Banks supporting customers against economic abuse

Banks are working to help customers experiencing economic abuse, says the New Zealand Bankers’ Association today ahead of International Economic Harm Awareness Day on November 26th.

Economic abuse is a form of family violence that can affect anyone, regardless of their personal circumstances or background and, like other forms of family violence, it predominantly impacts women.

“Economic abuse is a serious problem, and it’s often hidden. Talking about it is the first step to eliminating its impact,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont.

“Banks play a part in helping to identify instances of economic harm. They train staff to recognise signs of potential economic harm while being sensitive to customers’ situations and wishes.

“Depending on the circumstances involved, banks can also offer help to customers experiencing economic abuse. That may be through helping to close joint accounts and looking at ways to manage joint debt. They may also be able to communicate with the other party where protection orders are in place.

“These cases are often very sensitive and complicated by the bank’s customer obligations to both domestic partners who may have joint accounts, home loans and credit cards. Joint products usually need the consent of both customers to make any changes. Issues can arise when one party refuses consent.

“Banks balance the need to treat these cases with the utmost sensitivity, while meeting their legal and regulatory obligations, including customer confidentiality and privacy, and consumer lending laws.

“If you or someone you know is experiencing economic harm, it’s a good idea to reach out to the bank for a confidential chat about how they can help.”