How Do You Stop Collection Calls In Toronto?
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.
Stop Harassment by Creditors
Debt collectors can be, uh, zealous in their pursuit of money owed. Stories of daily phone calls, threats, bothering friends and relatives, and late-night contacts abound. In some cases debt collectors have aggressively pursued ridiculously small amounts of money, and even gone after people who owe nothing at all.
The point is, there are limits to what these agencies can do to collect cash. In Ontario, the Collections Agencies Act lays out the boundaries that, when crossed, constitute illegal harassment.
For example, a debt collector can’t make any calls to a debtor until six days after mailing written notice with the name of the creditor, balance owing on the debt and the identity of the collection agency.
They are also not allowed to make calls on statutory holidays, on Sundays, except between the hours of 1 and 5 p.m., or on any other day of the week between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. And they cannot contact the person more than three times in a seven-day period.
If a debt collector does get you on the phone, they cannot threaten you, swear at you, lie to you or harass you. They cannot seize your assets until they have won a court judgment. They can only contact your employer to get your employment information, unless your employer has guaranteed your debt or the call is about a legal action, such as garnisheeing your wages.
And they can only contact your family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances once to get your address and phone number, unless these people have guaranteed your loan or you have given permission for them to be contacted (in a contract, most likely).
Read more about your rights dealing with collection agencies here. While it’s generally better to speak to a collection agency, rather than avoid them, to deal with the problem, you don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to.
If they do harass you or threaten you or try to intimidate you in some way, they may be breaking law. You have the right to report them to the police or phone company, or file a complaint to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.