Banks agree to help financial abuse victims

Banks agree to help financial abuse victims

A voluntary code of practice is to be rolled out across the financial services industry to support victims of financial abuse.

Initiated by UK Finance, the Financial Abuse Code of Practice is intended to increase awareness and understanding of financial abuse and encourage consistency in the support offered to victims by providers.

Several firms have already committed to implementing the code, including Santander, HSBC and Nationwide Building Society, with more expected to join in the future.

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UK Finance identified financial abuse as manifesting in a variety of different forms between intimate partners, family members or carers through financial control, dependency, exploitation or sabotage.

The trade body developed the code of practice alongside charities, victim support groups and government departments, identifying the older population as a particularly relevant demographic at risk.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released an occasional paper on consumer vulnerability in 2015, outlining its guidance and definition of vulnerability, which it moved to maintain earlier this year when it said "vulnerability can come in a range of guises, and can be temporary, sporadic or permanent in nature".

After further consultation early next year, the regulator is expected to review how vulnerable client policies are implemented within the financial services industry.

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said financial abuse does not discriminate.

He said: "It can happen to anyone and whether you or a person you know is a victim of financial abuse, taking those first steps to seek help is very brave."

Mr Leenders said the financial services industry can play a key role in helping combat financial abuse, offering support to victims to help them regain control of their money.

He said: "This new voluntary code provides further guidance for banks and building societies and, once rolled-out, will help raise awareness amongst staff so that victims of financial abuse can be confident that they will be treated sympathetically and positively in these particularly difficult circumstances."