Changes in BC credit unions: What you need to know about dormant accounts

December 6, 2023

Lately, things have been changing for credit unions in British Columbia (BC). More of them are following new rules and becoming federally regulated banking institutions. This affects your dormant accounts and what happens to the money you might not know about. Let's dig into why these changes are happening, what it means for your forgotten accounts, and how you can make sure you're not missing out.

Why does BC Unclaimed only receive dormant credit union accounts?

First, it's essential to know why BC Unclaimed deals only with dormant accounts from credit unions, not banks. The simplest explanation is that credit unions in BC were, historically speaking, always provincially regulated institutions whereas banks were federally regulated. Credit unions in BC operate under British Columbia’s Financial Institutions Act which states dormant accounts that fit certain criteria must be transferred to BC Unclaimed. On the other hand, banks which are federally regulated by the Bank Act must transfer their dormant accounts to the Bank of Canada’s Unclaimed Properties Office.

Credit unions are beginning to go national

However, this simple distinction changed in 2012 when the Government of Canada put in place a framework that allowed provincial credit unions to operate as federal credit unions (FCUs), enabling them to carry on business across Canada and grow nationally. In 2018, Coast Capital Savings became the first BC credit union to become federally regulated. Anticipated to be following Coast Capital’s lead this year is First West Credit Union, whose members voted yes to becoming a federal credit union in 2021. As more credit unions look to grow nationally, we expect to see more continuing to make this change.

The implications for unclaimed credit union accounts

Once a credit union becomes federalized, their dormant accounts will be transferred to the Bank of Canada. However, if you’ve banked with a credit union that’s now become federalized, we suggest you search our database along with the Bank of Canada’s. That’s because BC Unclaimed still retains all the dormant accounts transferred us prior to making the switch. So, if you used to bank with Coast Capital Savings, checking both databases ensures you don't miss any unclaimed funds. As always, it's a smart move to be aware and be proactive, especially when it comes to your hard-earned dollars.

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