Safecard, a Florida credit-card-loss notification firm, has filed a four-count, $30 million lawsuit against Dow Jones & Co., Washington securities firm chief George S. Ferris and seven others, alleging that they attempted to ruin Safecard by spreading misleading information about it.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, alleges that Ferris, a board member of Safecard competitor Credit Card Services Corp. of Northern Virginia, and others connected with CCSC planted false information about Safecard in Barrons magazine, owned by Dow Jones, and in a monthly publication of Purcell Graham and Co. Inc. called Applied Economics for Card Systems.

"I don't know why I'm being sued," Ferris said. He added that he wouldn't deny the accusations, saying "It's ridiculous. I wouldn't deny it because it isn't even worthy of a denial."

CCSC attorney Michael G. Kushnick also called the charges ridiculous. "We deny the charges," Kushnick said. "Rather than competing in the marketplace, they're trying to compete with us in the courtroom."

Yesterday, Barrons called the charges against it baseless.

Safecard alleged that Ferris and others violated Virginia law, interfered with Safecard's existing business relationships and engaged in unfair competition.

Safecard alleged that Ferris and others were concerned about Safecard and CCSC, a competing firm in which they had an interest. Safecard said an agent of CCSC stole Safecard's trade secrets and misused them "to obliterate Safecard."