Westpac launches new product to identify and prevent power of attorney abuse

credit: Shutterstock
credit: Shutterstock

Australian financial service Westpac has announced the launch of a new detection product that seeks to stamp out power of attorney abuse. 

Initially rolled out to Australian customers, the new detection capability will apply to accounts with a power of attorney arrangement in place, being able to identify potential misuse of the arrangement based on certain activity. 

The product is the first in a series of enhancements rolled out by Westpac to help support vulnerable users. 

Tiffiny Lewin, Westpac Head of Customer Excellence, said: “We’re introducing an added layer of transaction monitoring to alert on the early warning signs of misuse of a power of attorney. The new alerts will flag transactions that are out of the ordinary for an account with an active power of attorney.

“We’ve brought together three specialist teams to administer the alerts and undertake further investigation on each. Our dedicated customer care team, who have expertise in supporting people in vulnerable situations, will step in to assist where the investigation indicates misuse is likely.

“It’s unacceptable that someone would use their position as a power of attorney for personal gain and Westpac is committed to doing what we can to stamp this out. We’ve invested in this monitoring and we’re optimistic that over time this will make a difference.”

Elements of the new product that enables safety for customers are, stopping abuse in transactions, reports for online or mobile bank abuse, a gambling block, parental controls and child safety, amongst much more. 

Westpac has also updated the terms and conditions for its transaction and savings products with a zero-tolerance policy for customers who use the bank’s products and services. 

The announcement builds on the work Westpac has been doing for some time to prevent financial abuse and protect customers.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia is the body representing more than 9 million Australians over 50. COTA Australia Chief Executive Officer, Patricia Sparrow, added: “It’s an unfortunate reality that older Australians can fall victim to abuse at the hands of people who have a Power of Attorney designed to support them. 

“This initiative by Westpac to actively monitor alerts and investigate further where data raises a question is a great step forward that will hopefully result in far fewer older people being taken advantage of. 

“We hope it will provide Westpac customers with another layer of peace of mind that their Attorney continues to do things in line with their wishes and preferences.”