With more than $3 trillion in assets held in Australian superannuation funds, they have become a honeypot for scam artists who often phone or contact people purporting to be from their superannuation provider. Now, regulators are urging Australians to reach out to their super fund more regularly to check if any potential request, email or text is genuine — putting increased pressure on funds to provide clear, accurate advice and to detect any sign that the customer might be targeted by a scam. The sector is also preparing for an uptick in calls from July 1, when the compulsory superannuation guarantee rises to 10.5 per cent. What does the sector need to do to return confidence to callers?
It’s a relentless onslaught that has Australians second guessing every phone call, SMS or email they receive. According to a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australians lost more than $3.1 billion to scams in 2022.
Sophisticated scammers are now posing as anything from banks to online retailers to the tax office or superannuation funds in their attempts to obtain personal information and ultimately, get their hands on your money.
And as the attempts become more widespread, they’re becoming more effective.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of Australians were exposed to some sort of scam attempt in 2021-22, with one in nine Aussies experiencing one or more types of fraud.
The most common scam method was by telephone (48 per cent), or via text messaging (47 per cent).
The ABS survey showed the use of text messaging by scammers more than doubled from 23 per cent in 2020-21, to 47 per cent in 2021-22. More than half (56 per cent) of the 300,000 Australians that fell victim to identity theft in 2021-22 had their personal information used to withdraw money from a bank account, superannuation, investments or shares.
And with more than $3.3 trillion in Australian super representing a massive honeypot for scam artists pretending to be officials from a provider, regulators are urging Australians to be extra cautious and reach out to their funds to check if any request is genuine.
The super sector is bracing for more calls come July 1, when the compulsory superannuation guarantee rises to 10.5 per cent.
With this increased pressure on superannuation providers to provide customers with clear, accurate advice, in addition to detecting if there might be any signs they are being targeted by a scam, TSA Group Chief Operating Officer Dan Hill-Smith says creating awareness while maintaining trust is crucial as fraudsters accelerate their unscrupulous activities.
He says call centre personnel are on the frontline of the war against identity fraud, with two-factor authentication a key weapon in keeping personal data safe and secure.
“Businesses have been quite open in creating awareness to ensure people are mindful that no one will ever ask for your card information, or your login information, within any scenarios,” he says.
“There is that trust component. I think a lot of people do have a large amount of trust in their financial organisation. But counter to that is, you should almost distrust everything that you receive asking for that level of information until proven otherwise. That’s been a major pivot within the industry, which is almost to err on the side of caution.”
Mr Hill-Smith says it has now become quite common for most businesses to let customers know they will never proactively reach out for their bank details.
“And if someone is proactively reaching out for that information, don’t engage,” he says.
“Call in using a number you know is genuine, or proactively then go to the business. That is the only situation where we encourage you to actually share that information
As senior Australians have become the preferred target of fraudsters, and fewer brick and mortar financial facilities available for face-to-face service, Mr Hill-Smith says the role of the call centre as an avenue of support has become increasingly important.
How do you have a plan to manage surge capacity? – Click here to read more some strategies to manage and shape surging customer demands.
“Customer contact is critical to the reputation of your business, so a surge in demand should absolutely be on your corporate risk register, along with a plan to manage that surge, if and when it occurs.”
“How do you support that generation?” he says.
“That is the key, because technology is moving towards two-factor authentication protocol becoming the primary level of protection. And the question then becomes, how do you ensure that you’re that educating your client base to be able to access that level of protection and you don’t disadvantage the older generations?”
Raising awareness around the use of unsolicited SMS and emails as scammers’ primary methodology to gain access to financial details is vital, he explains.
“Unfortunately, scammers are very sophisticated in what they do, and the methodology that they go about doing it is continually changing as in the text and the reason, or rationale as to why they’re requesting that information from you,” Mr Hill-Smith says.
“I think the more sophisticated the scammers get, the more scrutiny we’re going to have to endure as consumers.
From July 1, contact centres should anticipate a rise in customer enquiries as members seek to understand the superannuation changes. Those on the other side of the line will need to match this surge and arm themselves with clear and accurate information, building trust and customer loyalty through quality customer service.
TSA are Australia’s market leading specialists in CX Consultancy and Contact Centre Services. We are passionate about revolutionising the way brands connect with Australians. How? By combining our local expertise with the most sophisticated customer experience technology on earth, and delivering with an expert team of customer service consultants who know exactly how to help brands care for their customers.