Listen to this customer’s experience with a threat and penalty scam

What’s a threat and penalty scam?

  • Threat and penalty scams occur when a scammer uses threatening tactics to frighten their victims into sending money. They will create a seemingly plausible threat and then use the fear of that threat to extort money from their victims.

How to avoid being scammed

  • What to look for

    Scammers use a variety of ways to contact victims, including telephone calls, online, email. They will often impersonate an organisation such as a government agency, law enforcement, phone and utility companies. They will pressure you by saying that you are overdue on a bill or that you are the subject of a Police investigation.

    The scammer creates a sense of urgency by making threats of arrest, collection action or other penalty. If you are on a call with the scammer, they will often want you to stay on the phone while you follow their instructions. Scammers frequently request payments through unusual methods such as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, cardless cash, cash deposits and gift cards or store cards.

    Any behaviour or requests like this are a red flag. You should end the call immediately. 

  • How to protect yourself

    Scamwatch advises:

    • Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller. Stop, think and check whether their story is true
    • A government agency or trusted company will never ask you to pay by unusual methods such as by gift or store cards, iTunes vouchers, wire transfers or bitcoins
    • If you receive a phone call from someone threatening you and asking you to pay a fee, hang up and do not respond
    • Don’t use any contact details provided by the caller. Verify their identity by calling the relevant organisation directly—find them through an independent source such as a phone book, past bill or online search
    • Do not respond to texts or emails. If you do, the scammers will escalate their intimidation and attempts to get your money
    • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email or over the phone
    • If you are concerned for your safety, contact the police

Been scammed? What next?

  • Get in touch

    If you (or someone you know) is a CommBank customer and has been targeted or lost money as a result of being scammed, call us immediately 24/7 on 13 2221.

    Report it

    Report the scam via the Australian Cyber Security Centre. Reports may be referred to the police for possible investigation.

    Take control and stay protected

    Change your passwords and PINs straight away if you suspect your security has been compromised. Change these regularly as a preventative measure.

    Seek support

    Contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160 or via IDCARE is a free, Government-funded service that provides support to victims of identity crime.

    Visit the ScamWatch website for more information on scams.

Important information

  • As the advice on this website has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. View our Financial Services Guide. Terms and Conditions for these products and services are available online or from any branch of the Commonwealth Bank. The Terms and Conditions should be considered before making any decision about these products.