Commonwealth Bank has introduced new rules for online banking. Image by AP PHOTO

Financial Services

CBA moves to curb abusive online banking

2020-06-05 12:58:29

Commonwealth Bank has introduced new rules for online banking after discovering abusive messages in the transaction descriptions of scores of customers.

The issue came to light after the bank noticed disturbing messages in the account of a customer experiencing domestic and family violence.

That instance prompted staff to find that more than 8,000 customers had received multiple payments, often less than $1, with abusive messages in the transaction description, effectively using the bank’s online platform as a messaging service.

The messages ranged from innocuous jokes to serious threats, the bank says.

Australia’s biggest bank says under the revised guidelines it may refuse transactions and suspend online access for customers who use its online services to stalk, harass or intimidate others.

“The message is simple: we can see you and we won’t tolerate the use of our digital banking platforms to facilitate abuse,” CBA general manager of community Catherine Fitzpatrick said. 

The new approach will not prevent people using other bank’s systems to send potentially abusive messages.

However, a spokeswoman said the bank had shared its findings with industry peers and wanted them to take a similar approach.

Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh said banks were aware of the issue and were taking steps to tackle it.

Anyone with concerns should contact their bank, she said.

The industry and the Australian government’s financial intelligence unit, AUSTRAC, have also agreed that people suffering domestic violence will be able to prove their identity by ways other than showing a driver’s licence or birth certificate.

Financial abuse was often part of this violence, AUSTRAC said, in which victims were denied access to bank accounts.