Collection Agency & Creditor Laws
Creditors Calling at Work | Know Your Rights
Generally speaking, collectors cannot call you at all hours of the day and night, nor can they keep calling your place of employment to confirm your employment status.
Each province has exact rules governing what collectors can and cannot do. If you’d like to know what applies to your province, please contact us directly by phone or email and we’d be happy to provide you with this information. In some provinces, if you ask creditors in writing to communicate with you in writing only, they must do so. This will stop the majority of collection phone calls temporarily, but can affect how long a creditor may try to collect from you.
Spending, Personal & Household Budgets
Consider all of your expenses – weekly, monthly, and seasonal. Include all of your spending – personal, living and household. Our Money Management Basics booklet (budget worksheets pages 4 – 5) may be of valuable assistance to you in this process. Feel free to contact us for assistance with determining your budget.
Stop Repossession & Collection
Home, Vehicle, Investments & More | Consequences of Late Payments
Next, consider what assets you have that may be at risk. Do you have a bank account at a financial institution that you owe money to? If you get behind with your payments at that financial institution, they may offset money from your bank account or investment product to pay towards your debt. Do you own a home, car or truck, recreational vehicle, vacation property, antiques and collectibles, or stocks / bonds / investments? Some of these may be in jeopardy if you’re unable to keep your debt payments up to date.
Joint Debts With Family & Friends
Seizure of Property
You also need to consider the nature of your debts. Are they joint with anyone? Are they cosigned or guaranteed by a family member or friend? Are they secured by real estate or property? Depending on the nature of your debts, your inability to pay may affect a family member or friend, or a creditor may want to collect on their security. Each province has laws around seizure of property – please feel free to contact us if you’d like to know whom to contact in your area for clarification about these laws.
Reasons for Financial Difficulty
Get Out of Debt and Keep It That Way
In order to help your creditors understand your situation, you need to outline your household income and provide proof of your situation. For example:
- A letter from your doctor if you have a health situation or disability that is affecting your income
- Proof explaining changes in your employment status, e.g. reduced hours, termination or Employment Insurance benefits
- Confirmation that your family or marital status has changed
Personal, Household & Family Budget
Creditor Budget Request
Also prepare a summary of your budget stating how many people reside in your household and how many dependents you have. Include your total income, your housing and transportation expenses, debt obligations, medical expenses, grocery and personal expenses, as well as taxes that you need to pay. Don’t forget to include a monthly estimate of your necessary seasonal expenses.
Sample Forgiveness of Debt Letter for Collection Agency
Now it’s time to prepare a letter (see sample letters and important note below). Make a list of the address, phone and fax number for each creditor or collection agency. Be sure to obtain the name of the person / supervisor you have been dealing with at each company. Confirm which debt they are trying to collect on to make sure that two agencies aren’t trying to collect on the same debt.
Ask Creditors to Only Communicate In Writing
For example, you stated in your letter that your family income has suddenly decreased because your partner is off work due to injury. You also explained that there is an insurance payment expected in 3 weeks and that you will make your debt payment then. Make sure you follow through with your payment. If it takes longer to receive the insurance payment, write them and tell them so. Your goal is to gain your creditors’ co-operation during your difficult time.
Communicating honestly and updating your creditors about your situation is very important in this process.
Sample Letter – No Ability To Make Payment
Once you’ve written a short letter to outline your situation, attach any relevant documentation and the summary of your budget. Then email, fax or mail it to your creditors or collection agents by registered mail. You want proof that they received it. Get proof every time you mail or fax anything to them and keep your receipts organized.
How to Negotiate Debt Repayment With Creditors
If you speak with someone to give them an update about your situation, jot down their name, number, time of call and what was discussed. You may need to provide these documents and receipts again in the future. Follow up oral communication with something in writing if possible (see note below regarding writing to your creditors). If the person you were talking to proposed a payment arrangement or special circumstances, ask them to send it to you in writing. Verbal agreements are difficult to prove. You can take the time to consider a written offer more carefully than if you are on the phone with someone. It’s important to only agree to what you are reasonably able to do – don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment.
Please Note: If you have not made a payment on a debt for some time and you contact one of your creditors in writing, either on your own or with one of the sample letters below, this may in some provinces constitute “acknowledging the debt,” and restart the statute of limitation in the same way making a payment would.
Always use the term “alleged debt” when communicating with collectors or creditors. Sometimes they may attempt to get you to verbally acknowledge the debt. This, too, could restart the statute of limitation.
The statute of limitation, which determines how long a creditor has to collect on a debt that is no longer acknowledged by the debtor, varies by province and ranges from 2 to 6 years.
Credit reporting agencies also report debts on your credit report based on the date of last activity on the debt. After 6 years of no activity, a debt is typically no longer reported by the credit reporting agencies.
Use this checklist and get ready to communicate effectively with your creditors.
Ending Stressful Calls
Here are 4 DIY steps to take now when you need to put an end to stressful collection calls / letters.
Are you curious about what credit counselling is or how it works? Here’s what you need to know.