How to file a complaint with your financial institution

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By law, federally regulated financial institutions (federally regulated banks and trust, loan and insurance companies) are required to have a complaints procedure. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has also set specific expectations for these financial institutions with respect to their complaint handling procedures. The following information takes into account both the legislative requirements and the expectations set out in FCAC’s guideline.

However, when a complaint is made, they must all provide you with a written acknowledgment containing the date on which they received the complaint. They should provide you with information about their process, such as your right to complain to an External Complaints Body (OETP) and how to contact the OETP and FCAC. They should also help you navigate through the different stages of their complaint handling process.

Step 1: Speak to a representative

Ask a representative from your financial institution to help you with your complaint. This could be a representative from your branch, call center or online chat facility.

Make sure you have all the details of your complaint handy when you speak with the representative. Explain the situation and give all the details supporting your complaint.

FCAC expects banks (including federal credit unions) and authorized foreign banks to process your complaint promptly. This means that if the representative has not resolved or closed your complaint within 14 days, they must forward it to an employee who is designated to handle complaints. If the bank closes your complaint within 14 days and you are not satisfied, you have the right to take the next step in the bank’s procedure.

Step 2: Do business with your financial institution’s complaints department

If your complaint is forwarded to the next stage, you should normally deal with the complaint handling department of your financial institution. In the case of a bank, you could also do business with a designated employee (as indicated in step 1).

A bank must examine your complaint within a maximum period of 56 days. Note that this period includes the 14 days indicated in step 1. You can send your complaint to the OETP of which it is a member (step 3) if it:

Your complaint could be against a federally regulated trust and loan company or insurance company. In this case, if your complaint is not resolved within 90 days of step 2, you can proceed to step 3.

Step 3: Forward your complaint to an outside organization

If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction after steps 1 and 2, you can refer it to an outside organization. If you do business with a bank, you can forward your complaint to the external complaints body (OETP) of which it is a member. In the case of a trust and loan company or an insurance company, you can refer your complaint to the independent complaints body of which it is a member.

Ombudsman for life and health insurance (OAP) , for life insurance companies and life and health insurance companies

Conciliation service in damage insurance (SCAD) , for multi-risk insurance companies

Provincial and territorial regulators

You may need to contact your provincial or territorial regulator to help resolve your complaint. This depends on the type of financial product or service your complaint is about. For example, if you purchased investments from a bank-owned stockbroker.

FCAC investigates complaints about financial institutions related to possible breaches of business conduct obligations. It may be a violation of a law, regulation, code of conduct or public commitment. This includes the requirement for federally regulated financial institutions to have a complaints process in place.

If you cannot find your financial institution’s complaint handling process or if you are experiencing delays using it, contact FCAC. Keep in mind that the FCAC does not offer any restitution or compensation and cannot intervene in disputes of an individual nature.

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