Credit and finance
Using credit involves borrowing money and paying it back over time with interest or fees. Credit may include:
- using a credit card
- taking out a loan
- using finance options offered by a business when you buy their product.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) regulates the credit industry. They set out your rights and obligations, as well as those of your credit provider.
See ASIC’s MoneySmart website if you:
- are struggling with a debt
- have been contacted by a debt collector
- want to learn about the benefits and risks of credit and debit cards
- receive a credit or debit card that you did not request
- want to learn about insurance.
Protecting your money
To protect your credit cards and bank accounts:
- never give anyone else your Personal Identification Number (PIN)
- be aware that your bank, government agencies or the police will never ask for your PIN
- never use a PIN that is easy to guess, such as your birth year or a sequence of numbers
- memorise your PIN, rather than writing it down
- immediately notify your bank if your card or PIN is lost or stolen, or if you suspect that someone is making unauthorised transactions on your account
- always keep your card in sight at checkouts
- keep your receipts and check them against your statement.
To protect your online accounts:
- only log in to your internet banking account directly from your institution’s website
- do not give your account details or password to anyone
- regularly change your password
- tell your bank immediately if you believe your password has been compromised
- log out from your account as soon as you finish your banking
- install antivirus software on your computer and keep it up to date
- avoid opening, running, installing or using programs and files you receive from untrustworthy or unknown sources
- regularly check your bank’s website for security warnings and advice.
You might sometimes receive emails that seem to come from a bank or financial institution. Remember that these can easily be fraudulent, even if they appear genuine. You should never:
- respond to an email requesting your account details or password
- click on any links provided in the email
- use any phone number provided in the email.
Your financial institution will never email you to ask for your account details—for any reason. Any genuine links or phone numbers will be available on their website.
Make sure that you access their genuine website. You can do this by:
- using a search engine to access it
- typing in the website address directly
- making sure the address is spelled correctly
- making sure the address has its usual extensions (such as ‘.com.au’).
You do still have options if you are having financial trouble or you cannot get access to credit. You should talk to a financial counsellor if you are having serious trouble. Lists of financial counsellors are available from:
- Australian and Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
- Legal Aid Queensland (search result for financial counselling)
Some community organisations and government agencies can also offer assistance if you are in urgent need of financial help.