“I just received a call at work from a collection agency. I am so embarrassed and hope my employer and co-workers don’t find out.”
Sound all too familiar? When you are in debt and your accounts are “past due” or in default, the bank/credit card issuer or other creditor may turn your account over to a third party collection agency to collect the debt for them.
What is a Collection Agency?
A collection agency is a business that obtains or arranges for payment of money owed to either a person or a company. Your creditors — the people to whom you owe money — pay these agencies to recover the amounts you owe them. By the time a collection agency is calling, you have already received numerous notices about your accounts being past due and/or your credit privileges being suspended or cancelled AND you know about it. The Agency is trying to collect on the money you owe to its client.
But don’t panic, here is what you can do.
- If possible, pay the amount you owe;
- If you are unable to pay it all at once, contact the agency and explain;
- If you reach an agreement with the agency, get it in writing;
- Never send cash. Make sure that you obtain a receipt for your payment from the agency.
- Don’t ignore it. It won’t go away and it won’t get better.
- If all of that fails or it is impossible to pay, contact us, immediately.
How do I Deal with Collection Agencies?
In most provinces and territories you must be notified in writing that an account has been turned over to a collection agency. Rules vary from province to province.
In BC, Consumer Protection BC is responsible for enforcing the debt collection laws in BC. This includes debt collectors who are either located in British Columbia, or contacting BC residents about debts.
If you are being contacted by a debt collector, here are some of the do’s and don’ts about what the collection agency can or cannot do.
What can they do?
- call you at work to request your home address, phone number and email address (if they don’t have it);
- make one attempt to contact you at work to collect a debt (but only if they have your home contact information and have been unable to make contact);
- contact your employer to confirm their employment, business title and business address, only if they have notified the debtor of legal proceedings;
- contact your family, friends, neighbour or acquaintance to obtain their home address, phone number or email address;
- call between the hours of 7 am and 9 pm, Monday to Saturday, at your local time;
- call on a Sunday between the hours of 1 pm and 5 pm at your local time; and
- take legal action against you on behalf of who you owe the money to.
What cant they do?
- call on a statutory holiday;
- continue to contact you if the debt has been properly disputed;
- collect or try to collect without holding a valid debt collection agent license;
- contact you in a way that costs you money;
- continue telephone contact if the debtor has properly requested communication in writing;
- send or serve you with a document that is made to look like an official court document when it isn’t;
- initiate legal proceedings against you without notifying you that they intend to bring the proceedings;
- initiate contact with you without first disclosing the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.
Do you feel you have been treated unfairly by a collection agency and have a compliant? Consumer Protection BC is the provincial agency that deals with complaints. Their website can be found here.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada also has a section on how to deal with collection agencies. Their website can be found here.
Boale, Wood & Company Ltd. is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. We can stop all collection calls and threats of legal action. By law, all actions against you must cease once a proposal or a bankruptcy is filed.
The experienced professionals at Boale, Wood & Company Ltd. understand the stress that financial difficulty can cause.
We know that realizing that you are experiencing financial problems is a hard thing to do for most people and sometimes you feel helpless. But instead of feeling helpless, let us help you gain control of your debts and understand your options.
Start by scheduling a meeting with us to discuss the solution best suited to your situation. This meeting is free and there is no pressure or obligation for you to make a decision right away.
We have the expertise to find the solution best suited to you.
Call us. It’s not too late. (604) 605-3335.