Debt collection: know your rights

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

A federally regulated financial institution may contact you about a debt you owe. This can be about your line of credit or other type of loan. When they do, you have rights with respect to how they collect the debt. This also applies to any party acting on their behalf.

Your rights when dealing with debt collectors

Federally regulated financial institutions must inform you of:

  • the details of the debt such as the amount and the type
  • information about any person who’s collecting the debt for them

Federally regulated financial institutions are not allowed to:

  • contact or try to contact anyone about information other than for your telephone number or address, except in certain cases. This applies to members of your family and household, your friends and relatives, as well as to those around you, such as your employer and your neighbors. They can only contact them if:
    • the person they’re contacting guaranteed (or co-signed) your loan and are contacting that person about that
    • you gave them your consent to contact this person. If you gave verbal consent, they must send you a written confirmation of your consent (on paper or electronically)
  • contact your employer other than to confirm your employment, the nature of your employment, your business title and your business address
  • contact you at your workplace unless:
    • they don’t have your home address or phone number
    • they tried to contact you at home and failed
    • you gave them permission to contact you at work
  • contact you:
    • on holidays
    • on Sundays except between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (unless you’ve given consent for them to do so)
    • on any other day before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
  • communicate in any way that could constitute harassment, including by:
    • using threatening, profane, intimidating or abusive language
    • using undue pressure
    • making public, or threatening to make public, your failure to pay
  • 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 made
  • call you on your cell phone about the debt, unless you gave them that number to reach you

You can ask that they contact you only in writing or contact only your legal advisor. You must send them a written request by registered mail. In the letter, you must provide:

  • an address where they can contact you, or
  • an address and telephone number where they can contact your legal advisor

Your federally regulated financial institution might have sold your debt to a collection agency. In that case, the laws protecting your rights are provincial or territorial, not federal.

Learn more about the provincial and territorial laws that regulate debt collection.

Learn more about dealing with a debt collector.

When these rights apply to you

These rights apply when you’re dealing with a federally regulated financial institution like a bank or federal credit union.

Find out if your financial institution is federally regulated.

Learn more about how your banking rights are protected.

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