Financial Institutions - Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs - Consumer

Note:  For information specific to certain types of financial institutions, see Financial Service Providers Regulated in Alberta.

Index

  1. How can I find out if a financial institution is registered in Alberta?
  2. Should the person I am dealing with be licensed?
  3. I am winding up an estate.  How do I find out if there is money on deposit with a financial institution?  Is this share certificate worth anything?
  4. Is my deposit safe?
  5. Is this… a good investment?
  6. Do I have to provide the financial institution with my personal information?
  7. What can I do if a financial institution refuses to…?
  8. With regard to my credit rating…?
  9. What fees/ rates…?
  10. What can I do in the event of any unauthorized withdrawal from my account?
  11. What Creditors can do if you don't pay?
  12. I need more information / I want to file a complaint.

 

1.  How can I find out if a financial institution is registered in Alberta?

All credit unions, loan and trust corporations, securities and mutual fund agencies registered in Alberta are listed in the Corporate Registry system (CORES). CORES also contains information on the type of company, its status, its method and date of registration, its registered and records address, its by-laws, its directors and its financial statements.  Contact Service Alberta for more information about CORES.

A list of credit unions, loan and trust corporations operating in Alberta can be found under the related area of the Financial Service Providers Regulated in Alberta section of this website. This list is for your convenience only and while an effort is made to ensure its accuracy, it is not the official register. Anyone wishing to view the official register should contact a registry office. Please consult your local phone directory to find the registry located near you.

Credit unions, loan and trust corporations that are not listed are not regulated by our department. Transactions with companies that are not listed may fall outside the Alberta Loan and Trust Corporations Act or Alberta Credit Union Act and consequently fall outside of our jurisdiction. If so, our resources and legislation may be unable to assist you in the event of any difficulties you may have with that financial institution. This is applicable to all financial institutions whether they are operating over the Internet or not.

A list of links to other regulatory bodies is provided for your convenience in the event that the financial institution is regulated in another Canadian jurisdiction. For federally incorporated financial institutions, including banks, please contact the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

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2.  Should the person I am dealing with be licensed?

In general, as it relates to the

  • making of a deposit: The person is not licensed but they must be an employee of a deposit taking institution registered in Alberta or a bank. Deposit brokers operating in Alberta can arrange for the deposit to be made, but they are not allowed to take the deposit in their name. As such, they are not required to be licensed.
  • administration of an estate: The person is not licensed but they must be an employee of a trust corporation registered in Alberta or services must be done in a personal capacity as pursuant to the Trustee Act.
  • lending of funds:
    • a loan's agent at a regulated financial institution is not licensed but action can be taken against the financial institution registered in Alberta or the bank;
    • a mortgage broker is licensed through the Real Estate Council of Alberta;
    • a loan broker is not licensed; however certain sections of the Fair Trading Act apply specifically to them; and
    • other lenders are not licensed but their actions are still subject to the general provisions of the Fair Trading Act.
  • sale of equity type investments:
    • Credit union common/investment share. The person is not licensed but they must be an employee of a credit union incorporated in Alberta;
    • Segregated funds. Are insurance contracts and the person must be licensed under the Insurance Act (see the Insurance section of this website);
    • For all other securities the person must be licensed under the Securities Act (see the Alberta Securities Commission website).
  • sale of insurance:
    • Travel or credit. The person need not be licensed if they are an employee of a financial institution registered in Alberta, otherwise the person must be licensed under the Insurance Act.
    • All other insurance. The person must be licensed under the Insurance Act (see the Insurance section of this website).

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3.  I am winding up an estate.  How do I find out if there is money on deposit with a financial institution?  Is this share certificate worth anything?

If the deposit was held with or share was issued by a credit union, loan or trust corporation, we will be able to direct you to the head office of the company, or give you the new name of the amalgamated company or the liquidator as appropriate. In the case of outstanding deposits with a credit union, the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC) also maintains a list of deposits that have been unclaimed for more than 10 years.  Click here to visit the CUDGC website.

Information regarding the existence of other companies can be obtained from the Corporate Registry Office in the province of incorporation, various sites on the Internet (Toronto Stock Exchange, Alberta Securities Commission's SEDAR, the company's website), Bank of Canada - unclaimed Balances, your local library (newspapers, the "Financial Post Survey Books" series) or your stock broker.

If the company is still operating, then you will need to contact the transfer agent for that company who will be able to tell you what your options are.

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4.  Is my deposit safe?

In general, regulation creates a climate that minimizes the risk of loss to depositors in the event of the failure of their financial institution. However, should this situation arise, deposits held with:

Not all financial products are covered by compensation plans. Contact the financial institution or the deposit guarantor before purchasing a financial product for clarification regarding what, if any, protection is afforded to the purchaser and the terms, conditions or restrictions surrounding that protection.

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5.  Is this… a good investment?

Regulation is not a guarantee of success for a financial institution. In general, financial institutions operate to generate a profit for their shareholders. Like all businesses, they take business risks, which, in some cases, may lead to financial difficulties and even to failure. Deposit guarantees may afford you some protection for your deposits, but may not provide protection for all types of investments offered by the company.

Prior to making a financial decision, investors are encouraged to obtain information on the financial condition of the company and, where appropriate, seek independent professional advice. Financial institutions operating in Alberta are required to file copies of their financial statements and these are available through Registry Offices in Alberta (please consult your phone directory).

Our role of maintaining an efficient and fair regulatory environment, prevents us from discussing the details of the financial condition of individual financial institutions with you and from advising whether a particular investment opportunity is right for you.

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6.  Do I have to provide the financial institution with my personal information?

A financial institution needs certain information for identification of an individual to ensure that the request is from an authorized person and in order to assess whether to sell, and under what terms, a financial product to you. Some information is also required to facilitate the transfer of information with other agencies. For example where interest income may be generated, Canada Revenue Agency will require your social insurance number; other information may be required by the financial institution to obtain third party verification of your credit information from a credit bureau.

It is up to you to determine what, if any, information to provide; however withholding some information may impact your ability to access a product. In the event that you are asked for information that you do not wish to give, ask the financial institution whether the information is imperative to gaining access to the product and whether or not there is some other means for them to get the level of confidence they require.

Rules surrounding the use / misuse of any information filed with the financial institution are contained in legislation or industry guidelines depending on the financial sector. Contact our office if you require further assistance.

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7.  What can I do if a financial institution refuses to…?

  • cash a cheque? Financial institutions have the right to decide whether they will cash any cheque, including a cheque issued by the government. They also have the right to determine what proof of identification is required from a customer to cash a cheque or conduct other transactions.

Should the institution decide to cash a government cheque, it is prohibited from charging a service fee for doing so.

  • open an account, grant/renew my loan or mortgage?  Financial institutions determine their own policies and guidelines regarding operating, business and credit decisions. You may wish to consult further with the financial institution to discuss your options. While we do not have the authority to reverse such decisions, we can ask the financial institution to review your file to ensure the institution's established procedures were followed.

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8.  With regard to my credit rating…?

  • What is a credit bureau? These agencies maintain records on anyone who has borrowed money or obtained credit. These records will show how much was borrowed, how much is outstanding and whether bills were paid on time. They are regulated under the Fair Trading Act of Alberta and, as such, the nature of the information they can maintain is restricted.

A credit bureau does not make the decision on whether to extend credit, however a financial institution will often contact a credit bureau to review the borrower's credit history to determine whether he/she is creditworthy and whether the loan is likely to be paid back. The Fair Trading Act sets out the circumstances under which someone can get access to the credit report maintained by credit bureaus.

  • What is in my credit report?  Credit reporting agencies must make sure the information in your file is correct and based on the most reliable evidence available. The Fair Trading Act and the Credit and Personal Reports Regulation identify what can be included in and released from your credit file.

    An individual has a right to know what is contained in their credit record and a free copy of your credit report must be provided by the credit bureau on demand once a year. The requestor must provide proof of their identity which usually consists of their full name, date of birth, current and possibly past addresses, social insurance number and possibly a daytime telephone number, together with proof of identity (usually a copy of two pieces of signed identification).

    Should the report contain any errors, an individual may file a protest with the credit bureau. On receipt, the bureau must take steps to verify the correction and advise any recent recipients of the report of the error. An individual may also have an explanation added to their file providing information regarding the circumstances surrounding an item in their file.

    For additional information please follow this link to the Your Credit Report tipsheet (Service Alberta).

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9.  What fees/ rates…?

Financial institutions determine their own policies with respect to their day-to-day operations, including the level of fees for their services. Financial institutions are required to disclose their service fees at the time an account is opened or loan documentation prepared and to advise customers about new service charges or changes to existing service charges.

Consumers should compare the services and related fees of various financial institutions, and choose the institution that best suits their needs.

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10.  What can I do in the event of any unauthorized withdrawal from my account?

Contact your financial institution to inform them of the withdrawal and to get a copy of the documents supporting the withdrawal. You may wish to put a stop order on the account to prevent any further withdrawals until such time as the issue is resolved.

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11. What creditors can do if you don't pay

When you use credit to make purchases or pay for services and fail to make payments, your creditors may:

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12.  I need more information, or I want to file a complaint regarding:

Contact Information Index

Credit Unions, Loan and Trust Corporations - Contact Information

The Alberta Superintendent of Financial Institutions division can offer guidance, assist consumers in resolving complaints about financial institutions operating in Alberta, and respond to general inquiries about laws or practices governing financial institutions.

If you require information regarding the directors of the company, this information is also available for:

  • Alberta registered corporations, through authorized registry agents, or
  • non-Alberta registered corporations, from that regulatory body (see Financial Institutions Links - Other Related Regulatory Bodies).

As our department does not regulate all types of financial institutions, we can only take action against companies and individuals who have violated provisions of the Credit Union or Loan and Trust Corporations Acts.

If your complaint or concern deals with issues outside of the Credit Union or Loan and Trust Corporations Acts, we may be able to direct you to an agency that may be able to help you. At your request, we will forward any information you have filed with us to that agency. However, any subsequent correspondence related to that matter should be routed directly to their attention.  See our Privacy Statement.

If your complaint or concern deals with issues under the Credit Union or Loan and Trust Corporations Acts, we ask that you first try to resolve it directly with the financial institution. The first person to contact would be the branch manager. If you were not satisfied with the response, the next step would be to contact someone in the company's complaint resolution centre or head office. If you are unable to do so or need assistance in contacting the appropriate person, we can provide you with a contact name and telephone number.

Should the complaint still not be resolved to your satisfaction, a formal complaint can be filed at our office. No special forms are required, just mail, e-mail or fax a letter to us identifying the financial institution(s) about which you have the complaint, explaining the nature of your problem and what resolution you are seeking. Do not forget to give us YOUR name, address, and a telephone number where you can be reached during the day.

Complaints are kept confidential, (see below and Privacy Statement), but we must be able to contact you for verification of details or more information. We may also request that you provide additional documentation (such as letters, cancelled cheques, or other documents) to give more detail to your complaint, if necessary. Therefore, we do not take action on complaints that are made anonymously.

When we receive your written complaint, we will research your complaint and contact the financial institution for their explanation of what happened. If you do not want your identity disclosed to the financial institution, it may be difficult to resolve your problem, but we will make every effort to assist you.  We will notify you after the financial institution responds.

Where the complaint stems from factual or contract disputes between the financial institution and the customer, we may suggest that you seek legal counsel. Only a court of law can award damages. Please note that if you have already proceeded with litigation against the company and/or agent we will not be able to assist you until the litigation has been completed and the court has found misconduct on the part of these parties.

We do not disclose your information to anyone outside the office of the Alberta Superintendent of Financial Institutions, except where compelled by law or in connection with a criminal investigation (as explained below) or unless you are making an inquiry or request or filing a complaint that warrants supervisory or other attention. If you file a complaint, some or all of your information may need to be shared with others such as our examiners and our attorneys; other federal or provincial agencies responsible for administrating, enforcing or investigating known or suspected violations of laws or rules; and the affected financial institution to address your concern.

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Alberta Treasury Branches (ATB Financial) - Contact Information

Contact your ATB Branch Manager or the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-332-8383.  Should you require additional assistance, contact the Manager of Service Excellence by telephone at 1-866-858-4175 or by fax at (780) 408-7276.  You can also contact them via the ATB Financial website.

In the event that you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you may call the Office of the Ombudsman for an independent review:

  • Edmonton at (780) 427-2756 or by fax at (780) 427-2759; or
  • Calgary at (403) 297-6185 or by fax at (403) 297-5121.

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Federal Banks, Loan, Trust and Insurance Companies - Contact Information

  • Contact the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments regarding complaints which have not been resolved to your satisfaction and involve banking services or investment firms that are OBSI participants.

  • Contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada regarding potential legislative issues relating to market conduct, consumer rights and responsibilities and the legal obligations of federally regulated financial institutions.

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Insurance Companies - Contact Information

Please visit the Insurance section of this website, or click here for Alberta Superintendent of Financial Institutions contact information.

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Loan Brokers - Contact Information

Contact the Consumer Contact Centre of Service Alberta:

  • E-mail: government.services@gov.ab.ca.
  • Telephone:  (780) 427-4088, toll free at 1-877-427-4088 or toll free 310-0000 from anywhere in Alberta. Outside Alberta, call long distance (780) 427-2711.
  • Fax: (780) 422-9106 or (403) 297-4270
  • Mail:
    • North Field Services 3rd Floor, Commerce Place
      10155 - 102 Street Edmonton AB T5J 4L4; or
    • South Field Services 3rd Floor, Centre 70301, 7015 MacLeod Trail S, Calgary AB T2H 2K6

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Mortgage Brokers - Contact Information

Contact the Real Estate Council of Alberta:

  • Telephone: (403) 228-2954 or (toll free in Alberta) 1-888-425-2754
  • E-mail: recainfo@reca.ab.ca
  • Fax: (403) 228-3065
  • Mail:
    Real Estate Council of Alberta,
    # 340 - 2424 - 4 St SW, Calgary AB  T2S 2T4

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Pension Plans - Contact Information

Please visit the Pensions section of this website, or click here for Alberta Superintendent of Financial Institutions contact information.

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Securities - Contact Information

As related to:

  • securities issued by credit unions and deposits or GIC's of loan and trust corporations, and segregated funds, contact the Alberta Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
  • all other securities, contact the Alberta Securities Commission:
    • Website:  Alberta Securities Commission
    • Email: inquiries@asc.ca
    • Telephone:  (403) 297-6454 or toll free dial 310-0000 from anywhere in Alberta. Outside Alberta, call 1-877-355-0585.
    • Fax: (403) 297-6156
    • Mail:
      Alberta Securities Commission
      4th Floor, 300 - 5th Avenue S.W.
      Calgary, AB  T2P 3C4

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Page last updated:  October 29, 2013