It doesn’t take much scratching at the internet to uncover its seedy underbelly, with people all too ready to hurl abuse others via messages on Twitter or other social media platforms, but in Australia, it seems trolling has reached a new low.
Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA) has revealed it has discovered some 8,000 of its customers have faced harassment via transaction descriptions on the bank statements.
Yes, you really did read that right. If you send somebody money electronically via your online banking you are asked to enter a short descriptive note to highlight to the recipient who the money has come from or what it is for. It seems that this has been used in multiple cases to send threats of violence and domestic abuse which is staggering.
Catherine Fitzpatrick, CBA’s General Manager of community and customer vulnerability said: “After noticing disturbing messages in the account of a customer experiencing domestic and family violence, we conducted analysis to better understand the problem, we were horrified by both the scale and the nature of what we found.
“In a three month period, we identified more than 8,000 CBA customers who received multiple low-value deposits, often less than $1, with potentially abusive messages in the transaction descriptions – in effect using them as a messaging service. All genders were sending and receiving these messages, but the nature ranged from fairly innocuous ‘jokes’ using profanities to serious threats and clear references to domestic and family violence.”
CBA allows a transaction description of just 18 characters meaning that perpetrators are sending multiple cash transactions in order to have the character count to say something longer. Yes, we are shaking our head here too, it’s not just you.
The bank has updated its Acceptable Use Policy to threaten to close the accounts of perpetrators found guilty of doing it but whether that will ultimately be enough is doubtful.
Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Banking Association said: “The use of bank transaction communications as a vehicle for threatening abuse gives a shocking insight into the lengths that violent partners will go to threaten, harass and abuse.”