon as possible.

Responding to research by Abbey Credit Cards claiming that British citizens have seen their disposable income fall by nearly 30% during the past two years,Debt Advisers Direct have warned that the squeeze on incomes could become tighter in the coming months, and have advised consumers to take care of any financial issues, especially outstanding debts, as soon as possible.

According to the research, the average household now has only 25% – around £382 – of their monthly income left after essential costs such as mortgage payments and energy bills have been paid.

That figure is down from £541 in disposable income available to British households just two years ago – a 29% fall.

The research also claims that one in ten spend 90% of their income on bills and other essential costs, leaving only 10% as disposable income.

On average, British households were spending 7.4% of their total income on repaying debts, not including mortgages, the research claimed.

Meanwhile, an average 24% went towards mortgage or rent payments, 17% on household bills, 16% on food, and 8% on transport costs.

British incomes have been put under pressure on two fronts throughout the economic crisis, with costs of living such as energy bills and food prices rising rapidly, and the credit crunch limiting access to additional funds in the form of loans and mortgages.

The effects have been tangible, with overall retail sales gradually declining over the year, and profits for ‘budget stores’ increasing – a sign that consumers’ perceived priorities are shifting as their disposable incomes shrink.

An expert from Debt Advisers Direct said: “Many people consider disposable income a luxury that can be spent on ‘unnecessary’ items, but it’s important to remember that disposable income is also a very important buffer against unexpected rises in outgoings.

“For example, if someone depends on their car to get to work, and they have to pay for a £500 repair with only £200 disposable income, that person could be forced into debt in order to make ends meet. That’s why it’s important for people to minimise their outgoings, and make savings where possible.

“The overall situation has become worse over the past year because costs of living, especially energy prices have risen so quickly. Food and other retail products are now falling in price, but energy prices have shown no sign of doing the same – and this continues to push more people towards debt.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson added that there are a number of debt solutions that can help to minimise outgoings when finances are limited.

“For people with multiple debts, a debt consolidation loan can be spread out across a longer period of time than the original debts, meaning monthly payments are lower,” she said. “Interest rates can also be reduced, especially when consolidating high-APR debts such as credit cards. However if the debt is repaid over a longer period, the additional interest from this can counteract some of the savings made.

“For debts that are becoming unmanageable, a debt management can help. It involves arranging to repay creditors in smaller amounts, based on how much the person in debt can afford, over a longer period of time.

“As always, we advise anyone looking to tackle their debts to seek professional debt advice beforehand.”

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Following the first rise in consumer confidence since December 2007, debt management company Gregory Pennington have said that while this may bode well for the health of the economy in some respects, it is by no means a sure sign of economic recovery, and consumers should not be complacent about their finances in the coming months

Following the announcement from Nationwide Building Society that consumer confidence has improved for the first time since December 2007, debt management company Gregory Pennington commented that this is an encouraging sign that the Government’s recent actions aimed towards economic recovery may be working, but warned consumers that difficult times may still lie ahead – and those facing financial worries, particularly debt problems, should tackle those issues as soon as possible.

Nationwide’s overall Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rose 8% in the month, bringing the index up from 51 in September to 55 in October. Most significantly, this is the first rise since December last year – a sign that some form of economic recovery could be on the horizon, possibly as a result of the recent Government bank bailout scheme.

The number of people who thought the economy would be performing better in six months time almost doubled from 14% in September to 27% in October.

However, Nationwide’s figures showed slightly less optimistic opinions amongst consumers regarding the current state of the economy: three quarters (75%) of those questioned believed the current economic situation is bad, compared with two thirds (66%) in September.

A spokesperson for debt management company Gregory Pennington said that increased consumer confidence for the future is encouraging, but added that consumer confidence should not be confused with expert’s predictions.

“The Consumer Confidence Index is to do with how people feel,” she said. “It’s likely that consumer confidence has improved on the back of the recent Government bank bailout scheme, as well as cuts in the base rate. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we are much more likely to avoid any of the issues highlighted by economists in recent months.

“On the one hand, consumer confidence is very important for the economy and could be pivotal in terms of how soon and how quickly the economy recovers. When consumer confidence is high, people are more willing to spend their money and less inclined to save, therefore pumping more cash into the economy and maintaining a healthy cycle. Conversely, when consumer confidence is low, less money flows through the economy – and that puts the economy at risk of recession.

“The Consumer Confidence Index is a reasonable indicator of how the economy could fare in the coming months, as long as attitudes remain the same. But it doesn’t tackle the underlying issues that continue to threaten the economy – issues which could cause consumer confidence to fall back down.”

The spokesperson added that even though consumer confidence on the whole is recovering, there are many people facing financial hardship due to fast-rising inflation over the past year, many of whom find themselves struggling with debt.

“We have been through an unusual situation for the economy over the past year, in which affordable living costs suddenly became unaffordable for many households,” she said. “The sharp rises in food, energy and petrol prices have prompted many people to cut back, but many people who were already stretched financially may have been forced into debt in order to make ends meet.

“We advise anyone who finds themselves struggling with debt to seek professional debt advice. The right form of debt management could help to bring down monthly outgoings and really relieve the pressure on those hardest-pressed by the financial crisis.”

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Pre-paid cards are set to take a major slice of holidaymakers annual spending on plastic this year as tourists bid to keep summer spending under control, Virgin Money believes

Over £20 billion* spent on plastic overseas by UK travellers each year, Virgin Money says. Worries about the soaring cost of living and rising debts will boost the popularity of the cards, which enable customers to spend overseas and withdraw money but not to run up debts, Virgin Money says.

Currently up to 40 pre-pay cards are available on the market with more providers expected to launch over the coming months.

Virgin Money analysis** shows average one-off application fees for the cards are £7.08 with some firms charging as much as £19.95. However customers also need to be aware of monthly fees.

Around 40% of providers charge a monthly fee to users ranging from £1 to £5.95 while customers also need to take into account fees on spending and overseas use when budgeting for holiday spending. Typically debit and credit cards charge handling and commission fees for overseas usage which can add up to as much as £5.95 for a £100 withdrawal.

Virgin, which was among the first to launch into the market with its Pre-Paid MasterCard in July last year, has already seen strong interest from customers and expects the market to continue to grow.

Virgin Money spokesman Grant Bather said: “Everyone needs to keep their spending under control as the credit crunch and soaring inflation take a big bite out of household budgets.

“Pre-paid cards remove the temptation to run up debt while you’re on holiday as you can only spend the amount that is loaded on your card. They’re a good discipline to get into to avoid the risk of the sun going to your head and burning up your bank balance on holiday.

“And they can be more secure to carry than cash as if you lose the card you can get a replacement sent out. Plus if you really do lose control of your finances relatives or friends can load the card up with emergency cash.”

The Virgin Prepaid MasterCard charges a £9.95 application fee but unlike other cards does not charge a monthly fee. Customers can load it up for free by debit card, at Post Offices or through a bank transfer. There’s a 2.95% charge each time you use it in the UK rising to 3.5% when you use it overseas for transactions or to withdraw cash.

Customers also qualify for a range of discounts including 10% off at zavvi, first month free with Virgin Media, 10% off Virgin Wines (for over 18s), a free month’s membership at Virgin Active gyms, 20% off at Virgin Experiences and 10% off Virgin Car, Home, Pet and Annual Travel Insurance.

To apply online go to

**Virgin Money research

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Don’t Let The Banks Threaten You With Foreclosure

Are you behind in your mortgage payments; by how many months? One, three, six or more? Have you been presented with a Forbearance Agreement that just doesn’t feel right? Or is your bank threatening foreclosure? There is help.

Foreclosure may not be the answer. You shouldn’t have to just give up the fight for your home that you worked so hard to purchase and hold on to. There is another option that your bank may not be forthcoming in talking to you about. It’s called Loss Mitigation. The Housing Rescue Plan, LLC specializes in loss mitigation services.

Housing Rescue Plan, LLC offers several loss mitigation options for homeowners facing financial hardships such as unemployment, separation or divorce, medical bills, reduced income, job relocation or others. The loss mitigation options H.R.P., LLC will discuss with you include: loan modifications; VA loan modifications; short payoff (short sale); deed in lieu of foreclosure, repayment plans, partial claims for FHA mortgages and special forbearance agreements. The H.R.P., LLC team will work in conjunction with you and your lender to come up with a plan of action that works for both sides. The best part is you may be able to work out an agreement with your lender that will allow you and your family to stay in your home. The H.R.P., LLC office is operated by Dr. Michael W. Cantrell, Sr. creator of the Federal Housing Recovery Plan and president of H.R.P., LLC. Dr. Cantrell has a 95% success rate negotiating with lenders.

Dr. Cantrell has over 19 years of mortgage experience in various roles. He, together with his team of trained counselors are available now to talk to you about your current housing situation. Your initial consultation is free. Visit for more information and an online application to get started today. Housing Rescue Plan, LLC is working with homeowners, keeping the American dream alive.

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Gregory Pennington reminded Consumers That Tackling Their Debt Problems Is More Important Than Ever In An Economic Downturn

Responding to recent debt-related comments from Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, debt management company Gregory Pennington reminded consumers that tackling their debt problems is more important than ever in an economic downturn.

New analysis, states the Liberal Democrats’ website, reveals that personal debt has risen by a total of one trillion pounds in the past eleven years – a startling ten million pounds for every hour the Labour government has been in power. Repayments to that collective personal debt stand at almost £95 billion per year, or £3,000 per second.

“Much of that debt, of course, is in the form of mortgage debt,” said a spokesperson for the debt management company. “According to the latest figures from the Bank of England (Lending to individuals: September 2008), individuals now owe a total of around £1,460 billion – and a full £1,220 billion of that total is secured against dwellings.”

“Mortgage debt is still a serious issue, with many homeowners having over-extended themselves in order to get a foot on the housing ladder. Even so, taking on a debt to acquire an asset is fundamentally different from borrowing in order to finance a lifestyle, or to pay for food, gas or petrol, as many people have grown used to doing in recent years.

“After all, the vast majority of non-homeowners still need to make monthly payments, in the form of rent. In other words, a mortgage debt needn’t actually add to an individual’s monthly financial burden – in fact, their monthly mortgage payments may well cost less than the rent payments they would need to make to live in a comparable property.

“Even so, Mr Clegg raises some valid points. Britain’s level of personal debt is, as he puts it, ‘unrivalled anywhere in the world outside of the US’, and this can be particularly dangerous in the context of a global economic downturn. Clearly, people with higher levels of personal debt are more at risk of running into severe financial problems more or less as soon as their income drops. People with little or no debt are, in general, much better placed to cope with any financial problems they may encounter as a result of the global downturn.

“As a debt management company, we specialise in debt management plans that help people bring their unsecured debts under control. But debt management is by no means the only way of coping with (and reducing) high levels of unsecured debt. People with debt problems may find they have a range of debt solutions to choose from, and should talk to a professional adviser as soon as possible – the sooner they do this, the more likely they are to get through any financial problems that may lie ahead.

“In the longer term,” the spokesperson for the debt management company concluded, “we wholeheartedly support Mr Clegg’s call for financial literacy to play a much bigger part in education. As he says, ‘maths for life is more important than trigonometry for most people’ – financial education is clearly a key part of helping future generations avoid the kind of debt problems that so many of today’s adults are facing.”

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More Financial press releases Has Signed A Fourth Annual Agreement With Tiscali To Continue Acting As Tiscali’s Preferred Insurance Comparison Partner

The alliance offers visitors to the Tiscali website a respected online comparison service for those seeking motor, home, travel, life, pet and many other types of insurance as well as advice on how to navigate the crowded insurance market and decipher the small print.

This agreement with Tiscali is the most recent in a series of significant partnerships for the newly relaunched and further consolidates the site’s position as the leading provider of an impartial, consumer-facing insurance service.

A spokesperson for Tiscali says: “Insurancewide provides a real plus to visitors of our Money Channel and increases the probability of finding the most relevant insurer for their needs, which is the first crucial step to finding the best price.”‘s cutting edge search technology enables the service to interpret each customer’s unique, keyed-in requirements quickly and accurately, and to provide an instantly accessible list of relevant, best-value insurers.

Insurancewide supplies this online comparison technology to more than 50 websites across the UK. Many are of these are white label agreements, reflecting the credibility of for finance portals as a respected, integral part of their core service.

James Harrison, chief executive of, says: “This partnership gives us another opportunity in our rapidly growing network of partners to offer genuine choice to people who want to compare relevant insurers; we don’t just identify the cheapest prices at any cost.”

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Barclays release new video highlighting the risks of online fraud that their customers may face when using the internet

Barclays new video, which is presented by television reporter Spencer Kelly, outlines the key risks such as phishing and malicious software and provides advice on what can be done to avoid these threats as well as the things Barclays does to protect customers.

Barclays is a leader in online banking security initiatives having launched PINsentry in 2007. PINsentry uses a handheld card reader and chip and PIN technology to verify customers’ identities for online banking. Without the need for passwords or memorable words, PINsentry has introduced a new layer of security to online banking, with users being issued with a unique eight digit code, helping to fight fraudsters who hack into people’s computers or utilise “phishing” emails to steal login details. Over 1.5 million customers are now using PINsentry and it was recently named the Best Security Initiative at the Nominet Best Practice Challenge 2008 awards.

In June 2008 Barclays became the only bank to offer all of its customers a full freeonline security software package. The package, from award winning internet security provider Kaspersky, includes anti-virus software as well as a spam filter, parental controls, spyware, adware and firewalls and is available to all customers who are registered with Barclays online banking. As a result of these initiatives and continuing work behind the scenes, Barclays has seen a dramatic 91 per cent drop in the money lost to fraudsters from 2006 to 2007 and is the only UK bank to have seen a reduction in the number of phishing attacks.

Barclays fight against online fraud continues with a new ‘vidcast’ advising people on the best methods of internet security. The five minute video is available to watch at where viewers are also invited to post their comments including suggestions for subjects of future videos.

For more details on PINsentry, free Kaspersky internet security software and other online security information please go to

About Barclays

Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services, with an extensive international presence in Europe, the USA, Africa and Asia.

With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs 143,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for over 38 million customers and clients worldwide.

For further information about Barclays, please visit our website

Video on

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M&S Money reports sales of Dubai currency hit record levels as the QE22 prepares to leave the UK for the final time

As the QE2 leaves the UK for the final time before becoming a floating hotel in Dubai, figures from foreign currency expert M&S Money suggest that the region continues to be a popular winter destination for Brits.

Last month saw the highest ever amount of sales of foreign currency for Dubai, with more than

£1million worth of UAE Dirham (AED) being sold through the network of M&S bureaux de change, as well as on the phone and internet.

October’s record figure has contributed to a 15% year-on-year increase in sales of the UAE Dirham – the currency used in the seven states which form the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai and the other UAE states have grown in popularity as a destination for Brits in recent years, whether on holiday, for business or visiting friends and family.

Hotels in Dubai have reported growing visitor numbers this year. According to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing there was a 22 per cent growth in hotel revenues during the first three months of 2008, compared to the corresponding quarter last year.

The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) cruise liner is the longest-serving ship in the 168-year history of the Cunard line and is currently owned by Carnival, the world’s largest cruise operator.

Having now left Southampton for the last time she will arrive in Dubai later this month, where she will undergo extensive refurbishment to become a floating hotel.

Fraser Millar, M&S Money Head of Travel Services, said: “Our travel money sales figures show that the UAE Dirham is one of the most popular currencies outside the Euro and US Dollar.

“October and November are usually the peak months for sales of the Dirham as people prepare to head-off for some winter sun. The high sales figures of last month may indicate that those who are travelling to the region are taking more cash as a result of the increased cost of living in Dubai. Travellers should bear this in mind when deciding how much currency to purchase before travelling.”

According to, visitors can expect to pay around:

  • Hotel room (per night): £50
  • Small car rental (per day): £17
  • Petrol (per gallon): £1.05
  • Beer (pint): £5
  • House wine: £30
  • Bottle of water (1.5 litre): 40p
  • Burger: £2.40
  • Foreign newspaper: £3

Brits spend on average £821 per visit to the UAE, or £76 per day (Figures from the

Office for National Statistics Travel Trends 2006).


About M&S Money

M&S Money (originally called Marks & Spencer Financial Services) was founded in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer Group plc. The company is now a top-ten credit card provider and the second-largest travel money retailer in the UK. M&S Money also offers travel insurance as well as providing insurance for homes, cars, travel, pets and weddings, along with loans, savings and investments.

In November 2004, Marks & Spencer sold M&S Money to HSBC, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations with over 9,500 offices in 76 countries and territories. The business continues to operate under the M&S Money brand, with an executive committee comprising an equal number of representatives from HSBC and Marks & Spencer.

The company employs 1,200 staff at its headquarters in Chester, delivering personal financial services to its customers, reflecting the core values of Marks & Spencer — quality, value, service, innovation and trust.

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M&S Money urge pet owners to ensure household medication is securely stored following increase in reports of pet poisonings

M&S Money has urged pet owners to ensure medication is securely stored around the house following a large increase in reports of pet poisonings.

The potentially fatal mishap is a growing problem across the UK, with a 34% year-on-year increase in reported cases to Vetfone – a 24-hour advice line available to M&S Pet Insurance customers. Vetfone is manned by qualified veterinary nurses who can give concerned animal lovers immediate advice on a pet’s condition. Around 70% of calls to the service by M&S Money customers are made out of normal veterinary hours.

One of the major increases of poisonings seen involves nicotine-based products, including nicotine patches, chewing gum and inhalers.

The toxic dose of nicotine in dogs is five milligrams per pound pet bodyweight and a dose of 10mg/lb can be lethal. While a cigarette contains 15-25 milligrams of nicotine, nicotine patches can contain much more at between 8-114 milligrams of nicotine and even nicotine inhalers contain around 10 milligrams of nicotine. Signs of toxicity are dose-dependent and include tremors, weakness, depression and vomiting.

Vetfone Operations Manager & Senior Emergency Vet Nurse, Louise O’Dwyer, said:”It is very concerning that there has been such a large increase in reported pet poisonings.

“Nicotine poisoning can be particularly serious. Remember prevention is better than cure, so ensure products such as cigarettes, nicotine patches and gums and even ashtrays containing cigarette butts are kept away from your pets reach.”

M&S Money Insurance Manager, Judith Roberts, said: “Anyone who suspects that their pet has swallowed household medication should first try and identify what’s been eaten, by recovering packaging such as blister packs or boxes and then seek immediate veterinary advice.

“M&S Pet Insurance policyholders can rest assured that a qualified veterinary expert is available round the clock to provide advice and answer questions should a pet become unwell.”

About M&S Money

M&S Money (the trading name of Marks & Spencer Financial Services) was founded in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer Group plc. The company is now a top ten credit card provider and the second largest travel money retailer in the UK. M&S Money also offers a range of insurance cover, including home insurance and car insurance, as well as loans, savings and investment products.

In November 2004, Marks & Spencer sold M&S Money to HSBC, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations with over 9,500 offices in 85 countries and territories.

M&S Money has an executive committee comprising an equal number of representatives from HSBC and Marks & Spencer.

The company employs 1,200 staff at its headquarters in Chester, delivering personal financial services to its customers, reflecting the core values of Marks & Spencer – quality, value, service, innovation and trust.

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Think Money have welcomed the Bank of England’s shock base rate cut to 3%, commenting that the mortgage market could benefit as a result

Following the Bank of England’s shock base rate cut to 3%, financial solutions company Think Money have welcomed the news, commenting that firm action is more likely to encourage banks to consider cutting their interest rates accordingly. However, they added, there are still some factors that may prevent lenders from passing on the full 1.5% cut to their mortgages and loans.

The base rate cut, from 4.5% to 3%, is the biggest cut since the Bank of England lowered the rate by 2% in 1981. The base rate now stands at its lowest point since 1955.

Many economists had predicted an aggressive cut in base rates, but the extent of the cut was still unexpected. Most predictions in the run-up to the Bank of England’s announcement pointed towards a 0.75% or 1% base rate cut – and only a few days previously, 0.5% seemed a more realistic figure.

A spokesperson for financial solutions company Think Money said: “It would seem that the Bank of England are acting based on Mervyn King’s recent statements that the recession would be long and drawn-out, and rather than take the base rate down in small increments, they have ‘bitten the bullet’ and taken it down further than most people expected.

“Potentially, it’s very good news for people and businesses looking for loans, but not such good news for savers.”

However, the spokesperson stressed that as with previous base rate cuts, there is no guarantee that lenders will pass the full cut onto their mortgages and loans – although the extent of the cut could at least increase the impact on lenders’ behaviour.

“There will still be a lot of uncertainty with regards to what will happen in the economy in the future, as well as some apprehension amongst banks as to how much they might lose from things like defaults on mortgages as the recession takes hold,” she said.

“The base rate cut only affects how cheaply lenders can borrow funds from the Bank of England. It does not directly affect the LIBOR rate, which is the measure of how expensive inter-bank lending is. Since lenders rely heavily on borrowing from each other to fund their loans and mortgages, they may well be slow to bring their rates down.

“That said, the Bank of England will have no doubt had this in mind when deciding on their base rate cut – and it may well be that such a large cut is sufficient to encourage some lenders to bring their rates down to more competitive levels.”

However, a number of banks appeared to take defensive action even before the 3% base rate had been announced, with several lenders removing tracker mortgages from their product ranges on Wednesday and Thursday morning, while others upped their interest rate margins on tracker mortgages.

“This may just be a temporary measure by lenders in order to avoid any risks in the short term,” the Think Money spokesperson said. “A number lenders have said they will be taking some time to think about their next step, so it’s possible that we will still see some significant interest rate cuts in the next week or two.”

The spokesperson was also keen to emphasise the importance of good mortgage advice. “With so much uncertainty surrounding what will happen with mortgage rates in the next few months, it often pays to speak to a mortgage adviser who understands the market. They should be able to point you towards the best mortgage deals for your circumstances, which could save you a lot of money in the long run.”

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Integrity Financial AZ Launches A New Web Site That Reaches Out To Wall Street’s Weary Investors That Are Apprehensive About The Fate Of Their Investments

Integrity Financial AZ announces today the the launch of their new Web site,, that aims to convince clients about security they can earn by investing with the company.

In an environment where investors are feeling insecure and scared about Wall Street, the IFAZ LLC is boasting about retaining 99 percent of their clients. They claim that renewal of accounts by clients even after maturity is an indication of their trust on the company.

“Though investors are trying to avoid such dangers by liquidating their retirement funds with a fixed rate CD, the company believes the interest rate of 3-4 percent is unlikely to make up for the drastic losses they may have incurred. High levels of corruption and malpractices do not help the situation either,” says Stanley Paulic, CEO of IFAZ LLC. “Our clients consistently make 10 percent on their invested funds. Their returns are contractually guaranteed,” adds Paulic.

IFAZ is ensuring safety and consistency while honoring their contracts. Their investments are not open to all and they only take on 7-10 new clients monthly, encouraging private lending with guaranteed contractual returns.

Traditionally, people have considering retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs as safety nets and not wealth builders. They know that enhanced interest rates may help multiply their income. A possibility in the investment paradigm shifting seems unlimited and the company is trying to cash in on it.

Investor confidence has steadily eroded since 2000 and the old financial planner adage that the stock market is going up forever is falling on deaf ears. A study of the market trends during the last few months is enough to offer real insight into the situation.

In their bid to retain old customers and attract new ones, the company denounces the system of financial agencies preventing customers from diversifying their investments in other profitable channels. Such a ploy only aims at more profit for the financier, irrespective of losses incurred by the investors. They state, “IFAZ has the clear intention of enabling you to have sufficient funds in your self-directed IRA and full control over your investment decisions with a minimum of two year’s commitment,” declares Paulic.

With separate and distinct accounts, investors may expect the 10 percent returns only a small number of investors are presently enjoying. “Clients should take control of their own financial affairs and choose such investment plans that remain unaffected by market fluctuations. This will satisfy their urge to break away from the ups and downs of the Wall Street,” states Steven Long, president of IFAZ LLC.

About Integrity Financial AZ
Integrity Financial AZ Company, a leading financial investment agency in the United States is located in Phoenix, AZ., and is now expanding its area of operations to Greenville, S.C. Founded by Steven R. Long, president, and Stanley M. Paulic, CEO, the company aims to provide clients with financial independence and assured returns as high as three times the normal bank CDs. If you have more questions about the company, please contact us at 888-432-8552 or log-on to our frequently asked questions section at

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Foreign Translations, Inc. Recently Completed A Financial Translation Services Contract With The FDIC

The FDIC Money Smart Program assists individuals with a minimal understanding of the banking structure to develop positive financial practices. The FDIC Money Smart Program has surpassed its goals in reaching over a million consumers and establishing over a thousand partnerships. The FDIC encourages the building of partnerships within communities to further the success rate of reaching more consumers. The FDIC believes that the more information people gather about banking and credit services, the more likely they are to purchase a home, save more money, and improve their overall financial well-being. According to the FDIC, training modules will be utilized throughout the United States, specifically in concentrated areas such as California and New York. The project will launch at the start of the New Year 2009.

Foreign Translations, Inc., worked diligently to ensure that the training modules were translated accurately, understanding that it is of great importance that those participating in the courses fully comprehend the mission of the Money Smart Program. The FDIC stated that Foreign Translations, Inc., assisted in providing a smooth process in translating the large volume and returning the content in a timely manner. To provide this accurate translation, Foreign Translations, Inc. ensured that Hmong was the native language of the translators assigned to the project, and that their area of expertise is in financial translations. Utilizing a financial translator native to the target language and knowledgeable in the financial services industry is the only way to ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of the FDIC documents. The project lasted three months with close and frequent communication between the FDIC and Foreign Translations’ Hmong translators. Foreign Translations, Inc. felt privileged to take part in this constructive governmental financial process to provide assistance to the public.

About Foreign Translations, Inc.
Foreign Translations, Inc. ( is an 11- year old foreign language translation, interpreting and website localization firm headquartered in Greenville, SC. We offer translation services for a wide range of projects; from technical manuals, legal contracts and marketing collateral to financial statements, training manuals, e-learning courses, websites, medical journals, software, policy and procedure handbooks, newsletters and much more. With more than 1,000 native translators located in over 30 countries, we frequently translate documents r from 1,000 words to over several million in all the major languages of the world. In
addition, we provide interpreters for depositions, trials, sales meetings and conferences in every major city in the United States as well as every major country in the world. We also offer a full range of Multilingual Desktop Publishing Services in any format and any size.

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The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth

If you’ve watched the stock market over the last year you’ve probably wondered how you’ll ever find a secure investment that also yields a strong return. The answer may be in the bedrock principals that drive all successful investments.

James Burns, author of the new book The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth: How to Crack Your Wealth Code Using the Tools of the Self-made Billionaires, believes that a return to sane, long-term investing can help build a strong financial future for anyone.

“Too many people have gotten caught up in complex, flash-in-the-pan investment schemes that have made the stock market a volatile and unfriendly place for the average investor,” says Burns. “It is absolutely possible to build a nice portfolio through other means.”

Burns says he believes that few people understand the market, which means that when the market collapses and affects people’s retirement accounts they are confused and angry.

“It is vital that people use tried and true methods for understanding and controlling their money,” says Burns. “Budget every month, only borrow money when you’ll use it to make more, and look for opportunities to buy and hold investments you understand.”

In The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth, Burns list some of these non-market investments, including:
• Investment-grade life insurance
• The overabundance of cheap housing—as long as you are prepared to hold it
• An established business where partners help spread the risk in an LLC
• Commercial real estate, if you are comfortable with the market

“If you examine your potential investments carefully and understand that a long-term approach is best, you can avoid the stock market,” says Burns. “Just be aware that the market often affects other financial areas, and be prepared to weather a few storms.”

An attorney and a former member of the United States Marine Corps Force Recon, James Burns has two degrees in law and one in taxation and international tax. He has over seventeen years of combined financial, real estate and legal experience.

For more information, contact the author directly at

White Diamond Press and author James Burns chose Arbor Books, Inc. ( to design and promote The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth: How to Crack Your Wealth Code Using the Tools of the Self-made Billionaires. Arbor Books is an internationally renowned, full-service book design, ghostwriting and marketing firm.

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UKs Best Online Insurance Comparison Service,, Breaks New Ground This Week In A Re-Launch Of Its Website For Insurance-Seekers.

The UK’s original and still the best online insurance comparison service,, breaks new ground this week in a re-launch of its website for insurance-seekers. Its promise to deliver an insurance comparison service for every type of customer sets it firmly apart from other aggregators.

The new service will guarantee accurate live prices with no surprises and a ‘buy-now’ option, the best quality insurers, a clear insurer ratings system and supportive guides for every type of insurance. Car insurance remains the largest part of the business but the service also compares every other type of insurance relevant to individuals, their families and their homes.

In addition, the site re-launch features a brand new travel insurance comparison tool. It is the only complete travel insurance comparison service in the market, providing guaranteed live prices and a guaranteed minimum level of cover and immediate buy-now links to current policies from the top travel insurers. Unlike all other travel insurance comparison services, you only fill out one form in the entire process and your details will be remembered when you revisit. will lead the crowded comparison website field with its new promise: “Insurancewide, we’re on your side.” Launched by current chief executive James Harrison in 1999 and now in its fourth phase of evolution, believes it has thought of everything. Mr Harrison described the new site today as,“finally, the insurance comparison service you can trust.”

He adds: “This project has been two years in the making. We’ve simplified the user experience but behind the scenes we’re proud of our unmatched attention to detail. In short, we have revolutionised the way people are able to shop for insurance. We did it when we launched the very first comparison website, and now we’ve done it again. We’ve confronted all the issues that consumers face when using aggregator sites and we’ve solved them.

“We cater for the most unusual insurance requests. Whatever your history and circumstances, we’ll direct you to the right insurer, whether you’re a driver with convictions or own a 7-seater imported land rover; a long-haul adventure traveller or the owner of thatched cottage with a flood risk.”

“There’s been widespread debate about how accurate and trustworthy comparison websites can be. Many sites make false assumptions about a customer’s profile and so it’s impossible to guide them to exactly the right deal. However, we’ve developed the technology to be able to ask only the most relevant questions and to explain why we’re asking them. This means we provide a clear picture of what customers will get for their money. We constantly test our service with insurers to make sure the prices you see are the prices you get. In short, we are here to look after our customers. This includes ensuring that insurers never spam customers and or sneak in huge policy excesses.”

Insurancewide is home to an impressive distribution network supported by all major personal finance portals including Yahoo, eBay, AOL and Tiscali.

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Dubai International Capital Adds Strategic Partnership With KEF Holding To Its Portfolio Of Assets In Emerging Markets To Support Expansion Drive

Dubai International Capital LLC (‘DIC’), the international investment arm of Dubai Holding, has announced the acquisition of a 45% stake in UAE-based KEF Holding (‘KEF’) by its Emerging Markets division. KEF is an international award-winning provider of steel castings for valves and pumps serving the oil and gas, mining, industrial, and chemical industries in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Sameer Al Ansari, Executive Chairman and CEO of DIC, said that, “The acquisition of KEF Holding reinforces DIC’s commitment to investing in outstanding Middle East businesses that combine strong growth potential with an experienced management team – KEF’s team have deep industry knowledge, excellent relationships within the sector and a clear vision for growth.”

Mr Al Ansari stated that he believes that KEF’s founder, Faizal Kottikollon, has in just 11 years built KEF into a significant competitor to European foundries that have been in operation for over 100 years and he pledged his full support for his strategy for sustaining an impressive growth trajectory. He continued, “As part of Dubai Holding, Dubai International Capital can access resources and relationships that are of great benefit to our portfolio companies.”

Established in 1997, KEF Holding, based in the Sharjah Hamriya Free Zone, is the holding company of its two flagship businesses including Emirates Techno Castings (‘ETC’) and JC Middle East (‘JCME’). Collectively, ETC and JCME form the Middle East’s first fully automated foundry boasting a production capacity of 36,000 tonnes per annum. KEF was recognised for its best-in-class practices, as evidenced by their award of Best Foundry in the World by Weir Clear Liquid, a division of Weir Group.

Faizal Kottikollon, CEO of KEF Holding, said: “We are delighted to choose DIC as our strategic partner and shareholder. DIC’s ability to leverage their strong relationships in our key target growth markets, mainly Saudi Arabia and India, will elevate KEF’s ready capabilities and talent. We are confident that with DIC’s market experience and guidance, KEF will be ready for an initial public offering in the near future.”

Anand Krishnan, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai International Capital and acting CEO of DIC Emerging Markets, added: “DIC congratulates KEF on creating its dynamic technology-based platform that will allow it to maximise its full growth potential and capture opportunities in new industries, products and geographies.” He further commented, “DIC is proud to complement its existing portfolio of technical manufacturing companies with the addition of KEF and will strive to add value by building synergies and relationships among all parties.”

About Dubai International Capital LLC
Established in 2004, DIC is an international investment company with offices in Dubai and London focused on both private equity and public equity, with its current CEO beingSameer Al Ansari. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Dubai Holding, DIC manages an international portfolio of diverse assets that provide its stakeholders with value growth, diversification, and strategic investments. Assets under management total over US$13 billion. DIC was named MENA Private Equity Firm of the Year in the 6th annual Awards for Excellence in Private Equity Europe 2008, organised by Dow Jones Private Equity News.

About KEF Holding
KEF Holding is the holding company of Emirates Techno Casting (ETC) and JC Middle East (JCME) based in the Sharjah Hamriya Free Zone. ETC is the flagship business of KEF Holding. ETC manufacturers precision steel castings and distributes its products to the leading market players within the oil and gas, chemical, mining, industrial, and chemical industries.

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Loans Market Could Still See A Recovery Over The Next Few Months If The Bank Bailout Scheme Is Implemented Successfully

Following a week that saw perhaps the strongest signs yet that the economy is about to enter a recession, coupled with warnings from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King and Prime Minister Gordon Brown that a recession is very likely, financial solutions company Think Money have said that the loans market could still see signs of recovery in the coming months, so long as the Government’s bank bailout scheme is implemented successfully.

Recession fears hit a new high as figures from the National Office for Statistics showed the first drop in economic output in 16 years between July and September this year. Output fell by 0.5%, exceeding economists’ predictions.

If the British economy records another fall in output in the fourth quarter of 2008, it will be officially considered a recession – although many experts, such as the Ernst & Young ITEM Club, have expressed the opinion that we are already in a recession.

And at a meeting of business leaders at the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said in a speech: “it now seems likely that the economy is entering a recession.”

Regarding the market for loans, King commented: “We now face a long, slow haul to restore lending to the real economy, and hence growth of our economy, to more normal conditions.”

But a spokesperson for Think Money said that it is not the end of the road for the loans market. “It’s logical to assume that it may become more difficult on the whole to obtain loans, mortgages and other forms of credit – but that doesn’t mean it will be impossible to obtain loans for the duration of the recession.

“The Government’s bank bailout scheme is aimed at stimulating the market for personal loans as well as business loans, and the cash injections should give lenders increased confidence in their ability to offer loan products. The falling LIBOR rate is a good indicator that, in the short term at least, this has been working.

“It’s important to remember that financial institutions depend on interest from loans as a source of income, so lenders will have to remain as competitive as they can be in that respect.”

The Think Money spokesperson added that both secured and unsecured loans should be available in some capacity. “Lenders will feel more confident offering secured loans, as they are backed up by assets which act as a potential ‘guarantee’ to the lender,” she said. “In this respect, lender confidence isn’t so much as an issue as the lack of liquidity, which should hopefully improve with the bailout scheme, as well as any future base rate cuts.

“Unsecured loans may prove a little more difficult for consumers to obtain than secured loans, as they are often perceived as ‘higher risk’ by lenders, but it will still be very much possible – it may just take longer to find the right deal.

And the spokesperson was keen to emphasise the importance of loans advice in times of economic difficulty. “Speaking to a professional loans adviser can often make the difference when it comes to finding the best loan deals,” she commented.

“A loans adviser will talk through your financial situation in confidence, and will advise you on what you can expect in terms of the type of loan, interest rates, and the amount you can borrow. Once they have done that, they will be able to search the market for you, saving you valuable time and effort, and hopefully meaning you will end up with a loan that suits your needs.”

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