ANNUAL REPORT: CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE DELIVERY OF BANKING SERVICES TO SENIORS

Reporting Year: 2020

 

General Bank of Canada is committed to supporting our Seniors and their families in the provision of financial services, and in the protection of Seniors from financial abuse.

Canadians are living longer, which can bring health, mobility, or cognitive changes that may impact their ability to bank. Banks can support you and make banking easier by providing information on tools that are available. A number of resources are available from the Government of Canada.

Learn more about these programs and services for seniors here.

Code of Conduct for the Delivery of Banking Services to Seniors

General Bank of Canada adheres to the Canadian Bankers Association Code of Conduct for the Delivery of Banking Services to Seniors (the Code). The Code was created to help guide banks in their delivery of services to Seniors. The Code recognizes that not all Seniors will be affected by the same issues, but certain issues may affect a higher proportion of Seniors.

Since the introduction of the Code in 2019, we’ve enhanced our existing processes aimed at Seniors’ banking. GBC has appointed the President as the Seniors’ Champion, to promote Seniors’ needs and raise awareness within the organization. Further actions we have taken to improve Seniors’ overall experience with GBC are outlined below:

  • We have put in place policies, procedures, and processes that comply with the guidelines of the Code.
  • Our additional processes assist us in communicating more effectively with our Senior customers.
  • The Seniors’ Code has been incorporated into the GBC’s Regulatory Compliance Framework and will be periodically reviewed.
  • We have also developed and are rolling out training to provide GBC employees who interact with Senior customers with the necessary skills to communicate with Seniors as required by the Code.
  • Adopted standards that endeavor to mitigate financial harm to seniors. Please see below for additional important information on Powers of Attorney and Joint Accounts as it relates to Seniors and for information on how to recognize elder abuse.

 

POWERS OF ATTORNEY AND JOINT DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS

Planning in advance can help prepare you for the future. Powers of Attorney and joint accounts are useful tools that can help you to relax, knowing you have a plan in place. It is important that you understand these tools if you are planning to use them in your financial preparations.

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

A POA is a legal document. With it, you give a person (or more than one person) the authority to act on your behalf and it ceases effect upon your death. This person (known as your attorney) can then serve as your legal representative to do certain things for you. There are a variety of POAs available based on your requirements:

  • General Power of Attorney: This type of POA allows an individual to act on your behalf only while you are capable of making your own decisions. A general power of attorney can be “specific” or “limited”, which can give authority to the attorney for a specific task (e.g., sell a house) or give them authority for a specific period of time.
  • Enduring or continuing Power of Attorney:  This type of POA allows an individual to continue to act on your behalf even if you are no longer capable of making your own decisions.
  • Springing Power of Attorney:  Similar to the general power of attorney, but not active until incapability (or other ‘trigger’) and ends if you regain capability.
  • Joint Power of Attorney:  Often a power of attorney is granted to more than one attorney. The attorneys can act together (“jointly”) or can be authorized to act separately (“jointly and severally”).

Why have a Power of Attorney?

It allows your attorney to manage your finances and property on your behalf. In some cases, it is possible to have the POA come into effect only when you become mentally incapable, if this was specified in the document.

How can Power of Attorney be abused?

Your attorney has a legal duty that requires them to act in a trustworthy manner. POA abuse is the misuse by your attorney of the authority granted by you.  It means deciding or taking an action that is not in your best interest. An example would be when your attorney spends your money, without permission, to benefit them.

What is a joint deposit account?

As a POA can be extensive, a joint deposit account may be a simpler solution.

A joint deposit account is an account that two or more people share ownership of. Each of the account owners can manage the funds in the account or withdraw funds from it, regardless of who deposited the money into it.

Why have a joint deposit account?

A joint deposit account can make it easier to access the funds in that account. For estate planning purposes, it can shorten the process and help avoid fees.

Note: To add an additional person to the account, the account must be closed and reopened with the additional owner.

How can a joint deposit account be abused?

A joint deposit account can be a helpful tool if the other holder is trustworthy. If the joint bank account holder is not trustworthy, they can use the money for their benefit, not yours. It is important to know that the other person has been given shared ownership of the funds.

Learn more about Powers of Attorney and joint bank accounts.

 

SENIORS ABUSE

Seniors abuse is any action by someone in a relationship of trust that results in harm or distress to an older person. Unfortunately, over 90% of all reported Seniors’ abuse is committed by a seniors’ family members.

The different forms of seniors abuse related to your financial and banking needs are:

  • Psychological and emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse (the most common form of abuse against Seniors and frequently goes unreported)

Examples of Seniors financial abuse could include:

  • A telephone call from the Bank asking for your password (General Bank of Canada will never call asking for a password)
  • A family member pressuring you to co-sign a mortgage
  • A payment that must be paid in gift cards
  • Receiving a random phone call from a grandchild asking you to wire them money
  • Any situation that causes you undue pressure or fear (do this, or else…)

How to prevent seniors abuse

Millions of older adults fall prey to financial scams every year. These tips can help protect you.

  • Inform yourself and those around you about common scams
  • Do not give out personal information over an unsolicited phone call or email
  • Never send money to someone you have never met
  • Call a friend, relative, or the police before making any decision to send money to someone who contacted you by phone, email, or over the internet

Find more information here.

What to do if you think you have been a victim of fraud

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre – What to do if you’re a victim

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre – Report fraud

 

WE ARE HERE TO HELP

General Bank of Canada is committed to supporting Seniors and their families in making appropriate choices and detecting and preventing financial abuse.  If you or any member of your family have questions about a product or service you have with General Bank, or simply wish to discuss your concerns, please contact us:

By phone:  1.877.443.5620

By email:  seniors@generalbank.ca

Additional Links

Joint accounts: appropriate use of joint accounts

Top forms of financial abuse

Managing Debt – resources for Canadian seniors

About Your Money Seniors – a free financial education seminar program for Canadian seniors