Money & Banking

“We were horrified”: CommBank discovers hidden channel of domestic abuse

“We were horrified”: CommBank discovers hidden channel of domestic abuse

Commonwealth Bank has said it will suspend customers who have been using its online banking services to harass and intimidate other users.

On Thursday morning, the bank said it had identified more than 8,000 customers who received low-value deposits, often less than $1, with potentially offensive or abusive messages in the digital transaction descriptions in just three months.

Catherine Fitzpatrick, General Manager of Community and Customer Vulnerability said the three-month analysis of transaction descriptions came after a disturbing case.

“After noticing disturbing messages in the account of a customer experiencing domestic and family violence, we conducted analysis to better understand the problem,” Fitzpatrick told 9News.

“We were horrified by both the scale and the nature of what we found.”

Fitzpatrick said the nature of the messages ranged from “fairly innocuous ‘jokes’” to “serious threats and clear references to domestic and family violence”.

The bank’s new acceptable use policy now states that any customer found to be using NetBank or the CommBank app to stalk, harass or threaten may have their transactions refused, access to digital banking services suspended or discontinued, or account closed.

Fitzpatrick said the bank worked with experts, community partners and law enforcement to ensure its policy will not have unintended consequences.

“These changes will ensure that all customers can continue to enjoy the benefits of digital banking in a safe and secure way and represents our first step to address the issue of technology-facilitated abuse,” Fitzpatrick said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, contact the 24-hour support line 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for more information on support and services that can help your situation.