If you don’t pay your bills, you might receive one or more calls from a collection agency. In some cases, debt collectors can be intimidating, persistent and even outright aggressive. The good news is you have rights, and knowing them can help you avoid being harassed. Here’s what you should know.
WHAT A COLLECTION AGENCY CAN DO
A collection agency isn’t required to tell you what your rights are. You need to educate yourself. Here’s what a debt collector is legally allowed to do:
Call you to inform you of the debt you owe, but only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Calls on holidays aren’t allowed.
Contact only your relatives, friends and neighbours to get your telephone number and address. They aren’t allowed to contact your financial institution without your consent.
Suggest only reasonable means for you to pay your debt.
WHAT A COLLECTION AGENCY CAN’T DO
There are limits to what a debt collection agency is legally allowed to do. For example, a debt collector can’t:
Suggest to friends or family members that they pay your debt.
Talk to your employer without your permission, other than to verify you work there.
Use profanity or an angry, aggressive tone that may constitute verbal abuse.
Present you with false court documents.
Make frequent calls that may be considered harassment.
Make charges or threats that aren’t related to your debt.
Call you on your cell phone, unless you’ve provided it as a way to reach you.
DEALING WITH DEBT
In the end, the only way to stop a collection agency from calling you is to deal with your debt. Try the following:
If you can’t make your payment all at once, offer the agency an alternative such as monthly installments.
Make an initial, partial payment right away as a sign of good faith. However, never pay cash and keep a record of all your transactions.
Seek the advice of a licensed insolvency trustee who can help you consolidate your debt, file a consumer proposal or file for bankruptcy. This way you can stop phone calls from creditors quickly.
In addition, a licensed insolvency trustee can offer credit counselling services that will allow you to get your financial affairs in order once and for all.
DEBT HELP IN OTTAWA AND EASTERN ONTARIO
At D. & A. MacLeod Company Ltd., our credit experts specialize in helping you get out of debt help and gaining control of your finances. We offer debt consolidation and other types of debt help. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today.