Dealing With Collection Agencies In Ontario
With debt levels in Canada at record levels, collection agencies across Canada are becoming increasing more aggressive about collecting past due accounts. They are finding more and more creative ways to seek out debtors and recover delinquent accounts.
Collection agencies are in the business of debt recovery. These agencies are quite often not the owner of the debt but outsourced agents of the original creditor. They are paid a percentage of the total amount collected, which explains the levels that they will go to recover the accounts receivables. Collectors spend a significant amount of time attempting to locate debtors and they will often call a debtor’s family members, friends, workplace, and even former landlords, in order to obtain a debtor’s current contact information. The internet and social media has increased personal visibility and these are now tools used by collection agencies. It is, however, illegal for collection agencies to disclose the existence of a debt to anyone other than the debtor. This means that collections agencies can’t discuss your financial situation with your roommate, parents, spouse, children, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone else.
In Ontario, there are laws and rules debt collectors must follow. Generally collection agencies are forbidden from doing the following (taken from the Consumer Handbook):
- Trying to collect a debt without first notifying you in writing or making a reasonable attempt to do so.
- Recommending or starting legal or court action to collect a debt without first notifying you.
- Communicating with you or your family such that the communication amounts to harassment, or calling to collect a debt at certain prohibited times (which vary from one province or territory to another).
- Implying or giving false or misleading information to anyone.
- Communicating or attempting to communicate with you without identifying themselves, saying who is owed the money and stating the amount owed.
- Continuing to demand payment from a person who claims not to owe the money, unless the agency first takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the person does, in fact, owe the money.
- Contacting your friends, employer, relatives or neighbours for information, other than to get your telephone number or address. An exception would be if any of these people have guaranteed the debt or if you have asked the agency to contact them to discuss the debt or, in the case of your employer, to confirm your employment, your job title and your work address.
If you have concerns about the actions of a collections agency, contact the Ontario consumer affairs office.
If you have more multiple debt collectors contacting you regarding past due or delinquent accounts, we can help you. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Trustees.