Handling Creditors and Debt Collection Calls in Canada
Calls from creditors and collection agencies are stressful. They are annoying and often harassing. They cause worry, anxiety and even depression. Bill collectors and collection agencies often use aggressive tactics and even threatening language when they call. Some people even give up answering the phone in fear of having to deal with debt collection calls. In many cases, it seems like there is nothing they can do to make these calls stop. However, dealing with debt collectors is possible.
Here are a few tips on what you can do if you are receiving calls from debt collectors.
Find out who is calling
Sometimes, a lender will have a debt collection department that handles outstanding debts. Other times, the lender will hire a separate debt collection agency to do the collection. Either way, when someone contacts you about collecting debt, find out who they are and which company they represent.
Also find out specifics, like the name of the person calling and their telephone number.
Find out information on the debt
Make sure that you ask about the amount of the debt, when this debt started, who it is owed to and any other details that you can get.
Verify that the debt is real and yours
In some cases, collection agencies and creditors make mistakes. They might have the wrong phone number listed or they might have confused your debt with someone else’s. In some cases, they may have the debt recorded as unpaid when, in fact, you have already paid this debt. Once you have all of the details about the debt, check your records and make sure that the debt in question is yours and that it is actually unpaid.
If you feel that an error has been made, inform the person calling and, if the person is from a different company than the original creditor, ask them to contact the original creditor to correct the error.
It’s also important to understand the laws regarding debt collection. Collection agencies are regulated by the provinces. However, in general, debt collectors are typically not allowed to:
- Use threatening, abusive or intimidating language
- Call your friends, relatives, employer, neighbours, etc. to collect your debt. They may contact these persons only to get your telephone number or address, unless any of these people have co-signed the loan in question.
- Contact you before 7am or after 9pm. They also may not call on holidays or during certain hours on Sunday.
- Continue to demand payment from someone who claims not to owe money, unless they have taken reasonable steps to confirm that this person does owe money.
- Give misleading or false information.
Different provinces will have different specific regulations regarding debt collectors. If you feel that a debt collector is breaking these regulations, contact the appropriate regulatory agency in your province.
Dealing with your Debt
If you do owe the debt in question, it is best to pay the debt as soon as possible. If you cannot pay the full amount owing, explain this to the debt collector. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a payment schedule. If this negotiation is possible, follow up in writing to confirm this arrangement. Always make sure that you get a receipt for your payments.
However, if you cannot pay the debt and are unable to negotiate with the debt collector, there are steps you can take to reduce or even eliminate your debts. These processes can also help when it comes to dealing with debt collectors.
Bankruptcy and consumer proposal are legal processes that provide you with protection against unsecured creditors and collection agencies. If you proceed with these legal processes, all communication with your unsecured creditors will be made through your trustee. Your creditors will not be able to contact you or send collection agencies after you.
If you are having trouble repaying your debts and are dealing with harassing calls from creditors, investigating the consumer proposal and bankruptcy processes may be helpful. Most trustees in bankruptcy offer a free initial consultation where they will review your situation and inform you of the options available to you. If you are dealing with debt collectors and high amounts of debt, speaking with a trustee may be the right choice for you.