If you have an account with a business and it becomes past due or in default, your creditor may elect to turn it to a collection agency to recoup the outstanding monies.
Collection agencies have a bad reputation for borderline, if not, illegal behaviour and practices. In Canada, they are regulated at the provincial level. Rules may be different depending on where you live.
In British Columbia, all collection agencies must be licensed and abide by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
A collection agency can:
- Call you from Monday to Saturday between 7.00 am and 9.00 pm.
- Call you on Sundays from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm.
- Contact your employer, friends or relatives only to obtain your address, phone number or confirm your employment
- Take legal action against you, provided they notify you
A collection agency cannot:
- Contact you outside of the above-mentioned hours
- Call you on a statutory holiday
- Harass your employer, friends or relatives about your debt
- Ask for more money than you owe
- Keep contacting you if the debt is properly disputed or if you file for consumer proposal or bankruptcy
- Keep contacting you if you are not the debtor
- Keep phoning if you have requested communication in writing only
- Threaten you, intimidate you or swear at you
If you feel like you are not treated fairly by a collection agency, you can file a complaint with Consumer Protection BC or the Better Business Bureau.
The Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act does not exempt you from paying your debt. It is possible to make payment arrangements with a collection agency. The best course of action is to talk to the agency instead of ignoring it.