Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

November 19, 2008 12:55 ET

FCAC Releases Annual Report for 2007-08 Fiscal Year: Agency Works to Improve Financial Literacy Among Canadians

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 19, 2008) - The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) today released its 2007-08 Annual Report. According to the Report, website visits are continually increasing from year-to-year, and have reached an all-time high of approximately 1.7 million. More and more consumers are turning to FCAC as a source of information for their financial needs, with twice as many Canadians ordering or downloading publications from FCAC's website.

In 2007-08, FCAC focused on developing the necessary tools to improve financial literacy among Canadians. This work resulted in a partnership with the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) to create The City: A Financial Life Skills Resource, which was successfully launched in September 2008. The City is an on-line Web resource which guides students through the process of learning about various financial topics such as budgeting, saving, credit, debt, insurance, investments, and more.

"One of our main priorities is to ensure that Canadians have easy access to useful and reliable financial information," said FCAC Commissioner Ursula Menke. "FCAC's goal in 2007-08 was to create the tools that would provide financial information to a large audience, while specifically targeting youth. We are proud to have been successful in developing the necessary tools to educate Canadians about the many products and services within the financial realm."

In 2007-08, FCAC continued to improve and add to its selection of consumer education tools and publications:

- It created a new website, themoneybelt.gc.ca, which supports its financial literacy initiative and provides links to other financial education programs across Canada;

- It released a new Web-based guide that explains the benefits of savings accounts, how they work, and how they protect a consumer's savings; and

- It developed a new Web-based publication, Service Fees on Credit Card Transactions, which explains the various fees that can apply to credit card transactions, how the fees work, and how they can be minimized.

FCAC also oversees the legislation and regulations that protect consumers in their dealings with federally regulated financial institutions, and monitors the industry's compliance with voluntary codes of conduct and public commitments.

In 2007-08, FCAC's Compliance and Enforcement Branch made it a priority to monitor the Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services, a voluntary code of conduct that outlines the role of both industry and consumers with regards to the use of debit cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). To do so, FCAC commissioned a survey and a focus group research on consumers' knowledge and comfort around debit card use. While nearly all consumers reported feeling well-informed about debit cards and well-protected while using their card, findings revealed that they were not clear on their liability in the event of losses resulting from unauthorized transactions made with their card, an area where FCAC hopes to increase consumers' knowledge.

FCAC also worked with financial institutions to implement and enhance disclosure practices for joint borrowers, to increase compliance with the consumer provisions relating to co-borrowers, as set out in the Cost of Borrowing Regulations.

FCAC's annual report is available on its Web site at www.fcac.gc.ca.

FCAC provides consumers with accurate, objective information about financial products and services, and informs Canadians of their rights and responsibilities when dealing with federally regulated financial institutions. FCAC also ensures compliance with the consumer protection laws, and monitors codes of conduct and public commitments that apply to banks and federally incorporated trust, loan and insurance companies.

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