Abuse of people knows no limits

Abuse of people knows no limits

We all know the stories of people being abused within closed doors, and New Zealand has the Family Violence Act (was Domestic Violence Act) to recognise the harm that abuse incurs.

Email and social media are common tools used by abusers, but it was shocking (to me) to hear about the latest tool - using the messages on bank statements to continually abuse people.

This excellent article in the Sunday Star-Times recently investigated the issue, where abusers are transferring small amounts of money (eg 10 cents), so that they can continue their stalking, harassment and abuse.  Although it may cost the abuser more than that to do the transfer, it is an almost hidden tool to achieve their goals.

The charity Shine which focuses on domestic abuse is well aware of these patterns, which can include random amounts of money, but also messages attached to child support payments.  

Fortunately some of the banks are aware of this issue - with BNZ actively monitoring messages, using technology to identify this behaviour.  BNZ can then 'de-bank' the person (forcibly closing the person's accounts and refusing them as a future customer), but cannot prevent them from moving to another bank and starting the pattern again.  The bank has specially-trained staff to contact the people that abuse is targeted at to give them support which might include setting up a new account for the person, helping them route payments like child support through IRD rather than receiving them directly and referring them to external organisations like Shine or Women's Refuge.

The surprising thing in the article is that although BNZ is actively monitoring and taking action in this space, and ASB and Westpac are developing system, the largest bank in New Zealand - ANZ are not aware of the issue - stating 'As far as we are aware, this isn't an issue we've had complaints about, or concerns raised about'.  Maybe they could pro-actively address the issue instead of expecting abused people to deal with the bureaucracy at a huge institution?

Please read this article and be aware of the issue, it might help you to be able to help someone who is being abused someday.

Hidden abuse via bank transfers [Kate Newton] Sunday Star-Times 23 May 2021


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