Only, the unprofessional ones …

Don’t let them bully you

When a person contacts Solutions™ for credit counseling it is usually (though not always) due to the fact that a debt collector is harassing them and they do not know what their rights are. People that seek the help of a qualified licensed credit counsellor are to be congratulated – these people have acknowledged their accountability and responsibility for the debt.

Debt collectors have no right to harass them, or anyone else for that matter. If debt collectors are harassing you, you do have RIGHTS, lots of them. Don’t let them bully you!

What a week with finance companies 

First party debt collectors. These are employees of the companies that own the debt and in most cases, I am sad to say, they do not need to be licensed by the Government.

This week I had occasion to speak with a debt collector employed by a finance company in Alberta and another debt collector employed by a different finance company in Saskatchewan. Both of these collectors were extremely angry and belligerent on the telephone – not to mention the misinformation they tried to pass off as fact. One of the collectors even went so far as to ask me whose side I was on! I must admit that I did not know there were any sides, only people that want to pay their bills. I wonder why these large finance companies would employ such angry and disrespectful people – the only reason I can come up with so far is MONEY!

The collectors seemed to think that it was okay to lie and deceive people in order to collect money –one of them told me she was going to continue to call my client every day just because she could! Well, I am here to tell you that is harassment and that is not okay.

Pay your bills if you can 

I have never met anyone that wanted to go bankrupt, most people want to pay their bills. However, sometimes they need help to do that – at Solutions™ we help! The fact of the matter is that most people do not know what their financial rights are therefore these companies and their collectors have been getting away with this behaviour for a long time.

Collection agencies

A collection agency is a company that employs bill collectors to retrieve money on behalf of their clients – your creditors. These collectors are called “third party” collectors, as they do not work for the company that you owe the money to and often they are extremely hard to deal with. Many companies use collection agencies if their customers' accounts are in arrears for an extended period of time. Currently there are no regulations governing the length of time required before overdue accounts can be passed on to an agency for follow-up. Businesses tend to use collection agencies because they get relatively quick results; most of these collectors are paid on a commission basis.

Tips for dealing with collectors

  • Don't be afraid or intimidated by bill collectors.
  • Communicate with your creditors or have a licensed credit counsellor help you.
  • Payroll advances or loan companies – cancel wage assignments.
  • Always keep a record of the person you spoke with, company name, date, time, phone number and what was said. Keep in touch with that person until the problem is solved.
  • Keep your temper and always be polite.
  • If you can set up a reasonable payment schedule try to keep your credit rating intact.
  • Never send cash to anyone. Ensure that you have a receipt for each and every payment.
  • Keep track of your payments.

Collectors cannot threaten consumers. They must not engage in prohibited practices or methods of collecting money. Know your rights to help you deal with collection agencies in the future:

  • You must be notified in writing at your last known address when a creditor assigns your overdue account to an agency for collection.
  • The collection agency may not recommend or initiate legal action on the collection of a debt without first notifying you the debtor.
  • Before a collector demands payment, you must be given the name of the creditor's owed money, the name of the collection agency and the amount owed. This allows you to ensure the account information is correct.
  • The agency cannot continue to demand payment from a person who claims they do not owe the money.
  • Collection calls may not be made on a Sunday before 1 p.m. or after 5 p.m., statutory holidays or on a weekday before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. 
  • If you do not want to be contacted at work - tell the collector not to call you at work – put it in writing and fax or mail it to them – keep a copy for your files.

Agencies may not make telephone calls of such nature or frequency that constitute harassment of you or your family. This includes repeated calls at your workplace. Keep a record of the date, time and frequency of calls if you believe you are being harassed. This information may be necessary if you wish to file a formal complaint to the ministry.

  • Collection agencies are generally not permitted to contact a debtor's friends, relatives, neighbours or employer for any information other than your address or telephone number (with limited exceptions).
  • Agencies may not imply or give false information to any person that could damage the debtor or debtor's family.

Accountability and responsibility

Our Government is looking at a “Harmonized Debt Collection Act” for Canada – with provisions for possible compensation to those “harassed’ by debt collectors. As a credit counsellor I am eagerly looking forward to these changes. It is time the debt collection industry was made to be accountable for their treatment of some debtors – and credit counsellors.

I will keep you posted on the changes.

P.S. The writer does not mean to imply that all debt collectors act in an unprofessional manner.