Your retirement nest egg is a prime target for scammers, as a significant amount of funds are placed every day into it by Australians. These scammers may pose as your superannuation fund, financial advisors or even as the ATO.
Some of the most recent scams involving super that have been noted include a cryptocurrency trading scam (August 2021) and a Super Managed Super Fund (SMSF) phishing scam (May 2021).
Cryptocurrency Trading Scams
These scams usually involve offers on highly profitable trading systems based on individuals expertise or through algorithms that they have developed. You may be promised high returns with low risks, and be faced with a ringing (but fake) celebrity endorsement that attempts to enhance the legitimacy of the scam. The scammers then request the transfer of funds into a trading account, either via a crypto wallet or bank account and provide you initially with small returns that are sourced from other victims’ initial deposits.
They will then claim problems with making withdrawals and cut off contact.
Super Managed Super Fund (SMSF) Phishing Scam
If you have been targeted by a scam such as this, chances are that you have been cold-called or emailed by random individuals/organisations who are posing as financial advisers or representatives of an SMSF.
Scammers may promise you high returns if you move all or some of your super to an SMSF, and use email, web and company information that looks real to capitalise on their legitimacy. They will also register actual business and bank accounts in your name to appear genuine, and request for personal information to be provided so that they can complete the transfer (such as identity documents). Your super will then be transferred out of your account and into theirs once they have access.
Superannuation and its protection, therefore, are of paramount concern to those who are looking at living off of it for the future.
So what are some of the ways in which you can protect yourself and your superannuation from potential scams?
You can get acquainted with the formula for many of these scams. Often the approaches of scammers can be sloppy, with emails that contain obvious errors, or sophisticated with legitimate business names, spelling and official-looking addresses. They’ll often claim:
- They’re from your super fund, bank or a government agency.
- Ask for personal information.
- Offer help with withdrawing your super. This might be as one lump sum to an account that doesn’t belong to you, or as a withdrawal to an SMSF
There are some straightforward steps you can take to protect yourself from super scams.
Know The Rules Around Superannuation
- Becoming familiar with the rules surrounding superannuation will alert you against scams that make false claims e.g. offering early access to your super
- Keep up to date with the relevant authorities and so that you don’t put in your personal information into the wrong websites – always check that relevant institutions have verified their authenticity!
Keep Track Of Your Balance And Account Details
- Check what your super balance is on a regular basis – if you notice something that doesn’t quite look right then immediately get into contact with your super fund and ask them about what could have happened.
- Every once in a while, check that your super fund has the right postal address, email address and mobile number – this will help them get in touch with you if they spot any suspicious activity.
Reduce And Restrict Attempts At Identity Theft
- Taking the steps to stop identity theft will also help protect your super
- This does not have to be all too complicated e.g. shred important documents, change passwords every few months, etc.