ASIC is warning consumers to be wary after a review identified some cold calling operators using high-pressure sales tactics and online clickbait advertisements to lure consumers into receiving inappropriate superannuation switching advice.

In a media release, the regulator said these cold calling operators — which make unsolicited calls to consumers after obtaining their personal information from third-party data brokers or by using online click-bait — have lead generation and referral arrangements with a small subset of financial advisers, who typically recommend consumers switch into super products incurring significant fees.

The operators typically targeted Australians between 25 to 50 years of age.

Specifically, ASIC has observed considerable volumes of superannuation savings flowing into high-risk property managed investment schemes – either via platform superannuation products offered by APRA-regulated funds or a SMSF – and associated payments made to cold calling businesses.

The regulator said it was prepared to take action to protect consumers and called on financial advice licensees and super trustees to do more to weed out unscrupulous actors and reduce consumer harm.

Additionally, it said financial advice licensees should ensure they have in place adequate monitoring and supervision arrangements to detect concerning conduct and to make sure their advisers are acting in the best interests of their clients.

Likewise, ASIC expects trustees to be mindful of the potential for superannuation balance erosion and ensure they have in place robust systems and processes to oversee charges of financial advice fees from member accounts.

ASIC recently reviewed how trustees oversee advice fee charges and will release a report with key insights.

The regulator also launched a consumer awareness campaign, encouraging consumers to “just hang up” when contacted by cold calling operators, and to “just scroll past” social media click-bait advertisements.