Filing a complaint with a bank or federal credit union: rights and responsibilities

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

How to file a complaint

All federally regulated financial insitutions (FRFI) must have a complaint-handling procedure in place, including access to an independent and impartial review by an external complaints body (ECB). Keep in mind that each bank or federal credit union’s complaint-handling procedure will have some differences.

Learn how to file a complaint at your FRFI.

Learn how to escalate your complaint for an external complaints body.

Use FCAC’s complaint-handling procedures search tool to find the specific complaint-handling procedure for your bank.

Your rights when dealing with a bank or federal credit union’s complaint-handling procedure

All banks must:  

  • have a complaint-handling procedure in place that includes information on how to contact FCAC
  • have a copy of their complaint-handling procedure on file at FCAC
  • be a member of a federally regulated ECB
  • display and make information available in each of its branches, on its website and points of services, copies of a written statement disclosing the name of the external complaints body of which it is a member and the contact information for that external complaints body

Your right to information about the complaint-handling procedure

When you open an account at a bank, the bank must provide you in writing, or electronically if you agree to receive information in this format, with information about its complaint-handling procedure.

In addition, when you make a complaint to a bank, it must:

  • tell you about its internal complaints procedure
  • provide you with the information needed to help you meet the requirements of this procedure

Your right to information about a bank’s complaint-handling activities

A bank must make the following information available to public on an annual basis:

  • the number of complaints that were dealt with by the officer or employee at the highest level (usually the bank’s internal ombudservice) designated by the bank to deal with complaints
  • the average length of time taken by that officer or employee to deal with complaints
  • the number of complaints that were resolved to the satisfaction of the persons who made the complaints

FCAC guidance on internal dispute resolution policies

FCAC has developed guidance on internal dispute resolution policies and procedures for all FRFI including banks, authorized foreign banks, insurance companies and trust and loan companies.

Although they are not Regulations, FCAC’s internal dispute resolution guidelines set out key principles that it expects all FRFIs to meet in establishing their internal dispute resolution procedure. FCAC expects FRFIs to deal with and resolve complaints in a timely manner.

For example, FCAC expects FRFIs to:

  • deal with and resolve complaints as soon as possible
  • provide you with an acknowledgement of receipt of your complaint without delay once the complaint reaches the first level in the FRFI's complaint escalation procedure
  • resolve your complaint in 90 days or less
  • make you aware and get your consent for an extension if the complaint-handling procedure is taking longer than 90 days
  • tell you of your right to escalate the complaint to an ECB if the FRFI takes longer than 90 days to investigate and respond to a complaint
  • keep you informed  about the status of your complaint at specific points during the complaint-handling procedure

In addition, FCAC expects that within 90 days or less when possible, FRFIs will provide you with a detailed written response to your complaint that includes, at a minimum, details about:

  • the FRFI's final decision in response to your complaint, including appropriate details and explanations regarding how the final decision was reached
  • your right to escalate the complaint to the ECB of which the FRFI is a member

You can file a complaint with the ECB that your bank or federal credit union is a member of if:

  • the bank takes more than 90 days to respond to your complaint, as specified in the ECBs Terms of Reference, or
  • you are not satisfied with the bank’s final response to your complaint

Learn more about CG-12 Internal dispute resolution.

FCAC’s role in the complaint-handling procedure

FCAC ensures that banks and federal credit unions have a complaint-handling procedure in place. FCAC also ensures that FRFI’s market conduct complies with federal legislation, regulations, voluntary codes of conduct and their own public commitments.

You can contact FCAC if you can’t find information about your financial institution’s complaint handling process or if you’re experiencing delays when using it.

Use FCAC’s complaint-handling procedure search tool to learn about your bank’s complaint-handling procedure.

Please keep in mind that FCAC does not provide redress or compensation and that we cannot get involved in individual disputes.

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