Keeping your super safe
Superannuation has a strong reputation as a secure and well-managed investment so, for the most part, you can rest easy that your super is in safe hands. However it is worth monitoring your super to ensure a) that you get what you are entitled to and b) that you act on any suspicious activity early. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your superannuation continues to accumulate safely.
- Monitor your employer
- Read your member statement and fund’s annual report
- Keep your statements safe
- Beware of scams
1. Monitor your employer
The easiest way to check what contributions your employer is paying is to read your annual statement from your fund, or check online at any time.
It’s important to make sure you are getting the superannuation you are entitled to from your employer. Employee contributions are often the largest source of super savings and make a huge difference to your final balance in retirement. Most employers do the right thing but there are some, especially those in financial trouble, who may fail to pay super contributions to their employees.
Your payslip might already show the amount of super that has been paid by your employer into your fund. If not, the easiest way to check what contributions your employer is paying is to read your annual statement from your fund or check online. You should be able to easily determine how much your employer has contributed on your behalf. You can also call your fund at any time.
If anything on your statement looks unusual or doesn’t make sense, talk to your employer. Find out how often, how much, and into which fund they’re paying your super. Alternatively, you can contact your super fund.
If after checking you still think something is wrong and you need to take the matter further, the next step is to lodge an enquiry with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) about unpaid super.
Need more info? Try the ATO’s employee superannuation guarantee calculator tool or contact them on 13 10 20.
2. Read your annual member statement and fund’s annual report
Your annual statement covers the financial year so should be in your mailbox during September or October. If you haven’t received it or, when you do, it doesn’t provide many details, it could be a sign of poor administration or other problems within your fund. If you don’t understand something on your statement, contact your fund – remember, you are the customer and are paying the fund to look after your super.
In your fund’s annual report pay extra attention to the auditor's report and any statement casting doubt on particular investments. This report is your chance to have a look at your fund’s investment strategy. Diversification (or having a variety of types of investments) reduces the risk when it comes to investing so there’s less chance of your super balance going down. The fund's money should not be invested in only one or two companies or properties.
3. Keep your statements safe
Like your bank statements, superannuation records can be used to commit identity theft if they fall into the wrong hands. Always keep your statements in a safe place or if disposing of them, tear them up and don’t leave them somewhere visible where they can easily be picked up.
4. Beware of scams
Anyone offering you early access to your super is most probably not legit. Except in very limited circumstances, accessing your super before you reach the legal age (minimum 55 years old) is illegal.
Also be careful of funds claiming to offer very high 'guaranteed' investment returns or unbelievable tax concessions. Remember the old maxim: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
By getting involved in scams, you risk losing your super savings or having to pay massive tax penalties for drawing super early.
Protect yourself against investment fraud
- Visit www.moneysmart.gov.au or call 1300 300 630 for further information.
- Alert your family and friends to this fraud, especially anyone who may have savings to invest.
- Report suspected fraud to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission by visiting www.moneysmart.gov.au, calling 1300 300 630, or speak to your local police. Any information such as company name, location and contact details will assist with subsequent investigations.
- Hang up on unsolicited telephone calls offering overseas investments.
- Check any company you are discussing investments with has a valid Australian Financial Services Licence at www.moneysmart.gov.au
- Always seek independent financial advice before making an investment.
If you feel concerned about your fund, contact the regulator that looks after superannuation funds, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
You can report offers you suspect may be a scam to ASIC via its online complaint form or on 1300 300 630, or to the ATO on 13 10 20.
You can also check ASIC’s Australian Financial Services licensee register if you think an operator appears suspicious.