Your Banking Rights
If you’re anything like most people, you probably haven’t given your bank much thought at all over the last week.
However, when opening an account with any bank, it’s important to know your rights.
Knowing your rights means that if your bank violates them, you can contact The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to talk about your situation and discuss how to move forward. It’s never too late to clue yourself in on your rights.
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Your Account And Account Information
The law states that you must be provided with the correct information about your account in writing (either as a letter or electronically if you prefer) when you open an account with a Canadian financial institution.
You should get the following information right away when you open your account:
- A copy of your account agreement.
- Information on all charges and fees associated with the account.
- Information on how you will be notified if there are changes to your account/account fees.
- Details on the bank’s complaint handling processes.
If you open the account in person you should get the information listed right away.
If you open an account over the phone, you should receive it in no more than 14 days.
You should also review this information to ensure that it is correct and as expected.
New Accounts And Account Fees
When you open a new account, you must be provided with all of the information regarding fees associated with your account.
If the fees are altered in any way or a new fee is introduced, you should be notified a minimum of 30 days before the change takes place.
You should receive this information in the form of a letter or an email, and the information will also be displayed in branches, on the bank’s website, and on Automated Banking Machines.
If the information is not given to you 30 days in advance, you will be entitled to make a complaint.
Cashing A Cheque
Cashing a cheque doesn’t always go smoothly, as a bank may put a hold on a cheque that has been cashed.
However, your rights state that the hold period should be limited for consumers and small/medium businesses as long as it’s undamaged and readable, in Canadian dollars, is drawn from a Canadian branch of a financial institution, and it has numeric characters across the bottom encoded with magnetic ink.
In general, a cheque for $1500 or less can be held for 5 business days, but cheques over this amount can be held for up to 8 business days.
This helps the bank to ensure that the cheque is drawn from a valid account and that a stop payment order has not been placed on the cheque.
In the majority of situations, the bank must also make the first $100 available to withdraw immediately if the cheque has been deposited in person, or the next working day if deposited via an ABM.
This won’t be the case in rare circumstances.
Remember, you can:
- Cash a Canadian cheque for free at any bank – even if you’re not a customer (providing it is under $1500 and you have ID).
- Cash a Canadian government cheque no matter how old it is.
Receiving Notification of Branch Closures
Your bank should let you know of any closures near you four months in advance.
Six months notice is required if the bank is in a rural area and there are no other banks within 10 kilometers.
This will give you time to arrange an alternative, or swap accounts.
Filing A Complaint With Your Bank
All banks are required to have a complaint-handling process, and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada must have a copy of this.
When you complain to the bank, you should be given information on the procedures in place and the information you’ll need to meet the requirements of the procedures.
If you made a complaint but were unable to resolve it directly with the manager or customer service representative of your bank, you will need to speak to a senior staff member or an internal ombudservice next.
If the solution is still unsatisfactory to you, you can then have it reviewed by a third party.
The Federal Consumer Agency of Canada can give you more information on how to move forward and handle a complaint properly.
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