Thursday, September 27, 2018

ASIC business name renewal from ASIC Messaging Service a fake/scam or legitimate?

Ever get a gut feeling that out of those many scam emails you receive one may actually be legit. Well that happened to me. I've received quite a few emails "reportedly" from ASIC recently. Seven to be precise this past month. All look like the following. Yes this is a fake email. Every month business owners are targeted by scammers using fake ASIC emails.


There were seven such emails all in the same form with the same salutation "Dear Sir/Madam". Since ASIC knows my name and none of the emails had my name in the body of the message, all the emails felt like fakes and thus scams.

I decided to log onto my ASIC account and check the status of the domain name. The problem is it took me ages to find the correct place to log on and even longer to find the renewal date. Yes my business name is up for renewal in the coming weeks.

I went back to the emails and found one had the correct date. The problem is the email had the salutation "Dear Sir/Madam", there were links that don't work and no mention of the business name in the body of the email. These would normally be signs of a fake/scam email. ASIC are doing such a bad job with their emails it's very hard to know the fake from the real email.

Even worse the ASIC website is a terrible site to find where you need to log on. ASIC use a different site which can be found at https://asicconnect.asic.gov.au. I've not provided a link as I'd suggest trust no one, not even me, and go to the ASIC connect site by searching Google or Bing for "ASIC connect". Make sure the site is a subdomain of asic.gov.au.

Once you get to the ASIC connect site you still need to find the renewal date. After logging on you need to select the business name you're interested in checking. You can find the business names under the Business Details tab.

My biggest concern with the renewal of the business name was missing the actual renewal date and then incurring possible late fees. In the past I've not received an ASIC notice in time due to postal delays and there was no consideration from ASIC. Thank goodness I found the renewal date before it occurred.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Costco petrol price compared to other service stations.

There is no doubt that Costco petrol stations influence the price of petrol in their immediate area. However that influence isn't always as great as you may think and it also depends on where we are in the petrol price discount cycle.

Recently I checked the Costco petrol station at Moorabbin using Petrol Spy and the price shown was around 136. I decided since I'd be going past the Costco petrol station I'd fill up. The nearest petrol station was around 141. Being a Woolworths the discount voucher would bring the price lower, but not quite as low.

Costco petrol stations don't display prices on boards like other petrol stations, so the only time you know the price is when you get to the pump. With 4-5 cars in each lane before you, the wait is long but you feel it is worth it. I pulled up at the petrol pump after waiting for some time to find the price was 141.7. A bit disappointed, I thought that was a lesson well learnt. A couple of hours can make all the difference in the world of petrol so it's always best to double check prices.

As it turned out there was a Woolworths Petrol station close to the way home in Burwood with unleaded petrol for around 138 and with a discount voucher, that would have been 134 and 7 cents a litre saving. A further saving of nearly $3. Now we're not talking much money, but the savings over a long period of time add up.

There were a couple of good lessons learnt with the visit to the Costco petrol station in Moorabbin so for me the outcome was good.
  1. I've never seen a busier service station on a normal day so expect delays.
  2. Check prices again closer to when you're buying.
  3. The Woolworths Petrol station in Braeside often matches the Costco petrol station in Moorabbin and can be used as a guide.
  4. The Costco petrol station in Moorabbin is established whereas the Costco petrol station in Epping isn't and the Epping Costco offers lower prices at the moment.
  5. At the bottom of the fuel discount cycle Costco petrol stations may not be the best prices.
  6. At the top of the fuel cycle and following the peak, it's worth checking the Costco petrol station prices using a fuel app such as Petrol Spy, but keep in mind Petrol Spy isn't the most reliable fuel app. Again check prices of surrounding petrol stations.
Overall this was a worthwhile exercise. I had wanted to check out a Costco petrol station and see how they worked. It also was a reminder to double check my information. The Costco petrol station price wasn't really bad, in fact it was quite reasonable, it's just that I could have done better without much effort. The longer queue at the Costco petrol station and the slow traffic along Boundary Road were both unexpected and need to be taken into account.

Kelvin Eldridge
https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Sunday, September 23, 2018

McDonald's Monopoly rare pieces for 2018

For those interested the News.com.au site had an article detailing the rare monopoly pieces for McDonald's Monopoly.

https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/these-are-the-valuable-maccas-monopoly-pieces/news-story/456586db59774410d55ce400e50751be

For those who just want to know the rare pieces they are:

Marlborough Street
Piccadilly
Whitehall
Old Kent Road
Regent Street
Fleet Street
Park Lane
Euston Road
Fenchurch Street Station

Now if you're upsizing from a small meal to a larger meal to get Monopoly pieces, keep in mind for a major prize you have more chances winning tattslotto than getting one of the major prizes in Macca's Monopoly. You have a 1 in 45,379,620 chance to win first prize in tattslotto and 1 in 168,000,000 to win 1 year Europcar hire, or a $10,000 Bay Leather Republic voucher, or 1 in 68,000,000 to win $5,000 Flight Centre Gift voucher, a 1 year BP fuel gift card, or a Suzuki Vitara RT-S automatic, prizes which look insignificant compare to winning first division in tattslotto.

With a single game entry in tattslotto costing around 71 cents it does take many upsizes to pay for a 12 game ticket. It may be wiser to save your money and your waistline and put the money on a tattslotto ticket, or not.

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Opt out of the government's My Health Record before it's too late. November 15 2018 is the cut-off date.

If I recall correctly the government initially had the My Health Record system set up as opt in. In software development opt in is the way to go. People only opt in if they want to. However the less desirable approach many businesses and less desirable software developers use is you have to opt out.

As opting in was not successful for the government they decided to change to the opt out approach. That way by default they get more people participating and the service looks more successful. If the My Health Record is really something people want, opt in would work.

None of us have any idea of how the government will use and who they will share our data with. It's no longer our choice to opt in so if you don't want the government collecting and your information potentially accessible with who knows which groups, governments or individuals, you should make the active decision to opt out or opt in.

Opting in is as easy as doing nothing. Opting out requires you to go to the government's site, providing some information. One thing that further concerns me is you can get an email confirmation. However providing an email simply provides additional matching information that can be kept on record. This type of cross matching has been used by businesses for years. Remember those businesses that asked for your postcode for research purposes. Yep, that potentially helped match your credit card details back to your location uniquely identifying and tracking you. So even something as obscure as a postcode can be used in ways you don't anticipate.

For me personally I'll be opting out. If I need medical records or history I hope my medical professionals will have that information available for me and if not, perhaps it's time to get a better medical practitioner.

To opt out of My Health Record visit https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family/opt-out-my-health-record.

Click the Opt out now button
Select Me
Click Next
Enter your identify information

As an example of something simple in this process which doesn't make sense is you enter your driver licence and Medicare details. However, separately they also ask for your gender. Why? Surely your driver licence and Medicare details should be enough and details of your sex shouldn't be required. When additional information that is not required is requested it begs the question why?

Review your information
Submit
Print a copy of your information for your records

Finally, before you can submit you have to answer a short questionnaire on why you are opting out. You can't simply submit at this stage. I selected the option "No reason" and did not provide any further details. Unfortunately additional information like this can be used in ways we can't anticipate.

Whilst some people may consider I'm concerned, the reality is for me it's simple. Systems should be opt in. When any organisation forces you to opt out by default they're acting in their interests and not yours.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Melbourne petrol prices increasing to new high of 169.9 cents per litre.

The first signs of the petrol price hike are now occurring taking the price of unleaded petrol to 169.9 cents per litre in Melbourne.

This was almost totally predictable. It is often said it is a coincidence that petrol prices increase around school holidays. The last increase left me a little perplexed because the increase wasn't the usual 25-30 cents per litre from the current low. The increase was under 20 cents. That is something I hadn't seen in the time I've been monitoring petrol prices over the last two years and writing these posts.

Why was the last price increase last time so low?

Whilst I can't be certain, but by having a low increase, with the usual discounting of petrol the price would drop enough just in time for an increase for the school holidays. Had the price been increased to 164.9 or 169.9 which would have been in the 25-30 cent price increase last time, that would not have enabled prices to drop sufficiently for the prices to increase just before the school holidays. Just my opinion. Perhaps it just a coincidence.

Time to now monitor petrol prices and consider filling up in the next few days if this price hike continues. There's still plenty of scope for prices to continue to drop as the price is still often 4-8 cents above the Gate price. Woolworths Petrol at Lilydale and Clarinda have today increased to 169.9.

Don't forget the new Costco Petrol in Epping continues to influence the Woolworths Petrol price at Epping. Woolworths Petrol Epping price without the 4 cents/litre discount is currently 139.7.

Also watch the 7 Eleven prices and use the app to lock in a low price for another week. But as usual don't jump the gun too soon.

Kelvin Eldridge
https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

UPDATE: 22/09/2018
The first petrol stations lifting their prices had the price of unleaded petrol going to 169.9. The next petrol stations have taken the price to 167.9 and 167.9 is becoming the new high price.

Monday, September 10, 2018

$50 energy bonus. Victoria energy compare.

The Victorian government is giving away money, $50 to be exact and it's pretty easy to get your $50. All you need to do is to go to the Victorian government's energy compare site and start the process to compare your current energy bill with other providers. Along the way you get the option to claim your $50.

What I've done is below is document the steps I took to claim the $50.

Visit https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au

Select Electricity
Select Home
Select I have a recent bill
Select your current retailer
Enter postcode
Do you get energy concession
Do you have a smart meter data file to upload. Select No. 

NOTE: I tried to upload a file but it failed with unrecognised format. Best to enter details from your recent bill.

Do you have solar panels. N0
Tick Disclaimer Agreement
Click Next
Answer Energy questionnaire
Enter Your Energy Usage

Your electricity offer screen appears. 

At this point on the right is a green box which reads “Claim your $50 Power Saving Bonus” and click on the link "click here".



The click here link takes you to the $50 Power Saving Bonus

Scroll down the agreement information
Tick the Disclaimer Agreement box
Click Next
Select I don’t have a PDF bill
Confirm your electricity account details (using your last bill)
Click Next
Tick I’m not a robot
Click Submit

That's it. Take a note of your customer reference number that appears. You never know when something may go wrong. You'll receive a confirmation email. In about a week I received another email letting me know I'd receive the power bonus in 2-4 weeks.

It's important to keep in mind the time it takes to get the bonus if you are moving house. You could be gone before the bonus arrives and redirecting mail costs nearly half the bonus. If you're moving house it may be best to move and wait for the first bill. Of course there's a risk you don't get the first bill in time and sometimes when people move the first bill can take an exceptionally long time to arrive. Electricity bills are usually done every 90 days, add the time to receive the bill and you're getting close to the end date of the offer.  Gas bills take less time as the billing period is around 60 days. The government's offer ends 31st of December 2018.

Also go back and complete the energy comparison and enter your information from your bill. In many cases you’ll find there may be a better offer. Make sure you double check the results that are presented.

The one issue I did have filling in the information was whether or not to include GST in the price. The forms do state to exclude GST. In addition I made an error with the service to the property amount. It does say total amount whereas initially I entered the daily amount. Hopefully those tips may help you fill out the forms and find cheaper providers.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.cheapestelectricityprovider.com.au


Update: This site may be good to help determine your electricity distributor.
https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/electricity/electricity-distributors

Update: The $50 check has been received.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Mortgage Repayment Calculator now called Mortgage Repayment Calculator Australia.

One of the very handy calculators I've written is a mortgage repayment calculator. I used a domain with hyphens and frankly, the level of traffic has been low. That means people aren't getting to benefit from using the calculator.

Normally when a domain/calculator doesn't get used I tend to let the domain go. In this case however, I've personally found the mortgage repayment calculator and the features provided to be very useful.

For example you can work out your mortgage repayments, how long it would take to pay off a given mortgage given a known payment amount, and interestingly, if you're renting, how much of a mortgage the rent payments would cover. All useful information for those looking at purchasing a home. The mortgage repayment calculator also links to the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator which is handy for determining government charges.

Right now interest rates are seeing a 0.14%-0.16% increase from the major banks. That doesn't sound like much but with loans in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars, even a small percentage change can add $500-$600 or more a year. Using the mortgage repayment calculator you can easily see how the interest rate change affects your home loan.

The mortgage repayment calculator is now called Mortgage Repayment Calculator Australia and can be found at www.MortgageRepaymentCalculatorAustralia.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge