The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) opened a short consultation late last month on proposed guidance respecting Public Warning Notices relating to unlicensed activity and other improper activity relating to FSRA regulated products and services. These notices are intended to be released publicly in order to curb consumer harm and act as a deterrent for future infractions.

It is contemplated that these public notices would be posted on FSRA’s website, published in news releases, and contain information such as:

  • the name of the individual or entity engaged in unlicensed activity;
  • a warning to exercise caution or not to engage with the subject of the notice;
  • details on the type of harm to consumers (e.g. the release of personal information);
  • a statement that FSRA has determined there has been improper dealing of a regulated product or service or that the identified individual or entity is, or may be, providing regulated services without a license; and
  • a caution to the public about dealing with the named individual or entity as they will not be afforded the same protections as when working with people who are regulated.

When determining whether to issue a public notice, FSRA will consider factors such as whether there is a clear indication of unlicensed activity (e.g. online presence, marketing materials), the risk of continuing consumer harm, and continued unresponsiveness to FSRA’s written attempts to request that the unlicensed activity cease. Depending on the seriousness of the impugned activity, formal enforcement action may be pursued. The consultation also referenced the possibility of sharing information with other regulators, if need be, and indicated that the public warning notices would remain on FSRA’s website permanently.

August 31, 2023