- September will mark the end of COVID-19 loan deferrals and payment schemes.
- ASIC asks banks and lenders to work with their customers in the lead-up to September.
- ASIC taskforces are targeting false and misleading advertising, scams, and the appropriateness of financial advice.
With some economic support measures being withdrawn, and business activity hoping to return to pre-pandemic levels, ASIC Chair James Shipton issued a warning that consumers and investors could be particularly at risk of harm.
Appearing on the ABC’s AM program on 11 June, Shipton said the relaxation of Government restrictions should not be taken as a signal to reduce vigilance – by either consumers or law enforcement agencies. The Government’s JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes are scheduled to end in September, inevitably resulting in more stress for some consumers and financial markets.
ASIC has established three taskforces – false and misleading advertising, scams, and the appropriateness of financial advice – to focus on issues that have arisen during the pandemic.
'People are concerned about their financial wellbeing and are susceptible to making decisions that might not be in their best interest because they’ve been taken advantage of,' he said.
'We have to be very wary that people on the margin won’t abuse this vulnerability by putting fellow Australians into more hardship by advising them inappropriately, by scamming them, or by trying to push a loan onto them.'
Despite factoring-in the issues surrounding the end of COVID-19–related loan deferrals and payment schemes, Mr Shipton acknowledged that some Australians may still be caught out.
There should be no surprise for businesses and lenders, though, who should already be putting measures in place for the end of COVID-19–related loan-repayment deferments in September.
'We are working with financial institutions right now to work through these issues to be prepared for this eventuality, when the reality of September and October hits,' said Mr Shipton, speaking to the ABC’s Peter Ryan.
Listen to the ABC interview [at 18-minute mark]