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EPF contributors advised to be wary of fraudulent syndicates

Zaharuddin advised contributors who wished to invest not to use up all their savings but start with a small amount to avoid incurring a huge loss if the investment turns out to be fraudulent. — Picture by Yusof Mat IsaZaharuddin advised contributors who wished to invest not to use up all their savings but start with a small amount to avoid incurring a huge loss if the investment turns out to be fraudulent. — Picture by Yusof Mat IsaGEORGE TOWN, Dec 29 — Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors are advised to be more cautious of syndicates, which attempt to dupe them into withdrawing money from their savings, and to equip themselves with knowledge on financial management.

Islamic finance consultant Zaharuddin Abdul Rahman said syndicates were getting smarter, and had introduced a new technique of using fake agreements to convince contributors to invest or make withdrawals.

“I suggest that contributors who wish to invest get second, third, and fourth opinions. Previously, the syndicates used to meet people they contact at random and coax them with various promises and sweet talk. To win the confidence of those who wish to invest in their schemes, they offer gifts to show that they will definitely be able to get the promised returns.

“Now, they are using a new technique. Besides the gifts, the latest technique is to use contract documents. If there is a contract, the public may think it’s ‘okay’ (legitimate). However, when it is brought to the bank or the EPF, the document is found to be false and poses problems for the contributors,” he told Bernama.

Hence, he said, it was important for contributors to be knowledgeable and not fall for the dubious deals of the syndicates.

Zaharuddin said contributors approached by any syndicate should not feel embarrassed about getting further information regarding the company, for example, by asking about its shareholders and business activities.

“Large companies will usually have detailed company information. If the contributors are in doubt, they should not hesitate to ask for Forms 24, 44 and 49 as well as the company’s articles of association which has all the details about the company. That is a good screening method.

“However, senior citizens may not know things like this, so they are advised to ask their children’s opinion. And seek advice first before making a decision. Syndicates will use this fake document like a ‘candy’ to deceive,” he said.

He also reminded contributors not to be easily influenced by investments which promised high returns as they were likely to be fraudulent.

He said low-risk investment usually yielded between six and eight per cent returns per year, and described Tabung Haji as one of the best forms of investment.

“They have to understand that their money in Tabung Haji is safe, it’s a reliable investment. Although the returns are small, they are more sustainable. Any party which promises more than 20 per cent returns on investment a year is likely to be engaged in fraud, “he said.

Zaharuddin advised contributors who wished to invest not to use up all their savings but start with a small amount to avoid incurring a huge loss if the investment turns out to be fraudulent.

He also advised them to consult financial experts or advisors in case of any concern, as a precautionary measure, before making any investment.

Meanwhile, Islamic financial planner Suzardi Maulan said contributors could also refer directly to EPF before making withdrawals.

He said EPF was very accessible, either via social media or at any of its branches, and immediate feedback would be given to contributors who had any concern.

“EPF is indeed accessible. Young people can easily refer to it via the website, Twitter, or social media, where a team answers queries over the platform because the younger generation does not prefer contact via the telephone. EPF will respond promptly; if there is an issue, EPF always issues a notice on its Facebook account.

“Senior citizens should also ‘double check’… we cannot rely on any third party to manage funds on our behalf. We need to be careful about anything in relation to the withdrawal of funds from the EPF; we must refer to the EPF first,” he said. — Bernama

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