finances

Super illegal: Nest eggs on the menu for hungry hackers

So, you’ve been proactive about your future by setting up a hardworking superannuation fund. Projections are looking good, and you’re building an attractive little nest egg that’ll help you enjoy that dream lifestyle in retirement.

But for many Australians, that little nest egg is being eyed off by someone else too – and they’re not nearly as willing to wait before reaping the rewards.

According to a report in The West Australian, organised crime is costing Australians $36 billion a year, with cyber crime syphoning big money through methods such as identity theft and electronic hacking. And your precious super could be their next prime target.

So – is your super safe? Let’s find out what identity fraud is and how you can best prevent hackers from cracking your nest egg.

What is super identity fraud?

Identity fraud involves stealing personal information such as your name, birthdate, passwords and addresses. Criminals then use this information to steal from your online super accounts.

The ramifications can have lasting effects on your life, setting your retirement savings back years and leaving your future in tatters, which can be extremely distressing and harmful to your mental health.

It’s important to be aware of the potential risks and signs of identity fraud, and take all the possible steps to prevent it from happening.

Is my super at risk?

The Internet has made a lot of things easier for us, but it also puts you at risk of identity fraud.

If you have online super accounts (especially Self Managed Super Funds), there is often only a username and password standing in the way of a criminal and your money.

How do they steal my super?

To break into your online super accounts, criminals need your personal information. So – how do they get their grubby hands on it?

Social media

If you think about it, you voluntarily hand over a surprising amount of information to strangers every day through your social media accounts (and criminals ‘like’ this!). They can easily monitor your posts, birthdays and public events to source personal details, which can then be used to answer “secret questions” on your super account’s security wall, such as “What was your primary school?” or “What is your pet’s name?”.

Phishing

This is a technique that involves the criminal posing as a representative of your super fund then contacting you by phone, email or mail (even in person) and convincing you to willingly disclose personal information. They are usually very good at looking legitimate.

Spyware

The installation of spyware on your phone, tablet or laptop by hackers (or even accidentally downloaded by you) has the ability to record your keystrokes and thus record all your passwords and other sensitive information, which can then be used to access your super account.

What to look out for

Make sure you’re aware of the possibility of identity theft and keep an eye out for signs that your details might have been compromised. Aside from the major problems such as money being stolen, smaller signs such as these are still a cause for warning bells:

  • Posts on your social media account that you didn’t write.
  • Significant changes in the number of emails or letters you receive.
  • Spam emails sent from your account.
  • Receiving correspondence about accounts that you didn’t sign up for.
  • Unexpectedly being denied for a loan or credit card.
  • Documents containing personal information are missing or stolen.

How to protect your super

Here are a few ways that you can reduce your risk of being targeted:

  • Keep any super documents containing personal information (e.g. account statements) in a safe place, or shred them before disposing of
  • Check your super account statement regularly to make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary
  • Have a lock on your mailbox to prevent important documents from being stolen
  • Have a passcode or password on your phone and other devices
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your laptop or computer
  • Never use public computers to access online super accounts
  • Choose cryptic passwords and secret questions that no one else would know the answers to
  • Never click on links in emails
  • Never respond to emails that look illegitimate
  • Never give personal details over the phone if you receive a call from your super fund (hang up and phone them back to check if it was really them).

If you suspect that your super account is being compromised, it’s important to contact the police or the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) immediately. It’s also wise to change all your passwords and shut down compromised accounts.

NKH Knight to the rescue

At NKH Knight, we’ve been adding value to people’s lives since 1971. Our goal is simple – to help you achieve financial success. So when we heard about the rise in online super theft, we naturally felt the urge to suit up and fight for you.

It’s imperative to choose the right cyber insurance to ensure it adequately protects your nest egg in the event you fall victim to online identity theft. The NKH Knight team is here to assist with any queries you may have and will happily discuss ways that you may further protect yourself, as well as refer you to an expert in the field.

Call (08) 9367 8133 to book an appointment with NKH Knight for a friendly chat about protecting your super (and future).