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Westpac’s big change for ‘vulnerable’ customers

Westpac is cracking down on financial abuse with new measures to protect customers.

The exterior of a Westpac branch.
Westpac has announced new measures to fight financial abuse. (Source: Getty)

Westpac customers will soon see new measures introduced by the bank to stamp out financial abuse.

The new protections include embedding safety into the design of all the bank’s products, as well as mandatory customer-safety training for more than 800 employees involved in product development.

Westpac head of customer excellence Tiffiny Lewin said the bank wouldn’t tolerate abuse and would take action if customers chose to use the bank’s products or platforms to harm others.

“Safety is not a word, it’s an action. We’ve undergone extensive research to understand the needs of vulnerable customers and how products might be used to cause harm,” Lewin said.

“We’ve also developed a learning program on customer safety for key decision makers involved in product development - who don’t talk to vulnerable customers each day - to ensure [those customers'] needs are being met.

“This is as part of an ongoing commitment to strengthen product reviews so that, going forward, there will be greater consideration of vulnerable-customer needs in line with the eSafety Commission’s Safety by Design principles.”

As part of the new measures, Westpac is also updating its terms and conditions, starting with transaction and savings products, with a zero-tolerance policy for customers who use the bank’s products and services to engage in financial abuse or conduct it deems to be unacceptable.

“These updates complement Westpac’s existing features introduced in 2021 to protect customers from financial abuse, including the ability to self-report abusive messages via online and mobile banking and proactively blocking inappropriate language from outgoing payments,” Lewin said.

“Since these changes, perpetrators are contacted directly by our specialist teams and, in some instances, exited as customers or reported to law enforcement.

“Over 92 per cent of perpetrators discontinued abusive behaviour after receiving a warning letter from Westpac.”

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