Commonwealth Bank today announced the launch of a police referral pilot in NSW. The pilot is an Australian-first and will set new standards for how banks report technology-facilitated abuse to law enforcement.
Building on its use of artificial intelligence and other technologies to detect and block abuse in transaction descriptions, CBA is working with the NSW Police to develop a new streamlined process that will allow CBA to report abuse with the consent of the victim-survivor.
The pilot will commence by mid-September, providing a tailored escalation path to enable impacted customers in NSW to report their abuser easily and quickly. It is the latest initiative delivered by CommBank Next Chapter to provide a more comprehensive approach to address technology-facilitated abuse.
CBA implemented abusive transaction monitoring in June 2020, with close to 400,000 transactions blocked annually by the automatic filter that prevents offensive language being used in transaction descriptions on the CommBank app and NetBank. This technology is augmented by an AI model that reviews transactions and annually detects around 1,500 perpetrators that send potentially abusive messages. These cases are then manually reviewed to determine severity and the appropriate action required from CBA.
In the pilot, if CBA detects a NSW customer is receiving repeated abuse in transaction descriptions, the Next Chapter team will contact the receiving customer asking if they would like CBA to report the abuse on their behalf to NSW Police. Once the customer has consented to CBA reporting the issue to police, CBA will initiate a report to the NSW Police. Victims of this kind of abuse can also contact CBA and ask CBA to report these instances of abuse on their behalf.
Angela Macmillan, CBA Group Customer Advocate, said: “The launch of this new pilot with NSW Police will help provide better support for customers experiencing abuse.
“Technology-facilitated abuse continues to be a serious problem, and this collaboration with NSW Police enables us to act – not only in supporting victims, but in the prevention of abuse. This is a first of its kind initiative between the banking industry and law enforcement, and we hope this paves the way for more effective collaboration in the fight against domestic and financial abuse.”
Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Banking Association, said: “I congratulate CBA and the NSW Police on this collaboration which means critical information can now be shared when financial transactions are being used to threaten, harass or intimidate victims of domestic violence. This trial will provide valuable insights for police services and other banks about how to better combat the scourge of domestic violence.”
CBA has been committed to helping victim-survivors of financial abuse, perpetrated through domestic and family violence since 2015. For further details on CommBank Next Chapter, visit: www.commbank.com.au/nextchapter
Anyone worried about their finances because of domestic or family violence or coercive control can contact the Next Chapter Team on 1800 222 387 for support – no matter who they bank with.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.
In an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe, always call 000.
Note to Editors:
- This announcement follows the recent launch of Next Chapter Innovation, a new program that will see the bank partner with not-for-profit and social enterprise organisations to support projects designed to help victim-survivors in their long-term recovery. Applications are now open and close Friday, 25 August 2023.
- In 2020, CBA updated its Electronic Acceptable Use Policy, after identifying more than 8,000 CBA customers who received multiple low-value deposits with potentially abusive messages in the transaction description.
- In 2020/21, CBA introduced a range of interventions to make digital banking safer for customers and to support customers who are recipients of technology-facilitated abuse. Depending on the severity of the abuse, interventions may include:
- de-linking the victim-survivor’s bank account from PayID so that the perpetrator can no longer use their email address, mobile number or ABN to send them abusive transactions;
- setting up new safe accounts for victim-survivors;
- referring victim-survivors to external support organisations including the Good Shepherd Financial Independence Hub
- sending warning letters to perpetrators
- removing a perpetrators access to digital banking for a period of 3 months; and,
- in extreme cases, the Bank will terminate a customer’s banking relationship if they continue to breach the Acceptable Use Policy.