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 partners, family members or others to restrict a person's access to accounts, to apply for credit cards or loans in their name, to use money from their account without consent, or to send abusive messages in payment descriptions.

There are steps people can take, if they're safe enough to do so, to stop this from happening (see some tips below). However, you should respect someone's view if they say they're not safe enough to take these steps. They may instead consider seeking support from a specialist domestic and family violence service.

If a person does not have a safe and private bank account, they may consider setting one up. Read First Steps to Economic Safety for guidance from the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety.

There are numerous ways people can have their economic safety compromised by digital banking, shopping and transacting, including abuse from someone they 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 login information with partners as it allows activity to be identified with 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 banking statements to spot any suspicious activity. If someone thinks that their banking or financial details have been compromised, they should contact their bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
  • 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, change them or contact your bank.

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 abusive messages, they can be reported to the 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.