A focus on long-term performance
Money magazine’s Best Retirement Innovator 20232
12 October 2023
It’s no secret that the internet has revolutionised the way we handle our finances, but it’s also opened the door to scams and fraudulent activities. And when it comes to our hard-earned retirement savings, most of us can’t afford to take any chances.
In this episode, join our host Anne Fuchs and Australian Retirement Trust’s Manager of Financial Crimes, Rebecca Mallett and Chief Technology Officer Rod Greenaway as they discuss financial scams, how to spot them and how to keep your superannuation investment and information safe.
My name is Anne Fuchs, I'm Executive General Manager of Advice, Guidance
and Education here at Australian Retirement Trust. And with me today are some
gurus on all things around financial crime and scammers.
So we're not really talking about investment markets in the
economy today. Rebecca Mallet, who's our manager of Financial Crimes - Operations,
welcome to Super Insider.
REBECCA: Thanks Anne, it's great to be
ANNE: And Rod Greenaway, our Chief
ROD: Thank you, Anne, lovely to be
ANNE: Now before we kick off, I need to
make sure I retain our brownie points on Super Insider with our Compliance
department here at ART. So, before we begin, I just want to do our General Advice
ANNE: Okay, so where do
we begin? Rod, I might start with you if that's okay. At a high level, can you
define what is a scam for our listeners?
ROD: Yes, sure. Anne. Look, essentially, they are a fraudulent
scheme, typically done online or over the internet, where scammers try to
solicit information from members to effectively take their money essentially.
ANNE: And so, Rebecca, your job, financial crime in a super fund, that
sounds heavy, doesn't it? You know,
tell me about your role.
REBECCA: So, our role, there's multiple facets to our role. We're
looking at the transactions that come into the fund. We're looking for money
laundering, terrorism, financing, all of the stuff
that we're expected to look after under our obligations and reporting obligations.
And then what we're looking after is our members, we're making sure that
they're secure, that their money's secure and that their information is safe.
ANNE: I guess it makes sense because superannuation is just such a
significant, you know, pot of money, if I can describe it that way now at the
$3 trillion mark, or thereabouts. So, I guess it makes sense that what Rod was
describing in terms of a scam, actually it's happening
in superannuation too, so what are you seeing?
REBECCA: I guess what we're seeing the most of is that our members are
compromised outside of our superannuation environment. This could be
compromises of their data being breached on other websites, other platforms,
and their data is just been mined.
ANNE: That's scary.
REBECCA: It can be, but what we're asking is for individuals to be
vigilant, to understand where they're putting their data, what questions that
they're answering and what are people going to do with it once they receive it.
The themes that are coming through these days is this is happening - it's
happening everywhere. It's not just something that's relevant to our
superannuation environment. This is life these days. Data is the most important
piece of information that we own. It protects us as individuals, it protects us
financially and it protects, it protects you into the future. So, what we're
just saying is that's where it starts. There's a compromise, your data is
leaked, and then it just gets used and collected and then all
of a sudden there's enough information and then they come looking for
where's your money.
ANNE: And so
I guess things like having different passwords for those websites where you've
got a lot of personal data would be a great place to start. And not using your
first name, last name, and your date of birth for both of
them would also be a good place or a good thing to not do.
REBECCA: Correct, just think about where are you
reusing them, on what sites. How easy are those sites to get access to? But
just think about this is the largest asset that you have outside of your family
home. How are you going to protect it? What are the steps that you're going to
put in place. And one of those is, yes, just not reusing passwords over and over again.
Changing them up and making sure that
they're not straightforward,
that they don't contain dates of
birth or key pieces of information like children's names or pets' names.
ANNE: That's really good advice.
REBECCA: Yes, because that's what they look for. If they've gained
access, or if your passwords have been compromised in the past, they'll just
reuse them and, they're sold on the Net, so they'll just keep trying until they
find a password.
ANNE: Yes, so Rebecca,
are there any stories - not to scare our listeners because we generally don't
like to scare our listeners on Super Insider - but is there an interesting,
short story about something you're seeing in superannuation around financial
crime and scamming?
REBECCA: I think one of the emerging risks that we're starting to see is
around transfers to self-managed super funds. The access of these scams is to
get hold of the money. And if you think traditionally about superannuation, it
used to be a long-term gain. You could only access it once you've met a
condition of release, you'd reached your preservation age, or you'd retired.
These days it's about how can you get hold of the money. What we've started to
see in the industry is our members transferring funds to their self-managed
super funds. So out of our traditional environments where it's generally kept a
little bit more safe, it's secure, we've got
investment strategies and we've got different controls in place to protect it.
We're seeing our members who are receiving cold calls, they're getting calls
from financial institutions that they've never engaged with, that they haven't
had anything to do with before, saying to them we can transfer your money, we
can make you more money, we've got great investments, quick returns, you can
invest in property, you can invest in crypto. So, they're transferring their money,
and what traditionally we'd expect is that these firms, they're quick setups,
they're probably like burner institutions, they're filling out the forms for
people. So, they're saying don't worry about filling in the paperwork, just
sign it, just send it back.
ANNE: If it looks too good to be true, run to the hills.
ROD: It probably is.
REBECCA: I think that's one of the emerging trends that we're just
starting to see the risk of transference to self-managed super funds and early
access to funds. Because, as we all know, as you said, super is a large pot of
money, and once it's gone, once it hits a bank account, it's really
hard to get back.
ANNE: And what do you do if you're a member and you think this has
happened to you, you're listening to this podcast and you're like, "Hold on! I
think I just had one of those interactions last week and I actually
asked them to help me." What do you do?
ROD: I think first and foremost is call your fund, and secondly is
always monitor your transactions, be that your bank account or your super fund.
Just stay really alert and awakened to what's happening on your accounts.
ANNE: Okay, so Rebecca what, if you're in that spirit of we all have
a role to play, what's your advice if you were sitting around the kitchen table
with our members and saying, "Look, this is what you gotta
do" what would you be saying to them?
REBECCA: The first thing I'd be saying to
them is - how up to date are your details? Does your fund know where you live
now? Does your fund to know what your contact details are, and how to engage
with you? Engage early, don't be one of these people who doesn't, you know, I
don't have to worry about super, there's 40 years until I retire, it's all
taken care of.
And then secondly, I think I'd be
saying to them, log on to member online, have a look at what's going on and
listen out for those key indicators. If you didn't authorise that request, or
expect that request to happen, what you should do is contact your fund
immediately. You can either reach out to us by our web pages, or you can email
us, or you can contact us. There are many ways to get in touch with us, but
early intervention is key.
ANNE: So, Rod, if you see a text message from ART, what should a
member do if it just doesn't, in terms of making sure it looks right, or
Rebecca, really, who wants to jump in on that one?
ROD: Call the fund ring up and say, I got this text because it could
actually help the fund in helping other members to
say, look, there is fraudulent activity out there, look out for these, so it's
actually helping other members as well if you actually take action.
REBECCA: Take down the details as well, that's what I would say. What
was the, how did you get the text message? What, what phone number did it come
from? What email address did it come from? Maybe, rather than, because
obviously we don't want you to click on things or forward the emails, but take
a copy of it, so that you can provide it to us. So that when we're
investigating something in the Financial Crimes team, we've got the data. We
can then work with Information Security and our IT teams to look at the
metadata behind these things and just interrogate it further.
ANNE: Are many members doing that now?
REBECCA: Yes, they are. We do receive messages
through from our frontline staff telling us that the members have received random
text messages, random emails. We had I think one the other day where it was a
website that they weren't quite sure of if it was an Australian Retirement Trust
website. So, our members are thinking in the right way. They are getting in
touch with us. They are telling us when this is happening, we just need the
data behind it. It's really difficult for us, too, because
everything's digital these days.
ROD: I think as well if members get that text, not only call the fund,
and talk to the fund, but it's really important to
talk to family and friends as well, so they're aware and spread the word.
ANNE: Yes, okay, that's really good advice. So,
a scam is something that's happening in superannuation, it's happening across, all
across Australia, to your point, Rod. So, I guess final
sort of wrap up around our listeners. If they're going to, if they're going to
walk away from this, listening to this podcast, and do one or two things, they
REBECCA: The one thing I
tell anybody who'll listen to me is to think about your email. If you're going
to get compromised, or if you're going to get hacked, it's likely that it's
also going to happen in your email. And most of the time we think about how we
interact with our emails, and we go, "I've deleted my emails, I've cleared out
my inbox."" But what about your Sent items? Think about the things that you...
ANNE: I hadn't thought about Sent items.
ANNE: Yes, on my personal emails.
REBECCA: Think about what you're saving in that area of your emails.
You're sending documents to your bank, you're sending documents
to your super fund. They could contain completed claim forms, they could
contain information that contains your bank details, they could contain
certified identification documents. All of the pieces
of information that make you vulnerable and would make it easy for somebody
else to access your details, and your money.
ANNE: Yeah, okay, Rod, any ...
ROD: I think further to Rebecca's point about the Sent emails,
that's the digital world, but also, we still get things on print, and we throw
them in our garbage. So be really careful about what
you throw in the bin, and if you can rip it up, if you don't have a shredder,
or shred them.
Secondly, I think it always comes back to being vigilant and
being aware, and there's a concept in Information Security of zero trust. And I
think when it comes to these types of things with emails and text messages and
so forth is to have that zero-trust mindset. And if you see something in there
is to really be querying it and being vigilant and being aware and obviously
your passwords, and your passwords as well.
ANNE: That's really good advice. I know when
I walk Larry, who I often speak about, my dog, on Super Insider and you see
unit blocks and there's, you can see all of these post
boxes full of personal mail and all of these personal details, and I always
worry about someone could easily just go and grab it, so that's another good
call out, Rod.
Look, I think it's been wonderful having you here on the show,
and the reason why this is so important, albeit we haven't been talking about
investing and the economy, but this does so much impact you as members, our
listeners, retiring well with confidence. These are your precious retirement
savings. Obviously, it's our job here at Australian Retirement Trust to keep it
safe. But as you've heard from our experts here today, it's also your role as
well to really play a part in keeping your personal data safe. Rebecca, Rod,
it's been marvelous having you on Super Insider. Have you enjoyed it?
ROD: It's been great, thank you Anne.
REBECCA: It's been interesting. It's been good.
ANNE: Excellent. You won't going tell me otherwise anyway, right?
Let's be honest. To our viewers. Thanks again for joining us. You can listen to
us on Spotify or obviously on your Apple Podcast as well. Thanks again and
we'll see you soon.
This podcast is brought to you by Australian Retirement Trust Pty Ltd (ABN 88 010 720 840, AFSL No. 228975) the trustee for Australian Retirement Trust (ABN 60 905 115 063) (the Fund).