financial hardship

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New research released by ASIC’s Moneysmart has shed light on the financial concerns of Australian Gen Z women, revealing that they are more likely than Gen Z men to feel stressed and overwhelmed by finances and money.
“These findings demonstrate the importance of empowering young women to move past girl math and take control of their finances. Countless studies have shown financially literate people are better at budgeting and saving, managing mortgages and debt, planning for retirement, and growing their wealth. These behaviours aren’t inherent – they can be learnt at any age. That’s why we need to change the equation on girl math in 2024,”

Read More MoneySmart Data Reveals Gender Disparity in Young Adult’s Financial Stress

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Recent super fund data breaches and increasingly sophisticated super scams demonstrate the urgent need for industry collaboration on a super anti-scam code. Super Consumers Australia today is urging the Federal Government to prioritise the safety of Australians’ 24 million retirement savings accounts by introducing a superannuation industry anti-scam code.

Since 2022, up to 178,000 superannuation members across three super funds have been placed at a heightened risk of phishing scams due to known super fund data breaches.

Read More Advocates Call for New Super Anti-Scam Code

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The latest data from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reveals that consumers and small businesses made 14,671 complaints between October and December 2023, an increase of 13.4 percent compared to the previous quarter, but a 17.9 percent decrease compared to the same time last year.

Read More Complaints to TIO Increased for the Quarter But the Yearly Decrease Trend Continues

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A lack of transparent pricing information caused a poor understanding by consumers of how prices were set. This was significantly worsened by a lack of competition. While market concentration was a major issue, the inquiry found prices in Australia are way higher than in many other less competitive markets.

Large price increases occurred across many sectors.

Read More Supermarkets, airlines and power companies are charging ‘exploitative’ prices despite reaping record profits

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These rules have been developed by the ACMA in response to a direction from the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, to make an enforceable industry standard that will improve safeguards for telco customers experiencing financial difficulties.

The new Telecommunications (Financial Hardship) Industry Standard 2024 requires telcos to establish and promote clearly accessible written financial hardship policies. Telcos must do more to proactively identify customers experiencing financial hardship and prioritise keeping them connected to services.

Read More New Telco Industry Standard to Address “range of financial gaps”

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A coalition of advocacy groups, including Consumer Action Law Centre, CHOICE and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, have come out forcefully stating that customer reimbursement, paid for by industry through a customer’s own bank, must be at the centre of the Federal Government’s proposed new scam laws. The advocates say the new laws must be urgently implemented by the end of this year to stop the billions of dollars that are being lost by Australians every year to scammers.

Read More Industry Liability the Clear Path to Scam Reform

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Consumer advocates call on insurers to act now at flood insurance inquiry

Urgent changes needed to improve claims handling process

A number of consumer advocacy groups – including CHOICE, Financial Rights Legal Centre, Consumer Action Law Centre, and Financial Counselling Australia – will be the first to appear today and tomorrow at a public hearing for the parliamentary inquiry into insurers’ responses to 2022 major floods claims.

Read More Consumer Advocates Call on Insurers to Act Now at Flood Insurance Inquiry

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Jobs and employment scams were the fastest growing scam type last year, with Australians reporting over 4,800 job scams to Scamwatch in 2023 leading to losses of $24.7 million, compared to $8.7 million in 2022.

Reports to Scamwatch show that these scams are disproportionally affecting younger Australians aged 18-44 years old, including students looking for part-time work. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds including non-resident visa holders are also particularly at risk.

Read More Employment and Side Hustle Scams on the Rise

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“The volume of complaints escalated to AFCA has been increasing at an unsustainable rate,” David Locke, the Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), said.  

“Scam-related complaints to AFCA have nearly doubled between 2022 and 2023. They continue to be of great concern to us. We are also seeing the impact of increased interest rates and cost of living pressures, with complaints involving financial hardship also significantly higher,” Mr Locke said.

Read More Ombudsman Warns of “Unsustainable” Increase as AFCA sees a Record 100,000 Complaints

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ASIC has extended its product intervention orders made in relation to short term credit and continuing credit contracts so that the orders remain in force until they are revoked or they sunset on 1 October 2032.
Since the orders came into effect on 15 July 2022, they have reinforced consumer protections by preventing the provision of short term credit and continuing credit contracts that involve unreasonably high fees. These fees exceeded the cost caps imposed by the National Credit Code.

Read More ASIC Extends 2022 Product Intervention Orders on Credit

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A new survey of almost 9000 supporters from consumer group CHOICE has found 40% of respondents had a flight cancelled or delayed in the past 12 months. 

“As we head into the Christmas season, a huge number of people will be relying on flights to visit family and friends. Unfortunately, our survey of almost 9000 people from across the country has found consumers still face a number of difficulties when dealing with the aviation industry,” says CHOICE Senior Campaigns and Policy Advisor, Bea Sherwood.

Read More Consumer Groups Call for New Passenger Rights for Flyers as Delays and Cancellations Continue