FOS has published its Approach to Joint Facilities and Family Violence.
The FOS document contains guidelines when dealing with issues arising from joint facilities when there is family violence involved or where only one borrower engages with the financial services provider (FSP).
The FOS approach document covers issues that may arise with credit facilities or transaction accounts entered into during a relationship, including when family violence or financial abuse is a factor.
These issues include claims that a person should not be held liable for a debt, for example because they were coerced to take out a loan in their own name or jointly with another person and received no benefit from it.
Another common issue FOS sees is co-borrowers who are experiencing financial difficulty following the breakdown of a relationship.
The document discusses issues such as:
- when it will be appropriate for FSPs to remove or refrain from entering credit information about a vulnerable borrower;
- when a co-borrower seeks the sale of property securing a loan and the other borrower has asked the FSP to assist them to remain in the security property;
- when one borrower does not agree to a variation requested by another borrower.
Elder abuse is one form of family violence which can also involve financial abuse. While FOS does not cover the topic of elder abuse, some of the same general principles covered will also apply to elder abuse situations.
FOS expects FSPs to follow some general principles when engaging with customers in this situation:
- understand that these customers are likely to be experiencing considerable stress;
- be willing to work with their customers individually;
- be flexible in their approach;
- be mindful of any access or safety concerns.
The FOS Approach also contains relevant case studies.