Consumer protection

Seniors call for hearing aid industry clean-up

National Seniors is calling on the Federal Government to take action to prevent the exploitation of older Australians by unscrupulous operators in the hearing aid industry.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke will tell the Inquiry into the Hearing Health and Wellbeing of Australia, sitting in Brisbane tomorrow, that after two investigations of the industry in a decade, it is time to clean up problems that the ACCC has labelled scams.

Mr Henschke says one in six Australians have hearing loss, and the figure will rise to one in four by 2050.

Dodgy internet scam pops up

Consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning people to watch out for dodgy internet pop-up windows claiming there are viruses or other nasty tech problems affecting their computer.

Known as remote access scams, these pop-up windows are used as a ploy to lure unsuspecting victims to call a fake support line – usually a 1800 number. The scammer will then ask for remote access to their victim’s computer to “find out what the problem is”.

Financial advisers to meet new standards

National Seniors has welcomed a new authority set up to oversee the standards and ethics of financial advisers.

Former Chief Executive of National Seniors, Michael O’Neill, is one of three directors with consumer advocacy experience who have been appointed to the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA).

The other five directors include three with financial services experience, an ethicist and an academic.

Hearing health on inquiry agenda

The Queensland public hearing of the Inquiry into the Hearing Health and Wellbeing of Australia will be held in Brisbane next Friday, 21 April.

The Australian Parliament’s Health, Aged Care and Sport Committee will meet representatives of National Seniors to discuss the hearing support needs of older Australians.

“Seventy-four per cent of Australians over the age of 70 experience hearing loss,” Committee chair Trent Zimmerman said.

“It is therefore vital that we ensure older Australians have access to high quality hearing services from trusted providers.”

Inquiry into retail electricity prices

The Federal Government has ordered an inquiry into retail electricity pricing.

Consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said it would be looking at why prices had risen so much in each state and territory.

“Electricity prices have nearly doubled on top of inflation in most parts of Australia over the past decade, based on a variety of different factors,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

New mental health advisory group under fire

The Federal Government’s new mental health advisory group has been criticised for not considering the needs of older Australians, particularly those living in aged care.

Director of the Institute for Health and Ageing at Australian Catholic University, Professor Marita McCabe, described the formation of the new group as a positive step.

But she also said the government needed to provide services for all Australians, including those living in residential aged care.

Seniors call for health insurance shake-up

National Seniors has urged the Federal Government to focus on inefficiencies in the Australian health insurance system, rather than allowing private health insurers to keep jacking up premiums.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke today said the affordability of private health insurance was one of the biggest concerns for older Australians.

Premiums increased by almost 40 per cent between 2010 and 2016, and would rise another 4.8 per cent from 1 April, which was around three times the rate of inflation.

Beware of fake online stores

Consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), is warning online shoppers to be wary of scammers masquerading as legitimate retailers.

The scammers often sold well-known brands at too-good-to-be-true prices, said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

So far in 2017, the ACCC’s Scamwatch service had received more than 1000 reports of online shopping scams worth a total of over $150,000.

Government to set aged care quality standards

Australian government-subsidised aged care services will have to meet a single set of quality standards under reforms due to come into force from July next year.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the Single Aged Care Quality Framework had been designed in consultation with industry and aged care representatives.

Two key parts of the framework are:

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