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Financial crimes at all-time high targeting superannuation holders in Australia

26 March 2024

Aware Super is urging members to be vigilant about their financial security amid a surge in attempted identify theft and phishing scams by cyber criminals.


For many Australians, the consequences of super hacking could be even more devastating than having a bank account breached.

New data from Aware Super has identified a 208 per cent increase in a six-month period in attempted financial crime targeting the fund’s members, with incidents including attempted identity theft, phishing scams, and unauthorised access to superannuation accounts overrepresented in the numbers.

It comes as rates of financial crime soar in 2024, with hard-working Australians’ life savings put at risk.

Jo Brennan, Aware Super’s Chief Operating Officer, noted that with the use of careful monitoring systems, the fund’s Financial Crimes Team had been able to prevent more than $36 million in member losses across the past 12 months by identifying and blocking these scams and illegal activity from occurring.

“As a super fund it’s important to us that we provide our members with the backing of a dedicated Financial Crimes Team, who can monitor unusual activity and help protect our members’ accounts and funds,” said Ms Brennan.

“For any financial services organisation the reality is that we will always be a target. Our members trust us to do all that is practical to safeguard their super, and we continually invest in robust technical and human security measures, in collaboration with the appropriate regulatory authorities, to help mitigate these threats.”

Financial crimes refer to illegal activities aimed at stealing money or other financial assets that belong to someone else for a financial or professional gain. The turn towards targeting Australians’ superannuation reflects the alarming sophistication and brazenness of cyber criminals and highlights the need for the superannuation industry to help keep Australians alert to the various ways in which they could be exploited.

Ms Brennan said that for many Australians the consequences of superannuation hacking could be even more devastating than those of traditional bank account breaches.

“With super accounts often representing decades of hard-earned savings, the impact of losing even a fraction of retirement funds could result in needing to re-enter the workforce, or sell off assets such as homes to help fund retirement.

"It’s rare that the average Australian will have $100,000 sitting in their everyday banking account, yet when it comes to super it’s these sort of amounts that we’re talking about – and more."

“Financial criminals know this, and that people don’t regularly check their super balance, which is why we’ve seen such a steep rise in financial crimes targeting superannuation.

“Aware Super wants all Australians, not just our members, to know what they can do to help protect themselves and their super, but also be on the lookout for loved ones, particularly if they’re older, live alone or are otherwise a bit more vulnerable to these kinds of bad actors,” Ms Brennan said.

In 2023, Australians lost $476 million to scams with more than $82 million of that in the last three months of 2023, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) data has revealed.

Authorities have warned of a huge spike in social media scams and phone calls impersonating banks and trusted institutions, targeting older people – with those aged over 65 recording the highest losses of any age group.

Superannuation has become a lucrative option for criminals as more Australians move into retirement with larger sums of money and easy access to the funds. What’s more, vulnerable groups of Australians are more likely to fall victim to these scams, particularly the elderly – those most reliant on their superannuation.

As these threats increase in frequency and sophistication, Aware Super is calling on all Australians to be alert to the risks, identify potential threats, and take proactive steps to protect their superannuation savings.

There are three simple and essential steps members can follow to shield their savings and assure their retirement – Stop, Think, Protect.

1. Stop – Don’t give money or personal information to anyone if unsure. You should never feel pressured to do something on the spot. A legitimate organisation will support you in moving at your pace.

2. Think – Take a moment and ask yourself “Who’s really there?” Are you able to verify the caller’s identity, with the option of calling back a company switchboard via a number you already know is safe?

3. Protect - Act quickly if something feels wrong and report the matter to your super fund or financial institution.

  • If you think you may have been the victim of a fraud or scam and you’re concerned about your account security, your fund should be able to help.
  • Be sure to log onto your account and check your details remain the same on a regular basis to protect yourself.

To access further information and resources on safeguarding superannuation against financial crime, individuals are encouraged to visit Aware Super’s website or contact Aware Super's Member Services Team.

Media enquiries: Grant Smith,


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