The BNZ intends to crack down on abusive and inappropriate messages in the reference fields of bank transfers, the bank said in a statement Sunday.
“Domestic and economic abuse is unacceptable, and if it’s a BNZ customer doing this, you can expect a call from us. If the abuse doesn’t stop, we’ll end your banking services with us. Simple as that,” BNZ GM Customer Assist Martin King said.
"If you are using bank systems to abuse and harass people, know that we see you and will put a stop to it."
King said about 2000 transactions per month are problematic, with most of them including swear words or other abusive terms.
He said some people are using the banking transactions to get around blocks on social media or mobile phones, behaviour he described as "more concerning". These typically involve transfers for a few cents or a couple of dollars.
"Our analysis shows us these are situations where someone has very clearly said they don’t want to hear from another person who’s then resorted to using the banking system to get around the block. They do this knowing full well that unlike messaging platforms, bank transactions can’t easily be blocked.”
On rare occasions, the same kinds of abusive messages are attached to larger, monthly payments, he said.
“In these situations, we can see people are using their child support payments to carry out the abuse. This is particularly disgusting as that money cannot and should not be blocked, so the receiver has no choice but to see the abusive messages.”
King said the bank would work with customers to help stop this.
“We want our customers to know that they do not have to put up with this. We will listen and work together with them, helping them to set up new bank accounts to escape the abuse, and our specialist team can refer them to support organisations such as Women’s Refuges and Good Shepherd NZ.”