UPDATE: Please note that changes were made to the Business Practices & Consumer Protection Act and debt collection and repayment regulation, effective April 1, 2016. The amendments include clarification for debt collectors related to the limited circumstances when they are allowed to contact a consumer’s employer. Please visit this blog post – New things to know about BC’s debt collection laws for up-to-date consumer information and links to the law.)
Just in time for Financial Literacy Month, we’re sharing three little-known facts about what debt collectors are (and aren’t) allowed to do when collecting debts from BC consumers.
Fact #1: A debt collector can’t call your workplace, except in these instances:
- To ask you for your home address and phone number (but only if they don’t already have it);
- To make one attempt at collecting the debt; and
- To confirm your employment, title and business address with your employer.
Fact #2: You can request that a collection agency contact you in writing only (and not by phone).
To do this, fill out a form – request for communication in writing only and send it to the collection agency. Once the agency receives this letter, they are not allowed to contact you by phone.
Fact #3: A debt collector can call you on a Sunday.
But only between 1 and 5 p.m (your time). During the rest of the week, Mondays through Saturdays, debt collectors are limited to calling you in the hours between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. On statutory holidays, debt collectors aren’t allowed to call at all.
Our office administers BC’s debt collection law. For more information about debt collection in BC, please visit our website.
Getting calls from a debt collector?
New things to know about BC’s debt collection laws
Asking a debt collector to only communicate with you in writing: what you need to know
What would you do? A guide to being a savvy consumer: debt collection calls
66 thoughts on “3 eye-opening facts about debt collection”
My question is .. Can any debt collection agency threaten to garnish your wages?
If you have credit card and back income tax debt, and Now are on a disability pension for last 8 years with no salary due to terminal cancer. Can the banks and Revenue Canada take money from you
Out of your Investors Fund? They have taken close to 80,000 dollars and now I have no money to live on or get homecare.
My CPP pension is only $1283.00 per month which doesn’t even pay my rent. I have been taking ex amount of money out of my dived end account to live and now have less than $30,000 to live.
Hi Sue, thank you for contacting us here. We would not be able to assist you regarding your debt with banks and the CRA as this would be outside of the laws we oversee. You may want to look into credit counselling (you can search online and use a reputable company with good reviews). With the CRA debt, have you tried contacting them about making payments? This webpage on Canada’s federal government site includes some information as well as contact information if you’d like to learn more. I hope this information is helpful to you.
They need to do a lawsuit against you and go to court and a garnish wage order. Unless anything else they are not allowed too
Hi Peter you are right – it’s important to know that a debt collector can only garnish wages after the issue has been to court and after the judgement has been ruled against the debtor.
Hi Tina — great question. It’s important to know that a debt collector can only garnish wages after the issue has been to court and after the judgement has been ruled against the debtor. Please let me know if you have any other questions!
How do you stop collectors that are calling about someone that you don’t know but it is a recorded message with no one live to talk to?
Hi Betty — if you know the name of the collection agency, give our Inquiry Centre a call and we can give you contact information for the collector. Once you have this information, you’ll need to send the collector a “Not the Debtor” form to put a stop to the calls — here is a link to that form: http://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/images/content/inquiries/not_the_debtor_form%202013.pdf). Our office can be reached at 1-888-564-9963 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Hope that helps!
Thank you so much. I will give this a try and hopefully it will help.
Can a payday loan company call your references before your loan is due? And are they allowed to call old references after you updated new ones?
Hi Amber — The laws we administer are silent on that particular issue. That said, it’s important to know that a payday lender cannot attempt to collect the payday loan before it’s actually due. There’s more information about your payday loan rights and responsibilities on our website at http://www.paydayloanrights.ca. I hope this information was helpful!
in 2008 ihad a knee operation,covered by my seniors gold card as i was 65 that year. Now,2015 their investigation dept is saying i should repay the bill. i started traveling in 2009 and they claim i was non resident.am i covered by the statute of limitations?
Hi Mike — While we do oversee BC’s debt collection industry, we don’t administer the Limitation Act so I wouldn’t be able to say whether or not this law applies to your situation. My suggestion would be to contact the Ministry of Justice (here’s information on their website about the Limitation Act: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/limitation-act/2012.htm), but please note that this is a provincial law and, from reading your question, it sounds like your operation may have occurred out-of-province? Hopefully they can provide you with more information or get you pointed in the right direction. Another option would be to seek legal advice.
As for our involvement with BC’s debt collection industry, our office can help with getting debt collectors to communicate to you in writing only, help you dispute an alleged debt, etc. There’s more information at http://www.debtrightsbc.ca — if there’s anything I can assist with in regard to the laws we oversee, please let me know!
I have multiple numbers calling and I’m sure they’re from a collection agency, however, the only message my machine has recorded is pressing a number or phone back for a better interest rate after “multiple attempts to contact you” before further action is taken. No messages are left just multiple calls daily from multiple numbers. What can I do to stop this? Spoke to one representative two months ago and the calls stopped after I called back irate that they’d phoned again and wouldn’t/couldn’t help me without a number I don’t have.
Hi Jeannette, thank you for leaving a comment here. You can request for communication to be in writing only if you would like the phone calls to stop. We have that form on our website here – http://bit.ly/1FbchcW I hope this helps!
is there a maximum number of calls per day or week that creditors have to stick to or can they call unlimited times per day if they dont get an answer if they fill up an answering machine in one day i think this is excessive and something should be done.
Hi Cheryl, the law doesn’t speak to how many times a debt collector can call in a day. However you can request them to communicate with you in writing only instead of phone calls. Here is a link to the form – http://bit.ly/1KSkzCF
Also you might find this blog page helpful, it clearly defines what a collector can and cannot do: http://bit.ly/1EdmyjZ
Faxed a communication in writing form and still had calls two weeks after submitting it. They stopped calling after the second irate message I left saying I’d pursue my legal options if they didn’t stop calling. Still haven’t received anything in the mail from them about the debt. What’s going on?
Hi Jeannette, thank you for following up. Would you mind calling our Inquiry Centre? I think it may be best to get more details over the phone from you and see if we can provide support. Our toll-free number is 1-888-564-9963. We are here Mon-Fri 8:30 to 4:30.
My mother is 84 years old and has been receiving calls and letters threatening to garnishee her old age pension which is her only income, and to take all her personal belongings.
Can they take her pension and her personal belongings.
This is for a credit card debt, unsecurred.
Hi Nancy, it’s my understanding that a debt collector can garnish wages after the issue has been to court and after the judgement has been ruled against the debtor. So if old age pension is considered her income, a debt collector may be able to garnish it, but again, only after the judgement has been ruled. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us toll-free at 1-888-564-9963.
Thank you for posting some facts about debt collector facts. I didn’t know that debt collectors can call on Sundays. My son has some debt, so we’re expecting a call someday soon. We’ll be on the lookout on Sundays too before 1pm and 5pm now. http://newstrategicsystems.com/services.html
Hi Alice, thanks for your comment. We’re glad you found the post helpful!
I loaned a substancial amt of monies to a family member with repayment contract signed etc. This has been going on now for almost 8 years. They have made payments but then stopped. How can I get them to pay me back in full and end this nightmare.
Hi Anne, this sounds like a tricky situation. Consumer Protection BC does oversee debt collection laws in BC but not for personal loans. However, I did a quick search and found this page (Someone Owes You Money) from Clicklaw Wikibooks, which is run by Courthouse Libraries BC. I hope the information on the page is useful to you.
We have a repayment agreement with a debt collector and have not missed any payments. However the collection agency keeps calling us. Can they force us to pay more each month.
Hi William, thank you for your questions. Debt collectors are allowed to call you about the debts you owe. If you would like to request communication in writing only, you are within your rights to do so. This page on our website can provide you with more information: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/consumer-help/debt-collection/#I want the calls to stop. On that page there is a form you can use to send to the debt collector to request communication in writing only. We’ve also written a blog post about this here: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/2016/09/asking-a-debt-collector-to-only-communicate-with-you-in-writing-what-you-need-to-know/. In regard to the second part of your question: Depending on what you agreed to in your agreement with the debt collector, they may be able to charge you more each month (accruing interest, etc.). You may be interested in taking a look at the details of your agreement and see what has been agreed upon in regard to monthly payments. If you feel as though there has been a mistake and you would like further guidance, feel free to contact our inquiry centre. We may be able to provide you with more information on the topic. Our phone number here is 1-888-564-9963 or you can file a complaint here: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/consumer-help/start-a-complaint/. I hope this helps!
I have a VISA from 2010. I made payments over the past 8 years the original balance being about 1500 and the amount of payments near the same. I was in credit counselling but then defaulted. My balance with this bank on my credit report shows $240. I went into the bank and pay $240 bringing the balance to $0. A collection agency is contacting me non stop about this card for $1400 in INTEREST owing. I have asked them to send statements how this was calculated and showing my payments but the collection lady says she is not doing all that work for me and that she doesn’t work for me. How long can they try to collect on this debt? I believe credit counselling was making the payments to the collection agency. Once the credit counselling agreement was over I think they back charged all of this interest. Can they collect for 7 years since the last payment on the debt? This credit card was shut down over 8 years ago.
Hi Drew, thank you for your question. Hm, that sounds like a frustrating situation. A couple things: If you would like to calls to stop, you have the right to request communication in writing only. Here is a link to a page on our website with more information about that: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/consumer-help/debt-collection/#I want the calls to stop
Regarding the statements and information about your debt: Debt collectors must send you a letter with the details of your debt, including information about the amount owing and who owns the debt. If you didn’t get this information, you have the right to ask for the details in writing.
To ask for the details of your debt, make your request in writing. Send your written notification to the collection agency in a way that gives you proof of delivery, such as registered mail, fax, or email. Keep copies for your records. If you would like more information, we will need more information from you to proceed. Please feel free to call our inquiry centre: 1.888.564.9963. i hope this information is helpful.
I would like to know when it is appropriate for a payday loan company to contact someone regarding someone else’s account? I received an email stating this person owes them X amount of dollars, how far his account is overdue and asked me to pay it out on their behalf.
Hi Cassandra, thank you for your question. When collecting a debt, debt collectors are allowed to contact a friend, family member, or acquaintance to confirm the contact information of the debtor. They are not allowed to discuss the details of the debt. I might suggest you contact our inquiry office to let them know about this situation. Our phone number here is 1.888.564.9964.
How long can a collection agency try to collect on a debt…is it 6 years.
Hi Cory, thank you for contacting Consumer Protection BC. We do license and regulate debt collectors but how long your record stays on your credit report is part of the Limitation Act and we do not oversee that law. Here’s the link to the law – http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/12013_01
And the Courthouse Libraries BC has a bit more information on the act here – https://www.courthouselibrary.ca/how-we-can-help/legislation-case-law/guides/limitation-act
If you would like to chat with a lawyer about this to clarify, you can contact the Canadian Bar Association and you are entitled to up to a half hour consultation for $25 plus taxes. Here’s more information on that – https://www.cbabc.org/for-the-public/lawyer-referral-service
I hope the information is helpful, Cory!
Can a debt collector (CBV Collections) refuse taking monthly payments? I’ve been paying down my student debt for two years and plan on being debt free by October this year. They are asking that I pay the entire debt ASAP which I can not afford. I’ve doubled my monthy payment (I’m financially suffocating doing so) but I’m getting daily phone calls and zero answering machine messages. Stressing me right out!
Hi Amanda, thank you for reaching out to us here. I think we may need more information from you. Would you be able to call our inquiry centre? That way we can try our best to provide you with relevant information. Our phone number here is 1-888-564-9963. Thank you!
A cellular phone company salesperson promised no fees if I canceled during the trial period. I canceled during the trial period, and they charged me $28. I disputed the charge and notified the collection agency and cellular company to take me to court. Can they add this to my credit report even if they don’t take me to court?
Hi Richard, thank you for your question. Has it shown up on your credit report already? If so, you can have a discussion with the credit reporting agency about your options in this situation. My understanding is that (even if you are disputing a debt), it will still be added to your credit report while the debt is up for dispute. It’s also my understanding that you can add a note to your credit report stating that the debt is currently up for dispute if you’re concerned about it being on there in the meantime. I hope this answers your question!
My friend has a credit card debt of over $30,000. Much of that is accrued interest as no payment has been for overa year. What is the sorst that can happen? Is there a way to negotiate a pay back of the original debt with out all the accrued interest? Thanks
Hi Nancy, if your friend is dealing with one credit card debt, they can contact the credit card company directly and negotiate a repayment plan. If the debt has gone to a collection, they would most likely have to negotiate with the collection company. I hope your friend will be able to work this out.
I’d like to see further change to the ACT in that more clarity needs to be brought specifically to Part 7 Division 1 Section 114 Harrassment “…..or with a frequency as to constitute harassment”. This is an incredibly vague reference. What degree of frequency constitutes harassment? More than 3x /day? 6x /day? ..10?
Hi Kaitlin, thank you for your comment and question. While we oversee the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, changes to the law are actually the responsibility of the government.
It is my understanding that if a consumer believes that a debt collector has been harassing them and we are contacted about it, we assess each situation on a case-by-case basis. If you believe you have been harassed by a debt collector, we want to hear from you. You may also be interested in taking note of the date and time of the calls. Additionally, if you believe they are using threatening language you can also record the conversations.
Please feel free contact our office at 1.888.564.9963, we are open Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30. In the mean time, you can request that they only contact you in writing by using one of our forms. Our blog post here goes over how to do this: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/2016/09/asking-a-debt-collector-to-only-communicate-with-you-in-writing-what-you-need-to-know/. Once you request communication in writing only, they are no longer allowed to call you. Please let me know if you have any questions about the information I’ve provided. We look forward to hearing from you!
I have been contacted about a debt (695.86) from my University that is between 13 and 11 years old on July 12. No one can tell me what it was for, (Classes, gym fees etc.) only that it is from the University. I am now paying down the debt. Currently I have made all the payments 250.00 each week (500.00) in the last two weeks that I have agreed too. They are now saying that if I don’t pay 196.00 in the next 10 days they will report on my credit file (Aug 12) I said I could pay on the 15 of Aug, they said that’s not good enough and it will be reported to my credit file.
Knowing that I have kept all payment arrangements, in good faith, it seems a shame the company will not work with me and hold off on reporting for three days. I’ve done all that was asked of me with limited information, and have agreed to pay. Is it true the company has no other options besides reporting on my credit file when the debt is in repayment in good faith? Is it true that if the debt is not paid within 30days it’s the law to report on my credit file and there is nothing they can do?
Thanks for whatever information you can provide.
Hi there, thank you for your questions. I think we may need some more information from you in order to provide you with relevant info. Would you be able to contact our inquiry centre? Our phone number is 1.888.564.9963 and we’re open Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 (we’re not open this Monday, as it’s a STAT, but we will be back on Tuesday). Looking forward to hearing from you!
I was just recently contacted about an unpaid bill from 2012. This is my first time ever hearing of this unpaid bill and have no problem paying it even tho i doubt its legitimacy. How ever if this is the first time ive ever been told of such a bill is there a way to dispute the interest on it? the interest is currently 3 times the amount as the bill and it seems ridiculous if this is the first ive ever heard of it.
Hi James, BC’s consumer protection law doesn’t specifically talk about waiving interest after some time lapse so I wouldn’t be able to comment on that. However, if you doubt the legitimacy of the debt, you can always contact the collection agency and dispute the debt. To do this, you can visit our Consumer Help section of our website and access the template forms. Please feel free to use that to communicate with them. We also have other forms available there depending on what you are trying to do so please take a look at this link. This blog post also talks extensively about BC’s debt collection laws so it may be helpful to you. Let us know if you have any further questions!
I have a loan with a non bank institution, and an overdraft with their proxy; I am and have been making payments weekly to both issues in the amount (collectively) of $500 per month. Yet this company is pressuring me for more and has threatened to escalate the issue if I do not supply Banking information.
I currently live in my truck so I can make these payments so that I may be out of debt ASAP!
The nature of contact is, in my opinion, aggressive and causes undue stress and mental health issues!
Do I have to submit to their demands by relinquishing my control over my debt?
And, do I have a case if I choose to seek legal help?
Hi Raymond, it sounds like we may need more info from you in order to provide you with some answers. Why don’t you give our inquiry centre a call at 1.888.564.9963. Thanks!
i am disabled with very limited finances because of a vendors ilegal undertakings i need legal help you have any ideas
Hi Clint, thanks for reaching out us. We may need a bit more info from you in order to point you in the right direction. You mention illegal activity, if you would like to file a complaint about a debt collector you can call our inquiry centre at 1.888.564.9963. Have I understood your question correctly? Additionally, if you would like assistance paying off a debt, you may be interested in contacting a credit counselor for help. Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood. Thanks!
I have an investment loan with Manulife to invest in one if their Guarantee Investment fund and I hold it for 2 years before I sold it. The fund was up about 3000$, but Manulife charge me 4500$ for sell the fund too early,. (after 2 years!?).
So now I’m down 1500$, and don’t have money to pay back this, what if I don’t pay this.
I’m from Vancouver bc btw.
Hi Rick, when it comes to investment funds, BC Securities Commission oversees certain aspects of it so you may want to contact them. Here’s their website link – https://www.bcsc.bc.ca/ and I hope they can point you in the right direction!
We started receiving calls in 2018 about a debt for an ambulance for a person with the same name as my husband. After giving his date of birth it was determined not to be him. Calls did stop, but now in 2019 started again and the dob was given again (it is the same issue) and he was told the calls would stop, but they have continued. The form to inform the company they have the wrong debtor is problematic because it uses only the name.
Hi Chris, thanks for reaching out to us here. If you’re running into issues with the form using his name and need help with how to proceed, please give our inquiry centre a call and we can do our best to guide you in the right direction. Our phone number here is 1.888.564.9963. Thanks!
The creditor/ collection agency has just started to garnish my wages. Now, when I was talking to their representative lawyer/ notary to make other payment arrangements, he’d mentioned whether i was aware of his clients have put up or processing a ‘charging order’ on the property my wife owns (on title). I’m not sure yet whether we’d set up the title to be in both out names or only hers, but can the court initiate this lien? My bank holds the mortgage so will they now demand payment in full?
And what does this lien mean on the property. Can they just sell off chunks of it?
Any advice is much appreciated,
Just a follow-up question I had earlier about wages being garnished as per court order (which I was not given any notification and chance to provide my side of things), If I do succeed in arranging a payment arrangement, can collections agency then turn around and garnish me again for another separate uncollected debt?
Looking forward to the response. Thanks.
Hi Joe, thank you for posting a comment here and our apologies for taking some time to get back to you. With your situation, it would probably be best if you could get a legal opinion from a lawyer. The Canadian Bar Association of BC has the Lawyer Referral Service and you will be able to have a consultation with a lawyer for up to 30 minutes for a fee of $25 plus taxes. Here’s the link to their page and I hope they will be able to answer your questions.
Thank you. Much much appreciated!
Follow-up question on wage garnishments (did not find this online) but can they garnish your RRSPs? Or any similar investment instruments.
Hi Joe, thanks for contacting us again! Unfortunately, we would not be able to provide any advice about your situation. We only oversee an aspect of debt collection law in BC and we’re not an expert in how wage garnishments are done – especially when there is a court involved.
Can a bailiff take your car without your notice and go to your neighbours door, present the wrong name and no information and give no information why there are there and not identify themselves such as in my situation? I had to call my bank as she had no papers, no proper identification and yelled, screamed and harassed them first thing in the morning. I am thinking of taking legal action now in this case.
Hi Jana, thanks for reaching out to us here. There are two types of bailiffs in BC; licensed bailiffs and court-appointed bailiffs. There are different rules for each type of bailiff.
Licensed bailiffs: when bailiffs are not acting on a court order, they are acting as a debt collector and they must be licensed with us and follow the debt collection and consumer protection laws that we oversee.
Court bailiffs: are appointed by the Attorney General under the Sheriff Act and they are legally authorized to enforce (civil) court orders. Some court bailiffs hold a licence with us, but it is not required to perform court-ordered tasks and we have no oversight over these types of bailiffs.
You can find more info about this on our website and also find out which type of bailiff you were dealing with (and which rules apply): https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/consumer-help/consumer-information-bailiffs/
If you’re still not getting the information you need, I would suggest giving our inquiry centre a call for more info. Our phone number is 1.888.564.9963. So you’re aware, our organization cannot give legal advice, but if any of our laws apply, we will do our best to help you. If not, legal action may be the appropriate remedy. Thanks!
What do you do if you figure out that a company has been taking money out of your bank account for five years that you never owed?
I had a company do an install and it was so bad they told me that I had to send proof that I had removed it and they would refund me my money. I did this and sent proof and I was refunded my deposit.
I called the financial people and the company that did the install(as well as emailed the company that did the install) to make sure I was not paying anything. The company refunded my money and communicated with the finance people. I checked my bank account to make sure that the company name did not show up anywhere having taken money out. I did not realize it would not be under the companies name that did the install so I missed this. My bad.
I have now called and emailed both companies. The install company says they never received any money from the finance company and say my problem is with the finance company.
The finance company says they did pay the installer and that I signed a contract. I told them once again as they have me on record in 2015 that I did not owe any money. The amount per month was $19.67 and I have paid $1180.20.
Hi Joey, I’m not sure what you had the company install but sounds like they had initially completed the project or the installation. If this is correct, you may need to take the company to the small claims court. If the work had already started or completed, it becomes a quality of service issue. BC has an online-based Civil Resolution Tribunal and with their website, you are able to explore what options you may have. Here’s the link to their website – https://civilresolutionbc.ca/ I hope you will be able to resolve the issue through their platform.
i”ve been getting collection calls from various agencies for four years for a debt that isn’t mine. I’m tired of contacting each new one and asking to have my number removed from the file. Is there a fix for this?
Hi Sarah, thank you for contacting us with your question. We have a form you can use to notify the debt collection agency that you are not the debtor. It is located on this page of our website under “they have the wrong person” dropdown menu. You can use either the online or print version and if you are still getting calls from a collection agency afterwards, please do contact us. You do have to go through the same process with each new agency but hopefully with our forms, they won’t pass your information to the next agency.