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Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

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The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is an independent government agency
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

 of the Government of Canada
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

. FCAC provides consumer information and oversees financial institutions to ensure that they comply with federal consumer protection measures. Created in 2001, the Agency investigates cases of non-compliance with Canadian consumer protection legislation. It also provides financial tools and information for consumers, including a comprehensive comparison of credit cards, bank accounts types, and mortgages available to Canadians. As well, financial education information is provided for teachers and students.

History


The Agency was created by the Government of Canada in 2001 to protect and inform consumers about financial services. FCAC is headed by a Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner is in principle the title given to a member of a commission or to an individual who has been given a commission ....

, appointed for a five-year term.
The first commissioner (2001–2006) was William G. Knight, a former credit union
Credit union
A credit union is a cooperative financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members...

 executive and New Democratic Party
New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party , commonly referred to as the NDP, is a federal social-democratic political party in Canada. The interim leader of the NDP is Nycole Turmel who was appointed to the position due to the illness of Jack Layton, who died on August 22, 2011. The provincial wings of the NDP in...

 Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 from Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

. The current Commissioner is Ursula Menke http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/about/commissioner/commissionerbio-eng.asp.

Compliance and enforcement


Under its compliance and enforcement mandate, the Agency investigates cases of non-compliance with consumer protection measures as set out in Canadian legislation. FCAC identifies potential cases using consumer complaints handled through its toll-free contact line (1-866-416-3222), as well as through the inquiries and investigations of its officers. The Agency's commissioner can impose a variety of penalties on institutions found to be in violation of consumer measures, including monetary penalties and public naming of the institution.

FCAC's Commissioner reports to Parliament
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 annually with an assessment of federally regulated institutions' compliance with legislation.

Consumer education


Under its consumer education mandate, FCAC publishes a number of guides and resources on various personal finances issues or financial products and services through its website, along with interactive tools that help consumers find the financial products and services that best suit their needs.

The Agency introduced a new website, moneytools.ca, in March 2007. The resource provides consumers with unbiased information about financial products and services. It includes a comprehensive comparison of the fees, features, interest rates and reward programs of nearly 200 credit cards available in Canada. This database is updated on a quarterly basis with information supplied by the credit card issuing companies. The database also feeds an interactive tool on the FCAC website that uses interview-type questions to build a profile of the user's credit card usage habits and needs. The tool eliminate unsuitable choices based on the profile and presents the user with a small number of credit cards and the ability to carry out detailed comparisons of features, reward programs, and interest rates. Consumer information is also provided on mortgages and bank accounts.

The Agency also launched a financial education portal for Canadian youth in July of 2008 called The Money Belt. The portal is designed to make the basics of money management and the financial world more accessible to a youth audience by providing financial education resources for teachers, young people and the public. It also contains links to other financial education programs available in Canada. It allows young consumers to get practical tips and to test their knowledge of money management without the risks and consequences they would otherwise encounter in real-life situations.

The City is an educational resource for high school students to better prepare them to handle the financial realities of adulthood by learning financial life skills through in-class lessons or self-guided online modules. This educational resource was developed by FCAC in partnership with the British Columbia Securities Commission
British Columbia Securities Commission
The British Columbia Securities Commission is a regulatory agency which administers and enforces securities legislation in the Canadian province of British Columbia.-See also:* Canadian securities regulation* Securities Commission...

and is freely available on the web.

External links