Know your rights and responsibilities

By Lucie Tedesco, Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

November 14, 2016

We’re lucky in Canada to have protections in place for consumers of financial products and services. Financial institutions have an obligation to provide you with key information about mortgages, loans, lines of credit, and credit cards in clear language.

And as consumers, you have certain responsibilities. Make sure to inform yourself of rates, terms, and penalties associated with financial products and services. That means reading all of your financial agreements and disclosures thoroughly and asking questions if you are unclear.

What are good examples of rights and responsibilities?

Don’t share your personal identification number (PIN)

We all have a role in keeping our personal information safe. Never share debit or credit card PINs or passwords. That applies to sharing this information with your spouse, parents, best friend and children. You can have a joint credit card or debit card with your spouse, but you each need your own card and your own PIN. If you share your PIN with anyone, you could be giving up your right to protection against fraud. Learn more about protecting your PIN.

Be aware of the cost of breaking a mortgage

Make sure you know the terms and conditions associated with your mortgage contract. Read the small print. Ask questions if you are not clear on the terms and conditions. Breaking your mortgage before the end of its term can result in expensive penalties. It could cost you thousands of dollars. Learn more about mortgage pre-payme​nt penalties.

Cash advances on a credit card

Charges for cash advances on a credit card are different than charges for purchases on a credit card. If you take a cash advance on a credit card, you will be charged a fee and you will be charged interest from the date of the transaction. So if you use cash advances, you should try to pay off as much of your balance as you can, as early as possible. You can make payments to your credit card at any time – you don’t have to wait for your statement! Learn more about cash adv​ances.

Knowing your rights and respon​sibilities​ is a part of how we define financial literacy. It’s about having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make financial decisions that are right for you.

What should you do if you have a complaint?

If you feel your rights have not been respected, you can make a complaint. All banks must have a complaint-handling process in place for consumers. Follow these steps to try to resolve your complaint. In addition, you can contact FCAC at any point.

Where can I find out more about my rights and responsibilities?

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has tools, tips and resources to help you understand your rights and responsibilities. 

Also, our Canadian Financial Literacy Database has close to 1,200 resources submitted by organizations across Canada. 

November is Financial Literacy Month​! For more tips on your rights and responsibilities all week, follow our Twitter account and like our Facebook page.

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