Debt collection is different throughout Canada, but you have rights that collection agencies must respect.
In this article, you’ll learn about British Columbia debt collection laws and how to resolve debts in collections.
British Columbia debt collection laws
In British Columbia, there are several rules that debt collection agencies must follow.
A debt collection agency must be licensed in British Columbia and use the name on their license when speaking to you or sending you any correspondence.
They must also provide you with written information about the debt. This should include when it was sent to collections, the creditor’s name, and the amount due.
If you haven’t received this information, you have the right to request these details in writing.
You can send a written request by registered mail asking for a request for communication in writing only. Make sure you include your address and phone number in the letter.
Once you do that, they cannot contact you by phone and have to communicate with you in writing via mail or email.
- Notify a collection agency you are requesting communication in writing only. (printable form)
- Notify a collection agency you are requesting communication in writing only (online form)
- Notify a collection agency you wish for communication to be done through your lawyer only (printable form)
- Notify a collection agency you wish for communication to be done through your lawyer only (online form)
Collection agencies can call you before sending you a written notice to confirm that they have the correct contact information. If they have bought the debt from the creditor, they don’t need to send you a written notification, and they can start calling you immediately.
Rules for debt collection in BC: what collection agencies cannot do
In British Columbia, a collection agency cannot:
- Call before 7:00 am or after 9:00 pm on weekdays and Saturdays.
- Call before 1:00 pm or after 5:00 pm on a Sunday.
- Call you, a family member, or a friend at any time on a statutory holiday.
- Discuss the details of your debt with another person without your permission. (They can contact a family member, friend or acquaintance to confirm your contact information.)
- Make more than one verbal attempt to contact you at your place of employment.
- Collect or attempt to collect money from a person who is not liable for the debt.
- Contact you in a way that will cost you money.
- Publish or threaten to publish information about the debt except to a credit reporting agency.
- Use threatening, profane, or intimidating language.
- Put excessive pressure on you to pay the debt.
- Threaten to sue you unless legal action is going to take place.
- Supply any false or misleading information.
- Seize or repossess your personal property unless a court judgment or court order allows it.
- Attempt to collect an amount that is more than what you owe.
- Apply their own interest rates or fees, but interest can be charged at the rate set out in your initial credit agreement.
Source: Consumer Protection BC
Can debt collection agencies in British Columbia call me?
Collection agencies in British Columbia are allowed to contact you about the debts that you owe.
If you want the phone calls to stop, you can request in writing that the collection agency stops calling, but it won’t prevent further action against you.
What time can a debt collection agency in British Columbia contact me?
A collection agency in British Columbia can contact you at home between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm local time on weekdays and Saturdays.
On Sundays, they can contact you at home between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm local time.
They cannot contact you on statutory holidays.
Can a debt collection agency in British Columbia contact my friends or family?
A collection agency can contact your spouse, partner, relative, neighbour, friend or acquaintance to request your home address, telephone number or electronic mail address if the collector does not have that information (or has that information but has reason to believe it is incorrect).
Can a debt collection agency in British Columbia contact me while at work?
A collection agency can only contact you at work if they do not have your home address, telephone number or email address or cannot reach you with their current information.
If you have previously authorized the collection agency to contact you at your place of employment, they are allowed to do so.
They cannot make more than one verbal attempt to contact you at your employment.
Can a debt collection agency in British Columbia contact my employer?
A collection agency can contact your employer to confirm your employment, business title and business address, but only if the collection agency has given notice of this action.
They can contact your employer for other purposes if you have given them written permission.
How long can a debt be collected in BC?
In British Columbia, a debt collection agency can only take legal action for two years, starting when you acknowledged the debt or last made a payment.
This is known as a statute of limitations, and once this expires, the collection agency cannot take any further legal action.
During the statute of limitations period, you could be sued, and the collection agency can obtain a court judgment, resulting in wage garnishments or seizure of assets.
How to resolve debt collection in BC
There are many ways to resolve debt collection in British Columbia:
- Pay the entire amount.
- Arrange an affordable payment plan.
- Negotiate a settlement by offering a lump sum for less than the total amount owed.
- Dispute the debt.
- Get help from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.
As outlined in the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, if you ignore a debt in collections, a creditor or collection agency can take legal action against you once they’ve notified you of this action.
How to complain about a collection agency in British Columbia
If you feel that a collection agency has acted unlawfully, consider making a complaint to the consumer affairs office in British Columbia.
If you want to complain about a debt collection department or agency for a federally regulated financial institution, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
How to dispute a debt in British Columbia
If a collection agency contacts you regarding a debt you have paid, or if you don’t owe the debt, you can dispute it and take them to court to resolve the matter.
To do so, you must contact the collection agency and the original creditor in writing. You must send this written request by registered mail.
If a collection agency in British Columbia has the wrong person
Sometimes, debt collection agencies make mistakes, resulting in them contacting someone who isn’t the person who owes the debt.
To do so, you must send a written request by registered mail to the collection agency explaining the error.
Dealing with a debt collection agency can be an unpleasant experience, but debt collection laws in BC govern what debt collection agencies can and cannot do.
If you have multiple debts in collections and want to resolve the situation, arrange a free consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.
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