Personal information has become a valuable commodity in cybercrime circles. It can be extracted, abused and traded for identity theft purposes and to take advantage of someone’s good credit rating. And as many older Australians are finding out – it can also be pilfered to make some crook wealthy through hijacking Super Funds – without the victim knowing a thing about it.
By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.
Australian Federal Police warn that older Australians may be susceptible to identity theft, phishing and data mining activities and in particular Superannuation Fraud, according to Technology Spectator.
Its article ‘Super funds under threat from cyber criminals: AFP’ also reveals that this susceptibility is coupled with a lack of protection around identity verification with self-managed super-funds.
An Australian Federal Police submission to the Joint Select Committee of Cyber Security recommends wider education about internet awareness for older Australians.
The AFP says the combination of wealth and size of this population demographic is tempting for fraudsters:
“Seniors citizens are accessible, they represent the fastest growing demographic in our ageing population and they hold a large portion of Australia’s wealth. Therefore, they are an attractive potential target for, and may fall victim to, an array of scams and frauds,” the AFP said in their report.
In June last year we blogged about the growing trend of hacking super funds in a post titled ‘Identity theft News: Latest Warnings and Recommendations’.
At the time, NSW Police had advised the public of a scam targeting Super Accounts, where fraudsters were stealing enough information from unsuspecting victims to transfer their Super into self-managed funds which could then be easily accessed by the criminals. In effect, criminals were hijacking Super funds.
Fraud Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Col Dyson said “Superannuation fraud…works well because no-one checks their super…victims rarely notice account changes, making it easy for criminals to change mailing addresses.” Read more on this story ‘Crooks siphon super funds,’ on CRN Australia’s website.
Unfortunately, unlike bank fraud, there is no obligation for superannuation funds to reimburse victims, and if the fraud occurs on overseas shores, there is unfortunately very little chance of recovering the stolen money.
There is also the chance that personal information may be further abused by fraudsters taking out credit in the victim’s name once the Super transfer is successful. This can lead to a series of defaults and bad credit history, which can be hard to recover from.
People should contact Police for what to do if they have been a victim of Superannuation Fraud or any form of identity theft. They may advise of the victim’s possible eligibility for a Commonwealth Victims of Identity Crime Certificate, which would at least aid in talking to creditors when the victim attempts to remove their bad credit history and recover their good name.
People should also check their credit report for any signs of misuse – changes in contact information, strange credit enquiries they didn’t initiate and even new credit can all be signs of identity theft. A credit report is free every year, and can be obtained from the credit reporting agencies.
For help with identity theft recovery, or for more information on identity theft and how it can affect a person’s credit file, contact MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs on 1300 667 218 or www.mycra.com.au.