Westpac to step up credit card practices

WESTPAC has agreed to refund some customers after failing to make reasonable inquiries into their employment status before increasing their credit card limits.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission says the agreement with Westpac was struck after it raised concerns that the lender’s credit card practices did not meet obligations under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act.

“ASIC was concerned that Westpac failed to make reasonable inquiries about some consumers’ income and employment status before increasing their credit card limit,” a statement from the corporate watchdog said on Wednesday.

ASIC said it was particularly concerned that Westpac relied largely on automated processes to increase credit card limits. Westpac has since introduced a number of steps, including making reasonable inquiries into customers’ income and job status, in response to ASIC’s concerns.

ASIC said the bank was also reviewing its past credit limit increases where a cardholder has experienced financial difficulty and will make refunds where appropriate.

Westpac will also make a $1 million payment over four years to support financial counselling and financial literacy initiatives.