17 January 2017
16 January 2017 | Family retailer receives a referral fee for every application.
Family retailer Best & Less is promoting a payday lender in its stores and taking a cut for every customer who signs up.
Strategically placed at the cash register of Best & Less stores are large signs holding application forms for loans up to $5000.
Best & Less does not provide the payday loans, that’s an affiliate company known as Capfin, but for every application made, the retailer earns a ‘referral payment’.
The most expensive loan offered by Capfin is $5000 over a year-and-a-half. Charges to the loan are as high as the federal law allows; a capped application fee of $400 and an annual interest rate of 48%.
Best & Less chief executive, Rodney Orrock, says the the retailer is simply promoting an affiliate company.
“We are an advertising channel, through which Capfin is able to advertise its offer,” he says in a statement emailed to CHOICE.
“We do not provide, nor submit any applications for Capfin.”
But the promotional material is in stark contrast to the vibe of the ‘family friendly’ retailer, says Peter Thompson, who was confronted by the sign as he was buying socks for his wife.
“The wife sent me into Best & Less to get her a few pairs of socks. At the checkout, there was a large cardboard cutout just off to the side promoting loans and a pile of applications.
“Naturally it kind of disgusted me as Best & Less is joining the bandwagon, not as a community service, but to take advantage of certain people who may be finding the going a bit hard.
“I didn’t think there was much left in the barrel’s bottom to scrape, but somehow this lender [Capfin] has found a way to get that bit extra.”
Best & Less’ website claims the loans target the “3 million Australians [who] have experienced exclusion from mainstream lending”.
Partnering with Best & Less is a ‘predatory’ move by Capfin, says Graham Smith, Chairperson of Financial Counsellors Association of NSW.
“Best & Less is considered a family store who is spruiking that people can get even more credit when they can’t afford it. And they’re also partnering with a lender that’s certainly questionable.”
Smith compared the lending practice to a whirlpool that “drags you in and gets you caught in a debt cycle”.
Regulatory protections were introduced by the federal government in 2013, but Smith says payday lending practices weren’t tightened enough.
“There were a number of payday lenders that were reduced, but it seems those that are still around are having greater access to people. They’re being smarter.”
More than 10,000 customers have been overcharged when taking a payday loan in the last six years. The money was refunded – almost $2 million – following enforcement action by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
Best & Less operates 195 stores across Australia.
10 January 2017
Please visit the “Continuing Professional Development” section of the website for the current calendar… PLEASE NOTE: This is a “live document” meaning that it is subject to change.
10 January 2017
Pressure is growing on the Turnbull government over the Centrelink debt-recovery controversy, after the Commonwealth Ombudsman launched a wide-ranging investigation amid calls for the system to be shut down.
The ombudsman moved to initiate an investigation this month over significant concerns about automated data-matching processes being used to check welfare recipients’ eligibility for some Centrelink payments, leading to outcry over the Christmas period as about 170,000 debt notices were issued.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon both referred the matter to the Ombudsman in December, but the investigation was already under way within the office.
Ombudsman Colin Neave confirmed on Monday he was aware of concerns raised about the automated data-matching system used by Centrelink.
“Mr Neave has commenced an own-motion investigation into the matter and is considering the issues on a systemic level,” a spokeswoman said.
“The Ombudsman conducts own-motions in private and, accordingly, cannot comment on any specific details.
“The Ombudsman will make no further comments at this stage.”
The investigation is expected to look at the matching of Centrelink income data and information held by the Australian Taxation Office and other agencies, as well as complaints-handling processes and communication methods used by the welfare agency.
Mr Wilkie welcomed the move on Monday.
“Many members of the community will gain some comfort from the news that the Commonwealth Ombudsman will indeed investigate Centrelink’s controversial debt-recovery system,” he said in a statement.
“My office continues to receive a large number of complaints from the community from people who are being wrongly accused of owing Centrelink money or at least finding it near-on impossible to substantiate their income going back as far as 2010.
“The scale of this problem is beyond doubt, not least because Centrelink itself has admitted knowingly sending out as many as 4000 incorrect debt notices a week.”
The investigation will result in a publicly-released report, but the ombudsman only has authority to call for changes through recommendations to government and cannot compel action.
Labor has also referred the matter to the Australian National Audit Office, while the Information and Privacy Commissioner is considering the problems.
Labor Leader Bill Shorten is among those calling for the Department of Human Services to halt or scrap the process, but the government maintains there are only a small number of problems and more than $300 million in incorrect welfare payments have already been recovered.
Mr Shorten called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to cut short his holiday to deal with the controversy.
20 December 2016
We have posted 2 courses for tis training which filled VERY quickly. Wyatt Office is closed for the holidays, however they have assured us that they will be holding more of these sessions. Dates will be released in the new year.
19 December 2016
The 2017 FCA conference will be held on the Gold Coast 14-19th May
Stay tuned for updates: http://fcaconference.com.au/
15 December 2016
Veda Advantage Information Services and Solutions Ltd (Veda) is being forced to refund thousands of consumers who paid to obtain credit reports under Veda’s expedited delivery deal, according to a decision handed down today by the Australian Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner found that Veda breached a series of privacy rules when they:
7 December 2016
Following the slew of financial scandals Australians have faced in recent years, consumer advocates say that Australians need simple and accessible justice with reformed Ombudsman services.
2 December 2016
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will urge Australia’s big four banks to stop profiting from the misery of problem gamblers and their loved ones.
Mr Wilkie will today join ethical investor UCA Funds Management in its campaign to stop the big four banks allowing problem gamblers to use their credit cards to fund their addiction.
2 December 2016
FOS welcomes the release of the Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) report: External Dispute Resolution: Results of a Survey of Financial Counsellors. Organisations such as FCA undertake a vital role supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers to resolve financial service disputes.
29 November 2016
Consumer advocates say that the Government’s response to a recent review of payday lending and consumer leases laws is a good start and can go further to support Australians who are struggling to make ends meet.