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What are threat and penalty scams?

Threat and penalty (may also be referred to as extortion) scams are when scammers threaten you with harm (physical or emotional), arrest, legal action or other demands in an attempt to force you into handing over money.


What they're after

Threat and penalty scammers are after your personal information or your money.


Signs this may be a threat and penalty scam

A caller claiming to be from the police, a government agency or a company, threatens severe action or fines unless you pay immediately.

Do not pay. Hang up. Contact the organisation on a number you source.

An email advises your online history, photos, etc will be exposed if you do not comply with a payment.

Do not pay. Do not act on their requests or perform any activities that you may be asked to do. Notify cyber.gov.au/report

You are asked to pay an outstanding or overdue bill by gift or store cards, iTunes vouchers, wire transfers or bitcoin.

Do not pay. Government agencies and trusted companies will never ask you to pay this way.

You receive a phone call advising you will be deported if you do not proceed with the caller’s instructions.

Do not act. Government departments will never threaten immediate arrest or deportation via phone or a recorded message.

Important:

Financial institutions, government agencies and most organisations will never contact you requesting access to your device, share your passwords, security codes, PIN’s or other personal information via a pop up or a phone call. Never share these with anyone, regardless of the claims being made. Always call organisations back on trusted numbers found on their website or phone directory to validate any of these types of requests.

Who should I contact and examples of threat scams

  • Please report scams or suspicious activity immediately to Westpac at 132 032 or 61 2 9155 7700 (if calling from overseas).
  • Forward suspicious emails to  hoax@westpac.com.au or sms/text messages to 0497 132 032 then delete the email or message.
  • Report all suspicious activity to the Australian Cyber Security Centre at cyber.gov.au/report.
  • Contact IDCARE toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit their website idcare.org. They provide free, confidential support and guidance to people who have been targeted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise.
  • Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from scamwatch.gov.au/subscribe.
  • Check out our latest scams, for copies of recently reported scams at westpac.com.au/scams.

Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.
 

Report a scam

If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or SMS messages, or notice unusual activity on your account, it’s important that you let us know.
 

Security Wellbeing Check

To help keep you up to date with the latest security features, we’ve introduced the Security Wellbeing Check. Found in the Westpac App, it checks your Westpac settings and suggests how you can improve the security of your banking facilities.

Things you should know

* Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.