Commonwealth Bank moves to suspend users after abuse found in online transaction descriptions
Commonwealth Bank has said it will refuse transactions and suspend users from online banking after discovering its digital services had been used to send abuse to others.
After a review of its digital banking platforms, CBA identified more than 8000 customers who received multiple low-value deposits with potentially offensive or abusive messages in the descriptions of the transaction.
In effect, some customers were using the banking service as a messaging service to contact others.
Catherine Fitzpatrick, General Manager of Community and Customer Vulnerability, said the analysis of transaction descriptions came after one particularly 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," Ms Fitzpatrick said.
"We were horrified by both the scale and the nature of what we found.
"In a three-month period, we identified more than 8000 CBA customers who received multiple low-value deposits, often less than $1, with potentially abusive messages in the transaction descriptions – in effect using them as a messaging service.
"All genders were sending and receiving these messages, but the nature ranged from fairly innocuous 'jokes' using profanities to serious threats and clear references to domestic and family violence."
The bank has now introduced an Acceptable Use Policy that means any customer found to be using CBA's digital platforms to defame, harass or threaten may have their transactions refused or access to digital banking suspended.
"Our customers should always feel safe using digital banking," Ms Fitzpatrick said.
"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."
Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Banking Association, said the need for an analysis of transaction descriptions showed the sheer length abusers will go to contact victims.
"The use of bank transaction communications as a vehicle for threatening abuse gives a shocking insight into the lengths that violent partners will go to threaten, harass and abuse," Ms Bligh said.
"CBA have done their customers a great service in identifying this abuse and taking swift action to stop it."
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.
For counselling, advice and support call MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or www.mensline.org.au.
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