Threats and Extortion


We should all be able to feel safe in our own homes. Unfortunately, there are increasing numbers of sophisticated scams that target people at home, where the victim is contacted to demand payment for protection from a ‘threat’.

The threat has been created by the fraudsters themselves through ‘malware’ (malicious software) that infects the victim’s computer, or by unsolicited phone calls, which falsely accuse the victim of wrongdoing. These scams can be very convincing, so it’s important to understand how to spot them and therefore how to protect yourself from them.


Ransomware is software that locks a computer and holds it captive while demanding a ransom. Ransomware may encrypt files or lock a computer completely, then display messages intended to coerce the victim into making a payment to regain access.

These files are often installed on computers when the victim clicks on links such as downloading free media or gaining access to adult sites. Once the malware has downloaded, there may be a delay until the locking mechanism is deployed. By the time a pop-up appears telling the user their data has been locked, it can be too late to activate security measures.

Prevention is possible by following cybersecurity precautions:

Legal threats

Legal threats involve scammers informing people they have broken a rule or a law and demanding money to resolve the situation. The threat of sending police or border protection officers is often used to encourage victims to pay quickly. These scams often target the elderly or newly-arrived migrants, who may be less likely to challenge the credentials of someone contacting them.

Types of legal threat extortion include:

These scams rely on pressure and intimidation to work. If you receive a threatening call, hang up immediately. If you feel that the call could have been because of a legitimate reason, call the relevant organisation using the number on their website.

Never send money or give credit card details, account details or personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust by email or over the phone.

If you have been targeted by a scam relating to your Qudos account, visit our webpage Reporting Scams to find out who to contact.


Qudos Mutual Limited trading as Qudos Bank ABN 53 087 650 557 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238 305. The information in this article is of a general nature and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.