Superannuation scams

21 May 2009

SCAMwatch is reminding consumers to be careful in protecting their superannuation account statements in particular and all their personal information more generally.

The Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, Senator Nick Sherry, recently issued a warning for Australian workers to exercise extra care in protecting their superannuation account statements and personal details. This is in response to information from the New South Wales Police Force that a Sydney-based fraud syndicate is using stolen identities to steal from victims' superannuation accounts.

Syndicate members have allegedly stolen superannuation statements and used other counterfeit identity documents to set up self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). The offenders then open bank accounts and arrange for cash to be 'rolled over' from legitimate funds into the fraudulent accounts.

The minister has advised that the vast majority of Australian workers have superannuation funds that are regulated by the Australian Prudential and Regulatory Authority (APRA). These funds are protected by law against theft and fraud. However, consumers should always be vigilant and careful to protect their personal information.

Scammers can use personal information to steal your identity.

Identity theft works in a range of ways, from simple methods to well organised scams. Many of us have a wealth of personal information readily available—cards in our wallet, mail, public records, information saved in our computers and information posted on social networking sites.

Identity theft can happen easily and quickly. By leaving your personal information readily available, scammers will have easy access to this information. For example, scammers will pay people to rummage through rubbish tips and steal letters, household bills and bank statements (also referred to as 'dumpster diving') to collect personal information.

Warning signs

  • You notice that amounts of money go missing from your bank account without any explanation.
  • You are unable to obtain credit or a loan because of an unexplainable bad credit rating.
  • A caller pushes you to provide personal information and discourages you from checking whetehr it's a genuine request.
  • You get an email or a telephone call out of the blue asking you to 'validate' or 'confirm' banking details.

Protect yourself

  • Regularly check your credit card, bank and superannuation statements to ensure that suspicious transactions are detected.
  • Shred all documents containing personal information, such as credit card applications and bank statements. NEVER send money or give personal details to people you don’t know and trust.
  • If you receive a call from your bank or any other organisation, don’t provide your personal details—instead ask for their name and a contact number.
  • Check with the organisation in question before calling back. Never rely on a number provided in an email or click on the provided link—instead find the contact number through an internet search or back of your automatic teller machine (ATM) card.
  • Log directly on to a website that you are interested in rather than clicking on links provided in an email.
  • Always get independent advice if you are unsure whether an offer/request is genuine.

Report

If superannuation fund members have any concerns about the security of their account, they should contact either their fund or APRA on 1300 13 1060 or the Australian Taxation Office in relation to SMSFs on 13 10 20. If a consumer has information about a suspected crime, they can also contact the New South Wales Police Force Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you think your identity has been misused, you should contact your bank or credit union to let them know.

You can also report a scam to SCAMwatch.

More information

To find out more about this superannuation scam, refer to the media release from Senator Nick Sherry, Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law. [link no longer available]

Explore SCAMwatch to find out more about scams and tips on how to protect yourself.

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