It’s no surprise to anyone that – whether you are in the midst of a financial crisis, or have had to miss or otherwise forgo a bill payment – debt collection calls only add on to the stress you’re already dealing with. The last thing you need is someone reminding you that you owe money, but nevertheless, a collection agency still has a job to do.
What you should be aware of are your rights, and collection regulations, if you find yourself being harassed by a collection agency. You should note that it is not the prerogative of a collection agency to inform you of your rights with regards to collections.
What is a Collection Agency allowed to do?
How a collection agency works is simple: your creditor does not feel that the amount owing warrants legal action, so they pass along your file to a collection agency. The collection agency will then send you a letter, which informs you of your debt owing, your creditor’s information, any other pertinent information, and above all, that they are now the company in which you will be dealing with to repay whatever is owed.
A collection agency can contact you regarding the debt(s) that you owe, and is allowed to use any means – given that they are reasonable – to get you to pay your debt. A reasonable means should not, in any way, be detrimental. An example of reasonable means would be assisting you in setting up a payment plan in which to pay off your debt.
What are Collection Agencies not allowed to do?
- A collection agency cannot threaten you regarding your debt
- A collection agency cannot charge you with something that has nothing to do with your debt
- Collection agencies are not allowed to make abusive phone calls, which include bullying, harassing, foul language, or any other forms of verbal abuse.
- Collection agencies cannot contact your employer without your written consent, with the exception of one call to confirm your employment
- The hours a collection agency can contact you are as follows:
- Sundays between 1PM and 5PM
- Mondays through Saturdays between 7AM and 9PM
- The hours a collection agency cannot contact you are as follows:
- Any day of the week outside of the allowed hours listed above
- Contact is not allowed on statutory holidays
- Following the initial conversation with a collection agency, the collection agency cannot contact you more than 3 times per week.
- A collection agency cannot give false, misleading or defaming information to any person, for any reason
- Collection agencies cannot make legal recommendations to a creditor that would result in any court process without first notifying you of this intention
I Feel I Am Being Harassed – What Should I Do?
If you feel like you are being harassed, refer to the above list of what a collection agency cannot do. If they are in any violation of these rules, you can file a formal complaint. The official website for the Province of Ontario has all the information you’ll need in making a consumer complaint: http://www.ontario.ca/consumers/filing-consumer-complaint
What Should I Do When I Receive A Collection Notice?
First and foremost, contact the collection agency right away. This helps you avoid further complications with collection agencies.
Your next step, with the initial call to the collection agency, is to make arrangements to pay. Collection agencies are 99.9% of the time more than willing to assist you with a payment plan.
If you’ve made a payment plan, or other arrangements to make payment(s), make these payments. The only sure-fire way of getting collection agencies to stop calling is to make your payments. One thing you should not do is arrange to make payments that you cannot make. This will only complicate issues further.
If you find yourself unable to make payments, then your next step should be to contact a Personal Insolvency Trustee. At Don Allen & Associates Inc, we can assist you with a number of options from consumer proposals or bankruptcy, and help you get your life back on track.