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'ABUSE': Bank bans internet transfer act

·2-min read
The worried mid adult mother uses her smart phone to find information about illness in babies.
Here's why NAB is cracking down on this practice. Image: Getty.

One of Australia’s major banks is cracking down on financial abuse by blocking descriptions in internet transfers that contain abusive, threatening or explicit language.

NAB will now prevent Australians from using bank transfers to send abusive or harmful messages, with customers warned to review their language and remove the offending words if they want the transaction to go through.

NAB's warning sign. Image: NAB
NAB's warning sign. Image: NAB

“We have increasingly seen internet banking transfer descriptions being used to commit forms of abuse, including domestic and family violence. Unlike social media channels, receivers cannot block descriptions in Internet Banking that contain explicit, abusive or threatening language,” a NAB spokesperson said.

“We have a role to play in tackling domestic and family violence and are committed to taking action to help customers and colleagues stay safe.”

Online transfers can be made with as little as 1 cent, meaning they have presented a way for abusers to send threatening or explicit messages to others.

The Commonwealth Bank clamped down on the practice last year, describing it as a “horrifying” practice.

It said that over three months, 8,000 CommBank customers received multiple deposits of usually less than $1 with “potentially abusive” content.

On Wednesday, NAB said it had worked with the wider banking sector to agree on the list of words and phrases that would trigger the warning.

The spokesperson said that as its customers bank differently, it is adapting to watch for signs of abuse.

Bank staff have also been trained to watch for signs of financial or other abuse.

Around one-in-four Australian women and one-in-13 Australian men have experienced intimate partner violence, and 90 per cent of those affected have suffered financial abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit

For counselling, advice and support call MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or

In an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe, always call 000.

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