On April 1, 2016, changes to the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (BPCPA) and the Debt Collection and Repayment Regulation came into force. So what does this mean for you, as a consumer? In this blog, we will share the changes that were made to the law, specifically when it comes to the business practices of debt collectors.
The changes to the debt collection laws were made so it keeps pace with evolving technology, changing business practices and to align with the law in other Canadian jurisdictions. Now the new rules for debt collectors will:
- Increase protection of consumer information: Previously, debt collectors could only contact consumers after a written letter detailing the debt was sent to the consumer. This sometimes meant that sensitive information was being sent to addresses that were out of date, creating privacy concerns. Now, collectors have the right to make a reasonable effort to call a debtor before this written letter is sent, but only to confirm the consumers’ correct contact information.
- Increase information disclosures about the debt: Debt collectors must now provide updated information about the ownership of a debt, including details about who the original and current owners of the debt are and how much is owing. This will ensure debtors are better able to assess whether or not they are, in fact, responsible for a debt.
- Clarify prohibitions against certain types of communications: Debt collectors will not be allowed to contact debtors until debts are due and payable, not before.
- Restrict communication with employers: To address issues of harassment, the law has been clarified to ensure that debt collectors are only allowed to contact a consumer’s employer for the sole purpose of confirming the consumer’s employment status, title and business address in preparation for a legal proceeding to take place (or if the consumer has given permission).
- Update communication methods: Debt collectors can now use email to contact debtors.
Getting calls from a debt collector? Know what to do if you want the calls to stop.
- Ask for details. You can ask for more information about the debt to confirm that it’s yours and how much is owing. Also, ask which collection agency they are calling from.
- Keep a record of your conversations. Record frequency of calls, what is being said and the time of day you are receiving calls.
- Check to see if the collection agency is licensed. You can do this on our website.
- Know your rights. The debt collection laws are in place to protect consumers a variety of ways, including regulating communication practices.
- Give the agency a few days to resolve the problem. It can sometimes take a few days for an agency to remove your name from their records.
Consumer Protection BC is responsible for regulating and enforcing BC’s laws that address the business practices of third-party debt collectors, bailiffs and debt repayment agents. Whether operating in BC or communicating with BC consumers, all debt collectors, bailiffs and debt repayment agents are required to be licensed with Consumer Protection BC.
Both debt collectors and consumers have responsibilities when it comes to debt collection. This blog post provides a wide variety of information and outlines what debt collectors are allowed and not allowed to do when it comes to communicating with consumers.