Collection Agencies Can't Just Harass You - You Have Rights
In a time when money is tight more and more people are finding themselves in financial difficulty. Sometimes your debt gets sold and youare contacted by a collection agency. Some are more professional than others, and some are downright abusive. But collection agencies are required to follow rules too, they can't just keep harassing you whenever they want. You have rights.
In Ontario, collection agencies must be registered with the Government of Ontario and must follow the rules set out in the Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.
If you're contacted
Before a collection agency can contact you they need to send you a written notice through regular mail (email doesn’t count).
This notice must include:
After sending the notice, the agency must wait 6 days before they can contact you in person or by phone.
After their first conversation with you, an agency can’t contact you more than 3 times in a 7-day period without your consent.
“Contact” means the agents must actually speak with you, email you or leave you a voice mail. If you don’t answer the phone and the agents don’t leave a message, it doesn’t count as a contact. A letter sent by regular mail also does not count as a contact.
A collection agency can’t:
Ask the right questions when a collection agency contacts you, such as:
If you're contacted by mistake
A collection agency can’t keep contacting you if:
If others are contacted about you
In general, a collection agency can only contact your employer once to get your employment information.
Otherwise, they can’t contact your employer unless:
A collection agency can’t contact your spouse, family member, a relative, neighbour or friend except to get your address and telephone number, unless:
Also, a collection agency can’t:
File a complaint
If a collection agency has broken the rules, you can send the agency a letter and include what you believe they did wrong and that you expect them to follow the law
If this does not resolve the problem, file a complaint with us.
If you file a complaint, be sure to include documents and evidence to support it. For example, you can include:
Tips to deal with debt
If you are contacted by a collection agency, try to pay the money you owe as soon as possible. Otherwise, the problem could get worse. If you can’t pay the full amount that you owe at once, try to arrange monthly payments.
The person or business that you owe money to might:
When paying off your debt, make sure to:
Where to get help
If your financial problems are getting out of hand, consider contacting a credit counselling service for help through:
Credit counsellors are different than debt settlement services. Debt settlement services will charge you a fee to help you negotiate a plan to repay your debts. Credit counsellors are often not-for-profit organizations.
Watch out for debt settlement companies that:
Always take the time to understand your contract. Remember that some of these companies will charge a cancellation fee if you want to end your contract before the end of its term. They may also not refund any money that you paid them.