You’re behind in your payments. The collection agents are calling.
What are your rights?
What are your responsibilities?
What can you do?
First and foremost, DON’T GET EXCITED. The people that you owe money to (your “creditors”) have a right to try and collect that money. If they don’t talk to you, how can they know your situation?
Remember also that most collection agents earn a commission on every dollar they collect from you. The more they call, the greater their chances of collecting money from you, and earning a commission.
That being said, there are definite rules that collection agencies need to follow.
A Partial List of Collection Agency Rules:
- You must be notified in writing at your last known address when a company gives your overdue account to an agency for collection. You have a responsibility to make certain that your creditors are notified when your address changes so that you will receive these and other notices.
- Collection agencies may not make telephone calls of such a nature or frequency that they constitute harassment of you or your family, including repeated calls to you while you’re at work. If you believe a collection agency is harassing you, keep a record of the time, date and frequency of the calls. If you decide to make a formal complaint against the collection agency you will require this information.
- Collection agencies may not call you on a Sunday, statutory holiday or on any day before 7 am or after 9 p.m.
- Collection agencies may not contact your friends, relatives, neighbours or employer for any information other than your address or telephone number, with limited exceptions. These involve special cases, when, for example, someone has cosigned for a good or service you have purchased.
What should I say when the collection agency calls?
Deal with collection agencies in a forthright and professional manner. Try to treat them the way that you like to be treated yourself. Don’t allow them to bully you into making commitments that you know you can’t keep. If you make a commitment – keep it. If you can’t, be certain to explain to the collection agent why you couldn’t.
Don’t ignore collection agency phone calls or letters. If they can’t reach you, they may simply proceed with legal action.
How can I make them stop calling?
If your money problems have become too big to deal with yourself, then seek professional help.
Read our suggestions for dealing with your financial problems.
If you would like more detailed information about collection agencies, we suggest the following:
Contact the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Relations and request a copy of their free brochure “A Consumer’s Guide to Collection Agencies” 1-800-268-1142
A member of our bankruptcy Manitoba team will be pleased to help you assess your financial problem and develop a solution that fits your situation and your budget. The first consultation is confidential and always free of charge. Contact a nearby expert today!