How to protect yourself against scammers

We all worry about our future from time-to-time, and recent economic events have made many feel more nervous than usual.

And alarmingly, some people are taking advantage of this.

Australia’s financial regulator, the ACCC, has warned that scammers are using the spread of COVID-19 to go after your super and steal your personal details. And that means it’s more important than ever to look after your super.

How scammers are stealing super during the pandemic

The ACCC’s Scamwatch has reported a significant increase upsurge in scamming since the beginning of the pandemic. There’s been more than 3,600 reports of dodgy operators using the coronavirus as a hook to steal personal information, online shopping and superannuation details.

“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 says. “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.”

And they’re having devastating effects. Australians lost over $634 million to scams in 2019, according to the ACCC’s latest figures, released on 22 June. But the true losses were much higher as one third of victims don’t report scams, Ms Rickard says.

What you can do if you think you’re being scammed

It’s important that if you spot a scam or fall victim to one, you report it to Scamwatch. Last year there were more than 353,000 combined reports to Scamwatch.

“Unfortunately it is another year with devastatingly high losses, and scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians,” says Ms Rickard. “Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, and can leave victims financially and emotionally devastated.”

Eight tips to protect yourself from scams

Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself against scammers going after your super and other money.

  1. Be alert to the fact that scams exist.  It sounds obvious, but you need to make sure your mental radar is switched on.
  2. Know who you're dealing with – if a request for money comes from an unknown source, treat it with suspicion. 
  3. Don’t open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails – delete them. Even if they look trustworthy, read emails carefully – spelling mistakes or poorly-designed emails can be an indication that they aren’t from a trustworthy source.
  4. Don't respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access – hang up straight away.
  5. Keep your personal details, mobile devices and computers secure. 
  6. Choose your passwords carefully (and don’t use anything that’s easy to guess, like your date of birth) and update them regularly. 
  7. Beware of any requests for your details or money. 
  8. Be wary of unusual payment requests, like large dollar amounts to unknown accounts.

Always keep in mind it’s better to be safe than sorry, so stay informed about your superannuation. Stay across your super balance and communications from your super provider, so that you’ll be more easily able to identify anything that seems awry. And if you think you’re being scammed, contact your super provider straight away. 

Be super aware. If you’d like discuss your superannuation, give us a call and our friendly customer service team will help you learn more.