Westpac introduces new measures to safeguard against financial abuse

Alerts will flag unusual transactions for accounts with a power of attorney

Westpac introduces new measures to safeguard against financial abuse



Westpac has intensified its measures to safeguard customers by launching alerts aimed at detecting potential financial abuse through the misuse of power of attorney arrangements.

Tiffiny Lewin (pictured above), head of customer excellence, said these alerts were designed to identify early warning signs of exploitation, with a focus on flagging unusual transactions for accounts with an active power of attorney.

“As many as 15,000 customers have a power of attorney arrangement in place at any one time and while the vast majority of these act legitimately in the best interests of the individual, sadly that’s not always the case,” she said.

To address instances of financial abuse, Westpac has assembled three specialist teams responsible for managing the alerts and conducting in-depth investigations into flagged activities.

A dedicated team will also intervene when misuse is suspected, according to Lewin.

“It’s unacceptable someone would use their position as a power of attorney for personal gain and Westpac is committed to doing what we can to stamp this out,” said Lewin. “We’ve invested in this monitoring and we’re optimistic that over time this will make a difference.”

In addition to the introduction of new alerts, Westpac has revised its terms and conditions for transaction and savings products, implementing a zero-tolerance policy towards customers engaging in financial abuse or unacceptable account conduct.

“This change puts would-be abusers on notice there are serious personal consequences for misusing the bank’s products and services, including warnings or in extreme cases, being exited from the bank,” Lewin said. “Those consequences can also apply where a power of attorney is found to be abusing their position.”

The Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, which represents over 9 million Australians over the age of 50, lauded Westpac’s introduction of new safeguards to prevent financial abuse.

“It's an unfortunate reality that older Australians can fall victim to abuse at the hands of people who have a power of attorney designed to support them,” said Patricia Sparrow, chief executive office of COTA.

“This initiative by Westpac to actively monitor alerts and investigate further where data raises a question is a great step forward that will hopefully result in far fewer older people being taken advantage of. We hope it will provide Westpac customers with another layer of peace of mind that their attorney continues to do things in line with their wishes and preferences.”

Westpac’s protection measures encompass several safeguards, including transaction monitoring, parental controls, and employee training initiatives.

What are your thoughts on this story? Feel free to share your comments below.

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!