18 May 2009

Watching Out for Superannuation Scams

Senator Nick Sherry, Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, has warned Australian workers to exercise extra care in protecting their superannuation account statements and personal details, in response to NSW Police Force information that a Sydney-based fraud syndicate is using stolen identities to steal from victims’ superannuation accounts.

According to NSW Police Force Strike Force Gamut, syndicate members have allegedly stolen superannuation statements and used other counterfeit identity documents to operate self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). The offenders then opened bank accounts linked to the fraudulent SMSF and arrange for cash to be ‘rolled over’ from legitimate funds into the fraudulent accounts.

“Australians work hard for their super, but like all assets and valuables, people must take care, be vigilant and protect themselves,” Minister Sherry said.

“The vast majority of Australian workers are in superannuation funds that are soundly regulated by the Australian Prudential and Regulatory Authority, APRA, and Australians should be reassured by the fact that they are protected by law against theft and fraud relating to APRA-regulated superannuation funds.”

“That said, as a general rule, Australian workers should seek to protect their superannuation statements and account details from identity fraud by shredding any personal financial information they want to dispose of,” Minister Sherry said.

“People should also be cautious about what personal financial information they provide over the phone and to whom they provide it. People should also make a habit of checking their paper-based and online super fund statements to ensure there are no unauthorised transactions,” Minister Sherry said.

SMSFs, which are overseen by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), are now used by over 750,000 Australians. The Rudd Government has undertaken a comprehensive review of the SMSF sector and will shortly progress reforms to boost the standard of trustee education.

If superannuation fund members have any concerns about the security of their account they should contact either their fund or APRA on 1300 13 1060 or the ATO in relation to SMSFs on 13 10 20. If a member has information about a suspected crime, they can also contact the NSW Police Force Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.