Porch pirates pinch more than 21,000 parcels


Consumers shortchanged on bonus interest, Aussie parents keen to buy shares for kids, and beware of porch pirates this Christmas. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

71% of bonus saver accounts haven't paid bonus interest

It's official. Aussie consumers are missing out on higher interest on their savings thanks to the complex conditions often imposed to earn bonus interest.

porch pirates

That's the finding of the ACCC's inquiry into retail deposits, which paints a fairly grim picture of 'bonus' interest accounts and the hoops consumers need to jump through to earn bonus interest.

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb, says, "While high headline interest rates may seem attractive to customers, they can come attached with conditions that are hard for customers to meet and keep track of."

The report notes that bonus and introductory interest rates are commonly used by banks to attract customers, but more than seven out of 10 bonus interest accounts didn't actually pay bonus interest in any given month.

The ACCC found several banks didn't even know how many customers had missed out on bonus interest, or which specific condition(s) they had failed to meet.

The consumer watchdog has recommended that banks be required to tell customers when they change their interest rates, and to prompt account holders to consider switching to a better rate.

"We are also recommending that banks alert their customers if they are about to lose entitlements to their bonus interest, for example by withdrawing too much or too often in a given month," Cass-Gottlieb says.

Shares make great stocking stuffers for the small fry

Not sure what to get the kids for Christmas? How about shares for the gift they'll never outgrow?

Three in five Aussie parents plan to invest in the stock market on behalf of their children, but less than a quarter actually do so, according to CommSec research.

Christmas could be an opportunity to change that.

"As we start the countdown to Christmas, shares are one gift that can keep on giving," says Ryan Felsman, CommSec Senior Economist.

Over the past three years CommSec has seen a 278% increase in parents opening share-based accounts for children, known as Minor Trust Accounts.

These are essentially an investment account opened and operated by an adult for a child under the age of 18.

Felsman admits that a bundle of equities may not rate highly on a child's Christmas wish list.

But stocks are one gift that won't end up in landfill, and it could spark an interest in investing that lasts a lifetime.

Porch pirates pinch more than 21,000 parcels

Ordered Christmas gifts online? Better keep an eye on the front porch over the next week.

Finder says porch pirates have pilfered an estimated 21,800 parcels from front doors around Australia since 24 November.

Finder's Graham Cooke, says package thieves are taking advantage of a huge spike in online shopping.

"Thousands of Aussies have ordered something online during the Black Friday sales, only to have it snatched from the front door.

The loss can be an expensive one - not to mention the stress of having Christmas presents unaccounted for.

Cooke suggests installing a lockable parcel box, or sending parcels to your workplace or a parcel locker to help prevent theft. It can also pay to look for a credit card that offers protection cover.

Clock is ticking on small business lodgment amnesty

Small businesses have just days left to take advantage of the small business lodgment penalty amnesty, which ends on 31 December 2023.

The amnesty, which kicked off on 1 June 2023, sees late lodgment penalties waived for outstanding income tax returns, fringe benefits tax returns and business activity statements (BAS) that were originally due between 1 December 2019 and 28 February 2022.

More than 14,000 small businesses have taken advantage of the amnesty so far, with more than $48 million in failure to lodge penalties waived.

ATO Assistant Commissioner, Jillian Kitto says the amnesty is the perfect opportunity for small businesses to get back on track with their lodgment obligations without concerns about penalties.

"All you need to do to take advantage of this opportunity is lodge, and we will remit any failure to lodge penalty."

Having up-to-date lodgments can also give you a better idea of how your business is shaping up as we head into 2024.

When a discount won't save time

Two US men busted for stealing from a Colorado department store have been slapped with jail sentences this week, and will be spending Christmas behind bars.

Nothing unusual about that, except that as part of their defence, the duo argued their sentences should be reduced because the merchandise they pinched was marked down for sale.

It's not as crazy as it sounds.

In Colorado, theft under $2000 is regarded as a 'misdemeanour', while theft of goods worth between $2000 and $5000 is a 'felony' that carries a longer sentence.

The value of items the men stole was $2094, which nudged them into the higher crime category.

District Attorney John Kellner commented, "Just because an item is 'on sale' doesn't mean it's free to steal."

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.