Scams on the rise during pre-Christmas sale season


Black Friday drives 17% jump in fraud complaints, one in three Aussies in the dark about credit scores, and 8 million workers want greener super. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

'Tis the season to be scam-smart

Australians spent more than an estimated $7.1 billion across the four-day Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping event, new NAB transaction data shows.

black friday cyber monday online shopping scams

But shoppers weren't the only ones looking for a steal.

Westpac reports a 17% jump in fraud-related calls in the days following the super sales weekend.

Westpac general manager of financial crime and fraud prevention, Chris Whittingham, says: "The festive season is a joyous time for most of us, but for scammers this is an opportunity to take advantage of the generous hearts and wallets of Australians.

"This may include buying and selling scams with fake websites offering competitive deals, enticing many Australians who may be rethinking their household budgets amid cost-of-living pressures.

Whittingham is urging Australians to use PayID. He explains, "This allows you to link your payee details to a registered ABN or mobile number, providing peace of mind that funds are being sent to a legitimate account."

New credit score hub launches

If you're in the dark about credit scores, you're not alone.

One in three Australians are either unsure about what a credit score is or have never heard of the term according to Commonwealth Bank research.

Your credit score is a number based on your personal credit record as maintained by various credit reference agencies. It's a figure lenders will look at as part of a loan application as your credit score can indicate how well you've managed debt in the past.

Importantly, changes in your credit score can be an early warning sign that your identity has been stolen by cyber thieves.

Despite data hacks making recent headlines, CommBank found only one in five Australians have checked their credit score in the past six months.

This has prompted the bank to launch a new credit score hub that lets CommBank customers view their Experian credit score via the CommBank app and NetBank from this month.

CommBank's executive general manager of consumer finance, Marcos Meneguzzo, says, "The new hub enables CommBank customers to get to know their credit score, what it is and how it's made up."

If you're not a Commonwealth Bank customer, it's easy (and free) to check your credit score through Credit Savvy directly, or the likes of Credit Simple, Finty, and Illion Credit Check.

Checking your credit score will not impact the score. Earlier this year Money looked at how to maintain a healthy credit score.

8 million Australians consider switching to sustainable super

Sustainable investing is becoming a hot issue, with research by Colonial First State (CFS) showing that almost eight million Australians are considering switching their super to a more sustainable investment option over the next two years.

CFS found climate change (36%), affordable housing (36%), and protecting natural environments (33%) are the priority issues for Australians wanting to make an impact through their retirement savings.

In response, CFS has launched its Thrive+ sustainable growth fund.

Kelly Power, chief executive officer of Colonial First State Superannuation, says, "The fund has been designed to give Australians greater choice in where their superannuation is invested.

"By choosing to invest in this product, investors in the fund can look to use their personal investment for the benefit of the planet and the wider community."

A growing number of super funds offer sustainable investment options. The Responsible Returns website includes a search function that lets you find super funds that invest in the areas you select, such as renewables, while avoiding other issues nominated by you, like gambling or animal cruelty.

Mortgage brokers crack 70% milestone

More than seven out of 10 home loans are now written with the aid of a mortgage broker according to the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia.

It's the first time broker market share has cracked the 70% milestone.

Brokers don't have access to every loan on the market. They work with a panel of lenders - in some cases as many as 30 different bank and non-bank lenders.

A key point of appeal is that consumers should not have to pay for a broker's services. Instead, brokers receive a commission from lenders.

One in three small business owners facing burnout

If you believe running a small business is money for jam, think again.

Research by small business lender OnDeck Australia reveals that one-third of small business owners in Australia take less than four weeks of leave each year.

One in seven can't remember the last time they took a break from the business.

Jerry Yohananov, CFO of OnDeck Australia, says many small business owners could be in serious risk of burnout.

He notes, "Research confirms that employees tend to be more productive after taking annual leave and are less likely to require sick leave.

"Yet small business owners are not allowing themselves the same break from the businesses that their employees benefit from."

Yohananov is urging small business owners to take regular breaks from their business to recharge, re-energise, and gain a fresh perspective.

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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.