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January 06, 2022

Collection agencies gear up for busy season

Tiny Iceland found itself at the center of a financial controversy this week when it reneged on a decision to repay $5 billion to the British and Dutch governments, which had used the money to backstop domestic depositors in failed Icelandic bank, Icesave.

They better hope the account doesn’t go to collection, warns Mark Silverthorn, whose new book The Wolf At The Door details just how intimidating and stressful being hounded by a collection agency can be.

For 12 years, Silverthorn represented some of Canada’s largest collection agencies. More recently though, he’s made a 180-degree change in direction, concentrating now on helping consumers receiving collection calls or those experiencing problems paying their bills.

Predicting that more and more Canadians will start to default on consumer debt and be forced to seek relief through debt settlement, a consumer proposal or personal bankruptcy, Silverthorn is a sharp critic of the industry he once represented.

Most people are unaware of their rights when it comes to collection agents, he says, with the result that those agents who choose to break the rules often get away with it.

For instance, collection agencies can’t start calling until they’ve notified you in writing that they’ve been assigned to the account. Nor can they call at all hours of the night. But some do anyway.

Others are using social networking sites or cell phones to get overwhelmed consumers to pay up.

To protect yourself, deal with bill collectors in a forthright and professional manner, he suggests. But don’t allow them to bully you into making commitments that you know you can’t keep.

Have you had problems with a collection agency? Were you treated fairly?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...