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Monday, 06 April 2020 12:05

Scammers target superannuation during COVID-19 crisis, warns ACCC Featured

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Scammers are now trying to exploit Australians financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which says that new superannuation scams have been reported to its Scamwatch service in recent weeks.

“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.

Rickard says that in most cases the scammers are seeking to obtain personal information, including information that will help them fraudulently access the victim’s superannuation funds.

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

The ACCC says that 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,” says Rickard.

“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.”

The ACCC says that if you have provided information about your superannuation to a scammer, immediately contact your superannuation institution and, 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.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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