Sector News

Here you’ll find the latest news relevant to the Financial Counselling sector and other related items.

18 January 2018

Centrelink gave companies accused of exploitation direct access to welfare payments

Centrelink has given companies accused of exploitation and misconduct direct access to welfare recipients’ money through its automated debit system.
The companies were granted access to the Centrepay system, which allows Centrelink to deduct money from welfare payments to pay approved businesses early.

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9 January 2018

Payday lenders ask customers to share myGov and banking passwords, putting them at risk Payday lenders ask customers to share myGov and banking passwords, putting them at risk

Payday lenders are asking applicants to share their myGov login details, as well as their internet banking password — posing a security risk, according to some experts.
It also goes against the advice of the government website.Payday lenders are asking applicants to share their myGov login details, as well as their internet banking password — posing a security risk, according to some experts.
It also goes against the advice of the government website.Payday lenders are asking applicants to share their myGov login details, as well as their internet banking password — posing a security risk, according to some experts.
It also goes against the advice of the government website.

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12 December 2017

Government to review rules for early release of superannuation, including victims of crime compensation

The Turnbull Government has announced that Treasury will review the current rules governing early release of superannuation on grounds of severe financial hardship and compassionate grounds.
It will also review whether, and the circumstances in which, superannuation assets should be available to pay compensation or restitution to victims of crime.

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20 November 2017

Red Balloon pays penalties for excessive credit & debit card surcharges

Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

We recently issued 4 infringement notices to Red Balloon Pty Ltd for charging four of its customers excessive surcharges when making either credit or debit card payments. Red Balloon has paid the penalties totalling $43,200 for alleged breaches of these new laws.

Since 1 September 2016, a ban on excessive surcharges applied to large businesses in Australia. Red Balloon is classified as a ‘large business’. This ban now applies to all businesses both large and small.

The ban restricts the amount a business can charge customers for using an EFTPOS (debit and prepaid), MasterCard (credit, debit and prepaid), Visa (credit, debit and prepaid) and American Express cards issued by Australian banks.

As a business, you can only charge what it costs you to accept the payment when your customers are paying with card. Essentially the only costs businesses can include are external costs charged to you by your financial provider. You are responsible for determining the cost, which you can get from your financial institution.

Remember all businesses risk being investigated if they impose excessive surcharges.

Read our guide on payment surcharges to find out more about requirements for businesses.

For more information see our media release: Red Balloon pays penalty for excessive payment surcharges

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7 November 2017

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has released daunting new figures showing how costly and difficult it is for victims of abusive relationships to leave.

The ACTU has launched a campaign calling on the federal government and the Fair Work Commission to implement ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave for Australian workers attempting to escape abuse.
An advertisement features the testimonies of frontline workers, who detail their experiences with victims of domestic violence. It aims to shed further light on the complexities and financial strains involved with escaping abuse.

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31 October 2017

Fix direct debit problem now, compliance body tells banks

Customers continue to be frustrated by bank staff providing incorrect information about cancellation of direct debits, according to a report released today by the Banking Code Compliance Monitoring Committee.

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17 October 2017

Turnbull Government funds new domestic violence units

Today I announce the expansion of the Turnbull Government’s pilot program to deliver targeted services to women through specialist domestic violence units.
$3.4 million in funding has been committed to establish six new specialist domestic violence units and support the expansion of an existing one, ensuring more women can receive the vital legal and social support they need.

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16 October 2017

Centrelink

Whether you are caring for a relative with a disability, looking for work, studying, or have just had a baby, we all have the right to a fair and accessible social security system. We have the right to know there’s a person at the end of the phone when we call.
 

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9 October 2017

Domestic violence survivors often go on to suffer from economic abuse: Women’s Legal Service

Key points:
• It can often lead a woman to return to an abusive partner, especially if there are children
• Survivors often discover thousands of dollars of debt, fines signed in their name by partner
• Women’s Legal services pushing financial institutions to be more aware of family violence

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6 October 2017

ASIC Licensing Exemption has been renewed

ASIC has consulted about the renewal of the licensing relief applying to financial counselling agencies in relation to financial product advice (eg. basic bank accounts, insurance, retirement savings account products or superannuation).

ASIC announced last week that they are continuing the relief, with just some minor drafting changes. ASIC’s media release below for your information.

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