Receiving financial information electronically: know your rights and responsibilities

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Your right to financial information about products and services

Federally regulated financial institutions must provide you with certain information about their products and services.  

Some examples of the types of documents and information they must provide are:

  • Bank accounts: 
    • a copy of your account agreement
    • information about fee increases or new charges that apply to your account 
  • Credit cards:
    • a copy of your credit card agreement 
    • a monthly statement (unless there haven’t been any transactions on the account and the balance is less than $10)
  • Loans or mortgages: 
    • a copy of your loan or mortgage agreement
    • an initial loan or mortgage disclosure statement. This includes an information box that highlights key features such as the interest rate and other fees 
  • Insurance:
    • a copy of your insurance policy 

Your right to receive financial information electronically

Federally regulated financial institutions may provide required information to you electronically instead of paper documents. This includes notices, documents or other information. 

Before they provide you with required information in electronic form, they must get your express consent. It can be verbal or written.

They may:

  • send documents to an email address that you provide, or
  • send you an email notice that they posted the documents on their website for you to read there 

Before getting your written consent, they must tell you (unless your consent applies on a one-time basis):

  • when consent takes effect 
  • that you have the right to withdraw your consent at any time
  • that you’re responsible for informing them of any change you make to your email address or other contact information 
  • the amount of time that they’ll make the electronic document available to you
  • that you’re responsible for keeping a copy of the electronic document 

If you provide consent verbally, they must also provide you with the information listed above in writing, without delay. This can be on paper or electronically.

When you provide consent, they must give you a list of the documents or information that the consent covers. For example, you may have provided consent to receive your account agreements, information about changes in charges and monthly statements, electronically. 

All required documents or information they provide to you electronically must be in language that is clear, simple and not misleading.

Learn more about clear disclosure in your financial documents

If they provide you with required documents or information electronically, you must be able to save them for future reference. This includes the document used to get your consent.

If you withdraw your consent, they must provide you with written confirmation of this withdrawal. It must specify when the withdrawal of your consent will take effect. 

Learn more about providing express consent for financial products and services.

Your responsibilities when receiving financial information electronically

If your financial institution offers to provide information electronically:

  • review the required information you currently receive from them in writing, such as account agreements or statements 
  • decide if you want to receive them electronically from now on 
  • decide how you’ll save the information in case you need to access it in the future

If you consent to receive information electronically, you must provide them with an email address to receive it.

You’re responsible for notifying them of any changes to your contact information including your email address.

When you receive electronic documents or information from your financial institution:

  • review the information they’re making available to you
  • save the document in a secure place for future access

Preventing electronic fraud

Beware of fake emails and text messages pretending to be from a financial institution. They usually ask you to enter or verify personal information that fraudsters collect. For example, they may ask for your credit card number, your online banking password, or your social insurance number.  

Once they have your personal information, they may:

  • take money from your bank account
  • use your credit card, or
  • open new credit accounts in your name 

Financial institutions will never ask you to provide personal, login or account information by email. Always enter your financial institution’s website address in the browser yourself. Don’t click on links in these types of emails.

Learn more about protecting yourself from frauds and scams.

Your right to receive electronic alerts

Your bank must send you an electronic alert in 2 situations:

  • when the balance of your chequing or savings account falls below $100 or an amount you’ve set
  • when the credit available on your credit card or personal line of credit falls below $100 or an amount you’ve set

Your bank will automatically set the electronic alerts to $100. You may ask your bank to set them to a different amount.

The alerts must tell you:

  • that the balance of your account has fallen below the amount described above
  • that the credit available on your credit card or line of credit has fallen below the amount described above
  • what charges or penalties may apply to current or future transactions
  • what steps to take to avoid charges or penalties and the deadline for doing this 

Your bank will send these alerts to you automatically. You don’t have to sign up, but you may opt out at any time by informing your bank in writing. This could be done by email.

The alerts don’t apply to accounts opened for business purposes.

Your bank will send the alerts via push notifications, text messages or emails. It will depend on your contact information with the bank, the preferences you’ve set-up and the systems your bank has in place.

You won’t receive the new alerts if you didn’t provide your bank with the necessary contact information. For example, you didn’t provide your mobile phone number or email address. 

For more information on electronic alerts, contact your bank or visit their website.

Other financial institutions may choose to offer electronic alerts. Contact yours to find out if they offer them.

When these rights and responsibilities apply to you

These rights and responsibilities apply when you’re dealing with a federally regulated financial institution like a bank or federal credit union. 

Find out if your financial institution is federally regulated.

Learn more about how your banking rights are protected.

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