Consumer financial information body axed

National Seniors is stunned to learn that, due to federal funding cuts, the National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI) will cease to exist on February 27, 2015.

 

Chief executive Michael O’Neill said, “NICRI is currently the only place older Australians can go for free and truly independent financial information”.

 

“For years National Seniors has unreservedly recommended NICRI to retirees overwhelmed by the complexity of the system.

 

“Barely two weeks ago, the Murray Report emphasized the importance of consumer empowerment and fair treatment in a ruthless sales-driven system.”

 

“We are stunned that this vital consumer service has been axed.

 

“Older Australians now have nowhere to go,” he said.

 

Every year, the little independent, government-funded Canberra-based agency helps thousands of older Australians understand everything from allocated pensions to annuities and funeral bonds.

 

Free financial counsellor help

National Seniors also advises consumers dealing with financial stress such as paying their bills and managing their debts they can now access a free financial service.

 

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) launched its online hardship portal and is working with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to help people experiencing financial hardship to pay their phone or internet bill.

 

The portal links to the hardship policies of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone and outlines how to get help and the different options available.

 

“Any of us might find ourselves in trouble. All it takes is illness, bad luck or even just a short stint out of work. The hardship portal is a helpful tool for consumers who are experiencing tough times and finding it hard to pay for their phone or internet bill,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

 

Corbin said the portal is even useful for those who just want to save money. “It is full of helpful tips to use before things get out of hand.”

 

If you're having difficulty paying lots of bills at once, you can call a financial counsellor. Financial counsellors help you work through the issues and identify options. The service is free and confidential.

 

They can help you figure out what to do – how to organise your money, how to pay your bills and get the support you need.

 

Call a financial counsellor on 1800 007 007. Or find out more about the hardship portal here: https://accan.org.au/hardship-home

 

23 December 2014.