How to Stop Collection Calls and Effectively Deal with Collection Agencies in Canada By Debra PangestuHaving debt and being on the receiving end of\u00a0collection calls\u00a0is a difficult situation for anyone to be in, but if you\u2019re armed with some helpful tips and information about your consumer rights, you\u2019ll know\u00a0how to stop collection calls\u00a0and understand how to\u00a0deal with collection agencies in Canada. If you find yourself constantly fielding collection calls and wondering how to stop collection agencies from calling, know that you\u2019re not alone. There are laws in place to protect you when dealing with debt collectors, and there are agencies that can help you navigate through the different debt relief options.\u00a0If you\u2019re ready to put a stop to collection agency calls, here\u2019s what you should know:Know Your DebtsDoes the Debt Collection Agency Have the Right Person? If a\u00a0debt collection agency\u00a0calls you, determine first whether the\u00a0collection agent\u00a0is actually collecting on a debt that belongs to you. These days it\u2019s not uncommon for a collection agent to call you about somebody else\u2019s debts, especially if that someone else has a similar name to yours. It\u2019s also common for collection agents to call about a debt you\u2019ve already paid off. A practice that has become more common in Canada is for large creditors \u2013 like credit card companies and large financial institutions \u2013 to sell off their old debt accounts to a debt collection agency. And sometimes, accounts that should not have been included, such as settled accounts or accounts past the\u00a0statute of limitations, are included in the sale.So get as much information as you can about what the debt collector is calling about: who the debt is owed to, how much the debt is for, and when the debt started. If the details aren\u2019t familiar, look at your statements to confirm whether the debt indeed is yours, and if the amount is correct. Do all these things before you acknowledge the debt or make arrangements to pay it off. \u00a0If you have paid the debt, provide proof of payment to the debt collection agency, and that should be enough to eliminate the phone calls. If the debt isn\u2019t yours, communicate this to the debt collector and contact the original creditor to confirm the information.Is the Collection Agency Licensed to Collect Debts in Your Province? Once payments on a debt are 6 to 9 months past due, most creditors will send the debt to a collection agency which gets paid a percentage of the debt in exchange for collecting it from you. For debts that are way past due, the debts will often be sold to a collection agency for a fraction of their full value. Sometimes these collection agencies can be located outside of Canada and they don\u2019t take the time to follow the rules and obtain a license to collect debts in each Canadian province where they are going to attempt to collect debts. If you suspect that a collection agency is not local, then\u00a0check them out on your province\u2019s consumer protection authority website\u00a0to see if they are licensed. If they\u2019re not, then they don\u2019t have authority to collect the debt in your province.Debt Collection Laws and the Statute of Limitations on Debt Sometimes\u00a0dealing with debt collectors\u00a0can be frustrating, and although ignoring their phone calls or hanging up on them may sound like an appealing way to handle the situation, the most effective way to\u00a0stop a collection agency from calling you\u00a0is to know your rights and responsibilities.Many consumers are unaware that all collection agencies are governed by the consumer protection laws in each province, and must adhere to strict guidelines. Although different\u00a0debt collection laws\u00a0apply to different provinces, consumers should be aware that there are many commonalities in these laws that outline the rules for collection agencies in Canada. Under these rules, a collection agency can typically only contact you a certain number of times each week, they are not allow to call you outside of certain hours or on holidays, and they may only be allowed to contact you once at work for the purpose of confirming your contact information. Links to collection laws for all provinces If a collection agency violates your province\u2019s collection laws, you can report them to the\u00a0consumer protection authority in your province. The consumer protection agency in your province has the authority to revoke a collector\u2019s license to collect debts.\u00a0What most consumers are also unaware of is that there is a\u00a0statute of limitations on debt, which ranges from two years to six years, depending on the province. Essentially, the statute of limitation outlines the length of time a creditor has in order to enforce repayment of a debt through legal means. Once a debt is past that limitation period, a creditor loses the right to enforce repayment. If your debt is beyond the statute of limitation, you can advise the collection agency of this and request that they stop all communication with you. If the collection calls persist, you have the right to file a formal complaint with the\u00a0consumer protection office in your province (here is a list by province). The collection agency cannot initiate legal action against you unless you acknowledge the debt, which happens when you make a payment or confirm the debt in writing. When you acknowledge a debt, the limitation period restarts. More information about acknowledging a debt Harassing phone calls -- as well as threatening and abusive language -- towards you, your spouse or family members, are illegal and should be reported. Collection agents also are not allowed to collect more than what is owed.Get Collection Agencies to Stop Calling by Asking in Writing If you discover that the debt the collection agency is calling about indeed belongs to you, one way you can\u00a0get a collection agency to stop calling\u00a0is to request in writing that they only communicate with you in writing. This is sometimes called a\u00a0"cease and desist" request. The laws vary from province to province with regards to written communication requests and arrangements, so find out what the law is\u00a0in\u00a0your province from your consumer protection authority. Sample debt letters to communicate effectively with creditorsHow to Pay Off the Debt or Consider Other Debt Relief Options Once you\u2019ve sent the cease and desist letter to the debt collection agency, it\u2019s time to\u00a0look at your budget\u00a0to see whether you can either\u00a0pay off the debt\u00a0in full, or consider other debt relief options, such as a\u00a0debt settlement,\u00a0Consumer Proposal, or a\u00a0debt management program. If you decide to repay the debt in full, make sure you get a receipt for the payment and don\u2019t ever send cash in the mail. In many circumstances paying the debt in its entirety isn\u2019t possible, in which case you can talk to the collection agency about making\u00a0a payment arrangement. But before you agree to any payment arrangements, go through your budget to see what you can reasonably afford without falling behind on other payments and living expenses. If you need help looking at your budget,\u00a0one of our Credit Counsellors\u00a0would be happy to help you.\u00a0 Also, it's important to ask for written verification of the debt owed --\u00a0signed\u00a0by a representative of the debt collecting agency -- before sending in any payments. This will avoid any misunderstanding\u00a0about what you are supposed to pay and the time period in which you must\u00a0make the payments. Finally, don't forget to\u00a0keep a record\u00a0of each of your payments and file the paid-in-full confirmation that you get at the end in a safe place.A Non-Profit Credit Counselling Agency Can Help Put a Stop to Collection Agency Calls If you determine that a payment arrangement isn\u2019t possible, and you still need help to\u00a0stop collection agency calls\u00a0and\u00a0deal with debt collectors in Canada\u200b, contact us for free help to review your financial situation. Many debt relief options aren't well known, but our professional credit counsellors\u00a0have experience helping people just like you deal with their debts successfully.\u00a0Contact one of our experienced credit counsellors\u00a0today and we'll be happy to answer your questions or make you an appointment to speak confidentially about your situation free of charge and without obligation. We're happy to help relieve your stress and get your finances back on track.