Decision #53031-821Q404

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 53031-821Q404

Compliance issue

Accounts — Refusal to open a retail deposit account
Bank Act, s 448.1(1)
Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations, ss. 3(1), 4

A bank refused to open a retail deposit account for an individual because of prejudicial information on the individual’s credit history file.

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.

Subsection 3(1) of the Regulations sets out exceptions to section 448.1(1) of the Bank Act and does not include the right to refuse to open a retail deposit account based on poor credit history.

Section 4 of the Regulations states that consumers can open a retail deposit account if they go to the bank in person and present acceptable identification.Footnote 1

Compliance measure(s) taken

A Letter of ReprimandFootnote 2  noting one violation against the bank.

Compliance considerations

In the present case, the individual applied for a bank account with overdraft protection and was refused by the bank due to an outstanding loan in the individual’s credit file. Subsequently, the bank failed to inform the individual that they could open a retail deposit account without overdraft protection.

This was an isolated incident of a bank employee not following proper procedure. The bank rectified the situation quickly and efficiently. There were no previous violations of these regulations in the bank’s compliance history, prior to this incident.

Measures taken by financial institution

Following the investigation of other complaints involving a refusal to open an account with overdraft protection, the bank issued a message reinforcing the regulations to all front-line staff. Approximately one month later, the bank implemented system enhancements so that an automatic prompt would remind staff that individuals who were not eligible for overdraft protection should not necessarily be refused an account.

In response to this case, the bank:

  • arranged a meeting with the sales associate who processed the client’s application, to discuss the situation and reinforce the regulations; and
  • contacted the complainant and opened both a transactions and a savings account.

Outcomes

As a result of the enforcement of the Regulations, the individual 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.

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