Bank's Tactics Point Up Need for Consumer Code

Controversial sales practices at TD Bank would appear to underscore the need for a financial consumer code in Canada. That word from a consumer interest group.

Those practices, described by current and former TD workers, included aggressively upselling customers on unnecessary financial products, neglecting to disclose fees for products, and even signing customers up for products without their knowledge. Some tellers said they felt forced into those practices for fear of missing sales goals.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, which enforces consumer protection regulations, said it has launched its own probe in light of the recent revelations.

But Bishop said the FCAC's approach to enforcement can be somewhat opaque, and a financial consumer code could improve public confidence.

"We think that there is an opportunity here for more clear and direct rules that would be applicable to both banks and consumers that use them," said Bishop.

The Public Interest Advocacy Cenetre has called for a financial consumer code before, and submitted a consultation paper on the topic to the Ministry of Finance in 2014. A financial consumer code was proposed in the 2013 federal budget, but still does not exist.

Even without a financial consumers code, bank customers can protect themselves from paying for unwanted financial products by auditing their financial statements.

One commentator advises that once a teller makes a pitch for a certain financial product, to take the information on that product home with them, but decline buying.