Bankwest's financial abuse closure clause rollout done

The work started in late 2020

Bankwest's financial abuse closure clause rollout done


By Mina Martin

Bankwest has finalised its update on its full range of deposit product terms and conditions (T&Cs) to include scope to close accounts used to perpetrate financial abuse.

The WA bank’s financial abuse closure clause rollout started in late 2020 and was recently finalised with the completion of the bank’s amendments to term deposits.

In a media release, WA bank defined financial abuse as a form of family and domestic violence characterized by a perpetrator using money to gain power or control over another person, typically someone they have a relationship with, like a family member.

The “silent scourge” comes in different forms, such as restricting a person’s access to funds they have a right to access, performing micro-payments to deliver abusive comments to a victim in a transaction narration, and bypassing blocks on messaging services.

The amendment to Bankwest’s term and conditions came in response to a recommendation from a financial abuse roundtable held earlier in the year and from a discussion paper released by the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety.

CWES proposed that banks commit to terms and conditions that “make it clear that a bank account is no place for abuse,” and that perpetrating financial abuse could result in account closures and/or police intervention.

The change in Bankwest’s terms and conditions now includes scope to close accounts in instances in which “we reasonably consider there has been a satisfactory behaviour or account operation, including harassment.”

“Financial institutions are often among the first contacted by victim-survivors of family and domestic violence and financial abuse, which is why Bankwest is committed to raising awareness for this silent scourge,” said Peter Bouhlas (pictured above), Bankwest general manager products and digital services.

“Completing these changes across our deposit products provides colleagues with a mechanism to act on abusive behaviour and protect victims, including engaging with authorities to ensure perpetrators are held to account.”

Bouhlas said it has specialist teams and colleagues trained to support customers who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances and urged anyone concerned about their situation to reach out to the bank when it’s safe to do so.

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