Bank had no grounds for suspecting account holder’s gambling problem

Joint accounts,
Gwyneth held a joint account with her husband. Over four years, starting in 2014, her husband made transactions totalling $400,000 at gambling venues and ATMs using his EFTPOS card. He died in 2018 and Gwyneth then became aware of the gambling transactions on their joint account.
August 2023

Gwyneth complained that the bank should have detected the pattern and sheer number of transactions her husband had made. She also complained that the bank failed to notify her when her husband changed the address for account statements.

Our investigation

We explained to Gwyneth that banks do not have to monitor their customers’ transactions, question how they intend to use their money, or prevent them from making unwise financial decisions. The bank’s prime obligation is to follow customers’ payment instructions. We reviewed the account statements and various transactions, and found  Gwyneth’s husband had authorised all the transactions using his correct banking credentials.

Banks do, however, have an obligation to take steps if they become aware of, or are told about, a customer’s problem with gambling. In Gwyneth’s case though, the bank was not made aware of any concerns about the money withdrawn from the account, and was not told about her husband’s gambling problem. The bank therefore had no obligation to make any enquiries or question Gwyneth’s husband about the transactions he was making.

Finally, we reviewed the terms and conditions of the joint account, and these allowed the bank to take instructions from one of the account holders and send a statement to only one account holder. The bank was therefore under no obligation to inform Gwyneth about the change of address for account statements.


We did not uphold Gwyneth’s complaint.

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