COVID-19 scammers are targeting superannuation

Scammers trying to exploit Australians hit financially by the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 scammers target super

Scammers are now trying to exploit Australians financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis with new superannuation scams.

Scammers have been quick to take advantage of the government’s recent announcement that people suffering financial hardship can have partial access to their superannuation from mid-April.

“Scammers are cold-calling people, claiming to be from organisations that can help you get early access to your super,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“For most people, outside of their home, superannuation is their greatest asset and you can’t be too careful about protecting it,’’ she said.

“The Australian Taxation Office is coordinating the early release of super through myGov and there is no need to involve a third party or pay a fee to get access under this scheme.

“Never follow a hyperlink to reach the myGov website. Instead, you should always type the full name of the website into your browser yourself,” Ms Rickard said.

Since the government’s announcement in March, there have been 87 reports of these scams, but no reported losses.

In most cases, the scammers are trying to obtain personal information, including information that will help them fraudulently access the victim’s superannuation funds.

“While older people are more commonly affected by superannuation scams, the new early access scheme means a range of age groups are now experiencing these scams,” Ms Rickard said.

“We also have reports of scammers offering to check if a person’s super account is eligible for various benefits or claiming the new scheme will lock people out of their accounts.”

In 2019, Australians lost more than $6 million to superannuation scams, with people aged 45–54 losing the most money.

“Never give any information about your superannuation to someone who has contacted you. Don’t let them try to pressure you to make a decision immediately, take your time and consider who you might be dealing with.

“Be wary of callers, who claim to be from a government authority, asking about your super. Hang up and call the organisation directly by doing an independent search for their contact details,” Ms Rickard said.

If you have provided information about your superannuation to a scammer, immediately contact your superannuation institution. If you have provided personal or banking details, you should also contact your financial institution.

You can also contact IDCARE, a free government-supported service, that will work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you through the process.

More information on coronavirus scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help.

Have you been asked about accessing your superannuation early?

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    7th Apr 2020
    The sharks have also started contacting people to sell their shares cheap too.
    7th Apr 2020
    I suppose that if you are silly enough to cash in your super, or to prematurely sell off your shares at the bottom of the market, then you are also silly enough to get taken by a scam.

    Obviously there are cases where it might be valid, but OMG people do the most amazing things! The philosphical question is "Do we have a duty to protect people from themselves?"
    7th Apr 2020
    My advice NEVER take money from your Superannuation because $10,000 or $20,000 now, because it could cost you losing $ 100,000 or more when you retire. NOT WORTH THE RISK.
    7th Apr 2020
    Milly you are right if you are younger, closer to pension age it does not make all that much of a difference. Take some out of you need it, if not leave it there as you will not get any better returns. Finalising your mortgage would be another step I would take some out. Do remember the more you have left in super the less you get in your part pension at 66 presently.
    ex PS
    7th Apr 2020
    Yes, leave it in if you can afford it. I have already noticed a slight recovery in my fund.
    7th Apr 2020
    Simple rule of thumb - NEVER, NEVER, EVER deal with anyone who appriaches you about anything! If it's super - YOU contact your super company. If it's electricity - YOU contact your provider (or any other provider to ask the questions).
    I have finally, after years of hounding, taught my older 77 yo brother to simply hang up, or delete an odd email he gets. Or he rings me for me to check it out. Now, he gets it. From a generation that grew up with courtesy and manners, even he admits how surprised he is at now ignoring them.
    7th Apr 2020
    I learnt some weeks ago that a so-called financial fund was offering a 7.00 to 7.50 % annual return and that they gave and exhibited some authorities names in support of their status. But I have my doubt on their model of ability to protect your capital invested. Yes they would have no problem to pay the investors the rates of return they promised initially ( but for how long).At the same time in small print they also declared that there was a risk the investors might lose their capital. Beware yourself.
    ex PS
    8th Apr 2020
    No reputable Super Fund can or will guarantee a set return.. If you are talking to one that claims it can, maybe you should look further afield.
    First thing a good financial advisor will do is asses your attitude to risk, they will then build a strategy around this. A simple rule of thumb is, the higher the return, the higher higher the risk, this does not change.

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