How to Stop Collection Calls
Can I Stop Harassing Collection Calls in Ontario?
Being in debt can be emotionally draining and stopping collection calls can help eleviate some of the stress.
Filing bankruptcy or a consumer proposal results in an “automatic stay” which you can use to stop collection calls.
Receiving collection calls from creditors, collection agencies and lawyers can only add to the stress.
Even worse, if they call you at work or contact your family or friends, they can mar your reputation, damage your relationships and possibly even cost you your means of livelihood.
While those you owe money to, the debt collection agencies that work for them and their legal firms do have the right to contact your family members, friends, and acquaintances the purpose of these calls and the information that can be disclosed during them is severally limited by Canadian law.
They are allowed to make such contacts for the sole purpose of obtaining your current address or phone number.
They are not allowed under any conditions to make known your dept that they are calling for the purpose of collecting a debt from you.
If they work for a collection agency, they are not even allowed to disclose the name of their company as this could result in it being known you have bad debts and damage your reputation.
That being said, it is not unusual for those in the debt collection industry to regularly make illegal calls to a person’s acquaintances and even their workplace.
So, how do you stop bill collectors from calling?
Stopping collection calls from a bank
Under federal Debt Collection Practices Regulations (SOR-2009-257) enacted under the Canadian Federal Bank Act, it is illegal for you to receive collection calls from a bank, a collection agency or a legal firm representing a bank if you have done one of the following.
- If you have sent a registered letter to the bank or firm representing them asking that you only receive communications in writing then they are barred by Canadian Federal Law from contacting you or anyone else over the phone;
- you sent a registered letter to the firm attempting to collect the dept informing them that you (a) dispute the dept and (b) intend to bring the matter before a dispute resolution board or to court then they are legally barred from making further phone calls;
- If you send a registered letter to the company attempting to collect the debt (a) requesting that they only communicate with your legal advisor and (b) providing full contact information for your legal advisor they cannot legally continue to contact you or those associated with you.
How to stop automated calls from debt collectors
The practice of using robocalls by Canadian debt collection firms is becoming more and more common.
What most people don’t realize is that these calls may be illegal due to a conflict between the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulations and many provincial laws.
The CRTC recently mandated that companies using automated messages must identify the name of the company calling and in some cases the name of the company to which the debt is owed.
Because there is no guarantee who may answer a phone number when it is called, disclosing this information could place the company in violation of third-party disclosure laws.
As an example:
Jane Doe is behind on her credit card payments and the collection agency attempting to reach her uses an automated messaging system.
Their message meets the CRTC regulations by using a message like “This is ABC Collection Services attempting to reach Jane Doe.
Please return our call as soon as possible at 1(234) 567-8910.”
If Jane’s husband John or anyone else should receive this message then it would be a violation of the third-party disclosure laws.
If you are receiving automated messages that identify the company’s name write a letter of complaint to:
- the government agency responsible for licensing and regulating collection agencies in Ontario;
- collection agency’s senior management;
- the creditor’s senior management.
If the message doesn’t identify the company by name then file a written complaint with the CRTC specifying the time and date of the call.
Stopping all collection calls
You may be able to stop all collection calls by writing a letter with very specific language to the collection agency.
Stop collection calls by enlisting the assistance of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee
Depending on your personal situation and degree of indebtedness the surest way to be sure that you no longer receive any collection calls is to file a consumer proposal or by filing for personal bankruptcy.
Both of these paths will provide you with the maximum protection allowed under the Canadian legal system.
To exercise your rights under either of these systems you will need the assistance of a local Licensed Insolvency Trustee familiar with the laws.