B-5 Consent for new products or services
The new Financial Consumer Protection Framework (FCPF) in the Bank Act and the Financial Consumer Protection Framework Regulations (collectively: “FCPF Requirements”) come into force on June 30, 2022. The FCPF Requirements apply to banks, authorized foreign banks and federal credit unions. This bulletin will be reviewed, including for purposes of reflecting the FCPF Requirements, and will be reissued in due course as is appropriate. Starting June 30, 2022, this bulletin is to be read by banks, authorized foreign banks and federal credit unions in conjunction with, and subject to, the FCPF Requirements. If there is any inconsistency between the FCPF Requirements and this bulletin relating to banks, authorized foreign banks and federal credit unions and their conduct post June 30, 2022, the FCPF Requirements prevail.
The purpose of this bulletin is to reinforce the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC) expectations that institutions obtain consumers’ express consent for a new financial product or service, including credit cards, in accordance with regulatory requirements.
Institutions must clearly explain they are requesting consent for a financial product or service in any communication with consumers, beginning with the initial contact and continuing throughout the process of obtaining express consent.
Communications with consumers must be clear and must not mislead consumers to believe they are consenting to a promotion or reward (e.g. promotional blanket, t-shirt or reward points), rather than a financial product or service. Failure to meet this requirement is contrary to regulations and may lead to FCAC enforcement action.
FCAC’s requirements and expectations apply equally if the activities are outsourced. Institutions retain ultimate accountability for outsourced activities. If the promotion activity is outsourced, institutions must apply the necessary controls to ensure that any communication seeking consumers’ consent is clear, simple and not misleading, and that express consent is obtained.
Accordingly, FCAC expects institutions to undertake the following actions:
- Ensure communication does not result in misleading consumers during the process of obtaining their express consent for a financial product or service.
- Apply enhanced rigor in the processes and controls (e.g. proactive monitoring, training, scripting) related to obtaining consumers’ express consent for a financial product or service.
- Ensure the act of obtaining express consent for a financial product is compliant with regulatory requirements even if it is outsourced.
- Review all disclosure to ensure it is consistent with the requirements of the Cost of Borrowing Regulations and the Commissioner’s Guidance CG-3: Clear language and presentation principles and guidelines for the industry.
FCAC will maintain its supervisory scrutiny of disclosures and practices for obtaining consumer consent to ensure they are clear, simple and not misleading. Moving forward, FCAC supervision will place greater emphasis on the full sales process, including any verbal communication that forms part of obtaining consumers’ consent.
I appreciate your cooperation in addressing these issues.
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