Canadian Consumer Protection Laws.

Consumer Protection

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Residential Tenancy | Collection AgenciesCredit Bureaus | Banking | Consumer Information Portal | Federal and Provincial

Consumer Protection and Information
| Links to More Information

On December 15, 2010 the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act received royal assent and is now Canadian law.

The Act:

  • prohibits the manufacture, importation, advertisement or sale of any consumer products that pose an unreasonable danger to human health or safety;

  • requires industry to report serious incidents or deaths related to a consumer product and to provide the government with information about product safety issues;

  • requires manufacturers or importers to provide test/study results on products when asked;

  • allows Canada's minister of health to order recalls of consumer products; and

  • imposes significant fines and penalties for non-compliance with the Act.

Residential Tenancy

Residential Tenancies Acts establish landlord and tenant rights and obligations.

An example is British Columbia which, as at May, 2003, is introducing regulations which will address:

  • Screening fees: The new law prohibits landlords from charging application or screening fees to prospective tenants, who faced paying several fees if they applied for more than one rental unit. The new law will also protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who collect screening fees when they have no intention of renting out a unit.
  • Security deposits: The new law maintains the current half a month’s rent as a damage deposit to ensure access and affordability and allows landlords to collect extra deposits for keys, access cards and garage door openers. This will reduce replacement costs and improve security by increasing the probability of these items being returned.
  • Rent fairness: The new law will have a simpler formula to calculate rent increases. These will be set by regulation and will be limited to a small annual increase, initially in the range of three to four per cent, plus a consumer price index adjustment. This will limit how much rents can be raised and protect tenants from unrestricted increases. Changes also give landlords more flexibility in the timing of rent increases. The old system encouraged landlords to raise rents every year because increases could not be carried over. Permitting landlords to carry forward allowable rent increases will give them flexibility in dealing with tenants while supporting a healthy rental market.
  • Inspections: Tenants and landlords often dispute the amount that should be returned from damage deposits, and tenants sometimes have difficulty getting their damage deposits back. To reduce disputes, the new law will require landlords and tenants to conduct joint inspections before tenants move in and out, and require a signed report that describes the condition of the rental unit.
  • Illegal activity: Currently, landlords can only evict if a tenant’s illegal activity unreasonably affects other tenants, causes extraordinary damage or is a safety risk. Under the new law, landlords will be able to evict tenants for illegal activities, such as marijuana grow operations, that have caused or are likely to cause damage or affect the safety and well-being of the landlord or other tenants.
  • Pets: Currently, there are no clear rules governing pets in rental units, and landlords are deterred from accepting them because it is difficult to recover damage done by pets when it exceeds the damage deposit. Under the new law, landlords will have the right to decide whether to allow pets and will be permitted to collect an added damage deposit to cover damage that might be caused by pets. This should encourage more landlords to accept pets, while protecting them against possible damage.

For access to regulations in other jurisdictions and more information from a landlord's perspective please refer to http://www.checkfirstonline.com/.

Collection Agencies

Collection efforts can be persistent but collectors cannot phone at unreasonable hours or jeopardize the debtor's job by interrupting him or her at work.

British Columbia has laws in effect which are typical of debt collection laws in other provinces and territories.


Credit Bureaus

Credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus, collect information about consumers' financial affairs and sell that information to their business members, such as credit grantors, employers and insurance companies.  The credit bureaus charge annual fees as well as a fee for each credit report requested by members.

In Canada, there are two major credit bureaus: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada Most national and international creditors, such as banks and department stores, are registered with all bureaus, so the chances are good that whatever shows up on one credit report will also appear on the others. This  makes it simple for you to check your history. You really need to check only one bureau's records.


  Credit bureaus obtain their information from three major sources:  1. Consumers supply information, primarily from filling out application forms for credit.  

2. Public records provide information on such matters as bankruptcies, Court judgements, foreclosures and agreements registered with Provincial authorities.  

3. The major credit grantors and collection agencies send their credit files electronically to the credit bureau every month, resulting in files that include the account number, outstanding balance, and a nine point scale indicating whether a payment was made on time or late.

The credit bureaus rate debtors as follows:  

  0     Too new to rate; approved but not used.
  1     Pays (or paid) within 30 days of billing; pays account as agreed.
  2     Pays (or paid) in more than 30 days, but not more than 60 days, or one payment past due.
  3     Pays (or paid) in more than 60 days, but not more than 90 days, or two payments past due.
  4     Pays (or paid) in more than 90 days, but not more than 120 days, or three or more payments   past due.
  5     Account is at least 120 days overdue, but is not yet rated 9.
  6.    (Code 6 does not exist.)
  7     Making regular payments under a consolidation order or similar arrangement.
  8     Repossession (indicate if it is a voluntary return of merchandise by the consumer).
  9     Bad debt; placed for collection; skip.

The FICO® score
The FICO® score, developed by Fair, Isaac (the pioneer in credit scoring) is a number between 300 and 850 that lenders use to determine your credit rating.

A FICO® score is a snapshot of your credit rating at a particular point in time. The higher your credit score the more likely you are to be approved for loans and receive favorable rates.

The Credit Bureau's policy regarding bankruptcy information is:

  • The record of a 1st. bankruptcy will be erased six years after the date of the bankruptcy discharge'
  • The record of a second bankruptcy will be erased 14 years ater the date of the bankruptcy discharge.

  Credit Reporting Acts Protect Several Rights of Consumers:
 

  • The Act applies only to consumer transactions.
  • Reports may be given to a person seeking information only for the purpose of: extending credit or collecting a debt; a tenancy inquiry employment or insurance verification under authority granted by a government statute otherwise, as a direct business requirement.
  • Before a person may obtain a report, she or he must: have the consumer's consent in writing, or notify the consumer by mailing a notice postmarked at least three days before obtaining the report.
  • If a consumer is denied credit or has an increased cost as a result of information obtained in a credit report, the person must be notified promptly by the person denying credit.
  • The consumer has a right to place a 100 word statement (50 recommended) on the credit bureau file, to be given to anyone who obtains a future report.
  • A consumer has a right to see the file and has a right to receive a copy of any report.
  • Purchase your credit report online for $14.50

    Get a Free Copy of your Credit Report by using the form below:
    You can Download this form in Word 97/00 format or Acrobat.
    (You can get a free Acrobat reader by clicking on the icon below)

    Acrobat logo

    Banking

    Have a question or complaint?
    Call 1-866-461-3222 or e-mail the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada If you believe that a financial institution has breached a consumer law.

    Requirements to Provide Bank Accounts

    Requirements to Cash Government Cheques
    You don't need to open a personal bank account to cash a Government of Canada cheque. Any bank branch that dispenses cash through a teller must cash a Government of Canada cheque and do so for free.

    Low-cost Accounts
    Eight banks have signed memoranda of understanding with the Government, in which they have agreed to offer low-cost accounts to their customers. The features of these accounts are outlined in the table below and reflect the views of consumer groups on the desired attributes of low-cost accounts.

    Bank

    Monthly Fee

    Total 
    Transactions

    Maximum Number of In-Branch Transactions

    Other Features


    Bank of Montreal

    $3.50

    10

    10

    1 free account
    history inquiry

     

     

     

     

     

    The Bank of Nova Scotia

    $3.95

    12

    4

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

    $4.00

    12

    12

     

     

     

     

     

     

    HSBC Bank of Canada

    $4.00

    12

    4

    1 additional electronic
    debit for each direct
    deposit 

     

     

     

     

    Free account balance updates through HSBC automatic teller machines (ATMs), over the telephone or on the Internet

     

     

     

     

     

    Laurentian Bank of Canada

    $2.95

    8
    (6 electronic
    + 2 in-branch)

    2

     

     

     

     

     

     

    National Bank of Canada

    $3.50

    12
    (10 electronic
    + 2 in-branch)

    2

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Royal Bank of Canada

    $4.00

    No less than 12
    (currently offering 15)

    15

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Toronto-Dominion
    Bank

    $3.95

    14 
    (10 electronic
    + 4 in-branch)

    4

    Monthly fee waived with minimum monthly balance of $1,000  

     

     

     

     

    Free bank statement or $2.00 per month passbook option

    Consumer Information Portal

    The Canadian Consumer Information Gateway is a website that has compiled consumer information topics in cooperation with more than 400 federal departments and agencies, provincial and territorial ministries and selected non-government organizations.

    Federal and Provincial Consumer Protection and Information

    Saskatchewan Consumer Information

    BC Consumer Services

    NS Consumer Protection

    Ontario Consumer Protection

    Alberta Consumer Protection

    Manitoba Consumer Protection

    Office de la protection du consommateur

    Newfoundland Consumer Protection

    PEI Consumer Protection

     

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