It’s indeed a pain in the neck if you’re dealing with debt collectors several times a week. Some debt collectors are known to be rude, intimidating, and straight-up obnoxious. They will try every tactic – no matter how abusive and unscrupulous – just to get you to pay back your debts.
Most debt collectors get away with such underhanded methods because a lot of people are unaware of the laws governing proper debt collection practices. In Canada, there are rules imposed by provincial governments. They dictate how debt collectors should conduct themselves so as not to step on the rights of the debtors.
As a consumer, you must know your rights when dealing with a debt collector. Here’s a list of consumer rights you need to know when debt collectors contact you.
You Can Request the Collector To Stop Calling
You can write a letter to the debt collecting agency requesting them to stop calling you. Make sure to ask them politely about it in your letter. Indicate why they should not call, and put your preference in writing. Then, the agency can reply with a written letter telling you about what their next actions will be.
Having a written record is a good thing about communicating with a debt collection agency. You’ll have written proof of it if there’s a debt collection violation.
You Can Request the Collector to Verify Your Debt
You have the right to ask the debt collector through a written letter to validate and provide proof of your supposed debt. Make sure to send the letter within 30 days since they first contacted you.
The collector should stop calling you after receiving your verification request until they’ve provided you with proof. You should see to it that the debt is yours and that the amount is accurate.
You Can Dispute Inaccurate Debt Reports
It’s mandated by law that the debt information that shows on your credit report should be timely and accurate. If there’s an error in your credit report, you can dispute it. Contact the credit bureau and request they take down the inaccurate information. If the dispute to the credit bureau is not successful, you can inquire with the collection agency regarding that matter.
You Can Ask the Collector to Stop Contacting You at Your Job
As mentioned earlier, debt collectors will try everything just to collect money from you. It’s common for debt collectors to make phone calls to your place of work. However, such behaviour is prohibited by law.
If ever you receive a phone call from a debt collection agency at work, you can ask them to stop calling you. Write a letter to them because a letter serves as documentary evidence that you send such a request.
Details of Your Debt Must Be Kept Private
Debt collectors are prohibited to divulge to anyone confidential details about your debt. Keep in mind that it’s your right to keep your debt information private. But they are allowed to communicate with your parents, legal guardian, spouse, or lawyer to ask for your contact information if they can’t contact you.
However, debt collectors can only contact them one each. They can’t ask your friends, family members, or spouse to pay your debts.
Collectors Should Be Honest in Doing Their Job
Debt collectors should not pretend as lawyers or people working with the government. They shouldn’t give false information or misrepresent documents as having legal bearing when they’re not legal or say that documents don’t have a legal bearing when they’re.
Whenever you catch a debt collector being dishonest in doing his/her job, you should inform him/her about the debt collection laws and your rights as a consumer to honest and truthful information.
Pay Only the Amount You Owe and Nothing More
If you think the collector is collecting an amount that is higher than your original debt, you shouldn’t hesitate to dispute it. Also, you have to know that collectors are prohibited to impose any fee or interest on your account unless it’s stipulated in the contract or it’s allowed by state law.
So, make sure to read the original agreement between you and your creditor and learn about the state laws regarding this matter.
You’re Allowed to Choose Which Debts to Pay
You can pick which debt to pay if you have multiple debts to your name. The debt collector is also not allowed to force you to pay a debt that you’ve successfully disputed. Provincial governments in Canada have different rules on this matter, so make sure to do your research or ask your lawyer concerning it.
You Can Withhold Payment on An Expired Debt
In debt collection, there’s what we call a statute of limitations, which is a timeframe that a creditor may file a legal action against a debtor for an unpaid debt. If you have debt that you have already defaulted for some time, this statute of limitations may protect you from civil lawsuits.
Since the debt is already expired, you can withhold payment on it. However, the time frame resets when you formally acknowledge your debt and make payments on it. The time limit for statutes of limitations differs by state and debt type.
You Can Sue a Debt Collector Who Infringes Your Rights
If a debt collection agency tramples the rights mentioned on this list, you can file a lawsuit against the said agency in federal or state court. You may receive actual damages if ever you win the case. So, make sure that you know your right as a consumer, especially when you’re dealing with debt collectors.
Does it already annoy you every time a debt collector contacts you to recover a debt? When dealing with debt collectors, you must know about the laws and consumer rights to ensure that you deal with them properly. You can also read blog articles on websites like debt.ca to learn how to manage your debt obligations and live a life free of debt.