Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

March 10, 2011 10:41 ET

Consumer Alert: Financial Aggregators and Online Banking Protection

Financial Aggregation Services: Risk of disclosing online banking information

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 10, 2011) - The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) reminds Canadians to be aware of the possible risks of disclosing their online banking and credit card information to anyone, including financial aggregation services.

Financial aggregation services allow users who have different types of accounts (such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts and credit cards) with more than one financial institution to keep track of all of their financial transactions at a single website or application. Aggregation services are offered by some financial institutions and independent companies.

To use a financial aggregation service, consumers provide their user IDs and passwords for the online banking, credit card and other financial accounts they want to consolidate, so that the aggregation service can access these accounts to gather their financial information.

Before using an account aggregation service, consumers should find out what the consequences might be if they provide another party with access to their online banking information. Consumers should carefully review each financial institution's online banking user agreement to determine potential consequences for using an account aggregation service, and contact their financial institution if they have any questions.

Consumers should be aware that if they disclose their online banking information to any other party, including financial aggregators, they may risk losing their protection against unauthorized transactions. Some financial institutions' user agreements clearly state that users will be responsible for unauthorized transactions if they provide other parties, including financial aggregators, with their passwords and account information.

Consumers should also read the financial aggregator's privacy policy to understand how their personal information is stored and protected, including passwords and other financial data. These service providers may be located or storing data in foreign jurisdictions and may have security standards that are different from those of Canadian financial institutions'. 

FCAC reminds consumers that it is their responsibility to:

  • manage their banking and credit card information, including log-on IDs, and passwords according to the provisions of their user agreements review their user agreements

  • to determine whether disclosure to another party that offers electronic account aggregation services is allowed

  • understand what their responsibilities are in connection with such disclosure

  • review the user agreements of the financial aggregation provider(s) they are planning to sign up with to understand the rights to access their financial data they are granting to the provider.

Consumers are currently protected from fraudulent credit card and banking transactions should their accounts be compromised. However, by disclosing their user IDs and passwords to a financial aggregator, in some cases consumers may be going against their financial institutions' user agreements and risk being held responsible for any losses that are a result of unauthorized transactions.

FCAC information of interest

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Contact Information