Financial abuse cost Aussies an estimated $5.7 Billion in 2020, with NAB announcing Friday it has blocked specific words and phrases from appearing in digital transactions in an effort to crack down on abuse in internet banking. 

According to NAB, more than 10,000 abusive transactions from 6,800 unique customers were blocked in March 2022.

Payments in the NAB app that feature offensive words and phrases won’t be processed under the changes.

Customers get a real-time message advising they’ll need to change the description for the transaction to proceed.

NAB now has a team to assess blocked transactions and issue warnings for misuse or abuse. 

In addition, NAB has an acceptable electronic banking use policy, which gives the major bank the right to terminate banking services for abusive, threatening or unlawful banking behaviour.

NAB Group Executive Personal Banking Rachel Slade said the bank would continue to make sure digital transactions wouldn’t be a vehicle for abuse. 

"We have approximately 1,300 words and phrases that are now blocked in the NAB app in addition to Internet Banking protection measures being enhanced recently," Ms Slade said.

"Our system is now smarter than ever. It can now instantly recognise special characters and spaces that have been substituted in banned words and phrases.

"Equally, it can recognise if a word should be allowed because it matches the account holder’s legal name or the business’s name.

"This kind of abuse can impact all types of customers, from teenagers using transactions to bully others to intimate partners committing financial abuse.

"We’re committed to working with our customers and other organisations to reduce the prevalence of this behaviour. We also encourage customers to contact us if they receive abusive or threatening messages."

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit

In an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe, always call 000.

Financial abuse through banking

Financial abuse has been described as a 'hidden epidemic'.

One avenue of financial abus usually includes small transfers under $1 with the sole purpose of sending abusive messages in the description to intimidate or harass the recipient. 

This is used in place of social media, phone and SMS services where the abuser may be blocked.

CBA moved to block abusive transaction messages after it found 8,000 customers may have received such messages in June 2020.

Image by Franck via Unsplash