Protecting yourself from super and investment scams

Key takeaways

  • Most of these scams start with an unexpected call claiming to be from a super or financial service organisation

  • Scammers can disguise themselves as well-known businesses and government agencies such as myGov and the ATO to trick you into sharing your personal information

  • Always be suspicious of investment opportunities that promise a high return with little or no risk—If it sounds good to be true, it probably is.

Super and investment scams target your personal wealth by convincing you to invest in fake schemes and companies. 

A super scam is when someone tries to access your super and withdraw your money. An investment scam is when someone tries to convince you that an investment is real so you invest your money in whatever it is they are offering.

This article will help you stay informed on the most common types of investment scams and arm you with the facts needed to make smart investment decisions. Most of these scams start with an unexpected call claiming to be from a superannuation or financial service organisation.

Common super and investment scams to look out for

  • You receive an offer from a financial adviser or a scammer posing as one. The scammer may ask you to agree to a story to ensure the early release of your super and then, acting as your financial adviser, they’ll deceive your super fund into paying out your super benefits directly to them. Once they have your money, the scammer may take large ‘fees’ out of the released fund or leave you with nothing at all.

  • You receive a call or email from a stockbroker offering amazing investment opportunities with high returns and a low risk. In reality, this ‘stockbroker’ is unregistered and intends to steal all the money you invest.

  • You receive an insider tip about a company about to take off and are encouraged to buy shares. What appears to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, is simply a pyramid scheme designed to raise money through the investments of many people.

  • You’re invited to an investment seminar with free advice, food and drinks. At the event, you’re persuaded to invest in high-risk strategies that turn out to have hidden fees and undisclosed charges. You might also be encouraged to purchase expensive investment strategy books.

Super scams

Scammers are using fake vouchers, financial assistance claims or general information as bait to ‘phish’ for your personal information, including your superannuation. They may try to contact you by cold calling, or may send a text message or email containing malicious links.

Scammers can disguise themselves as well-known businesses and government agencies such as myGov, the Department of Health and the ATO, to trick you into sharing your personal information. Once they have your details they can pretend to be you and access your super.3

Keep an eye out for any of the following:

  • advertisements promoting early access to super

  • offers to ‘take control’ of your super

  • offers to move your super to a self-managed super fund (SMSF) so you can access the money

  • offers of quick and easy ways to access or ‘unlock’ super

  • asking for your personal and financial information

  • luring you into opening malicious links or attachments

  • gaining remote access to your computer

  • seeking payment for a fake service or something you did not purchase

If you think you’ve been targeted by someone who is trying to access your super early, please contact MLC immediately 132 652.

Protecting yourself

Having trouble trying to spot a super or investment scam? How can you help protect yourself from scammers?

The following is a list of key things you should be looking out for to ensure you don’t fall victim to a scammer.

  1. Never give information about your superannuation to someone who has contacted you, even when you think it is a trusted organisation. Just hang up and verify their identity by calling the relevant organisation directly. Never provide your account login details to a third party

  2. Don’t click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if they appear to come from a trusted source. MLC will never send you an email asking for your password, or with a direct link to a login page to access your account.

  3. Always be suspicious of investment opportunities that promise a high return with little or no risk—If it sounds good to be true, then it probably is.

  4. Check if a financial advisor is registered via the ASIC website. Any person or business offering advice about financial products must hold an Australian Financial Services licence from ASIC.

  5. If in doubt, you can check MoneySmart’s list of companies you should not deal with. If the company that called you is on the list, do not deal with them.

  6. Never let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments and never commit to any investment at a seminar. Always get independent legal or financial advice first. 

What to do if you’re worried

We’re committed to protecting your super and investment savings and have strong measures in place to detect suspicious behaviour –  but if you believe you may have fallen victim to a scam, please contact MLC immediately on 132 652. 

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Important information
This article has been prepared by NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited ABN 80 008 515 633 AFSL 236465 (NULIS) as trustee of the MLC Super Fund ABN 70 732 426 024. NULIS is part of the group of companies comprising Insignia Financial Ltd ABN 49 100 103 722 and its related bodies corporate (‘Insignia Financial Group’). The information in this article is current as at September 2022 and may be subject to change. This information may constitute general advice. The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions based on this information. You should not rely on this article to determine your personal tax obligations. Please consult a registered tax agent for this purpose. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue. The case study examples (if any) provided in this article have been included for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon for decision making. Subject to terms implied by law and which cannot be excluded, neither NULIS nor any member of the Insignia Financial Group accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in the information in this communication.

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