When a debt collector unexpectedly contacts you, it can be an unnerving event. It’s important to know your rights when a debt collection call occurs. The following tips will allow you to remain in control and potentially save you money.
What Debt is The Collector After?
- You might think it’s just your money, but some times it’s your personal information! Stay neutral. You should be asking the questions to see if they are legitimate. Do not offer any information like your SIN, date of birth, which bank you deal with, etc. until you have fully confirmed that the company calling you exists. Some collections agents pose as survey companies. (Had one from Montreal pretending to be the government recently)
Who Are They?
- Identify which company they are representing. Are they collecting on behalf of a business or is this somewhere that you legitimately owe money? Is this the first time they have contacted you? Some, but not all, collections agencies will pretend to be working on behalf of another company. ie: Chief Wiggins Adjustment for Easy Financial. There are a few companies who will unscrupulously purchase debt that you owe which is older than seven years and try to collect on it. The process isn’t illegal, but it holds no legal weight (they will likely not sue you unless it’s a huge amount).
Is the Collector Licensed?
- A debt collector cannot try to collect from you without a permit. Ask them for their business ID, check their website, and ask them to send you a written account of how much you exactly owe. Tell them to list the debt, interest, fees, collection costs, etc.
Being friendly can backfire
- Don’t be friendly. Doing so may lead you to tell them something private that they will ultimately have to use against you.
Is the debt Legitimate?
- They are not allowed to communicate or collect from you if you have both notified the collection agency and creditor that you dispute the debt.
Is their payment System weird?
- The collector should not try to ask you to send money in a way that includes charges to you.
ie: store gift certificates, visa certificates, wire transfers (beware of companies asking for transfers via the Western Union)
Negotiating the debt
- If you owe the debt but cannot afford to pay it, then attempt to work out an affordable payment. It may seem obvious but never pay more than you owe and can provide. Feeling guilty is better than feeling hungry. If this is a complicated process and you want to reduce all of your consumer debts by potentially 85% then you’ll need debt relief.
- Some debt collectors will be verbally abusive, use profane language, call you repeatedly or even call your work about your debt. Keep a level head; an angry collector typically means they are new and desperate. In these instances, you should write down what was said, the date, time, company that they are representing. Keep these records when you apply for debt relief and legal action.
- They cannot give you what appears to be an official court document when it is not. They will still try though! I have seen enough to understand which are legitimate or not.
Are They Collecting Debt Twice?
- The collector cannot collect or communicate with you if you’ve notified the collection agency that you’re being contacted about a debt by someone else. ie: If Scotia is already calling you about the debt then a collector cannot try to collect on top of that. If you’re wondering why a rule like this exists…it’s because it’s happened enough times to warrant a rule now.
So, in summary, keep a journal of what was said and what you say. If the claim is legitimate, then look at what your options are with a debt relief specialist. Remember that you should only pay what you owe, and it will never be via gift certificate or wire transfer. Still confused and running out of time? Check out the video below!