Online banking: rights and responsibilities

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Online banking is a service that allows you to access your accounts and conduct various financial transactions on the Internet, such as paying bills or transferring funds between your accounts. You can bank online using a computer or mobile device. It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities when using online banking.

How are you protected—what you should know

Most financial institutions offer an online security guarantee or commitment that protects you while banking online. These guarantees are created to protect you if you suffer a financial loss from unauthorized transactions made using your financial institution’s online banking service.

Check with your financial institution to find out about its online banking service commitments and its policy on unauthorized transactions.

How to protect your accounts when banking online—your responsibilities

It is your responsibility to always keep your debit and credit card information, user IDs, passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) confidential. If you give your online banking information to any other party, you may risk losing the protection against unauthorized transactions offered by your financial institution, and may be responsible for any unauthorized transactions on your account.

For example, this could happen if you provide your financial information to a financial aggregator that allows you to keep track of all of your various financial accounts (such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts and credit cards), using a single website or application.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your financial institution’s online security commitments continue to protect you:

  • Do not share your PIN, password or personal verification questions and answers with anyone
  • Sign out and close your Internet browser at the end of each online banking session
  • Check your accounts regularly for unauthorized transactions, and notify your financial institution or service provider as soon as you discover one

Read your account agreement and your financial institution’s online banking or electronic access agreement carefully to learn what else your financial institution may require of you when banking online.  

What to do in case of online banking fraud

If you become a victim of fraud, contact your financial institutions where your accounts were tampered with, or are at risk of being tampered with.

Also notify Canada’s two credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax, to place a fraud alert on your account. Placing a fraud alert means that your credit report file will be flagged so that creditors are notified before making a decision to extend credit based on the information in your credit report. In addition, ask for a copy of your credit report for your review. Carefully review the reports for any unauthorized activity and also contact those creditors to ask about the account or inquiry.

Find more information on how to protect yourself when using online banking at www.getcybersafe.gc.ca.

FCAC’s role

FCAC supervises federally regulated financial institutions to ensure that they comply with federal consumer protection measures that apply to them. If you feel that a federally regulated financial institution is not respecting your rights, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

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