Are Debt Collectors Invading Your Rights?
When a collector or collection agency contacts you seeking payment, things can be overwhelming. No matter how much you owe, debt collectors do not have the right to treat you unfairly. Your rights are protected by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
Collectors who are found to be harassing debtors may have their license suspended or cancelled, and face prosecution in court. For those in BC, contact Consumer Protection BC to report harassment and fill out a complaint form.
Make sure to prepare yourself in the following ways before confronting or negotiation with collection agencies.
- Be aware that debt collection agencies might 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 court action.
Collectors have the right to sue if payments are made late. If the judge decides you had the ability to pay, you could incur the court costs. Failure to pay a judgement issued by the court may result in garnishees of your wages, bank accounts or seizure and sale of your assets.
- Prepare detailed financial information.
In some cases, debt collection companies may be willing to discuss repayment arrangements. A financial disclosure that outlines all sources of income and monthly expenses would give the company a clear picture of your ability to pay.
- If a payment plan is considered and a monthly payment schedule is agreed upon, ask for confirmation in writing.
- Make sure that a letter confirming the settlement arrangements will be provided before the settlement amount is required to pay.
- Check that all bailiff and collection companies are licensed and bonded under the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act if they are collecting in BC.
The following practices are indicated by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act as UNREASONABLE and are a form of harassment.
Unreasonable collectors will:
- Collect or try to collect money from you when you dispute the debt, or have the proof that you’re not responsible for the debt
- Collect or try to collect more money than you owe.
- Try to collect without a proper license
- Phone you to collect or ask you to send the money in a method that includes charges to you.
- Take or try to take assets you own to satisfy an unsecured debt without taking the matter to
- court and obtaining a judgement against you.
Debt collectors are not allowed to:
- Make charges or threats that are irrelevant with the collection of the debt.
- Use profanity or other verbal abuse.
- Make angry, abuse phone calls.
- Talk to your employer without your permission (unless it’s to confirm your employment).
- Talk to you, your family or your employer with an intention to humiliate or distress.
- Make frequent calls that constitute harassment. A collector should not call you more than once a week to determine your financial situation.
- Forge official court documents, or give you documents that look like official court documents.
- Call between 9PM and 7AM
- Publish or threaten to publish your information and failure to pay
Don’t let debt collectors take advantage and step on your rights. Report them immediately.
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