National

Superannuation scams skyrocket as crooks move in on COVID-19 financial packages

Superannuation scams skyrocket as crooks move in on COVID-19 financial packages
Australia's consumer watchdog is warning financial victims of COVID-19 to be on high alert for scammers promising early access to superannuation.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today warned Australians that scammers were cold-calling residents offering to be a mediator for accessing superannuation.
The scams come just weeks after the Federal Government said it would allow some affected business owners access to $10,000 of their super this financial year and $10,000 the next.
READ MORE: Gold Coast beaches to close after Aussies ignore social distancing rules
Australia's consumer watchdog said scammers will typically cold call victims and act as a third-party to help access your super. (AP/AAP)
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said this process was being handled by the government alone.
"Scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from organisations that can help you get early access to your super," Ms 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."
Since the announcement government aggregator Scamwatch has recorded 87 reports of superannuation scams, none of which have been successful in conning victims.
During the cold call, scammers will typically seek to obtain personal information that will allow them to access the superannuation of the victim.
"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," Ms 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."
Scam phone calls are one of the most annoying downsides to technology. (Supplied)
In 2019, Australians lost over $6 million to superannuation scams with people aged in their late 40s and early 50s 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," Ms Rickard said.
"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."
For breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.
You can also get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.