Do you know your rights and responsibilities?
If we say “rights and responsibilities with regards to your financial institution,” do you say “Zzzzzz?” The thing is, paying attention to the fine print is super important if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises. We put together a little “true or false” quiz for you to test your knowledge. Good luck!
Some joker managed to get their hands on your credit card info, and bought three latest fashion smartphones at Miami Beach. You refuse to buy one for yourself – a phone that costs as much as a computer is a bit much, after all – but somehow, you’ll have to pay for these, even if you have to start a crowdfunding campaign to get there.
In case of fraud, credit and debit card providers apply a zero-responsibility policy. Which means your financial institution will refund you the amount that was stolen. But watch out: if you were negligent (for example, you wrote your PIN on the back of your card), you could be forced to pay out of pocket. Use your cards discerningly, and everything will be fine.
You moved in with your bestie at the beginning of the year and to make it easier to pay rent and utilities, you opened a joint account. When you went to pay the Hydro bill, you realized that your supposed BFF cleaned out the account to pay for a week in the sun in Cayo Coco. Thankfully, the bank can force them to reimburse this little misappropriation of funds.
Each holder of a joint account has the same rights over the management of the account. In other words, you both have the right to spend that money however you want. Including on piña coladas at a three-star in Cuba. If you decide to keep living with your roomie (charitable soul that you are), forget the joint account. Pay your half of the rent directly to the landlord and pay each other for smaller shared expenses with regular Interac money transfers.
It’s the best day of your life: the offer you put in on a not-obscenely-expensive three-bedroom condo in Montreal (the Holy Grail) was accepted. Champagne! You have a pre-authorized mortgage from the bank, so you know the bank will give you the mortgage.
A mortgage pre-authorization is extremely useful; it facilitates communication with the seller, it proves your borrowing ability and gives you credibility as a buyer. But it is not a promise from the bank to give you a loan. The bank still needs to agree to finance the condo you’ve got your sights set on. Here’s some friendly advice: wait until you’ve got the keys to your Holy Grail in hand before breaking out the bubbly.
Your bank sends you an email. There are no spelling mistakes, the sender’s address looks legit, the logo too, but it’s asking you to click on a link to confirm your postal address. You find this suspicious.
You’ve got great instincts! Your financial institution might contact you by email, but it will never ask you for personal information on your accounts, or for login information (username or password, for example). Don’t take any chances, and take the same approach to these emails as you would to an email from an imaginary prince promising to give you a part of his inheritance: DON’T CLICK ON ANY LINKS.
Access to property
Big decision: you’re buying a house with your significant other so you can finally start a life together. He’s selling his 2 ½ (wayyyyyy too small) and you’re saying farewell to the paper-thin walls of your rental (the neighbours’ music has you at the end of your rope). Because this will be your first home, you’re eligible to use the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) for your down payment.
The HBP allows buyers to use part of their RRSP as the down payment for their first home. Because your partner is already a homeowner, you can only take advantage of this program if you’ve been living together for less than a year. If you’ve been living together longer than that, you’re considered common law spouses by tax authorities, and the fact that he already owns a home makes you ineligible for the HBP.
You’ve been coveting a hybrid car for a long time, and since your position at work was just made permanent, today is the day. Silent accelerations and gas savings will be yours! The dealer wants to see your credit history, but they don’t have the right to request it. Only your financial institution has access.
A person (like a landlord) or a company can check your credit history as a way of finding out if you’re the kind of person who pays their debts. However, they need authorization from you to do it. Even your bank needs your permission to look at your credit. In passing, you can also check your own credit through a credit agency, though it’s possible they will charge you a (reasonable) fee.
Finally, your downstairs tenants are moving out! Now you can fulfill the dream you’ve had since you bought your duplex: converting it into a single, two-story dwelling. You’re paying for the renovations with the little nest egg your wealthy grandmother gave you as a gift, so you can break out the hammer without asking anything of your financial institution.
It’s cool that you’ve got an inheritance, but before starting on major renovations, you need to share your plans with the financial institution that gave you your mortgage and get the green light from them, even if you don’t need to borrow any additional funds. The bank will want, among other things, to make sure that the work will maintain, or even better, improve your property value.
Bet you didn’t think it was possible to “gamify” your banking rights and obligations like this, eh? If only you could do the same thing with dinners with the in-laws, or dentist appointments…
Edited on 28 November 2017