#FinancialFridays: Safe Banking – Is your money protected?

This is an important piece of information that many people don’t know. When you sign up for a bank account, in the contract it will outline that banks have the “right to offset”. This means that if you have both a bank account (ie. Chequing or savings) and a debt with the same bank, the bank can go into your bank account at any time and take any amount there to lower or pay off the debt. This is completely legal.

Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are protected incomes, which means they cannot be taken by your bank to pay debt, BUT SOMETIMES THEY ARE TAKEN MISTAKENLY. When this happens, you need to speak with your bank and ask for the money to be returned. It can take many days for the money to be returned, leaving you without money during that time.

In order to protect your money, the best thing to do is keep bank accounts and debts at separate institutions. If you have a debt with your bank, consider paying it off and closing that credit card or line of credit. Alternatively, you can close your bank account and open a new account at a different bank or credit union.

Another important thing to consider is setting up automatic payments from your new account for your bills instead of allowing your utility companies and creditors direct access to your account.

Are you facing financial challenges? If you need help getting your finances back on track, reach out to Caroline, our Financial Literacy Program Coordinator at advice@unitedwaybg.com or 519-376-1560. She can help you look at your financial situation and decide on a positive path forward.