Commonwealth Bank of Australia is cracking down on the use of its transaction description feature after discovering that it is being used to send abusive messages, including threats to domestic abuse victims.
The bank says it will refuse transactions or even suspend or discontinue access to digital banking services if it spots "defamatory, harassing or threatening conduct, promoting or encouraging physical or mental harm or violence".
The warning comes in the wake of analysis prompted by disturbing messages in the account of a customer experiencing domestic and family violence.
The three month analysis found more than 8000 customers who received multiple low-value deposits, often of less than $1, with potentially abusive messages.
Catherine Fitzpatrick, GM, community and customer vulnerability, CBA, says: "We were horrified by both the scale and the nature of what we found...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."
CBA notes that domestic abuse is often linked to financial abuse. Approximately one in four women and one in thirteen men in Australia have experienced violence by an intimate partner and, among those who seek support, up to 90% are also affected by financial abuse.