How Your Super Is Being Targeted By Thieves

20 February 2015
No one likes being the victim of a crime. But whilst we take action straight away if our home is broken into or if our credit card is stolen, we may not always realise immediately if someone has tapped into our retirement nest egg.

Why is superannuation a crime target?

By virtue of its long-term outlook, superannuation accounts can be regarded with a certain set-and-forget attitude by some investors. That may be why, according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), superannuation fraud is the latest – and potentially a lucrative – earner for cybercriminals in Australia. To quote the AFP?s 2012 submission to the Inquiry into Cybersafety for Senior Australians:

“Superannuation Fraud is the latest earner for organised criminals who are targeting unsuspecting victims across Australia with victims remaining unaware for years that they have been duped.

Criminals exploit a range of techniques including phishing in order to first steal the identity of victims before transferring their superannuation into self-managed accounts or applying for hardship payments. Identity rules around self-managed funds and hardship payments are weak. The bank accounts receiving the stolen funds are not checked against existing records and can be in multiple names.”

Indeed, according to a recent report released by the Minister for Justice, identity crime is one of the most common crimes in Australia, estimated to affect between 750,000 to 900,000 people each year and to cost at least $1.6 billion

How can you protect your super from theft?

When it comes to your superannuation, what are some strategies to reduce the chance of your super contributions funding someone else?s lifestyle? Some actions include:

Checking your superannuation balance regularly

While you may only receive a couple of statements of account each year from your super fund, there is nothing to stop you from registering with your fund for online access and making a habit of monitoring your account for superannuation news or changes on a regular basis. Of course if you do check your super account online, make sure you put some effort into choosing a strong password.

Being careful with your personal information

Do your friends wish you “happy birthday” on Facebook? Do you have your date of birth, or year graduated school displayed? How much personal information do you provide to a voice on the other end of a phone line? Be thoughtful about the amount of information you disclose.

Keeping your mailbox locked

There are plenty of documents that arrive in the mail that contain plenty of personal information. That, plus some dates gleaned from social media, could be everything a criminal needs.

Have Good Security Software in Place

Ensuring that your computer tablets and phone have good security software and are password protected.

Checking your credit report on a regular basis

There are several organisations that will provide you with a free copy of your credit file. Click here for more information

At the end of the day your superannuation nest egg may be the most valuable asset you own. It makes sense to take an interest in it and protect it.

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