Accounts – Refusal to open due to previous bankruptcy
Bank Act, s 448.1(1)
Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations, ss. 3(2), 4
A bank refused to open a retail deposit account for a consumer because of a previous bankruptcy.
Subsection 448.1(1) of the Bank Act requires banks which are members of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation and which open retail deposit accounts through a natural person to open an account for consumers who meet the requirements set out in section 4 of the Regulations.
According to subsection 3(2) of the Regulations, bankruptcy is not, by itself, sufficient reason to refuse to open an account for a consumer.
While the Regulations came into force just before the refusal, the concept of access to basic banking has been in place since 1997 through the Canadian Bankers Association’s Public Commitment to Basic Banking Services. Additionally, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) emphasized the importance of this consumer right through an extensive consultation process with the financial industry before the enforcement of the Regulations began.
The refusal was the result of the actions of an employee who did not follow the bank’s procedures. As such, the case was considered as an isolated event, and not a systemic problem.
Measures taken by financial institution
As a result of FCAC’s intervention, the Branch Manager:
- met with the consumer to open an account and, as a gesture of goodwill, waived certain banking fees for six months; and
- met with the employee involved to review the proper procedures and to emphasize that derogatory credit information or a bankruptcy were not valid reasons for refusing to open a deposit account.
As a result of the enforcement of the Regulations, the consumer was able to open an account. The Government of Canada established the Access to Basic Services Banking Regulations because having a bank account is essential to the management of personal finances. Consumers who have access to a bank account are able to more effectively participate in the financial marketplace.
It is also important that consumers be made aware of FCAC and how to contact the Agency so that any potential compliance issues can be brought to the Agency’s attention and dealt with appropriately. Ensuring compliance issues are resolved may prevent the same situation from occurring with other consumers.
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