18 May 2023
Scams are on the rise in Australia. According to a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australians lost $3.1 billion to scams in 20221. Investment scams make up a large part of this, costing Australians $1.5 billion1. As one of your biggest investments, super is often a target.
Scammers are tricky and can target you in ways that seem very convincing. But there are things you can do to protect yourself. For instance, knowing what to look out for and being alert to risks is key. Use the below information to help keep your super safe from scams.
Common types of scams to look out for
Scams come in many forms and try to grab your attention across different devices. Scammers may try to reach you by:
- Text messages
- Phone calls
- Online, social and dating platforms.
Scammers have cunning communication methods to get your attention. They can seem legitimate and encourage you to respond quickly. They might try to get you to:
- Click a link
- Share access to your computer
- Provide personal or financial information
- Download a file.
The following common scams have been listed by Scamwatch. Learn about each one to keep yourself safe.
There are two main types of investment scams: Cryptocurrency trading scams and Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) phishing.
Cryptocurrency trading scams
Scammers will reach out to you and pretend to be an expert in cryptocurrency. They may:
- Promise you high returns with low risks
- Use fake celebrity endorsements to make their offer seem real
- Request you transfer funds into a trading account, either via a crypto wallet or bank account
- Send you small returns sourced from other victims’ initial deposits.
They’ll then claim problems with making withdrawals and cut off contact with you.
Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) phishing scams
With these scams, you’ll typically be called or emailed by random individuals or organisations. They’ll usually say they’re financial advisers or representatives of an SMSF. The scammers may:
- Promise high returns if you move all or some of your super to an SMSF
- Use email, web and company information that looks legitimate
- Register businesses and bank accounts in your name to appear genuine
- Ask you to provide personal information, such as identity documents to complete the transfer.
They’ll then access your account and transfer your super to their bank account.
2. Attempts to gain your personal information
This involves someone obtaining your personal details by deceit. They can commit fraud by using your credit card, open a bank account or even get a loan. Identity theft can be very destructive and take many months, even years to rectify.
3. Buying or selling
Here scammers take advantage of your online shopping or selling activity. They may pretend to offer you a product or service, then take your money and give you nothing in return.
4. Dating and romance
This is where someone pretends to be your romantic partner on a dating app or through social media. They build a connection with you and then play on your emotions to get you to provide money, gifts, or personal details.
5. Fake charities
In these situations, scammers pose as a genuine charity and ask you for donations. They may also contact you to collect money after a natural disaster or major event.
6. Jobs and employment
This involves someone offering you a ‘guaranteed’ way to make fast money, if you pay them a fee first. They may also pretend to set you up in a high-paying job.
7. Unexpected money
This is where a scammer pretends to have money to give you. They may claim that a distant relative has left you a large amount of inheritance. Or that a Nigerian prince is desperate to share millions of dollars. The scam is you have to hand over money or your personal details first.
8. Unexpected winnings
Here you’re contacted and told you’ve won something, such as the lottery – even though you never entered. The scammer will then ask you to send them money or share personal information to claim your prize.
Learn how to spot a scam
Scammers are always finding new ways to target your assets and identity. They can look like a legitimate business – even using official logos and addresses. They’ll often:
- Say they’re from your super fund, bank, or a government agency
- Ask for personal information
- Offer help, such as 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.
Look out for promises of early access to super and unrealistic investment returns, and only use licensed operators. You can verify licensed operators on the Australian Security and Investment Commission’s (ASIC) Connect website.
How AustralianSuper communicates with members
We generally communicate with members in 4 ways:
- By email
- By mail
- By text message
- By phone (to confirm the legitimacy of a request to withdraw or transfer funds).
We reach out to members for a few reasons, including:
- To provide your annual statement
- To inform you that a benefit has been paid
- To confirm a recent investment option or account detail change
- To share relevant Fund performance news and tips on managing your super
- To invite you to our annual member meeting.
AustralianSuper will never send an SMS or email asking you to click on a link to update your personal information or linking to your account login page.
Don’t click on any links if you’re unsure about an email that you’ve received from us. Instead, open your web browser and go to the AustralianSuper website.
You can also check with us through mobile chat, social media or by calling 1300 300 273.
SCAMWATCH – SPOT THE SCAM SIGNS
Be alert during key periods
Scammers can target you all throughout the year. However, there are some key periods when you are most at risk. Like when you’re:
- Expecting a delivery.
Scammers often try to take advantage of your online shopping habits. If you’re waiting for an order to arrive, they may use missed delivery scams to trick you into clicking on malicious links. Your details can then be stolen, and your device infected.
- Trying to access your super.
Early access to super rules were temporarily relaxed in 2020 because of COVID-19. As a result, scammers targeted people by offering to help them access their super early. Once they had your personal details, they would take over your account and steal your super.
- Making a large online payment.
If you’re making a large online payment, such as putting a deposit down on a car or house, always call your seller directly beforehand. Otherwise, you may fall victim to a false billing scam. This involves scammers posing as your seller and sending you a fake invoice or requesting money to be transferred to a different bank account.
This may include general financial advice which doesn’t take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision consider if the information is right for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, available at australiansuper.com/PDS or by calling 1300 300 273. A Target Market Determination (TMD) is a document that outlines the target market a product has been designed for. Find the TMDs at australiansuper.com/TMD. AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898.