Bendigo and Adelaide Bank joins fight against financial abuse

It agrees to update its terms and conditions to prevent the misuse of its products and services for financial abuse

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank joins fight against financial abuse

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has recently announced its participation in the Respect and Protect initiative, a campaign led by social enterprise Flequity Ventures to combat financial abuse.

The initiative calls on businesses to protect customers and communities from financial abuse, particularly in sectors like banking, insurance, telecommunications, and energy, where abusers can threaten victims or accrue debt on their behalf.

Participating organisations, including Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, have agreed to update their terms and conditions to prevent the misuse of their products and services for financial abuse. Suncorp Group is also among the first to pledge support for the initiative.

Richard Fennell (pictured), chief customer officer for consumer banking at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, affirmed the bank’s commitment to supporting financially vulnerable customers, staff, suppliers, and the wider community.

“By the end of 2024, we will have included reference to ‘Unacceptable Account Conduct’ in our terms and conditions which allows the bank to suspend, cancel or deny individuals access to products or services if the bank identifies them as engaging in financial abuse,” Fennell said.

“We acknowledge that we all have a part to play in assisting those vulnerable members of our community, and we’re committed to ensuring everyone feels safe and empowered when banking with us.”

The bank’s Respect and Protect pledge is part of its ongoing efforts to support victims of family and domestic violence and financial abuse.

For its customers, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank offers information and direct links to support on its website; a specialised team within the bank to help survivors, or their authorised representatives, regain control of their finances while ensuring confidentiality and safety; education in the communities it operates in and support programs that enhance digital literacy and independence for vulnerable or excluded groups and individuals; and a Foundational Financial Inclusion Action Plan that addresses serious issues and life events, including domestic and family violence, to ensure fair and equitable access to services.

For its employees, the bank provides leave entitlements for any employee experiencing or supporting a close relative who is experiencing family and domestic violence, including financial abuse; a specialised team to assist employees facing financial vulnerability due to domestic and family violence or financial abuse; and access to free, professional counselling through the employee assistance program for employees and their families affected by domestic and family violence.

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