Fake tradies prey on bushfire victims The corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is warning consumers and business owners to watch out for fake tradespeople, repairers or companies offering to assist with insurance claims. ASIC’s Sean Highes said fake tradies typically target homeowners, farmers and small businesses in the aftermath of natural disasters. “They may claim to be able to identify damage to your property, sometimes by way of a free inspection,” said Mr Highes. “Be wary of anyone who asks for payment up front and who asks you to sign a contract immediately. Don’t agree to sign anything which prevents you from dealing directly with your insurer, broker, financial adviser or lawyer.” Bushfire victims get tax breaks The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the federal government have announced special tax measures for those taxpayers impacted by bushfires in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Bushfire victims and businesses in affected postcodes may be eligible for an automatic two-month deferral for lodgements and payments, activity statement lodgements and payments due. The ATO is applying the relief to businesses according to postcode so businesses of their agents do not need to apply for a deferral. Businesses not located directly in bushfire areas can contact the ATO’s emergency support hotline on 1800 806 218. Read more about bank and credit union bushfire emergency helplines and assistance programs at InfoChoice. Government waives tax on bushfire payments Disaster relief payments made to individuals and businesses impacted by bushfires will be tax-exempt. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government wanted every dollar to go to supporting affected individuals, businesses and primary producers. Disaster Recovery Allowance payments made to individuals that are normally taxable and grants made to small businesses and primary producers are coved by this exemption. Read more about how to donate or help bushfire victims in Australia at InfoChoice. ASIC warns fire insurers – pay up quickly The corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has told insurance companies dealing with bushfire related claims to ensure that claims are handled efficiently and fairly. “We expect those involved in handling these insurance claims to act with the utmost good faith,“ said ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan. Thousands of Australians in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia have been caught up in bushfires during December and January. ASIC advises people affected by the bushfires should deal directly with their insurer, broker or adviser. “Your insurer may be able to provide emergency accommodation and financial support.” What to do if you have been hit by bushfire The corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, (ASIC) has a MoneySmart information page for people affected by bushfires and other natural disasters. After the disaster, victims need to: Check with their insurer that they are covered for all damage. Enquire about emergency accommodation if required. Take photos and make a list of all damage. Keep receipts for expenses. Don’t clean up until safe to do so. Check with insurer before making repairs. You may be eligible for a government emergency payment so check with the Dept of Human Services. How many people have been affected by bushfires? The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has announced an emergency assistance program in the wake of devastating bushfires in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. Since 5 September 2019 Australian insurance companies have handled more than 6000 insurance claims from bushfire regions of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. Insurance losses are estimated at $431 million this bushfire season according to the ICA. “Insurers have booked hundreds of hotel and motel rooms and are providing emergency accommodation and financial assistance to many customers,” said Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan. Get $60K out of your super to buy a house. Here’s how … Can you use your super to buy a house? Yes you can. The federal government’s First Home Super Saver scheme enables first home buyers to withdraw some of their extra superannuation contributions, not their employer’s contributions, to use for a first home deposit. You can use contributions made since July 2017. The maximum amount you can withdraw is $30,000. Read more about how to use your superannuation and the First Home Super Scheme to buy a first home at InfoChoice. Best home loans for refinancers in January 2020 There are plenty of great home loans for refinancers now available in Australia, with 1800 products now listed on InfoChoice. The best loan is the one that suits your particular needs. Some of the top refinancer mortgage deals now listed on InfoChoice’s database of 145 institutions include the Suncorp Back to Basics Owner Occupied (P&I) home loan for owner occupiers. This loan has a maximum LVR of 90 per cent and a variable rate of 3.03 per cent pa (comparison rate 3.04 per cent pa). Athena is an online lender specialising in loans for refinancers. The Athena Home Loan Variable Refinance is a P&I deal for refinancers with rates as low as 3.05 per cent (comparison) on LVRs of 80 per cent or lower. Read more about the best home loans for refinancers in January 2020 at InfoChoice. Is Bitcoin crashing? Bitcoin prices are trending down this week after posting big gains in the post-Christmas 2019 period. One Bitcoin is now, on Friday 10 January 2020, worth A$11,469, down $298 in 24 hours. Prior to big falls in the last week, Bitcoin gained almost $1,000 in December trading. Bitcoin is still well up on prices from 12 months ago. Read more about the outlook for Crypto in 2020 at InfoChoice.