The role of debt collectors in Canada
Having a lot of debt can cause frustrations and anxiety, especially when dealing with debt collectors. The constant phone calls from the third-party collectors that your creditor hires can cause a lot of sleepless nights, which is why most people resort to turning off their phones or muting them. Knowing what the law says about such calls and a credit counselling call can help you avoid the stress associated with them.
Common questions about the role of debt collectors in Canada
Debt collectors never give up once they acquire a target. They will make endless calls to get you to pay them, but with the information below, navigating their processes successfully will be easy.
Each province in Canada has various regulations, but most of them restrict debt collectors to specific places and times when addressing issues with borrowers. They also require consumers to stick to a specific method when disputing or seeking validation of information regarding the loans in question.
What to do when a debt collector calls
Ignoring the calls is not a lasting solution. At some point, you will have to talk to them and determine whether they are real or a scam. Therefore, the best solution is to answer the call and get as much information as possible for validation purposes.
After ascertaining that you owe the debt, you can try to create a suitable payment plan. Get the agreement in writing to avoid misunderstanding and confusion later. You should also keep records of everything you discuss until the loan is fully paid.
It’s important to remember that collection agencies are very persistent, but there are cases, though rare, where some of them gave up after their calls and letters were ignored for long. Sometimes they cease communication and end up summoning you to court, which is another reason not to ignore them. In other cases, the debt may reduce your credit score, even when they are no longer calling you. Talk to them and explain why you cannot make payments at the moment.
When collectors should call
The rule in most Canadian provinces stipulates that debt collectors should call between 7 am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday. Very few allow calls from 7 am, or 8 am to 10 pm. Some rules also allow calls on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. They are not allowed to call on statutory holidays.
Most provinces also allow debtors to prohibit collectors from calling and only communicate through email. Residents can always complain to the consumer protection office if they break the rules.
These laws are not as straightforward as they may seem. It is better to read the Canadian Consumer Handbook to be conversant with those in your province before taking any action.
Debt collector’s call frequency
Some collectors don’t mind calling debtors every day, which is why it has become illegal in some provinces. Examples are Yukon Territory, where they are prohibited from making harassing calls. Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Ontario also don’t allow more than three calls, emails, or voicemails within a 7-day duration, especially after the first contact.
The duration of pursuing the debt in Canada
No Canadian province has a statute of limitations for debt. As such, debt collection agencies can call for as long as they need to, even after 20 years. However, they can not sue you after a set duration over the same debt in most of the provinces. For instance, Quebec has the period set at three years while British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan has it at two years. Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland has it at 6 years.
This means that the agencies can keep calling after the stipulated years, but they cannot take legal action against you. If they become too much, the consumer protection office can help you out.
Are debt collectors allowed to sue debtors?
Many collectors use various tactics to get their money, and some may resort to threatening with lawsuits. Others take it to another level by showing you fake legal details about when action will be taken against you. Remember, before any action, they must first win the case in court, unless the money is owed to a credit union or government, which can have a wage assignment.
Many consumer protection laws protect debtors from such tactics, and the only way to benefit from them is by having all the information, including what may happen if a creditor decides to go to court. The limitation they have to take such issues to court also works in favour of debtors.
Are collectors allowed to access debtors’ bank accounts?
They can only take money from a bank account after winning in court. However, at no point is a debt collector allowed to threaten a debtor physically. Additionally, they should never use profane or intimidating language when communicating.
Monitoring boundaries for debt collectors
When it comes to keeping tabs on you, the collectors can monitor your social media accounts and talk to your friends and family, but only to a specified extent. They can also contact your place of employment to get more information on how to reach you. They are not allowed to solicit funds from them. The contact is also limited to one time unless the other person is a co-signer or you gave permission that they should be contacted.
The laws regarding social media are still vague, but the collectors should not threaten you or anyone you know on those platforms.
Contacts regarding another person’s debts
There are many cases where identities are mistaken, and the wrong people are approached for debts they know nothing about. Most collectors get the contact information of debtors online, which is always unreliable in most cases. In such situations, you can inform them that you are not responsible for the loan. If they persist, get more information about the loan and file a harassment complaint with the consumer protection office. After that, get a copy of your credit report to ensure the debt is not listed there.
Identity theft cases
Some calls are made because of identity theft. If it looks legit, but you are certain you did not take it, call credit bureaus and the creditor, then put a credit fraud alert on your report. Check it multiple times to ensure they don’t include other debts, then file a police report.
For debts that are already paid, inform the collector and provide evidence such as payment receipts.
The best way to deal with debt collectors is to know your rights and the regulations that you can use as a guideline when dealing with them. Understand the rules in your province, and reach out to the Office of Consumer Affairs if you need professional help. You can also send your questions to YorkCredit, and we will try to assist.