How to protect yourself from scams

How to protect yourself from scams

First published: 5 June 2020

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has received over 2,500 reports about COVID-19 related scams (as of 15 May 2020). Superannuation scams have been one of the most common types of scam reported.

All superannuation funds place a high priority on protecting their members’ retirement savings. Security systems and processes are in place. However, scammers will always be attempting to steal your money, so it is important for us all to stay ahead of them.

Scammers keep finding new ways to trick their unsuspecting target, whether it be over email, social media, websites or telephone. This article is a reminder to be vigilant and to be wary about anyone who offers to help you access your superannuation. 

We have included some examples of scams and tips on how to protect yourself.

Targeting people impacted by COVID-19

The latest scam has been from criminals offering to help people impacted by COVID-19 to apply for early access to superannuation. Scammers are attempting to steal superannuation or charging fees for services that are not required. Scammers can target you online, by phone or email.

Tips on staying safe:

  • The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is handling the early release of superannuation through its myGov website (https://my.gov.au) – this is the only way to submit an application.
  • There is no need to involve another company or to pay any fees for the ATO’s application process.
  • Be wary of emails or messages with links to the myGov website – the web address within the link may go to a similar-looking but fraudulent website. If needed, just type the MyGov web address into your browser: https://my.gov.au

Pretending to be a financial adviser

Outside of the COVD-19 early access process, scammers are offering to help people withdraw money from their superannuation, often through self-managed funds or for a fee. They may do this by pretending to be a financial adviser, gaining your trust to access your superannuation account on your behalf.

Remember, you are unable by law to access your superannuation unless you satisfy a condition of release. Anyone who is advising you otherwise is acting illegally.

Tips on staying safe:

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are attempts to request personal information, by email, online or phone. They may pretend to be from your superannuation fund, bank or other financial service providers that you know.

These scams can look genuine, with the correct logo and branding. They can take you to a fake website whose web address is very similar to the real organisation’s website.

Tips on staying safe:

  • Stay clear of emails and messages promoting ways to access your superannuation and invest it in lucrative investment opportunities, such as property and self-managed funds.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in emails or messages claiming to be from a trusted organisation and asking you to verify or update your details.
  • Be wary of websites asking for information which do not have the secure padlock symbol or ‘https’ in the web browser bar – both are needed if you are entering personal information.
  • Look for mistakes in emails and messages claiming to be from trusted organisations. You may spot one of these warning signs:
    o Not using your name in the greeting at the start of the message.
    o Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
    o Slight differences in email address and website address.

Keep informed

To stay informed of the latest scams targeting superannuation, we recommend you visit these two Australian Government websites. Both of these websites publish alerts, trends and advice on scams throughout the year:

Report a scam

Protecting our members’ superannuation is our highest priority. If you have been impacted by a scam or are concerned about anything, please contact LGIAsuper at 1800 444 396.
You can also report any scams you receive to these Government agencies, information on how to do this is available on their websites:
Scamwatch
Australian Taxation Office (ATO)