Christmas Safety

Tis the season to avoid online scammers

In a bid to avoid Christmas crowds, online shopping during the festive season is very appealing. And while the ease and

convenience of shopping from the comfort of home is a positive, it’s still important to be aware of simple security measures to ensure it’s not the season to be scammed.

During heavy shopping periods such as Christmas, the risk of online fraud and scams increases.

 

Heritage Bank has provided some simple tips to help you stay safe while shopping online during the Christmas period.

  • Protect your privacy – When you shop online, only include relevant information and check privacy policy and security of sites you visit.
  • Read all the fine print – This includes

refund and complaints handling policies. Are there any hidden costs you’ll be hit with at the check-out? There could be conversion costs (for international purchases) or hidden fees.

  • Don’t overshare on social media – Check your social media privacy settings. Do not post personal information that will put you at risk.
  • Reject Scam callers – Financial

institutions will never make unsolicited calls or emails asking for your personal banking details or card details, so always check with your provider.

  • Be alert to ‘romance scams’ – Over the Christmas and New Year period in

particular romance scams cause millions of dollars of loss to Australians.

  • Don’t send your bank or credit card

details via email to pay for purchases – Only pay via a secure web page that has a valid digital certificate. It should have a

padlock symbol and an address starting with https://

For more details about reporting and identifying scams and fraud, visit the SCAMWATCH and Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network websites.

House deposits – is Airbnb the answer? New company offering down payments with a catch

Down payment with a catch

It’s getting harder and harder for many to enter the housing market, but a new start-up in America is making it a little easier for those wanting to purchase a home…but it comes with a catch.

A 29-year-old entrepreneur from Seattle, Yifan Zhang has come up with a service, called Loftium, which fronts up the cash for a down payment on a home with a proviso they continuously list their extra bedroom on Airbnb for one to three years and share the income with the company.

Zhang told New York Times the concept came about when she and her husband

purchased a home in Seattle and looked into renting the spare bedroom to generate extra income. But when she learned the amount could cover her mortgage or sometimes more each month, she decided to start up Loftium.

The company provides prospective home-buyers in Seattle with up to $50,000 for a down payment as long as the extra bedroom is listed continuously on Airbnb for one to three years and the majority of income is shared with Loftium during this time.

The start-up determines the size of the down payment its willing to put up through an algorithm that predicts how much income a room can generate.

The company then collects around two-thirds of the income, leaving the home-owner to take home part of the profit as well.

And if the room doesn’t generate the expected income (provided it’s not directly the result of the homeowner through bad reviews/lack of availability etc), the homeowner is not out of pocket and there is no expectation to pay the money back.

The concept is fine if you are willing to open your home to travellers in order to get in the housing market.

While Loftium currently only operates in Seattle, the company has plans to branch out to more cities within a year and it’s only a matter of time before a similar operation starts up in Australia.