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January 21, 2022

Oh no. Not another collection call!

Today, over a million Canadians are receiving collection calls from creditors or collection agencies. You might be one of those receiving these calls. But things are not as bleak as you might think. It is, however, important for you to take action to dig yourself out of your current financial hole.

If you are receiving collection calls odds are you are facing significant challenges paying your bills. You might be receiving collection calls on a daily basis and in some cases more than once a day. If you are psychologically under siege due to frequent and oftentimes unprofessional collection calls you are putting yourself in a poor frame of mind to make good decisions regarding your current financial situation.

Your first priority should be to stop, avoid or discourage these calls. Once you eliminate or significantly reduce these calls you will be in a much better position to carefully review your options and make informed decisions regarding your debts. In fact, you might have as many as eight different options for handling your current debt situation!

Your ability to avoid collection calls will depend upon a number of factors: (1) who is calling you — your creditor or a collection agency — (2) where the calls are being made to — your residence, your workplace or your cellphone — and (3) the physical location where these calls are being made from.

The most effective strategy for avoiding collection calls made to your residence is to obtain an unlisted home phone number or to use features from your phone company such as call display and voicemail. If you are getting collection calls on your cellphone it is relatively simple and inexpensive to get a new cell phone number. For collection calls to your workplace it will be necessary for you to devise a strategy to screen your calls or get rid of collectors efficiently.

For the first three to six months that your account is overdue it will likely be persons employed by your creditor who are making collection calls. Other than the Criminal Code, there are virtually no laws regulating the conduct of collectors employed by your creditor. 

Typically large creditors will forward an outstanding account to a collection agency after a few months. Once your account has been sent to a collection agency you will be in a much better position to stop, avoid or discourage collection calls. Five provinces and one territory — British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Northwest Territories — give their residents the right to take some action that forces collection agencies to stop making collection calls to them — period!

Despite your best efforts to avoid or stop collection calls a collection agency employee might get you on the phone. There are as many as ten things you can say to a collector to discourage future collection calls. These include advising the collector that you dispute owing the debt or requesting that the collector send you the documentation your creditor relies upon to prove monies are owing.

-- Mark Anthony Silverthorn, author of The Wolf at the Door

Mark Silverthorn is a former collection lawyer and collection industry insider.  He is the author of The Wolf At The Door: What To Do When Collection Agencies Come Calling (McClelland & Stewart, 2010)



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