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Recording of financial institution account information


The purpose of this Departmental Instruction (DI) is to advise staff of the need, under certain circumstances, to seek written confirmation of changes to financial institution account information recorded for clients.


A recent complaint from a veteran to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Secretary has flagged the importance of obtaining written confirmation of the information received in respect of changes to financial institution (ie., bank, building society and credit union) account information.

In the particular case in question advice was received at different times from the client regarding:

  • bank accounts containing relatively consistent amounts but with account numbers which varied; and
  • notification of the existence of a large sum of money in a bank account for which no account details were given.

In this instance assumptions were made regarding these matters and no written confirmation was sought, ultimately contributing to inappropriate raising of an overpayment and considerable inconvenience to the veteran and his family.

Check basic account details

To prevent such difficulties, where updated information is received in respect of financial institution account numbers, account names, changed balances or new accounts, ensure that financial institution details provided are recorded in full.  Where clients have multiple accounts with a single institution, record the account number to provide clear account differentiation.  For example, if account numbers seem to vary or are missing digits, contact the client and get confirmation of the required information.

Confirmation of substantial variation or a new account

When there is a substantial variation ($10,000 or greater) to the balance of a financial institution account or DVA is advised of the existence of a new account, the variation or new account should be confirmed in writing by the client.

Oral/telephone advice of change

It remains current policy that notification of a change in circumstances over the telephone is acceptable (DI B42/92 refers) to process such changes.  However, as noted above, in certain circumstances written confirmation is required to protect both the interests of the client and DVA.

File note of a telephone call

Where telephone advice is received regarding changes to financial institution account information, the officer receiving the telephone call should ensure that a file note is created to record the information.  The officer providing the file note should always write their full name and the date on the file note, and extra care should be taken that information is complete and meaningful and consistent with previous information received.

Privacy Act

Note the policy described in this DI conforms with privacy principles, in that the Department is required by Information Privacy Principle 8 of the Privacy Act 1988 to check the accuracy of personal information before use.

Contact Officer

The contact officer for this DI is Ferri Ghazi on telephone (02) 6289 6436 and fax (02) 6289 6553.

R J Hay



13 February 1998