Dealing With Debt Collectors
A Survival Guide
When a debt collector or agency arrives looking for payment, things may seem overwhelming. But no matter how much you owe, debt collectors must treat you fairly. Collectors are legally responsible to respect your rights, as stated by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act. Collectors who are found to be mistreating debtors may have their license suspended or revoked and face prosecution in court.
Before negotiating with collectors, there are several things you will need to do:
- Be aware that collectors may request payment in full when they first contact you. Most debts include a clause that renders the remaining amount of debt immediately due if the payments on the debt are late, or not received.
- Provide as much information as you can at the earlier stages to prevent a lawsuit. Debt collectors have the right to sue if payments are made late. If the court decides you were able to pay, you may incur the court costs. Failing to pay the court costs may incur seizure of your assets.
- Prepare detailed financial information. A financial disclosure that outlines your income and expenses would give the company a clear picture of your ability to pay. In some cases, debt collection companies may be willing to discuss repayment arrangements.
- Make sure to acquire a written agreement of your monthly payment plan.
- Check that all collection companies are properly licensed under the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
The following actions are listed by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act as unreasonable:
- Collecting or trying to collect money from you when you dispute the debt, or have the proof that you’re not responsible for the debt.
- Collecting or trying to collecting more money than is owed.
- Trying to collect without a license.
- Asking you to pay the debt in a way that incurs charges to you.
- Taking or trying to take your assets to satisfy an unsecured debt without first taking the matter to court and obtaining a court ruling against you.
Things that debt collectors are not allowed to do include:
- Making charges or threats that are unrelated to the collection of the debt.
- Using profanity or other verbal abuse.
- Talking to your employer without your consent (unless confirming your employment).
- Talking to you or your family with the intent to cause humiliation or distress.
- Making frequent calls that constitute harassment. A collector should not call you more than once a week.
- Forging official court documents.
- Calling between the hours of 9PM and 7AM.
- Publishing or threatening to publish your personal information and failure to pay.
If you feel that you are have had an incident with an unreasonable collector or collection agency, please contact consumer protection BC to fill out a form and report it: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/debt-portal
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