Decision #87131-858Q204

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 87131-858Q204

Compliance issue

Accounts — Refusal to open due to previous bankruptcy
Bank Act, s 448.1(1)
Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations, ss. 4, 5(b)

A bank refused to open a retail deposit account for a consumer because of his past credit history. The bank also failed to provide the consumer with a letter of refusal containing information required by the Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations.

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

Section 5 of the Regulations stipulates that when a bank refuses to open a retail deposit account, it must provide consumers, in writing, with a notice of its refusal to open the account and a statement indicating that the consumer can contact FCAC if he or she has a complaint. The letter must also include information on how to contact FCAC.

Compliance measure(s) taken

A Letter of ReprimandFootnote 2  noting two violations against the bank.

Compliance considerations

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, 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 a branch manager who did not follow the bank’s procedures. As such, the case is considered as an isolated event, and not a systemic problem.

Measures taken by financial institution

  • Contacted the consumer, following FCAC’s intervention, and offered to open a personal deposit account for him.
  • Offered training to its personnel on the Regulations and on related internal policies and procedures.

Outcomes

As a result of the enforcement of the Regulations, the consumer was able to open an account. Having a bank account is essential to the management of personal finances. 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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