Incoming Collection Call on a phone.Many Toronto residents often wonder “How do I stop collection calls?” The fear of a ringing phone is one sign that you’ve let your debt get out of control and now the collection agencies are after you. And they can become very aggressive. There are stories of agencies haranguing people in their homes at 3 am, or even going after people who don’t owe money.

With economic downturns and the record amount of debt carried by Canadian families, many financial institutions, phone companies and retailers have been less lenient about delinquent payments, fearing a great pinch in lean economic times. It’s not surprising to hear that Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer Surveys gets more complaints about collection agencies than any other businesses.

Of course, an agency is allowed to contact you regarding the money you owe using reasonable means to get you to pay your debt. However, there are bounds on what they can do.

For example, in Ontario a collection agency isn’t allowed to:

  • Contact you on a Sunday, except between 1 and 5 p.m.
  • Contact you any other day of the week between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Call more than three times in a seven-day period
  • Contact you on a holiday
  • Use threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language
  • Use undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure or harass you
  • Charge you any fees.

When a collection agency calls, you do have the right to ask for their Ontario registration number; to see if they have sent your written notice with your creditor’s name and the amount of money owed; and find out how often they intend to be contacting you.

If you do actually owe the money, and a mistake hasn’t been made, the best course is to repay it in full as quickly as possible. But if that’s not possible, you can try explaining this to the debt collector and offering an alternate method of repayment, such as a series of monthly payments that go on until your debt is cleared.

If you do come to this kind of agreement, make sure you follow up in writing before you pay anything. And when repaying the money, don’t send cash and make sure you get a receipt. You want to have concrete proof that you have an agreement and that payments have been made, in case things later wind up in court.

Also, if you are satisfied the agency is legitimate it’s probably wise to deal with the collection agency itself rather than going back to the original creditor. This might just cause confusion, unless there has been a mistake made in your account.

If you think you are being mistreated by a collection agency, you or your lawyer could try sending a letter to its head office. Or if you believe they are breaking the law, you could also complain to the provincial regulator. It would be wise to take notes during agency contacts so you can make a coherent case for wrongdoing.

Of course, sometimes despite your best efforts, you can’t get the phone calls to stop, perhaps because your finances have come to the point you can’t settle the debt in any reasonable amount of time.

But this does not mean that you have run out of options. Come into Richard Killen & Associates for a free consultation to find out what you can do to finally silence the ringing. In fact, it might be a good idea not to wait until you hit a dead end to consult Richard Killen & Associates. It never hurts to know your options ahead of time to stop collection calls and reduce the stress associated with these calls.