More than 1.6 million people have accessed their superannuation early during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 1.6 million people have accessed their superannuation early during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATO halts super service amid more fraud claims

Exclusive: The Australian Taxation Office has been forced to stop the use of one of its key tools to efficiently match members with their money as fraud concerns in the superannuation industry remain rife.

News Corp can reveal the ATO's SuperMatch service which helps Australians consolidate their money held across multiple funds has been halted since last Friday.

It comes just one week after the ATO paused applications for early access to super after instances of identity fraud were detected.

Industry sources say fraud issues were "totally out of control."

Funds have working around the clock to try and carefully process early access to superannuation applications but have been inundated with members complaining they are not getting their money quick enough.

Latest statistics show the early release super scheme has already been accessed by 1.61 million people who have withdrawn $13.2 billion.

The average amount withdrawn is $8165.

Eligible applicants can access $10,000 this financial year and another $10,000 next financial year tax-free if their income has taken a significant hit.

But the ATO said despite the SuperMatch service being disabled they were "not aware of any fraud being perpetrated on the funds".

"The service was disabled by the ATO to support them to protect the interests of their members, based on intelligence received," an ATO spokesman said.

SuperMatch can provide a list of super fund memberships, including lost member accounts and any ATO-held monies belonging to existing members or individuals who are joining up with another fund.

Earlier this month the federal police feared up to 150 people lost $120,000 due to identity theft.

Mother-of-three Andrea Dunn was one of many victims who had $10,000 stripped from her superannuation account without her consent.

Andrea Dunn, 54, of Drouin in country Victoria, has had $10,000 stolen from her superannuation account through fraud. Picture: Ian Currie.
Andrea Dunn, 54, of Drouin in country Victoria, has had $10,000 stolen from her superannuation account through fraud. Picture: Ian Currie.

The 54-year-old, from Drouin in Victoria's Gippsland, received a text message last month purporting to be from the ATO saying a new myGOV had been set up in her name.

The next day she received an email from her super fund, Sunsuper, saying $10,000 had been transferred to a bank account, however she did not set up a new myGov account nor apply for early access to super.

"I feel violated and concerned and angry it will happen to others," she said.

After News Corp contacted her fund, she was assured the funds would be returned to her within days - she has previously waited weeks.

But in these latest developments, industry sources told News Corp there were fears fraudsters were stealing fund members' information, setting up fake super accounts in a victim's name and rolling over the victim's super fund accounts in the account they set up.

They are understood to then be using these fake accounts to withdraw a person's money under the early access scheme.

Despite this, the ATO said there was "no evidence" that the latest activity was related to the early release of super.

"In the interest of protecting super funds and individuals, SuperMatch has been disconnected to all funds until such time as the superannuation industry can work with the ATO to provide increased certainty that they have mitigated the risk of weak online account creation controls," an ATO spokesman said.

The ATO, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Australian Securities and Investments Commission and AUSTRAC will be engaging with the industry this week to work out how SuperMatch can be re-established.

They said individuals will still be able to consolidate their super via myGov and the ATO portal or by providing rollover details to their new fund so the rollover can be requested.

sophie.elsworth@news.com.au

@sophieelsworth

 

 

Originally published as ATO halts super service amid more fraud claims



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