Top money stories - 11th - 17th February 2008

Top Tip:

Last week the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) sent out text messages to 25,000 mobile phone users (that had opted to receive marketing text messages) aged between 18 and 24. It read:
“Urgent! U may have won £1k cash with ‘2 Good 2 B True’.”

A second message arrived quickly after saying that the message was a fake and warned about scams. It was a part of the OFT’s Scams Awareness Month campaign.

Always be wary of people who try to give you something for free. Messages such as “you are today’s lucky grand prize winner” may turn out to be legitimate, but you must assume first that they are not. As the old adage goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch!

For more information on staying safe online visit APACS and for information on identity theft visit Moneybasics – Identity Theft.

The Financial week that was...

Monday 11th February

FSA to launch credit card comparison site – The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is to launch an independent price comparison website to compare credit card prices. We consistently recommend the use the price comparison websites as a good starting point for your search to find the best deal for you. This website from the FSA has the potential to make price comparisons even easier.

Tuesday 12th February

Food and fuel costs up – A key measure of inflation used by the Government, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), rose to 2.2% in January from 2.1% in December. The main drivers of this were rising road fuel costs and fruit prices (particularly grapes and grapefruit). The Government target is to keep CPI below 2.0% in the medium term (over one to three years). However, this small rise in inflation was below many analysts’ expectations, helping to relieve concerns about rising prices.

Retailers sales improve in January – After a Christmas period where many retailers failed to achieve the levels of sales that they had been hoping for, there was some trepidation around the release of the January retail figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). But when the figures were announced there was a notable rise in retail sales, albeit within a climate of falling consumer confidence.

Wednesday 13th February

House price uncertainty – Wednesday brought with it the news that house prices continued to fall in January, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). However, the latest February figures from Rightmove showed that house prices went up. While this could yet prove to be an anomaly, it helps to remind us we are still a long, long way away from times similar to the house price falls of the early ‘90s.

Thursday 14th February

How many plastic cards do you carry? – Datamonitor, a market research agency, has found that the average Briton carries 2.8 plastic cards on them, more than any other country in Western Europe. Additionally, we also have the most the credit cards: 1.4 on average per adult.

Why not find out more about debit or credit cards now? Do you know how much it can cost to use a credit card?

Sunday 17th February

Northern Rock nationalised – Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, with financial advice from Goldman Sachs – a global investment bank – decided that the best option for the troubled bank Northern Rock is a temporary period of nationalisation. He said that in the current market conditions the private sector offers to buy Northern Rock, such as that by Richard Branson’s Virgin Consortium, “do not deliver sufficient value for money for the taxpayer.”

The Government confirmed that the guarantee arrangements previously agreed that serve to protect savers’ and depositors’ money remain in place. If you are a Northern Rock customer, it is basically business as usual.

Prepared for Moneybasics by Jason Taylor, Advocacy Officer (Credit Action).