Understanding financial abuse

Financial abuse occurs when one person manipulates another to control their finances and property without their consent.

It can happen to anyone, no matter how old, or how much money they have.

Understanding financial abuse

We recognise that it may be difficult for you to seek assistance. If you feel you're in a financially abusive situation, please do not hesitate to speak to any member of our staff.

We have established the Financial Assist Support Team (FAST) who can help you, or your authorised representative, regain control of your finances. Our staff will protect your confidentiality and safety at all times.

Financial Assist Support Team

FAST can be contacted by:

  • Phone – by contacting 1300 023 583 between 8.30am and 5.00pm Mon-Fri Victorian time
  • If calling from overseas +61 3 5485 7911
  • Email – FAST
  • Post/Letter – P.O. Box 480, Bendigo, Vic, 3552.

You can also get support from these external support agencies.

Bendigo Bank's privacy policy will help you understand what happens with your feedback and how we protect your privacy.

If you or someone close to you is in immediate danger, dial 000.

Additional assistance*

The below links will provide additional information that may help.

  • Family Violence Support
    A national family violence and sexual assault service.
    24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Phone: 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline
    Provides crisis support services
    24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Phone: 131 114
  • Centrelink
    Centrelink is an Australian Government Statutory Agency assisting people to become self-sufficient and supporting those in need.
    For help in an emergency:
    Phone: 132 850
    Website: Department of Human Services 
  • Financial Counselling Australia - financial information
    You can talk on the phone to a financial counsellor from anywhere in Australia.
    Hours: 9.30am - 4.30pm Mon-Fri
    Phone: 1800 007 007
    Website: Financial Counselling Australia
  • Community Legal Centre (CLC)
    Community legal centres focus on helping people who don’t qualify for legal aid and mainly help people with civil and family law issues, like debt, family violence, tenancy, employment law and relationship breakdown.
    Find your local CLC:
    National Association of Community Legal Centres
  • Family Relationship Advice Line
    Information and advice on family relationship issues and parenting arrangements after separation.
    8am-8pm Monday to Friday
    10am-4pm Saturday.
    Phone: 1800 050 321
    Website: Family Relationship Advice Line
  • Women's Legal Services Australia
    Provides face-to-face legal advice through outreach services and runs a partnership to provide family law advice through Family Relationship Centres. These websites have a 'search by postcode' function which directs clients to relevant local services.
    Websites:
    Women's Legal Services Australia
  • Legal Aid - legal support
    Can provide advice on intervention orders, family law and civil / credit and debt matters.
    Website: Legal Aid
  • Money Smart
    You can get guidance on general financial matters, as well as specific information on protecting your money and yourself from financial abuse.
    Website: Money Smart
  • Protecting yourself from Financial Abuse
    Consumer fact sheet provided by Australian Bankers' Association Inc.

Types of financial abuse

Financial abuse can come in the form of Elder, Domestic, Disability and/or Language/Cultural abuse.

Elder

Elder financial abuse is a specific form of exploitation. It may also be emotional abuse.

There are many forms of elder financial abuse, but there is a common thread. In general, it is an effort by unscrupulous person/s to extract money and resources through a variety of devious means from elderly persons.

Many types of activities can be classed as elder abuse:

  • deceit
  • forgery
  • coercion through bullying and intimidation
  • undue influence for personal gain
  • misuse of a person’s Power of Attorney or Guardianship instructions

In general, all involve improper use of an older person’s assets.

Domestic

Domestic financial abuse may occur when a person uses money as a means to gain power and control over their partner.

This type of abuse is when a victim can be trapped in an abusive relationship with the person doing such things as:

  • forbidding access to bank accounts
  • providing an inadequate allowance
  • not allowing the victim to work
  • forcing the victim to sign documents or make false declarations
  • denying that the victim has an entitlement to joint property.

This is not an exhaustive list.

This type of financial abuse can be subtle. A person gradually takes control over bank accounts and financial transactions. Domestic financial abuse can also be obvious, violent and threatening.

It may not be until after a relationship has ended that the customer realises that they are a victim of financial abuse.

Disability

Financial abuse of a disabled person is any act involving the misuse of the person’s money or property. This is done without their full knowledge, consent or understanding.

This can be against an individual with a physical and/or mental disability. It deprives them of vital financial resources for their personal needs.

Language/Cultural

People who speak little English, including from Indigenous communities, are at an increased risk of financial abuse.

Due to the difficulties in gaining information about banking services and products, they often trust others to help. This can be a trusted family member or friend, who they use them to interpret for them.

This can lead to the person becoming a victim of financial abuse without their full understanding of the circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Bank focusing on financial abuse?

The community’s expectations have changed over time and it is now recognised that we all have a part to play in assisting those vulnerable members of our community.

Please refer to the Australian Banking Association website which details how the ABA is working with a number of organisations to promote good practice and clearer processes for banks so they can better support customers who may be vulnerable to financial abuse or who want to plan ahead and manage their financial affairs, especially as they get older.

What can the Bank offer customers impacted by financial abuse?

The Bank will work with customers to gain financial independence (where possible).

This may include:

  • Arranging new accounts or other banking services.
  • Working with different areas of the bank on the customers behalf.
  • Referring customers to external agencies and financial counsellors.

How can the Bank help with financial difficulty?

The Bank has established our Mortgage Help Centre, who may consider making a temporary arrangement, quickly and efficiently, in times when your personal circumstances change.

What happens if you are not satisfied with the response you receive?

It is important for us to know when we have not met your expectations no matter the circumstance. If you are not satisfied with your response, you can refer your complaint to the Customer Feedback Team.

* We do not endorse or take responsibility or liability for the advice provided by the referral agencies.