The new scam targeting vulnerable Aussies
Money recovery website impersonates ASIC, US lottery company searches for missing billionaire, and which bank introduces digital refinancing? Here are five things you may have missed this week.
Money recovery scam impersonates ASIC
ASIC reports Payback-Recovery Co is providing consumers with fake documents displaying the ASIC logo and Commonwealth Coat of Arms.
Consumers have reported paying upfront fees without receiving any recovered money or refund.
ASIC says the website also provides unrealistic recovery rates, suggesting they recovered 95% of consumer losses.
ASIC is quick to point out that it does not assist in recovering funds lost to a scam or fraud.
The website is likely operating as a scam, ASIC says.
CommBank rolls out digital refinancing option
The Commonwealth Bank is making it quicker and easier for Australians to refinance their mortgage online.
A new digital refinance application is now available following CommBank research that shows one in three Australian homeowners would consider refinancing if the process was simple and fast.
Borrowers looking to refinance with CommBank can now not only commence and submit an application online, but also complete additional steps such as ID, consent, serviceability and credit assessment.
At this point, customers are connected with a home lending specialist to finalise and progress their applications.
CommBank's executive general manager of home buying, Michael Baumann, says the new functionality was born out of the drive to create a more seamless experience for customers when refinancing.
He notes, "Our Digital Refinance application means customers have the option to progress their online application much further than what was previously possible, enabling them to complete a large portion of the application process directly online."
Home sellers buck winter blues
Listings of homes for sale typically dial down in winter, when most of us prefer to cosy up inside rather than trudge off to 'Open Home' inspections.
But not this year.
According to CoreLogic, the flow of new listings added to the capital city housing market lifted by 3.9% over the four weeks ending July 30, bucking the usual seasonal trend.
Most of the capital cities have recorded a rise in the number of fresh listings through July, although Sydney was the only city where the flow of fresh stock to market was higher than a year ago (up 9.9%).
CoreLogic's Tim Lawless says there may be a few reasons why vendors are becoming more active at a time that is normally seasonally subdued.
He explains, "With total stock levels still low and selling conditions reasonably strong, it may be the case that more home owners are picking current market conditions as a good time to sell, rather than waiting until spring when stock levels might be higher, creating more competition among vendors."
The flow of new listings has been below average levels since September last year, contributing to rising property values.
Home values nationally rose 4.1% in July, following a 9.1% decline from record highs in April 2022.
Billion-dollar lottery prize unclaimed
Things often work differently in the US, especially when it comes to lottery wins.
The proven owner of the winning ticket for a recent $US1.08 billion ($1.63 billion) lottery is yet to front up to claim their prize.
Having beaten mind-boggling odds of about one in 200 million, the ticket holder is probably deciding how to collect their winnings because the deal isn't quite as good as it sounds.
The winner can choose between $US1.08 billion paid in instalments over 30 years, or a single lump sum of $US558 million ($841 million).
Tough choice, right?
Bear in mind though, these figures are before tax.
Unlike Australia, the US treats lottery winnings as taxable income for both federal and state taxes.
With Federal tax rates of up to 37%, the real winner can be the government.
Moreover, the winner has to pass stringent identity checks to verify they are the true holder of the winning ticket.
This vetting process is essential. US media reports that lottery organisers receive around 10,000 claims each month from wannabe winners.
Bendigo Bank blocks high-risk crypto payments to protect customers
Bendigo Bank is blocking high-risk cryptocurrency transactions as part of its ongoing efforts to protect customers from fraud and financial crime.
The new rules targeting high-risk instant payments to cryptocurrency exchanges are designed to address fraudulent payments, and are in addition to a tightening of transaction rules implemented by Bendigo Bank earlier this year.
"Nearly half of all investment scams reported in 2022 resulted in a financial loss, so it's vital we do all that we can to stop them," says Jason Gordon, Head of Fraud at Bendigo Bank.
He acknowledges that this risk-based approach "will add some friction to certain genuine payments," but adds, "It's our responsibility to put measures in place that protect customers from bad actors."
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