Debt Collection: rights and responsibilities

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

In Canada, if a federally regulated financial institution (FRFI) or another party acting on its behalf contacts you about a debt you owe, you have rights with respect to how the institution goes about collecting the debt.

Your rights under federal law

A FRFI (such as a bank or a trust company or loan company that is federally regulated) that contacts you to collect a debt on your credit card, line of credit or other loan cannot do any of the following things:

  • contact your friends, your employer, your relatives or your neighbours for any information other than your telephone number or address, except in the following cases:
    • the person being contacted has guaranteed (or co‑signed) your loan
    • you have given your consent that that the financial institution may contact this person (if you gave consent orally, then the financial institution must send you, either on paper or electronically, written confirmation of your consent)
    • your employer is being contacted for confirmation of your employment
  • suggest to any of the people mentioned above that they should pay your debts, except if one of them has guaranteed (or co‑signed) your loan
  • use threatening, intimidating or abusive language
  • apply excessive or unreasonable pressure on you to repay the debt
  • misrepresent the situation or give false or misleading information
  • add any collection-related costs to the amount you owe other than legal fees or fees for non-sufficient funds on payments that you submitted
  • contact you:
    • on holidays
    • on Sundays except between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (unless you have given consent for the institution to do so)
    • on any other day before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m
  • call you on your cell phone, unless you have provided that number as a way to reach you.

If you prefer, you can ask that the institution contact you only in writing or contact only your legal advisor. To do this, you must send a written request to the financial institution by registered mail. Included in your letter, you must provide an address where you can be contacted or an address and phone number where your legal advisor can be contacted.

If your debt with a FRFI has been sold to a collection agency, then the laws protecting your rights are provincial or territorial, not federal. For more information, contact the consumer affairs office of your province or territory.

What you should do if you feel your rights are not being respected

If you feel that a FRFI is not respecting your rights, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.  

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