Beware of Superannuation Scams
Beware of Superannuation Scams

We keep hearing from the media that money scammers are becoming more and more crafty. Both the ‘bank fee refund’ and the ‘ATO debt collection’ scams have garnered significant attention recently as a result of the sophisticated techniques and powers of persuasion used on unsuspecting victims.

Superannuation scammers have been around for many years in various forms, and they have evolved in recent times to target the lucrative Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) sector.

How do scammers target superannuation?

By all reports, scammers are contacting superannuation members and in their infinite wisdom, experience and regard for you – whom they have never met before, are recommending you withdraw your super and move it into a ‘self managed super fund’ that they will establish for you or transfer your existing SMSF to them for a significantly reduced fee. From here on in they will allow you to access it so that you can pay off any debts, take a holiday or retire early. Shortly after you transfer these funds, they will either deduct a large commission or steal the entire balance for themselves.

The result of this act is several pronged; firstly you will completely lose your retirement monies and in 99% of cases these will not be recoverable, leaving you to rely on social security benefits or continue to work. Secondly, if you have accessed your super prior to reaching preservation age and a condition of release, you are likely to be penalised by the ATO for accessing your superannuation illegally. Unfortunately, the fact that you were scammed is not a suitable excuse in the tax commissioners eyes.

What to look out for

The criminals who promote these schemes will do anything to convince you that accessing your super balance is simple with their knowledge and assistance. They will even offer to complete the paperwork for you much like an accountant or adviser would, and it will in most cases appear legitimate. You can protect yourself by being aware of:

– Anyone advertising ‘early’ or ‘easy’ super access. Early access is only available on very limited grounds such as disability, financial hardship or compassionate grounds and no reputable company will ever promote this as a service.

– Any person who promotes superannuation management that cannot provide you with an ABN, Australian Financial Services Licence number (AFSL) or physical address.

What to do if you are targeted?

If you have been approached about accessing your super early you should report it to ASIC via the online complaint form or by calling ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 300 630. You can also report it to the Australian Taxation Office by phoning 13 10 20.

ASIC have an excellent website which outlines the circumstances in which you can access your superannuation here. You can also contact an independent financial adviser  who will be able to confirm whether the issue you are dealing with is a scam.  Feel free to phone our office on (03) 9999 7200 or contact us here.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions

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