How Can I Stop Debt Collection Calls?

Stop Collection Calls 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.

How to Survive Without Credit Cards – Part 2

Flight Without Credit Card Booking a Flight without a Credit Card

Filing for a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy can be a very intimidating process.  There are a lot of questions and concerns about managing without having Credit Cards.  Our previous blog discussed two questions that often arise regarding this, “How do I book a flight without a credit card?” and “How can I reserve a hotel without a credit card?”  The key to both situations is always plan ahead.  Reserving a flight can often times be easier than reserving a hotel without a credit card.  Here are a few keys to get you started.

Do Your Homework

West Jet Airlines

Although many airlines and websites require you to pay by credit card for a flight reservation there are still many other airlines that accommodate patrons who wish to pay by cash or debit.  Be sure to call around and do your research the same way you do when you are looking for a cheap flight.  For instance, in Toronto, one Canadian airline that is good to start with is West Jet.  Here is a look at their policy regarding booking from their website.

  1. When do I have to pay for my flight?
    WestJet requires payment at the time of booking. If you do not have a payment card, you can book your flight at one of our airport locations or at a travel agency.
  2. How can I pay for my flight?
    We accept American Express®, Discover® and Diners Club International® cards, MasterCard®, Visa®, Visa Debit®, and Universal Air Travel Plan (UATP). WestJet gift certificates purchased prior to October 1, 2009, may be redeemed* by calling 1-800-581-9499 or at a WestJet ticket counter. We also accept debit and Canadian cash at our Canadian airport locations, and U.S. cash at U.S. airport locations. For international airport locations, the accepted forms of payment vary. Please call us for information on a specific location.

As you can see the one significant detail regarding booking a flight with cash or debit is the need for you to do so at either an airport or travel agency.  Keep this in mind and again make sure you plan ahead.  It may mean a trip to the airport a few weeks prior to your trip in order to make sure you get the flight you desire.

Visit a Local Travel Agency

If getting to the airport is not an option because of distance or time restraints you can also look into booking a flight through a local travel agency.  For example, Flight Centre in Barrie offers a wide variety of options when booking a flight or travel package.  Some options include paying by cash or debit for the flight or buying gift cards to use towards flights in the future.  Also they offer an option of starting an account that you set aside money in to help with saving up for a vacation or flight that you can redeem when you have saved the needed funds.

No matter the situation you are facing, getting a handle on your debt is an important step and whether you are filing for bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, with proper budgeting and some planning ahead you can still enjoy vacations and travel without out the need of credit cards.

How to Survive Without Credit Cards – Part 1

Hotel without Credit Card Booking a Hotel without a Credit Card

Often when entering into a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal many people are concerned with how they can manage without the use of Credit Cards.  Two of the most common questions people face are, “How do I book a flight without a credit card?” and “How can I reserve a hotel without a credit card?” Although the process can sometimes be more complicated, it still is possible.  Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when facing this situation.

Plan ahead

When booking a hotel you will want to make sure you call ahead to the city or destination and see what hotels allow for debit or cash reservations.  When searching places to stay look for local, non-chain hotels or even bed and breakfasts as well as more common hotel franchises.

Prepare For Security Deposits

Make sure you also state that you will be paying by cash or debit and that you won’t have a credit card for a security deposit.  Some hotels will allow you to stay if you authorize a security withdrawal to cover incidentals, damage, or amenities like mini bar and pay-per-view.  This money will be refunded to you at check out, but be sure to check if there are any delays for refund as some hotels can hold deposits for several days.

Pay Upfront

Debit Credit Card Logos By paying for the stay upfront you ensure to the hotel manager that they will get the appropriate funds for the stay.  This is often a guarantee for hotels with credit cards.  An upfront payment on your room limits the risk and conveys a certain sense of responsibility and liability for the room. As well many debit cards now come with Visa and MasterCard logos making it easier to use debit as an alternative to credit.

Finally, remember to budget accordingly.  Make sure you set aside the appropriate amounts needed for the stay and still have extra finances and cash to cover your meals, gas and other travel expenses like souvenirs and attractions.  Preparation is the key to a great vacation.

Bankruptcy Court and What You Should Expect

Barrie Bankruptcy Court

Since filing for bankruptcy in Canada is a legal process, as outlined by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA), you may be required to appear in court. In Canada, the ability to exercise the bankruptcy process falls under the provincial Superior Court’s jurisdiction. You typically would attend a hearing in a Bankruptcy Court to appeal for a discharge.

In your first or second bankruptcy, you need to:

  • Complete all of the duties required for filing for bankruptcy as outlined by your trustee
  • And if no one opposes the discharge.

Throughout the process of filing for bankruptcy, you are bound to complete certain duties – which includes attending two sessions for credit counselling. Not completing these duties is a sure-fire way to wind up in court. To add insult to injury, if you don’t complete them, you will not only have to go to court, but offer up an explanation as to why they weren’t finished.

If you are eligible, you will be given a copy of the discharge papers by your trustee. However, if you do not qualify, your trustee will have to apply for a hearing with the court to review your discharge.

In Canada, there are four types of discharges: Automatic Discharge, Order of Absolute Discharge, Order of Conditional Discharge, and Order of Suspended Bankruptcy Discharge.

An Automatic Discharge will be appointed if you have completed all of your duties on time, and there were no objections to the discharge. No court hearing is required in this case.

An Order of Absolute Discharge will officially rid you of your debts that were incurred prior to filing for bankruptcy. Exceptions are taken into consideration under the BIA.

An Order of Conditional Discharge means you will be discharged of your debt provided you meet the conditions set by the court.

An Order of Suspended Bankruptcy Charge means the court has delayed the discharge until a set date. This is typically due to an opposition to the discharge on the grounds of a criminal investigation, or failure in completing any and all duties.

Don’t place all of your worries on the notion that your creditor will oppose your discharge. In fact, an opposition occurs less than 1 out of 100 bankruptcies filed in Canada. A creditor would really only oppose the discharge if they believe they can convince the court to require you to make extra payments, or perform extra duties – however, this is a rarity due to the fact that your duties are laid out in the BIA.

You should note that on your third bankruptcy (and fingers crossed you don’t come to that), you will not be eligible for an automatic discharge. You will now have to go to bankruptcy court for a discharge hearing in any of the other three categories.

If you have any questions regarding bankruptcy, debt or help handling your personal finances, give us a call toll free at 1-888-504-1511, or visit us on the web at www.allentrustee.ca.

What is Your Role in Filing for Bankruptcy?

Filing For Bankruptcy Barrie If you have decided it’s time to throw in the towel by declaring bankruptcy, one way to make the process less stressful than it already is would be to educate yourself on your role in filing for bankruptcy. When you declare bankruptcy, you have set duties and responsibilities you must comply with in order to not commit any offenses under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. If you commit an offense, you could not only face a hefty fine, but also imprisonment for upwards of five (5) years.

Start by handing over your assets to your bankruptcy trustee. You will also have to hand over all credit cards issued to you for cancellation. Your Trustee will also need to obtain all of the records relating to your affairs.

Compile a formal list of your liabilities and assets, which should include the names of your creditors, addresses, account numbers and debt amounts. You should also note any of your assets you have sold in the year leading up to your bankruptcy declaration, and any assets you have obtained as a gift in the last five year prior. Your Trustee will need the necessary information to file income tax returns, as well as a monthly income and expense statement. You are also required to report inheritances or lottery winnings to your Trustee.

Your Trustee will begin arranging meetings with your creditors, and you will be required to attend if you are called upon. You will also need to attend at least two counseling sessions, which are set up by your Trustee. If you have a change in address or telephone number during the time of your bankruptcy filing, you are required to inform your Trustee immediately.

While it all seems like an incredibly stressful process, you have to keep your head together. If you miss anything, make any mistakes or purposely leave something out of your bankruptcy claim, you can be convicted with a fine or jail time.

You are at risk of conviction if you fail to follow any and all of the requirements previously mentioned, as well as falsifying statements, hiding or destroying property / records, obtaining any kind of credit over $1000 in the time of your bankruptcy, falsely obtaining credit, engaging in any sort of trade or business without full disclosure to your Trustee, and refusing to answer questions truthfully during an examination under oath. These offenses carry fines and/or jail time, depending on their severity. Your Trustee is there to guide you through the process, so if you feel confused or overwhelmed; it always helps to just ask questions.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy or would like to know some of your other bankruptcy alternatives, feel free to contact one of our four offices located in Toronto, Barrie, Collingwood and Owen Sound.

Understanding Consumer Proposals, A Bankruptcy Alternative

Consumer Proposals Barrie When someone falls into the scary pit of unmanageable debt, the first reach for help seems to automatically be to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is rarely your best option and there are several other options that you can explore to avoid bankruptcy, including consumer proposals. Check out our Debt Options Calculator to compare your debt management options.

A consumer proposal is typically your best bankruptcy alternative and/or debt management option to help settle your debts. Understanding the process and procedure of a consumer proposal can be simple.

Discussing Your Debt

After discussing your budget and money problems, a trustee can help you determine a proper estimation of what you can afford to pay back to your lenders and appropriate timelines. We will customize your proposal to suit your financial abilities, in the end, paying back much less than your total owed.

Finalizing Your Consumer Proposal

Once we have determined on the appropriate numbers, a specialist will put together the documentation, have you sign it and then file it accordingly. Thankfully this will help put a stop to those annoying collection calls or even wage garnishments.

Consumer Proposal in the Hands of the Creditors

The documentation will then be sent off to your creditors for them to look over and approve. Once enough creditors approve the proposal holding 50% of your total owed, the consumer proposal is approved and moves forward. If this doesn’t happen right away we can work with you and your creditors to adjust the proposal where it is attainable and agreed upon by both parties.

Payments Are Made

You will then make the agreed upon payments to your trustee where they will distribute to your creditors accordingly.

To find out more details on Consumer Proposals and how we at Don Allen & Associates Inc. can help you!

What is Surplus Income?

I know you are saying – there is no way I have ANY surplus income! However, when you file for bankruptcy, the regulatory body that oversees bankruptcy has established levels of income that, if you make over these amounts, a portion of your income has to be paid to the trustee toward the creditors in your bankruptcy estate.

The Superintendent of Bankruptcy has established that the amount you are required to pay if you are bankrupt is based on your family income, and that amount is adjusted for inflation each year by the government. The limits this year increased by about 2.8% from last year.

If you, combined with net earnings (if any) of any other family member who live with you, earn more than the limit allowed by the government (based on the number of family members in the household), you pay half of the amount you are over the limit each month during your bankruptcy. Also, the time of your bankruptcy is extended by twelve months.

For example, if there are two family members in the household, the combined net monthly income (after taxes) can be up to $2,597 before you have surplus income.

If the surplus income you have to pay it too much, we can review with you the alternative of a consumer proposal to deal with your debt problems. Surplus income is not required to be calculated or paid with these.

The surplus income rules are complicated over and above what is shown above – we suggest you read our detailed explanation of surplus income

Please call us at 416-504-1511 or 888-504-1511 or 05-443-4473 to review your situation and options – our consultation will be free.