Online banking, also known as digital, internet or mobile banking, has made banking easier for many people. Unfortunately, it has also made it easier for abusive and controlling people (partners, family members, others) to manipulate, restrict, exploit or otherwise exert their control.

Online banking can be misused by someone you’re close to, to restrict your access to accounts, to apply for credit cards or loans in your name, to pay for things from your account without your consent, or to send abusive messages to you in payment descriptions. There are steps you can take, if you’re safe enough to do so, to stop this from happening (see some tips below). However, if you’re not safe enough to take these steps, you may consider seeking support from a specialist domestic and family violence service.

If you don’t have your own bank account and would like to have one that your partner or others don’t know about, there are steps you can carefully take. Read First Steps to Economic Safety for guidance from the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety.

There are numerous ways your economic safety can be compromised by digital banking, shopping and transacting, including abuse from someone you know, and scams from strangers.

General online banking tips

  • Most online banking allows for multiple logins to be created to access the same accounts; this is preferred over sharing your login information with your partner as it allows you to restrict activity on either login.
  • Choose a unique, secure password with a combination of letters and numbers that no one could guess. Never show or tell anyone your PIN or password and destroy any paper records of these carefully. If this information has already been shared, change these details immediately.
  • Regularly check your banking statements to spot any suspicious activity. If you think that your banking or financial details have been compromised, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
  • If you have a device with an app to access online banking, consider who else has access to this device and whether the login details are private. If the device or details have been compromised, contact your bank immediately.

Several banks are now taking action against people who use their online banking platforms to send abusive messages, including ‘unbanking’ the perpetrator in some cases. If someone is sending you abusive messages, you can report them to your bank.

Read more about protecting your online banking. Visit the ACCC website for tips to protect yourself while online banking. 24/7 counselling service for domestic, family and sexual violence.