Dealing with a debt collector

A debt collection agency is a company that specializes in recovering unpaid debts. If you don't make your debt payments, a debt collector may contact you. Their objective is to collect money you owe on a credit card, line of credit, or loan.

Your creditor, that is, the company that you owe money to, may try to get their money back by:

What happens when your debt is sent to a collection agency

You'll usually receive a written notice before a collection agency contacts you to collect the debt you owe.

The written notice should include:

Steps to take when you receive a notice

If you receive a notice that your creditor will send your debt to a collection agency, contact your creditor immediately.

You may be able to:

What happens to your credit score

Once your creditor sends your debt to a collection agency, your credit score will go down.

A low credit score means:

Find out how long information stays on your credit report.

What to do when a debt collector calls

If a debt collector calls you, ask for and write down the following information:

Ask for details on the debt, such as:

Tell the debt collector that you'll call them back as soon as you verify the information. Review your bills and bank statements to confirm if the debt is yours. This may also help you confirm if the amount you owe is correct.

You can ask the collection agency to contact you only in writing. Ask your legal advisor to send a written request to your creditor by registered mail. Make sure to include an address and phone number where they can reach you.

Paying your debt once it's with a collection agency

If the debt is yours and the amount is correct, paying the full amount you owe will resolve the issue.

When you pay back your debt:

If you're not able to pay the full amount:

What you should do if the debt isn't yours

If you think that the debt is someone else's, or that they made a mistake:

Learn how to check for errors on your credit report.

Your rights when dealing with a debt collector

You have rights with respect to how a debt collector collects your debt. This applies if it's a federally regulated financial institution or another party acting on its behalf.

Who a debt collector can contact

A debt collector can contact your friends, employer, relatives or neighbours only to get your telephone number or address.

This doesn't apply in the following cases:

If you give verbal consent to your financial institution, they must provide you with confirmation, in writting, without delay.

When a debt collector can contact you

A debt collector can only contact you at the following times:

A debt collector can't contact you on holidays.

What a debt collector can't do

A debt collector can't do the following:

A debt collection agency can't add any collection-related costs to the amount you owe other than:

Learn more about your rights when dealing with debt collectors

Making a complaint about a collection agency

If you feel that the debt collector you're dealing with isn't respecting your rights, contact the appropriate regulator.

If you're dealing with:

You can make a complaint with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

If your creditor sold your debt to a collection agency, you can make a complaint with your consumer affairs office.

Find the consumer affairs office in your province or territory.

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