The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have warned that scammers are now trying to exploit Australians financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis with new superannuation scams being reported to Scamwatch in recent weeks.
Scammers are already trying 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,” 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.”
“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 seeking 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 over $6 million to superannuation scams with people aged 45-54 losing the most amount of 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 which will work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you through the process.