FCAC reminds regulated institutions to thoroughly investigate unauthorized credit and debit transactions

News Release

As the use of credit and debit cards continues to increase, today, FCAC issued a compliance bulletin to reiterate its expectation that federally regulated financial institutions must fully investigate allegations of unauthorized transactions on these cards.

Financial institutions must investigate whether the circumstances that lead to the unauthorized transactions were beyond the cardholder’s control and must take into account all relevant factors before making a finding of liability against the consumer. Financial institutions must not hold cardholders automatically responsible for unauthorized credit or debit transactions based solely on the fact that the transaction was completed using authentication technology, such as the correct Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Consumers have their part to play as well. They must keep their devices secured and cards and PINs safe. The Agency urges consumers to:

  • select a PIN that someone cannot easily figure out such as a birthday or telephone number
  • cover the keypad when entering their PIN
  • never share their debit or credit card PIN with anyone, including a spouse or other family member.

FCAC expects regulated institutions to adhere and abide by their market conduct obligations related to unauthorized debit and credit transactions. FCAC will investigate cases of non-compliance, according to its Compliance Framework.


“Federally regulated financial institutions are expected to uphold both the regulatory requirements and the commitments they have made to Canadian financial consumers. Before a consumer can be found liable for an unauthorized transaction, FCAC expects federally regulated financial institutions to conduct a thorough investigation regardless of whether the PIN or other authentication technology was used.”

Lucie Tedesco, Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Quick Facts

  • Several organizations and institutions have made formal commitments to protect consumers from unauthorized use of their credit card. These commitments outline consumers’ liability in relation to fraudulent transactions on their credit card. 

  • A compliance bulletin is a supervision tool used to promote responsible market conduct. The Agency uses these bulletins to provide direction to federally regulated financial institutions to ensure they comply with federal market conduct obligations.

  • By law, a consumer’s maximum liability for unauthorized use of a credit card issued by a federally regulated financial institution is $50.

  • Visa, MasterCard and American Express have zero liability policies that protect consumers beyond the legislated $50 maximum liability.

  • Under the Canadian Code of Practice for Debit Card Services, consumers are not liable for debit card losses resulting from circumstances beyond their reasonable control.

  • Interac has a zero liability policy that protects debit card users.

Associated Links


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Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

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