There was a 323% increase in the number of reports of possible superannuation scams reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in the 12 months to October, last year, many but not all of them related to the Government’s hardships early release superannuation scheme.
The ACCC has told a Parliamentary Committee that its Scamwatch section had received 275 reports relating to superannuation in 2019 but this rose to 1,181 reports last year, albeit that the scams were “not necessarily related to the early release scheme”.
It said the main types of superannuation related scam report received in 2020 were:
- Fake Coles/Woolworths vouchers purporting to provide up to $300 of groceries for free to support people during COVID-19, if victims provide personal details, including their superannuation;
- Cold calls, in some cases implying the caller is from the government, asking for people’s superannuation details for a number of reasons including ensuring that they were not ‘locked out from their super under the new rules’ ;
- Text messages stating that the recipient’s request for early access superannuation release had been granted, or that a withdrawal had been made. All of these reports appear to have been legitimate communications from super funds in relation to fraudulent attempts to access people’s superannuation. The recipient of the text was not necessarily the person who owned the super funds which the scammer was trying to access, as a part of the fraud in some cases included the changing of the victim’s mobile phone notification number; and
- Romance scams and investment scams involving the scammer convincing the victim to transfer their superannuation, sometimes via a self-managed super fund.
The ACCC said that throughout COVID-19 several taskforces and working groups had been working on investigating and preventing fraud against the Commonwealth and that the ACCC had published a media release on superannuation scams and developed and distributed a superannuation early-access scams factsheet after consultation with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and several banks.