26 September 2023

New ASIC bank rule to protect family victim survivors

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Victim-survivors of family violence who find themselves in financial hardship have been reassured that the information won’t be shared on their or their partner’s credit reports following a decision from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

In a statement, ASIC said it adopted a temporary no-action position to enable large banks to withhold the certain credit information on consumer credit reports where reporting could lead to consumer harm.

The decision follows recently imposed (1 July) mandatory requirements for credit providers to provide information about consumers’ financial hardship arrangements to credit reporting bodies.

“Licensees raised concerns with ASIC that including certain credit information in the credit reports of victim-survivors of family violence (such as financial hardship information) could place those consumers at risk of further harm and that flexibility was required to protect vulnerable consumers,” ASIC said.

“For example, where a victim-survivor holds a loan jointly with their partner (who is the perpetrator of family violence) and they are experiencing hardship, there may be situations where a victim-survivor does not want their partner to know that they have agreed to a financial hardship arrangement with an eligible licensee,” it said.

“In this circumstance, ASIC’s position will enable eligible licensees to help the victim-survivor by withholding financial hardship information on their (and their partner’s) credit report.”

ASIC said it recognised that these risks for victim-survivors could also arise when a credit provider or lessor notified a joint account holder of the outcome of a victim-survivor’s request for hardship assistance in accordance with the credit provider or lessor’s legal obligations.

“Accordingly, ASIC has also adopted a no-action position that enables credit providers and lessors to withhold notices to joint account holders in these circumstances,” the Commission said.

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