Joint consumer submission to the Regional Banking Taskforce
17 December 2021
Financial Rights along with CHOICE, Consumer Action Law Center, Financial Counselling Australia, Super Consumers Australia, Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network, Uniting Communities Consumer Credit Law Centre SA and Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service propose several policy solutions to assist people in regional Australia in response to an acceleration of branch closures in regional Australia. These closures have resulted in an increasing number of people being excluded from accessing banking services.
Joint submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee on Compensation Scheme of Last Resort and Financial Accountability Regime
17 December 2021
Financial Rights along with CHOICE, Consumer Action Law Center, Financial Counselling Australia, Super Consumers Australia, Uniting Communities Consumer Credit Law Centre SA and Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service propose a compensation scheme of last resort and financial accountability regime to create a fairer financial system.
Submission by Mob Strong Debt Help to the Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into how the corporate sector establishes models of best practice to foster better engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers
13 December 2021
Submission by Mob Strong Debt Help reveals how there has been, and continues to be, systemic failure across corporate Australia to understand the underlying intergenerational trauma, cultural and socioeconomic issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These failures have left many facing extreme challenges when dealing with financial and insurance sector processes and products and therefore more vulnerable to predatory financial practices.
Consumer Federation of Australia submission to ASIC re: ePayments Code Review – Final round of consultation
22 November 2021
Consumer advocates express profound disappointment that ASIC maintains its positions in relation to the proposal to reduce consumer protection within the ePayments Code as it relates to scams, both in relation to the mistaken payments provisions (proposal C3) and those relating to unauthorised transactions (proposal E1). We consider that ASIC should not abide a reduction in consumer protection for scam victims, whether or not it was initially intended for the ePayments Code to apply to scams.
Submission: Early Engagement Credit Reporting Code
8 November 2021
Submission to an upcoming review of the Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (Version 2.1)(CR Code). The submission addresses: The readability and accessibility of code as a whole, Independent Code Governance, individual vs account-based reporting, simplifying the corrections/complaints process, correcting or backdating repayment history information, timely disclosure of negative RHI to customers, flexibility for credit providers to notlist or to remove negative information on reports
when the customer is vulnerable, use of consumer credit liability information by debt collectors, economic abuse considerations throughout the CR Code, and current or future use of CCR by unlicensed credit providers or service providers not covered by the NCCP.
Submission to NSW Fair Trading on the Fair Trading Amendment (Commercial Agents) Regulation 2021
5 November 2021
Submission to NSW Fair Trading on the Fair Trading Amendment (Commercial Agents) Regulation 2021 recommending changes to improve conduct and compliance of debt collectors. While many Commercial Agents and
debt buyers may be subscribers to the Australian Collectors & Debt Buyers Association Code of Practice (ACDBA Code), we find compliance with that Code to be pretty inconsistent.
Joint consumer submission to Treasury’s Review of Occupational Exclusions in Default Insurance offered through MySuper Products
19 October 2021
Super funds have a clear legal obligation to negotiate insurance policies that are appropriate for their members. Occupational exclusions unsuspectingly and unfairly expose members and their families to extreme financial risk. This can occur when people are starting or moving into jobs that are linked to these exclusions. Insurance policies with occupational exclusions are not aligned with these obligations and should be removed.
Submission to the Office of Australian Information Commissioner on proposed changes to Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (the CR Code)
13 October 2021
Submission to the Office of Australian Information Commissioner on proposed changes to Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (the CR Code). Financial Rights supports many changes but remains concerned with the overall complexity of the code; both the new provisions and the existing provisions.
Joint consumer submission to the Review of the ABA Banking Code of Practice – response to Interim Report
5 October 2021
We do not consider the Banking Code requires a complete overhaul or rewrite for it to be fit for purpose. Our recommendations are aimed at improving the content of the Code to help address more specific issues, particularly where we see evidence of consumer harm. The Code is not the appropriate vehicle to solve every problem in banking, but there are many areas where extra or improved content could help it do more.
Joint consumer submission to the final consultation of the Life Insurance Code of Practice Review
28 September 2021
There remain significant issues with the draft Life Insurance Code of Practice especially with respect to the treatment of mental health issues, medical definitions, vulneabilty, financial hardship and design issues.
Joint submission to South Australia Department for Energy and Mining on the Consultation on proposed amendments to customer payment under Remote Area Energy Supply (RAES) Scheme Issues Paper
21 September 2021
Joint submission with Mob Strong Debt Help and Consumer
Action Law Centre showing support for South Australian Council of Social Service’s submission to South Australia Department for Energy and Mining on the Consultation on proposed amendments to customer payment under Remote Area Energy Supply (RAES) Scheme Issues Paper.
Joint consumer submission to Treasury exposure draft legislation re: Strengthening protections against unfair contract terms
21 September 2021
We strongly support the content of the Exposure Draft Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for a later sitting) Bill 2021: Unfair contract terms reforms) (the Draft Bill), and the Explanatory Memorandum (Draft EM). The proposed legislation would give the UCT regime teeth and go a long way towards completing the UCT reform process that has taken well over 10 years.
That said, there are still some ways the Draft Bill could be improved, particularly with regard to access to justice for consumers and small businesses. The regime changes proposed by the Draft Bill would still rely heavily on judgments of the court for just outcomes to be delivered to all consumers impacted by UCTs. Our recommendations are primarily aimed at ensuring that the Draft Bill makes relief for losses caused by UCTs to be more accessible, and ensuring that the regime does not unintentionally have any adverse impact upon consumers or small businesses who have suffered loss as a result of UCTs. Overall, we encourage the Government to introduce the Bill to Parliament as soon as possible and pass the legislation
Joint consumer submission to the Insurance Council of Australia re: General Insurance Code of Practice: Proposed Edits for 5 October 2021
14 September 2021
The new paragraph 109 will address some of the issues that arose for consumers during the COVID-19 crisis – that is, the significant confusion and difficulties for consumers in obtaining and identifying financial hardship assistance measures provided by general insurers. However, the commitment does not address another more important issue faced by consumers experiencing hardship – that is, the lack of consistency in response. In line with ASIC’s expectation’s further measures for people experiencing any form of financial hardship (including premium hardship) as identified during the COVID-19 crisis should be listed.
Treasury’s Implementation of an economy-wide Consumer Data Right – Strategic Assessment
6 September 2021
Any expansion of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) should be conducted in a way that prioritises consumer interests and use cases that are in the interest of consumers – beyond the simplistic approach that more products and more choices will lead to improved consumer outcomes.
Joint consumer submission to the 2021 Review of the ABA Code of Practice
24 August 2021
In the period since the last Code review, the Code underwent a plain language rewrite, the banks faced a Royal Commission and committed to reform, Australia has experienced numerous extreme weather events, and the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many peoples’ day to day and financial lives. The responses and the conduct of the ABA and its members throughout this period has been mixed. In some areas, the banks have provided real assistance to consumers, demonstrating a genuine desire to treat consumer outcomes as a priority and working collaboratively with our organisations to address consumer harms. However, there remains a number of areas where bank conduct disappoints consumers. While some issues are new, most relate to concerns raised by our organisations for years. Many of these issues continue to result in significant harm to consumers, most often impacting those who are more vulnerable, with bank conduct sometimes contributing to that vulnerability.
Joint consumer submission to ASIC CP 346 – The Hawking Prohibition: Update to RG 38
19 August 2021
We strongly support banning the unsolicited selling of financial products, including insurance and superannuation. Unsolicited selling is an outdated and abusive practice with a significant risk of mis-selling people products they don’t want, need or understand. We do not see unsolicited sales delivering benefits to consumers. Generally, the products sold are expensive and poor value, and cheaper products are often available through direct sales channels.
RG38 is generally well drafted and gives clear guidance and useful examples, save for our comments in this submission.
Our main concern is that RG38 effectively gives add-on travel insurance an entirely unwarranted exemption from the hawking ban. This would be an appalling outcome, contrary to the letter and spirit of the reforms recommended by the Financial Services Royal Commission. Unless RG38 is amended, it will give the green light to travel insurers and their retailing partners to continue business as usual with all of the attendant harm that entails
Joint Consumer Submission to Treasury re: Compensation Scheme of Last Resort
12 August 2021
Uncompensated losses arising from financial misconduct can cause a range of lasting impacts on people, including the loss of a family home, bankruptcy, the collapse of the family business, mental and physical ill-health, and relationship breakdown. A well-designed CSLR is a missing link in the financial services architecture in Australia. It is essential that the Government gets the design of the CSLR right in the first instance to ensure that the Australian community is protected and trust is restored to the financial sector.
Consumer groups recommend the scope of the scheme be expanded to include all financial services products and services that come within AFCA’s jurisdiction, including funeral expenses providers, managed investment schemes
and debt management firms.
We also support expanding the scheme to include court and tribunal decisions and to include voluntary Australian Financial Complaints Authority (‘AFCA’) members. The purpose of the CSLR is to stop people from falling through the cracks, so we must not design a system with cracks from the outset.
Joint consumer submission to the Australian Retail Credit Association re: Credit Reporting Code Hardship changes
10 August 2021
We note that the inclusion FHI in credit reports will necessitate a major change in the daily work our organisations do assisting consumers in financial stress. We will now be required to explain to consumers what asking for, or accepting, a hardship arrangement will mean for their credit report. We have strong concerns that these changes will lead to fewer consumers proactively talking to credit providers to obtain hardship assistance.
Treasury Consumer Data Right Rules Update: Trusted Advisers & Joint Accounts
30 July 2021
This joint submission from the Financial Rights Legal Centre, Consumer Action Law Centre, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the Australian Privacy Foundation and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network addresses our ongoing concerns with the intention to introduce rules with respect to:
CDR insights; and
We are strongly opposed to these proposed rules amendments. Many of these concerns have been outlined in previous submissions on the matter however we raise the following additional points: the proposed consumer protections/risk mitigations are entirely inadequate to address the real concerns raised by consumer representatives; and independent Privacy Impact Assessment processes are either incomplete or non-existent and have not been conducted early enough to influence the project design.
With specific reference to the proposed joint account rules we further note that :
vulnerable consumers are unable to avail themselves of the minimal protections under the CDR Rules;
the FinTech’s sector’s claim that an opt-out consent model is safer for victims of financial abuse is wrong and is self-interested;
a right to transfer data is fundamentally different to the current bundle of rights to transact under a joint account;
designing CDR Rules to merely reflect current unsafe and insecure data sharing capabilities does not fulfil the promise of the CDR to provide a safe and secure data environment for consumers;
it is unclear whether all joint account holders will have the ability to delete or de-identify data shared after the fact.
With these three new proposals CDR now bears almost no relationship to the original promise. The effect of these recommendations is one of incremental privacy intrusion and scope creep such that it is becoming increasingly unsafe to use and consumer representatives may be in no other position but to advise consumers – particularly vulnerable consumers – to opt out of the CDR with respect to any interactions relating to joint accounts, “trusted advisers” and CDR insights.
Financial Rights acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners and celebrate the diversity of Aboriginal peoples and their ongoing cultures and connections to all lands and waters. Financial Rights acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which our main office is located. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and future traditional custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware this website may contain images or names of people who have passed away.