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Page last updated at 18:30 GMT, Friday, 4 March 2011

Warnings over land banking scam

Billy McNaught
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 5 March 2011 at 1204 GMT On Radio 4 and Online

Money Box has learnt that thousands of people are being called out of the blue and being persuaded to buy small plots of land in the hope of making large profits in a fairly short time.

With interest on savings at the lowest level for years, many people are open to such suggestions and police are concerned that this is a bigger business than anyone realised.

But the small strips that are sold for thousands of pounds are on land which will never be built on and are almost worthless.

The sales staff make their pitch on the phone. So the promises they make are hard to prove. But one Money Box listener recorded his recent conversations with a firm called The Property Partnership.

Ex-soldier Billy McNaught is 75. After his wife died he was persuaded to spend just over £100,000 inherited from her and his mother to buy eight plots of land.

Paul Lewis also talks to Jonathan Phelan from the Financial Services Authority.

Read Bob Howard's article

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Banks focused on profits not customers?

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has strongly criticised the High Street banks warning that unless they are reformed they could spark off another financial crisis.

Mr King told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that banks are focusing on short term profits at the expense of their customers.

It's not the first time the man with the top financial job has been critical of the banks. But these comments are the most forthright yet. And come not long before the Bank of England takes over supervision of the banks.

The chief executive of the British Banker's Association Angela Knight spoke to the programme.

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Meeting targets? RBS defend their customer charter

NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland claim this week that they met most of the targets set in their heavily promoted Customer Charter.

20 out of 25 goals they set seem to have been fully met.

But others including - handling customer complaints and helping customers make the right choices for their money are in the "not achieved" basket.

Paul Lewis talks to Brian Hartzer, Chief Executive of retail banking at The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

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Clock ticking on national insurance contributions buy-back scheme

There are just four weeks left for a group of people who may be considering buying voluntary national insurance contributions to boost their state pension to benefit fully from the deal. People born between 6 April 1948 and 5 October 1950 can buy back years and get back dated payments if they make the purchase before 5 April this year.

The Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, talks to Paul Lewis about this issue. And also about recent press coverage over his comments that the state pension system can be confusing for the public.

People with queries are advised are advised to call 0845 604 2931

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Other news

Calls for Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks to face FSA action

The City watchdog, the FSA, is being urged to take action against the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks if they continue to demand mortgage customers make up repayment shortfalls caused by a computer error.

Consumer Focus says the banks, both part of National Australia Group, should cover the cost of the mistake.

The group wants the FSA to take enforcement action, unless the banks take prompt steps to "do the right thing" by affected customers. Some of them face hikes of up to £300 a month on their mortgages to make up the shortfall. Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks say they expect customers to make the extra sums but will help people who face hardship with flexible payment options.

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturday at 1204 GMT and repeated on Sunday at 2102 GMT.

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