Fraudsters have wasted no time in using the government's new early release of super initiative as an opportunity to swipe the retirement savings of unsuspecting Australians.
Intrust Super has warned its members of the risk they will be targeted by fraudsters posing as agents who can help members gain early access to their superannuation savings to help them through the economic crisis brought about by COVID-19.
"Fraud attempts based on the provision to access super early have already started to emerge," Intrust Super said.
"Fraudsters are contacting people to "assist" in accessing money from super accounts."
The Queensland-based super fund said it would never contact members and ask for the password to their super accounts, and asked members to be cautious about emails or calls they receive regarding early access to their super.
"Once the early access to super payments become available (this is expected to be around mid-April), members will be able to apply through myGov directly. You shouldn't need a third party to assist with this application," the fund told members.
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees is also concerned, with chief executive Eva Scheerlinck pointing out unscrupulous operators were already doing what they could to de-fraud Aussies of their super savings.
"Unfortunately, as we've seen before with any early release super measure, there are unscrupulous operators who take advantage of people in financial hardship either through outright fraud in an attempt to steal their super or by offering unnecessary services for which a fee is charged," Scheerlinck said.
"The ATO is managing the new early-release process through its MyGov website. There is no need to involve a third party and there are no fees involved.
"Nor is there a need to panic and rush through an application. Anyone who is considering applying for early release superannuation under the new financial hardship provisions should be aware the scheme does not commence until mid-April."
Scheerlinck said super fund members should use the time before the measure officially becomes available midway through April to update their details. The AIST also reminded members to explore "all the various Government income-support measures available" before accessing their super, which it said "should be a last resort".
In an update to its website, $56 billion industry fund Cbus said "there have been a number of reports of an overall increased level of scams as a result of anxieties around COVID-19."
"Please note that Cbus will never email or text message you requesting personal information, financial information or a payment," Cbus said.
"If you are in doubt about the authenticity of an email, text message or phone call, please delete immediately or hang up."
Read our full COVID-19 news coverage and analysis here.