VIC Westpac Unconscionable or Negligence?

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13 August 2015

If anyone can provide any information about legal assistance for my situation I would very much appreciate it.

I'm currently involved in a dispute with Westpac regarding a Generated Transaction ("GEN TXN") overdrawing my account and taking my entire Disability Support Pension five days ago. Today I spoke with a solicitor at Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) who provided me with some information and resources. He told me this is illegal under section 60. of the Social Security Act. He described the conduct of Westpac as unconscionable.

A detailed account:

Last Friday night, Westpac reversed a refund they'd placed on my account seven and a half weeks prior. They had resolved a fraud case in my favour - charges I had disputed six and a half weeks prior to that on 9 Aug 2015. They had told me these were online gambling charges from two separate merchants and they stopped and replaced my Debit MasterCard.

Last Tuesday (10 November) I returned a call to an NSW number from a Westpac staff member. She told me that one of the Merchants had come back with more of my personal details. She said she would forward the documentation to me to review. Also, that she would send me three questions to answer and return to Westpac.

Last Saturday night (14 Nov) I attempted to withdraw money from an ATM. That is when I discovered my account was overdrawn. I called Westpac immediately. I was on the phone for almost an hour and spoke with three staff members. They all told me "there's nothing we can do, you'll have to call back during business hours".

The woman I spoke with in the fraud department gave me a little more information. She said that the merchant had provided them with an IP address which matched mine and that is why the refund was reversed. She said there was no notation visible to her about the telephone conversation I had on the previous Tuesday (re. documents and 3 questions) as that was the 'Investigations' department - I can prove I had that conversation because I have phone records.
She claimed to have limited information available to her as it was a different department. She said I might be able to request a temporary overdraft but again, there were no managers available to approve it at 10.30 pm on a Saturday night so I would have to wait until Monday. I told her that I'd received no information from Westpac regarding this development (the last thing I'd been told is that I have to answer and return three questions). I told her they'd taken my Pension. I asked if there was anyone in their entire organisation who could help on a weekend. She said no, I'd have to call back during business hours.

I spoke with my Internet Service Provider and they explained to me in detail how and why it is not possible for Westpac to have been able to match an IP address to my details.

I wrote to the Financial Ombudsman who sent a reply email yesterday saying they had registered my dispute and given Westpac until 29 December to respond before they would intervene. CALC advised me to call the Ombudsman tomorrow and ask them to expedite the matter.

I went into a Westpac branch yesterday (Monday 16 Nov) to seek further help. The staff told me there was nothing they could do because there was no manager in the branch. I attempted twice to call the NSW number of the staff member who had spoken to me about the documents and 3 questions. There was no answer both times. I was unable to spend any more time on the phone with Westpac during business hours yesterday in an attempt to resolve the issue as I had appointments to attend.

Westpac has still not contacted me regarding the GEN TXN or the discrepancy between what they last told me and what they have done. The last written communication I have from Westpac is the Permanent Refund Letter dated 23 September 2015.

I've also been informed that it is illegal for offshore online casinos to provide services to Australians so, in addition to all of the above, it seems Westpac has facilitated a crime.

I am still without money and can't afford legal assistance. At this stage, I will have to wait until the Financial Ombudsman can resolve the situation.

Thank you


Hi bohemian71,

Sounds like you have already contacted the Financial Ombudsman about this. That would be my recommendation.