Monday, January 07, 2008

Changing my Maiden Name and PC Financial Bank

Three and a half years ago, I was supposed to change my Maiden name to my Married name. I was psyched to do this -- all part of the ritual of marriage, right? I got all the information I needed in order to do so -- which documents I would need for each service. I hit a small snafu, however, in that I was under the impression that the Ontario Government would mail me a copy of my Marriage Certificate. After about 6 months of waiting, I sort of forgot about it until I discovered I had to renew my passport for our trip to Guatemala, and I figured I might as well change my surname as well.

I checked online, and sure enough, I had to pay $15 to get my Marriage Certificate mailed to me (4-6 weeks). Unfortunately, it arrived a few days after I spent $90 renewing my passport (in my Maiden name, due to lack of supporting evidence). We don't have time before our trip to chance trying to get it re-renewed in my Married name, so it'll have to wait.

Anyway, now that I finally have the Marriage Certificate, I can update allt he rest of my cards. The following isn't a complete list of acceptable ID, it's simply the ID I'm choosing to use...

Marriage Certificate
Birth Certificate
School Transcript
Credit Card

Driver's Licence:
Marriage Certificate
OHIP card

Marriage Certificate
Birth Certificate
OHIP card
2 pictures

Credit Card:
Marriage Certificate (copy)
Letter explaining that you would like your name changed

Marriage Certificate
Birth Certificate
SIN card

Now, I would like to point out some similarities between all these Cards... they all require your Marriage Certificate and valid government issued identification. Yeah, I know -- obvious. Apparently, every government agency and financial institution believes that if you have valid identification with your maiden name and it matches the name on the Marriage Certificate you've provided, you are indeed a) who you say you are, and b) married. That is, of course unless you're my bank...

President's Choice Financial, requires a Marriage Certificate as well as 2 pieces of identification (at least one government issued photo ID) with the updated name, which they then mail off to some office in the middle of whoknowswhere... [Update: PC Financial's Customer Care Representative, Richard, corrected me -- that is not company policy. Photocopies of your Marriage Certificate, and 2 supporting IDs are mailed off NOT the originals.]

Why do they require your ID to be updated? Isn't the bank questioning the validity of a legal document (Marriage Certificate) by demanding supporting documentation? If a Marriage Certificate and ID with my Maiden is good enough for ALL other banks, AND government agencies, shouldn't it be good enough for PC Financial?

This concern is not isolated to me alone. When I told the the Customer Service Representative at my local PC Financial branch that I wanted to update my name, he asked if this was my "first or second visit?" Apparently, most women arrive at the branch with their Maiden ID and their Marriage Certificate, believing it to be enough, and are turned away. The agent sympathized with me, expressing annoyance with the situation himself, saying "I feel sorry for you guys..."

Let me point out that Ontario does NOT have a Provincial Identification Card. It took me an hour on Google and various government websites before I discovered that tidbit of information. Also, if you're over 35, LCBO won't issue you an Age of Majority card... not that the bank would take that anyway...

To confirm other institution's policies regarding this, I personally contacted ATB Financial, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Citizens Bank of Canada, HSBC Bank Canada, ING Direct, Laurentian Bank of Canada, National Bank of Canada, RBC Financial Group, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust, as well as Passport Canada, OHIP, Ministry of Transportation, and the Social Insurance Registration Office. Although I had to speak with a Supervisor at CIBC to clarify their policy, every bank I called stated the only document required to update a last name was a Marriage Certificate. They all said that identification could be in a woman's maiden name as long as she had a Marriage Certificate. The ONLY mention of using updated ID was if you did not have your Marriage Certificate. The assumption is that the person who updated your ID must've seen a valid Marriage Certificate...

PC Financial's call-centre had a 25 minute wait, so I decided to contact their parent company to see what was up with their policy. Thankfully, CIBC's call-centre's wait was only a few minutes. When I asked what their policy was, the CIBC CSR read from her "Agent Support Tools" a passage on required ID for name change. It stated something to the effect of 'you need a marriage certificate and 2 supporting pieces of ID such as blah blah". She was under the impression that the supporting ID needed to be updated to your married name. I wanted clarification so I asked to speak with her Supervisor. After going over the company's policies, he agreed that the "supporting documents" could be in a woman's Maiden name, as long as she had a valid Marriage Certificate. I asked Supervisor Shaun (Shawn? Sean?) to put forward a motion or memo or something to his superiors indicating the need for CSRs to be better educated on company policy.

Thinking that the daughter company would have the same policies as the parent, I confidently called up PC Financial (the wait was down to 4 minutes) and spoke with a CSR. Reading from her manual, she stated that in order to change my name I would require a "Marriage Certificate, and 2 pieces of ID supporting name change -- standard ID in the new name." That last little bit left no room for clarification -- they did in fact require updated ID in addition to a Marriage Certificate.

Her Supervisor explained that their small branches "are not trained to determine the validity of a Marriage Certificate", and only one office handles legal name changes. Apparently, their "Risk and Legal" department determined that extra step was necessary. Frankly, this is an unnecessary and cumbersome failsafe and should be removed in order to facilitate the smooth transition of a woman into married life.

For a bank which advertises their "ultimate convenience, 24/7", they are making it extremely difficult for women to assume their Husband's last name. This is especially troubling since no other bank, nor government agency, requires more than a Marriage Certificate as proof of a surname change!

I asked how I could contact their Risk and Legal department, and was curtly told that "they do not deal with the public". So I politely asked "Ok, how would my lawyer get in touch with your Risk and Legal department?" At this point he quickly asked if I would like to "escalate" my complaint to the Customer Care department, which would contact me in a few days. I gladly agreed -- this guy was just towing the company line, after all.

Speaking of lawyers, according to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, which acts as a watchdog over Canadian banks (among other things), there is a rather broad list of identification which can be used to open a bank account. Banks cannot ask for further identification unless they reasonably suspect that the ID provided is fraudulent.

Choice #1 – Show two pieces of I.D. from this box:
• Canadian driver’s license
• Current Canadian passport
• Canadian birth certificate
• Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
• Old Age Security card
• Certificate of Indian Status
• provincial health insurance card (this cannot be used in Ontario, PEI or Manitoba)
• Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Certification of Naturalization
• Permanent Resident card or a Citizenship and Immigration Canada form IMM 1000 or IMM 1442

Choice #2 – Show one piece of I.D. from Box A and one piece of I.D. from this box:
• employee I.D. card
• debit card or bank card with your name and signature on it
• Canadian credit card with your name and signature on it
• current foreign passport

Choice #3 – Show one piece of I.D. from Box A and have someone the bank knows confirm that you are who you say you are.

As long as you have your Birth Certificate or SIN card, and a bank or credit card with your signature, you do not even have to show photo ID -- I found that particularly interesting. According to the FCAC, however, once you HAVE a bank account, these rules no longer apply -- the bank can request photo ID in order to make changes to your account (such as updating your name).

Therefore, according to these regulations, I should be able to apply for a bank account with my Birth Certificate (which obviously has my Maiden name, since I am assuming my Husband's name, rather than legally changing it), and my SIN card, or a credit card which have been updated -- which name would they put the account under? Would they require further identification?

Just to reinforce the ludicrousness of PC Financial requiring updated ID as well as your Marriage Certificate, here's my call list and responses from all the major banks I could contact:

ATB Financial ( 1-800-332-8383
marriage certificate
ID does not have to be updated to married name

Bank of Montreal ( 1-800-225-5266
marriage certificate
ID doesn't have to be updated to married name

CIBC ( 1-800-465-2422
marriage certificate
ID does not have to be updated to married name
Spoke with supervisor Shaun/Shawn/Sean, 9:40 EST Jan 07 to confirm this policy

Citizens Bank of Canada ( 1-888-708-7800
marriage certificate
ID does not have to be updated to married name

HSBC Bank Canada ( 1-888-310-4722
marriage certificate
ID does not have to be updated to married name

ING Direct ( 1-800-464-3473
marriage certificate
ID does not have to be updated to married name

Laurentian Bank of Canada ( 1-877-522-3863
marriage certificate
ID does not have to be updated to married name

National Bank of Canada ( 1-888-483-5628
marriage certificate
ID does not have to be updated to married name

President’s Choice Financial ( 1-888-723-8881
Supporting document, including marriage certificate, and 2 pieces of ID supporting name change -- standard ID in the new name

RBC Financial Group ( 1-800-769-2511
marriage certificate
ID doesn't have to be updated to married name

Scotiabank ( 1-800-472-6842
marriage certificate
ID doesn't have to be updated to married name

TD Canada Trust ( 1-866-222-3456
marriage certificate
ID doesn't have to be updated to married name

Continued: PC Financial is Hassling Newly Married Women Part 2 & Part 3


Anonymous said...

I am returning to my maiden name after a divorce and was told I could not unless I had other supporting ID. I am 53, with a Canadian Birth Certificate in my maiden name, SIN Card, health card in maiden name, must wait a month for passport (during mail strike) I do not drive either! Also having problems with house insurance as newly registered deed on house was before my name change and it is a "historical document" which cannot be changed!

Adelle said...

Ugh I just had this same experience today at RBC, despite having my marriage license, record of marriage from the church, passport, and birth certificate on me, plus having my debit card and entering my pin. Apparently they needed proof that I was "serious about changing my name and in the process of doing so."

Carla said...

I called PC about this today, just in case they had a policy update - which they did! Yay! According to the CSR I spoke to what you require is:
(1) Marriage Certificate - the official one issued by the government
(2) 1 piece of photo ID (i.e. Driver's Licence, Passport) - can have old name or new
(3) 1 piece of ID (no photo required - i.e. SIN, Credit Card) - name must match the photo ID in (2).
So if you have already changed your ID then your 2nd piece will need to have the updated name. But if you still have your original/maiden name on these, then the 2nd piece must have that name as well.
I think this will make things much easier now.