Friday 30th March 2007

Top money stories - 26 ~ 30 March 2007

Top Tip: Credit Card Heist

TK Maxx announced today that details of many of the credit and debit cards used in its stores between January 2003 and June 2004 have been stolen by hackers. So if you shopped at TX Maxx during this period, and might have paid by credit card – check your bank balance for any suspicious transactions, as reports indicate that the details stolen have been used to carry out credit card fraud.

Tuesday 27 March: OfCom tells Mobile Phone Companies to Cut Prices

Good news for mobile phone owners, as the high costs of calling other network are set to fall. Following a two year investigation into the prices charged for calling another network, OfCom has ordered Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange, 3 and O2 to lower the prices charged for calling another network. The changes imposed could save mobile phone owners up to £500 million a year.

If your mobile phone uses the “3” network then you should see an automatic cut in your bills, as 3 has been ordered to cut its fees for calling another network to 5.9p per minute. Those using the other major networks may have to wait a bit longer for other operators to comply with OfCom’s demands.

Either way, with the cost of calling across network set to fall, this is a good time to check whether you are getting the best deal on your mobile. Shop around, or compare prices online through www.uswitch.com to see if you could cut the cost of your bills.

Wednesday 28th March: Lords defeat Labour’s Super Casino Plan

The Government’s plans to bring Super Casinos to Britain was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday night as the House of Lords rejected the Government’s proposal to approving the locations of 17 new super casinos on Wednesday night.

This is only the third time that the House of Lords has used its constitutional power to reject secondary legislation. The Government is likely to “try again” following local Council elections in May.

Thursday 29 March: High Street Sales Surge, Meanwhile Housing Market Stays Buoyant

High Street shops have enjoyed their best month for over two years, according to data released by the CBI on Thursday. 52% of retailers reported that sales were higher this March than a year ago, with only 20% of retailers reporting lower sales.

Meanwhile 119,000 new mortgages were approved for the purchase of new homes, indicating that the housing market remains buoyant.

The CBI’s survey concluded that these two effects are linked – as those buying new homes have also bought new furniture, carpets and fittings. Thus housing market strength is feeding the performance of the High Street.

This combination means it is more likely that the Bank of England will raise rates again when they meet next month, to prevent the economy from over-heating.

OFT to Investigate Overdraft Charges

The high charges levied by banks on those exceeding their overdraft limit are to be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading.

Temporary use of an overdraft can help those who have run out of funds ease through a cash flow crisis. However, if you do decide to take an overdraft, read the small print, as banks currently charge up to £30 per day for exceeding your overdraft limit, even if only by a tiny amount.

These penalty charges have attracted the attention of the Office of Fair Trading, the regulatory authority responsible for making sure that British businesses stay within the boundaries of Competition law, which announced on Thursday that it would begin an investigation into retail banking.

Prepared for MoneyBasics by Adela Read