If you have mounting debts which you are unable to pay, your creditors could use a collection agency to chase you for payment. These collection agencies could threaten you with court action, or threaten to seize your assets. It’s essential that you know your rights regarding debt collectors, as you can file a complaint about agencies who are harassing you.
The collection agency must send a written notice
The collection agency must first mail you a written notice naming your creditor, the amount you owe, and the agency’s authority to demand payment on your creditor’s behalf. This letter cannot be emailed. The agency must then wait at least 6 days before contacting you again.
How often can a collection agency contact me?
The collection agency can contact you no more than 3 times in a 7 day period, without your consent. They are only permitted to contact you between 1 pm and 5 pm on Sundays, and between 7 am and 9 pm on all other days. They cannot contact you on a statutory holiday.
“Contact” means that a collection agent emails, speaks to you, or leaves a voice mail. If you do not answer the phone, this does not count as a contact. They can send letters by regular mail as often as they want.
The agents cannot use intimidating, threatening, coercive, or profane language. They are also forbidden to use excessive or unreasonable pressure on you. They must not give false information to you or others.
You can dispute the debt
If the collection agency is trying to collect a debt you do not owe, you can dispute the debt. If you dispute the debt, the collection agency cannot legally continue to contact you until the issue is resolved. You can dispute the debt by sending a registered letter disputing the debt and suggesting a court resolution.
If you have informed the collection agency that you are not the person they are looking for, the agency cannot legally continue to contact you unless they take reasonable steps to prove you are the correct person.
You can file a complaint
If you are continuing to be hassled by the collection agency, you should send a letter notifying them of their agent’s inappropriate actions. You can also file a consumer complaint with the Ministry of Consumer Services.
Resolve the situation
If you are receiving legitimate calls from a collection agency, see a credit counsellor or bankruptcy trustee who will help you analyze your finances and make a plan to resolve your debts. You have several options available to you, but you must act quickly or the problem will get worse.