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What do you know about your consumer rights?

Dealing with your finances can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have accurate facts about your consumer rights. A recent study by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) shows that many Canadians are not aware of their consumer rights and responsibilities surrounding their finances.

Some highlights of the study include:

  • Fifty-one per cent of Canadians believe that if you pay off the balance of a cash advance before the payment due date that you won’t be charged interest, which is incorrect
  • Sixty-nine per cent are clear on their rights if they have a problem with a financial institution
  • The vast majority of Canadians (85 per cent) know that when you open up a bank account the bank must provide you with a document outlining fees.
  • Ninety-four per cent are aware that you can cancel your credit card simply by contacting your financial institution
  • Sixty-five per cent are aware that all fees must be listed on the package of prepaid cards
  • Forty-three per cent know how to dispute an entry on their credit report

“While this study does indicate that Canadians are aware of some of their consumer rights and responsibilities, it also reveals that there is a large gap to fill when it comes to financial literacy,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Canada.

“It is essential to fill that gap with accurate information. If you are not aware of how credit and financial products function, you could be overpaying in interest. In addition, you are vulnerable to identity theft and other financial problems. Protect yourself by learning more,” says Schwartz.

Here are some facts on common financial products and scenarios.

Cash advances

A cash advance is unlike a regular credit card purchase. You incur interest immediately when you take the advance. In many cases, the interest rate is higher for a cash advance than for a regular purchase. Overall, cash advances are a costly way to use your card.

What happens if you lose your debit card?

Let’s say someone steals your wallet or debit card and your PIN number and withdraws funds. Unfortunately, it’s you and not your financial institution that is on the hook for the missing money. The reason for this it is your responsibility to not share your PIN number with anyone.

Avoid this by not writing your PIN number down at all, or storing it somewhere away from your debit card.

What are my responsibilities with joint accounts?

In the case of a joint account, both account holders are equally responsible for the account. In the scenario when a primary credit cardholder adds an individual on to the card, it’s the primary cardholder that is entirely responsible for the debt.

Reporting fraudulent credit card activity

Many credit card companies have zero liability programs for unauthorized transactions and are good at detecting unusual transactions. If you are traveling, you should report this to your credit card company. Doing this can deter them from cancelling your card for suspicious activity.

While there is no time limit on reporting fraud, get in the habit of checking your statement frequently. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can correct it.

Debt Collection Agency Consumer Rights

There are a bevy of things the debt collection agencies can’t do, so you can brush up on them here.

Has your lack of financial literacy contributed to your debt problem? Learn more about budgeting and how to pay down your debt more quickly. Call us at (844)-402-3073 or try our free online debt analysis.

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