Escaping a bad relationship? The bank will help…

Do you need to extract yourself from a relationship? Are you ending a marriage or de-facto relationship that has gone really bad?

It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but you probably have a joint everyday bank account, a joint credit card or loans in both of your names that you need to extract yourself from as well.

Perhaps you just ‘went along’ with the financial decisions your ex-partner made and now you have been left with debts and liabilities to repay yourself?

Now, new banking industry guidelines released yesterday requires banks to help you escape from a ‘financially abusive’ relationship and re-establish your own independent control of your money.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a form of family or domestic violence that is all about power and control of one person by their partner. The abuse is generally long term, says the Australian Bankers Association and can continue long after the relationship has ended.

Financial abuse can can happen to anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, culture, class or age. Women are three times more likely than men to experience abuse.

Financial abuse includes:

1) Controlling access to bank accounts.

2) Withholding or threatening to withhold financial support.

3) Coercing a partner to take out a loan or credit card or guarantee a loan for the benefit of the controlling partner. Or fraudulently using a partner’s name and details to apply for credit.

4) Preventing a person from taking part in decisions about household expenditure or demanding all spending is justified.

How can my bank help me escape from financial abuse?

Now all the big banks in Australia have committed themselves to new industry guidelines that support people escaping from financial abuse. All you have to do is tell your bank what is going on and that you need help to establish independent control of your own money.

“When a bank is aware of financial abuse, or suspects it may be occurring, the bank will work to support the customer wherever possible,” says the new industry guidelines.

“It can be very difficult for customers to disclose the abuse,” says the guidelines so bank staff are expected to be sensitive to the emotional stress of customers who may be dealing with financial abuse.

If your bank knows or suspects you are a victim of financial abuse, they will now:

1) Ensure your new address and contact information is secure and confidential.

2) Support you to set up new accounts and PINs

3) Not require you to contact your former partner to close or manage accounts.

4) Tell you what they are discussing with your former partner.

What InfoChoice can do to help you …

InfoChoice can help you re-establish control over your finances. Compare and research everyday transaction accounts here.

You can check out and compare savings accounts from all of Australia’s major banks and credit unions here.

Currently there are 162 low rate credit cards on offer in Australia on the InfoChoice database. Check them all out here.

You can search for competitive unsecured personal loans here and competitive car loans here.

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