ANZ fined for NCCP breach

ANZ has paid penalties totalling $212,500 for breaching responsible lending laws.

The major bank breached the laws in making offers of overdraft facilities to its customers, ASIC said in a statement issued on Monday.

“ANZ offers an overdraft facility known as 'ANZ Assured' to existing customers in conjunction with particular transaction accounts,” the corporate regulator said.

“Between November 2014 and January 2015, ANZ sent written offers to certain customers to enter into the overdraft facility with a specified limit of either $500 or $1,000.”

“Customers could accept the offers via various means: by mail, phone, internet banking or by attending at a branch in person.”

ASIC found that for offers of a $500 limit, customers were not given an option to elect a different overdraft amount; and for offers of a $1,000 limit, customers were not given an alternative limit option if they responded to the offer via mail or in person at a branch.

ASIC noted that these failures by ANZ were in breach of its obligation to make reasonable inquiries about the credit limit a customer requires – a protection aimed at ensuring that consumers can select the credit limit that meets their needs, particularly where they may need a lower credit limit than what might be on offer.

“The requirement to make inquiries about a consumer's credit limit was a deliberate addition to the general responsible lending obligations by the government,” ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell said.

“The requirement is designed to ensure that consumers do not end up with unmanageable debt. This case demonstrates that ASIC will impose penalties for breaching these important protections,” he said.

ASIC said ANZ co-operated with its investigation.

[Related: Major bank will 'vigorously defend' ASIC allegations]

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