Survey shows progress, identifies work to be done
OTTAWA, February 15, 2012 — Canadians understand the importance of protecting their debit card personal identification number (PIN), with 67 percent being aware this means not sharing it, even with a spouse or other family members; however, less than half (40 percent) realize that they would be charged interest right away on a credit card cash advance. These are some of the findings of a survey released today by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) that measured Canadians’ knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of financial consumers and financial institutions, and compared them to a similar survey conducted in 2006.
“Canadians seem to be getting the message that you shouldn’t disclose your PIN and that financial institutions must provide clear information to consumers. However, they need to learn more about credit reports, their right to open a bank account and when they may have to pay interest or penalties,” says Ursula Menke, Commissioner of FCAC. “Knowledge of some key areas of personal financial management has decreased over the past five years; when consumers don’t know how and when interest is charged on credit card use and the penalties for renegotiating a mortgage, it can cost them a lot of money. These survey results will certainly help us better target our work in consumer education.”
The survey looked at Canadians’ knowledge in three areas: banking rights and responsibilities, responsibilities for accounts, and credit reports. It also examined their views on dealing with financial institutions.
Canadians scored well in their knowledge of responsibility for accounts, with over four in five (86 percent) being aware that each person is responsible for joint chequing and savings accounts (an increase from 73 percent in 2006), while nearly three in four (72 percent) knew that the primary account holder is responsible for any charges when a second credit card on the same account is issued to another person, up from 63 percent in 2006. Three in five (63 percent) feel confident that they know their rights if they have a problem with a financial institution, down slightly from 66 percent in 2006.
Knowledge of credit reports was particularly low. Most people (90 percent) do not know that you can obtain a credit report free by mail. Sixty-two percent do not know how to dispute an entry in their credit report—this number has gone up from 2006, when 51 percent knew that.
“Understanding your credit report is very important since credit reports are used when you apply for a mortgage or loan, and sometimes when you rent an apartment or apply for a job,” adds Ms. Menke. A credit report is a record of how you have used credit and whether you pay your loans and bills. FCAC’s publication Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score can help consumers learn how to obtain and understand their credit report and score and how to improve their score.
The survey questions were part of an omnibus poll conducted by Ipsos Reid in September and October 2011. The overall sample of 2002 respondents has a 2.2 percent margin of error. For more information about the survey, including more detailed statistics and a copy of the questionnaire, visit fcac.gc.ca.
With educational materials and interactive tools, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) provides objective information about financial products and services to help Canadians increase their financial knowledge and confidence in managing their personal finances. FCAC informs consumers about their rights and responsibilities when dealing with banks and federally regulated trust, loan and insurance companies. FCAC also makes sure that federally regulated financial institutions, payment card network operators and external complaints bodies comply with legislation and industry commitments intended to protect consumers.
You can reach us through the FCAC Consumer Services Centre by calling toll-free 1-866-461-3222 (TTY: 613-947-7771 or 1-866-914-6097) or by visiting our website: fcac.gc.ca.
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Media Relations Officer