Conmen offering Valley residents free laptops for learning

VALLEY residents being enticed to sign up to expensive training courses by door-to-door marketers could find themselves heavily in debt and with nothing to show for it.

Unscrupulous marketers have been operating in the local area in recent weeks, offering free laptop computers as an incentive to sign up to student loans, through the Federal Government's VET FEE-HELP assistance scheme, for courses that might cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Part of the selling technique is to tell people they can back out of the courses if they wish and keep the computer. 

But NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said the loans, for courses that are often inappropriate for the person involved, would increase over time and people could be faced with big debts or have trouble getting other loans.

"It is pernicious to target vulnerable people who want to get skills so they can get jobs," he said.

"Offering incentives such as free laptops is now outside the law, and the Commonwealth can take action against people making such offers."

A Grafton resident recently told The Daily Examiner he was encouraged to sign forms that hadn't been filled out, and to provide his tax file number.

Mr Stowe said there was a 10-day cooling off period for anyone who had signed up for a loan, and if the conditions hadn't been explained properly they could have up to six months to change their mind.

Fair Trading and the ACCC are investigating the practice.

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