How to stop collection calls and effectively deal with collection agencies in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI
If you’re struggling to pay your bills, you may be getting calls from collection agencies. This can be a very stressful experience, and it’s important to know your rights and how to deal with these agencies. In this article, we will discuss how to stop collection calls and effectively deal with collection agencies in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI.
How debt collection agencies work
When a person is unable to pay their debts, they may find themselves dealing with a debt collection agency. These agencies work with creditors and debtors in order to collect the outstanding fees and resolve payment issues.
Typically, an agency will employ a number of different tactics for tracking down delinquent customers and convincing them to pay up. For example, they may place phone calls or send out letters demanding payment. They may also use more aggressive tactics such as frequent phone calls or threatening legal action.
Collection agencies often work in one of two manners.
- By collecting on behalf of another creditor. For example, a bank may hire a debt collection agency to contact debtors on their behalf. The collection agency does not own the debt and may even have collection parameters they must stick to. For example, they may not be able to accept a settlement deal.
- The second is by buying the debt from a lending institution. In this scenario, a lending institution may choose to sell the debt owed to them to a debt collection agency. They may, for example, sell the accounts for 10% of the total amount owed. The collection agency would then try and recover more than they paid for the debt.
In both cases, however, if you have debts in collections the collection agencies will actively attempt to contact and pursue you for the money owed.
How do I get a debt collection agency to stop calling me?
There are a few things you can do to stop bill collectors and collection calls:
- You can negotiate with the collection agency. You may be able to come up with a payment plan that works for both parties.
- You can try to obtain a debt consolidation loan to pay the account off in full; however, this may be difficult because if the account is in collections your credit has likely been negatively impacted..
- You can file a consumer proposal. Consumer proposals allow you to pay back a portion of what you owe while providing legal protection from your creditors.
- You can file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is the most severe form of debt relief but also provides legal protection from your creditors.
What to do when debt collectors call you?
If you are dealing with debt collectors, it can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Oftentimes, these calls can seem like relentless harassment, and you may feel under intense pressure to pay what you owe or take steps to make the calls stop.
There are actions you can take to deal with your debt in a more effective manner.
For one, it is important to remain calm and collected when speaking to debt collectors, since anger or frustration can only make matters worse. It is important to do your research before agreeing to any payment terms or making any large payments towards your debt.
If you are not able to commit to a payment plan then do not promise you will. Simply inform the debt collection agency that you are unable to commit to any payments and explain the reasons why. They may not like this, however, it is far better to do this than to set up a payment plan you know you cannot meet. This will only make things worse in the future should you legitimately want to set up a payment plan.
Finally, it is crucial to seek out professional help if the situation becomes unmanageable or seems like it might spiral out of control.
What to do if a collection agency is harassing you?
There are a few things you can do if you feel like you are being harassed by a collection agency. Canadian collection agencies are primarily regulated by provincial regulations. If you are wondering how early can collection agencies call, what activities are prohibited, and what your rights are we have outlined the resources below to understand your rights by province.
Collection Agencies: Your Rights and Their Rules in Nova Scotia
In Nova Scotia, businesses & collection agencies (and the collection agents who work at them) must follow the rules of conduct set out in the Consumer Creditors’ Conduct Act (PDF).
Collection agencies and businesses collecting debt can’t:
- collect more money than you owe the business or person who hired them
- collect from a person who isn’t liable for the debt
- continue to try to collect from a person who proves to the collection agency or business collecting debt they’re not the person who owes the debt
- threaten, intimidate or speak abusively to you, your family or acquaintances
- make contact so often or in such a way that you, your family or acquaintances feel harassed
- contact you on a Sunday, any day between 9pm and 8am or more than 3 times within a 7-day period
- lie about your credit or a legal action (directly or indirectly) to anyone
- threaten to give information to anyone that could affect your job
- contact your family and acquaintances unless your family or acquaintance has guaranteed to pay the debt or the collection agency or business collecting debt is looking for your address or phone number
- contact your employer unless your employer has guaranteed to pay the debt or the collection agency or the business collecting debt is looking for your address, phone number, employment status, business title or business address
- publish or post your failure to pay a debt or threaten to do so
- use an auto-dialer unless the automated call system provides a contact number when leaving a message
- start legal action (like taking you to court) without notifying you first
Collection agencies collecting debt also can’t make any telephone or electronic contact with you unless they have first sent written notice.
You have the right to:
- ask collection agencies and businesses collecting debt to only contact you through a lawyer or at an address you provide
- ask who is looking for repayment, the repayment amount, and the name of the collector
- request a copy of the initial written notice from the collection agency or business collecting debt if you didn’t receive it the first time
- ask the collection agency or business collecting debt for a receipt for payments made at your request, which contains the amount collected, the date of the payment, your name, and the name of the creditor
- dispute the debt with the collection agency or business collecting debt through registered mail and request resolution in court
If you’re concerned that a collection agency or business collecting debt is not following these rules, you can contact the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services.
The information above is sourced from: The Province Of Nova Scotia
Collection Agencies: Your Rights and Their Rules New Brunswick
The debt collection agency and the individuals who work as debt collectors must be licensed by the Financial And Consumer Services Commission of New Brunswick. Debt collection agencies and the individuals who work for them as debt collectors cannot:
- threaten or start legal or court action to collect a debt without first notifying you and receiving the creditor’s approval
- collect more money than you owe the business or person who hired them; They cannot charge you any fees for collecting the debt
- call you in a way that costs you money (such as collect calls or in some cases, calls to cellphones if the call results in additional charges or costs to you),
- call you at work
- discuss your debt with anyone else unless they have your permission (they may request you provide written permission)
- threaten or intimidate you or use abusive language
- communicate with you without identifying themselves, the name of the collection agency, the name of the company they are collecting for and the amount owed
- call so often or in such a way that you or your family feels harassed
- call before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
- call before 1 p.m. or after 5 p.m. on Sunday
- call you on a holiday
- communicate or attempt to communicate with you at your place of employment
- contact your employer, friends, family or neighbours unless they have guaranteed or co-signed the loan they are trying to collect (except if they are looking for your address)
The information above is sourced from: The Province of New Brunswick
Collection Agencies: Your Rights and Their Rules PEI
All collection agencies who collect debt from people in Prince Edward Island have to be licensed by the Consumer Services Section.
A debt collection agency or debt collector may not:
- collect or attempt to collect money without first being satisfied that you owe the money to the creditor
- telephone, visit or send mail to your place of employment
- collect more than you owe the creditor
- contact you after the hours of 9:00 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m. or on a Sunday
- pretend to be someone else or use forms not filed with the registrar
- make collect telephone calls to you or charge you for telephone calls, telegrams or mail costs
- threaten you with action outside the authority of the collection agency
- make such frequent contacts as to constitute harassment
- contact other people including your employer, family, friends or neighbours except to obtain your address
- include your spouse in collection or court actions unless your spouse has also signed for the debt
- use coercive language, cite loss of employment or loss of community ranking or give false information to anyone that could cause you or your family problems at work
- contact you after receiving written notice to communicate through your legal counsel
The information above is sourced from: The Province of PEI
How to file a complaint against a collection agency?
If a collection agency is harassing you, or otherwise breaking the law you can file a complaint against them. Every province is a tad different in how they handle complaints. We first recommend using the provincial links above as they all contain information about how to submit complaints to the proper authority.
Some other resources you can try are:
- The federal government has a guide about dealing with debt collection agencies. The link is: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/debt/collection-agency.html
- The link to ever consumer affairs office is linked here: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/Oca-bc.nsf/eng/ca02982.html
Frequently Asked Questions – Stopping Collection Calls
Can I ignore a debt collection agency?
Yes. You can ignore a debt collection agency in Canada, but there may be consequences.
For one thing, the debt collection agency may sue you. If they win, they could get a judgment against you, which could mean wage garnishment and/or seizure of assets (including freezing your bank account).
Secondly, ignoring a debt collection agency will likely damage your credit score, making it difficult to get approved for loans or lines of credit in the future.
And of course, if the debt collection agency is successful in collecting the debt from you, you’ll end up paying more in interest and fees.
So while you can technically ignore a debt collection agency in Canada, it’s probably not worth it in the long run.
Can you tell a collection agency to stop calling?
Some provinces, like Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, have laws that allow you to request that a collection agency only contact you in writing.
In most cases, collection agencies will stop calling you if you send them a registered letter requesting that they only communicate with you in writing.
How long before a debt becomes uncollectible in Canada?
A debt can remain collectible for a considerable amount of time. While each province has a statute of limitations (typically ranging from 2-6 years from the date of last acknowledgment), which prevents a creditor from taking legal action against you, this does not stop a creditor or collection agency from calling you.
When can you be contacted by collection agencies?
Every province is different but for the Maritime provinces a collection agency can contact you:
Nova Scotia: Between the hours of 8AM and 9PM Monday through Saturday. They cannot call you Sundays.
New Brunswick: Between the hours of 7AM and 9PM Monday through Saturday, and between 1PM and 5PM on Sundays.
Prince Edward Island: Between the hours of 8AM and 9PM Monday through Saturday. They cannot call you Sundays.