Know your rights as a debtor

Are debt collectors contacting you? Do you think a debt collector might be harassing you? Find out what your rights are and what a collection agent can or cannot do.

Know your rights as a debtor

The Debt Collection Act in Canada protects debtors, as well as a debtor’s family, friends and employer from excessive or unreasonable pressure. All debt collecting agents are subject to this act.

What a debt collection agent can and cannot do

  • A debt collection agent cannot make threats unrelated to the potential and unexaggerated consequences of non-payment of debt. This includes threats made to locate a debtor.
  • Debt collectors cannot use profanity or verbally abuse a debtor.
  • A collector cannot contact your employer without your consent, except to verify your employment status.
  • If you ask your debt collector not to contact you in a certain place where your conversations could be cause for concern or embarrassment on your part, such as your workplace, they must respect this request. This request should be expressed to them in writing.
  • A debt collector must use forms and letters approved by the government. They cannot provide their own version of “official” documents.
  • Debt collectors are not allowed to request debt repayment from people who are not responsible for the debt in question. To be responsible for that debt, you must have signed for it. This applies even if you are married to the person from whom they are seeking repayment. If you are unsure about being responsible for another person’s debt, contact a professional before making a payment.
  • Debt collectors are not to try and collect more than the amount owed.
  • A person employed by your creditor can ask for debt repayment without holding a collector’s license, but a third party collection agent (a person under contract with your creditor) must have a license granted by the government.
  • Each province has laws and guidelines regarding appropriate dates and times for collecting debt that is owed. There are times in which a debt collector cannot contact you, though this varies from province to province. These can include times of special celebration or a family crisis.
  • A collection agent is not allowed to misrepresent him or herself or the person or body they represent.

What to do if a collection agent infringes upon the Debt Collection Act

  • Note down the time and date of the incident, as well as the name of the collection agent in question. Take note of the precise things that were said during the call. If your telephone company can provide any details or confirmation that a call was made or received at that time and with that person, keep proof of that call.
  • Report the call to the consumer protection office or council of your provincial government.
  • If you felt your personal safety was threatened, you may want to consider contacting your local police department to report the call.

Something to remember

Good collections agents try to smooth everything over between a creditor and their client without having recourse to threats.

Sometimes a creditor may send a collector following a misunderstanding or miscommunication that simply needs to be rectified. If you are polite and patient in explaining your situation, a collection agent will likely be just as polite, patient and even helpful in return.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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