Archive for March 2015

Global News runs story on Canadian debt collection report

 

On March 30, 2015, Sean O’Shea of Global National News did a story following the release of a report on the Canadian collection industry by the Ottawa-based non-profit group Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), a group which promotes the interests of consumers.  Two individuals were interviewed for this Global National News story, Jonathan Bishop, the report’s author, and myself, whose book, The Wolf At The Door, is cited 57 times in the report.

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You can watch this Global News story by clicking on the following link:

Global National News runs story on PIAC report on Canadian collection industry

Anyone who wishes to read the 96-page report titled “All Along The Watch Tower:  A Review of The Canadian Consumer Debt Collection Industry” can visit www.piac.ca, the website for the Public Interest Advisory Centre.

You can read my comments regarding this report by reading my blog Post dated March 31, 2015 on The Mark Silverthorn Blog.

 

Report on the Canadian Collection Industry Misses the Mark

 

 

 

A report released earlier this morning, by a national non-profit organization on the Canadian collection industry, while well-intentioned, misses the mark. One of the reasons for the release of the report is the growing level of consumer debt among Canadians. The report fails to identify the silver bullet for substantially reducing the level of illegal and socially unacceptable behavior by bill collectors. Only one of the report’s nine recommendations, if implemented, would be significant in terms of protecting consumers from abusive and overreaching behavior by debt collectors.

On March 30, 2015, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), an Ottawa-based, non-profit advocacy group for consumers, released a report titled “All Along The Watch Tower: A Review Of The Canadian Consumer Collection Industry”. The report makes nine recommendations for improving the playing field between debtors and creditors and their collection agents most of which involve provincial governments enacting additional consumer protection laws.   Only one of these nine recommendations—the mandatory recording of telephone calls by debt collectors– would have a substantial impact in terms of protecting the public from illegal and unprofessional conduct by bill collectors.

The 96-page report not only describes Mark Silverthorn as a “debt collection expert”, refers to him by name 10 times, but also cites his book, The Wolf At The At The Door, 57 times as a source of information.

 

 1.    Advances national conversation on the Canadian collection industry

All Canadians should applaud the efforts and sincerity of The Public Interest Advocacy Centre in connection with the preparation of this report on the collection industry in Canada. One of the positive aspects of the PIAC report is that it provides an overview of the debt collection industry in Canada and it identifies some of the key concerns for both consumers and those engaged in the collection of consumer accounts. It also describes the amount of consumer debt in this country and the size and scope of the debt collection industry.

Accordingly, the report will play a very important role in advancing the national conversation about the debt collection industry in Canada. This report should also kickstart a national debate on how legislators in this country can better protect consumers who find themselves owing monies to creditors—balancing the legitimate interests of creditors seeking to recover unsecured consumer debt with reasonable protections afforded to those consumers who owe monies to creditors in a civilized society.

The report should receive its due for the following:

  • Providing an overview of the life cycle of an unsecured consumer debt
  • Describing the amount of unsecured consumer debt in Canada
  • Describing the federal law regulating the conduct of those collecting monies owing to banks and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC) success, or lack thereof, enforcing these federal laws
  • Describing the conflict between CRTC rules and provincial laws regulating collection agencies as relates to the use of automated dialers to phone consumers
  • Offering two alternative narratives concering the conduct of large creditors and their collection agencies

 

Conflicting narratives of the conduct of large creditors and collection agencies

One of the highlights of the report is the comparison of two different narratives of the debt collection industry. The first narrative is referred to as “Maintaining a Healthy Image”. According to Peter Sorrentino, President of General Credit Services Inc., collection agencies strive very hard to comply with the law because of potential adverse reaction from their creditor-clients. The competing narrative is described as “A Race For Cash” as described in the book, The Wolf At The Door: What To Do When Collection Agencies Come Calling (2010), published by McClelland & Stewart.  Under this narrative, large creditors in Canada create competitive races between a number of collection agencies to see which can collect the most monies and their respective performances dictate the distribution of future business and market share—a model which places tremendous pressure on collection agencies, and everyone in the organization including front-line collectors to break the law.

 

2.       The report is hamstrung by inadequate research

This report, however, does have a number of deficiencies. Anyone who is knowledgeable about the collection industry reading the report will notice a number of glaring factual errors. The report inaccurately lists the statute of limitations for simple contract debt in New Brunswick as six years—in fact the correct period is two years!

A paragraph which appears on page 22 of the report will illustrate the limitations of the report’s understanding of the collection industry.

When debt collection agencies purchase the debt accounts themselves, they proceed to collect as much revenue as possible from the outstanding accounts that were purchased. The difference between what debt collection agencies collect from the outstanding accounts that were purchased and the amount collection agencies have paid representing the profit for debt collection agencies. Debt collection agencies acting under these “debt-buying” circumstances are sometimes referred to as third party collectors.

A third party collector is a collector employed by a collection agency that collects debts owned by others. If a collection agency purchases debt then this debt is referred to as “purchased debt”.   The last sentence in the excerpt from the report—and the reference to “third party collectors”– is not only factually incorrect it simply does not make any sense!

 

The report lacks understanding of the Canadian debt collection industry

The report fail to adequately identify the dynamics of the relationship between large creditors in this country vis-a-vis their existing collection agencies, as well as those agencies which seek to one day to provide collection services for them. It is a relationship based on something approaching serfdom. When these large creditors say jump, the response from collection agencies is invariably “how high?”

An example from the PIAC report illustrates a disturbing level of naivete when it comes to understanding the relationship between creditors and collection agencies. The PIAC report is critical of the industry practice among Canada’s largest creditors involving competitive races among the various collection agencies doing work for them.   The following sentence appears on page 53 of the report.

Secondly, we suggest debt collection agencies negotiate with large original creditors to adjust the manner in which debt collection efforts are analyzed and recorded in Canada.

Anyone working in the collection agency is going to have a hard time, upon reading this sentence in the report, to keep from falling off their chair. Collection agencies do not negotiate with large creditors. Collection agencies receive instructions from large creditors!

With few exceptions, traditional collection agencies are corporate entities where profitability is the number one factor motivating behavior. The following paragraph which can be found on page 53 of the report encourages collection agencies to voluntarily provide debtors with information about their rights—a suggestion, which if implemented—would result in substantial prejudice to their profitability.

We would also encourage debt collection agencies to provide information to their clients that is produced by provincial consumer affairs ministries or an agency such as the FCAC. This government-produced information, perhaps a 1-2 page document, would advise consumers what their rights are when involved in a debt collector-debtor relationship. Armed with this knowledge, consumers may be able to manage this relationship in a manner that will eventually benefit both themselves and the debt collection agency.

Make no mistake about it. The better informed consumers are about their rights in the context of debt collection—and their options for dealing with their debts, will have only one result—a massive loss in revenues for collection agencies. This suggestion in the report that collection agencies voluntarily provide debtors with information about their rights is from the realm of fantasy.

 

The report fails to adequately address the issue of enforcement of existing consumer protection laws in Canada in the context of debt collection

With one exception, the report fails to address the issue of the level of enforcement of existing laws in Canada designed to protect Canadian consumers dealing with illegal behavior by debt collectors. On January 1, 2010, the Federal Government enacted regulations under the federal Bank Act that applied to federally regulated financial institutions—Canada’s banks—creating a list of prohibited collection practices for those collecting monies owing to Canada’s banks, original creditors and their authorized collection agents, which might include collection agencies, lawyers or possibly paralegals.

According to the PIAC report between April 2011 and July 2013, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), an agency of Industry Canada, received 776 complaints involving debt collection and 73 investigations were opened in 2013-2014. According to the PIAC report—which received financial support from Industry Canada—the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada would not appear to have disciplined any firm in connection with these 73 investigations. Some intrepid reporter might want to ask both the federal Industry Minister as well as senior management at FCAC for details regarding the enforcement of section 7 of the Credit Business Practices Regulations enacted pursuant to the federal Bank Act.

 

The report’s criticism of provincial law societies misses the point

The report is very critical of the role of provincial law societies concerning the regulation of lawyers engaged in debt collection. One of the report’s recommendations is that provincial laws regulating collection agencies be amended to strip lawyers of their exemption under these laws. In 2010 I wrote a 300-page book, The Wolf At The Door. Nowhere in that book did I criticize a provincial law society nor did I question the merits of having lawyers being regulated by self-governing law societies.

The report’s recommendation to eliminate the exemption in existing provincial statutes regulating collection agencies misses the point. From the consumer’s perspective, if they are the subject of abusive behavior by someone attempting to collect a debt it doesn’t matter if the collection efforts are made by persons employed by a third party collection agency, the original creditor, a debt buyer, or a law firm.   In the context of consumer debt collection, consumers should be entitled to same level of protection regardless of who is attempting to collect the monies from them.

The report fails to make a distinction between two distinct regulatory regimes which are found in provincial and territorial statutes regulating collection agencies. Each of these laws has a licensing regime for licensing collection agencies—and in some cases, branch offices and even individual collectors employed by collection agencies. It would be silly to require lawyers to obtain a collection agency license to collect an outstanding account on behalf of a client.

The second part of provincial and territorial laws regulating collection agencies are what I would describe as a list of prohibited collection practices. I submit that these prohibited collection practices should apply to not only third party collection agencies, but also to original creditors, debt buyers, law firms, and their employees.

 

The report’s analysis of the regulation of U.S. debt collection industry is inadequate

The report contains a 2-page analysis of the regulation of debt collectors in the U.S. This section, which is very cursory in nature, contains a number of factual errors and is simply inadequate. It fails to identify the tremendous impact that the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has had in moderating the behavior of collection agencies and collection law firms in the U.S. Collection agencies and collection lawyers are better behaved in the U.S. than in Canada because of FDCPA lawsuits and the threat of FDCPA lawsuits!

 

The report fails to identify the silver bullet to eliminating abusive behavior by debt collectors

In its report on the Canadian collection industry the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) fails to identify the silver bullet for eliminating abusive behavior by debt collectors in Canada. Debt collectors in Canada engage in abusive and overreaching behavior because it is profitable to do so. In order to stop abusive debt collection practices it is necessary for provincial governments, and to a limited extent the federal government, to effectively deter bad behavior using financial penalties for non-compliance—and lawsuits brought by consumers are much more effective than the actions of any government regulator!

The way to properly supervise the debt collection marketplace in Canada is not—as suggested in this report—by enacting a series of more laws, and then relying upon the efforts of government regulators to enforce them. The key to ensuring that debt collectors behave properly is passing laws that facilitate consumers—regardless of their financial situation—to successfully sue debt collectors in the courts where debt collectors have broken consumer protection laws in the context of debt collection.

This solution has been incredibly effective in the United States where there is a cottage industry of lawyers who routinely sue collection agencies and their creditor-clients for virtually any and all violations of U.S. law regulating the conduct of debt collectors. In the United States these lawsuits are often settled out of court after a collection agency receives a single letter from a consumer lawyer threatening a lawsuit on behalf of a consumer.

In order to eliminate overreaching and abusive behavior by debt collectors provincial governments in Canada need to take a page from the playbook of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in the U.S. and provide consumers—regardless of their financial situation—with the ability to successfully sue “debt collectors” and their creditor-clients for violations of consumer protection laws.

 

3.       The report’s nine recommendations

The PIAC’s report contains nine recommendations, virtually all of which call for provincial governments’ to amend existing laws regulations regulating collection agencies. The following table summarizes not only these recommendations but also my comments regarding the value of these recommendations.

 

                    PIAC report                            Recommendations        Mark Silverthorn’s Reaction         to Recommendations
Amending provincial laws to ensure a collection agency includes a 1-2 page memo to explain consumers their rights in the context of debt collection. Preferable to require require mandatory language on all collection notices with a link to provincial regulator’s website containing information about debtor’s rights
Amending provincial laws so collection agencies must provide written notice before collection calls commence in every Canadian jurisdiction Many, but not all, provincial laws regulating collection agencies, currently contain such a provision
Amending provincial laws so that once collection agency learns a consumer is not the debtor all collection efforts must stop Most, if not all, provincial laws regulating collection agencies, contain a law to this effect
Amending provincial laws so consumers in every province have the right to stop collection calls and request communications by some other means Some, but not all, provinces have laws, granting this right to consumers
Every call between debt collector and creditor should be recorded Preferable if provincial laws were amended to require that all calls from a debt collector (1) to a consumer, or (2) for a purpose in furtherance of collecting a debt must be recorded by debt collector and be available to both government regulators and consumers upon request
Provincial and territorial regulators should do “spot checks” on collection agency telephone conversations by obtaining recordings from agencies.   Any tampering would result in large administrative monetary penalties up to an immediate license suspension. This recommendation would be a postitve step.
Provincial governments should consider amending debt collection laws and regulations to amend or remove the exemption now enjoyed by lawyers Provincial governments should enact laws imposing a code of conduct on all those engaged in the collection of debts.
Provincial governments should amend provincial law to require annual transparency reports related to debt collector complaints This would be a waste of time and money. It is based on the unstated assumption that complaints are a good yardstick for measuring collection agency misconduct.
Provincial government’s should consider permitting collection agencies to contact debtor’s via e-mail Might not be practical because it is contrary to the internal policies of Canada’s major banks—and their unsecured consumer debt comprises more than 50 percent of Canada’s total unsecured debt

 

The problem with the PIAC report’s recommendations is that none of them—with the exception of the requirement to record collection calls—would be particularly effective in terms of reducing illegal behavior by debt collectors. Even that recommendation is flawed. Not only should calls between a debt collector and the debtor be recorded but also phone calls between a debt collector and anyone other than the debtor made in furtherance of the collection of a debt. Collectors often break the law when they speak to a member of the debtor’s household, a family member, or someone at the debtor’s workplace. Finally, consumers should be able to access these recorded phone calls—not just government regulators!

 

4.     Mark Silverthorn’s recommendations for improving debt collection industry

The following three recommendations would go a long way towards reducing or eliminating illegal and social unacceptable behavior by debtor collectors in Canada.

 

(i)       Statutory right to sue debt collectors for violation of debt collection laws

Governments should enact laws which give consumers the statutory right to sue debt collectors for violations of federal or provincial law in the context of debt collection.

This initiative would take advantage of the success American society has enjoyed moderating the behavior of debt collectors under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

 

(ii)     All debt collectors should be subject to uniform conduct of  behavior

Provincial laws regulating the conduct of collection agencies should be amended to provide a code of prohibited practices for all debt collectors.

As noted earlier, debt collectors come in four flavours—original creditors, debt buyers, third party collection agencies and lawyers.   A consumer who is subject to collection efforts should be entitled to the same rights and protections regardless of which of category of debt collector is attempting to collect the debt.

At the present time provincial laws regulating the conduct of collection agencies have two distinct components, a licensing regime, and a list of prohibited collection practices and/or mandatory obligations—which are often a mirror image of one another. Provincial governments across Canada should enact laws requiring that anyone engaged in the collection of a debt be subject to a uniform set of prohibited collection practices in that jurisdiction.

 

(iii)    Mandatory for “collection calls” to be recorded

Each province should pass a law requiring that debt collectors be required to record all their collection calls (1) with debtors, and (2) those calls with persons other than debtors made for the purpose of collecting a specific debt. It should be possible for not only government regulators but also individual consumers to access audio recordings  with respect to their particular account.

Is FCAC misleading the public regarding an agency’s charitable status?

 

Financial literacy among Canadians is simply abysmal and it is a contributing factor to an ocean of misery in this country.  I encourage the federal government, provincial governments and others to promote practical, unbiased information on the topic of financial literacy.

The Federal Government encourages Canadians seeking advice regarding financial literacy to visit the website of the Government of Canada’s Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) at www.fcac-acf.gc.ca.  This website is designed to be a resource to assist Canadians improve their financial literacy.

But is it possible that the FCAC is actually providing the public with questionable information–information which could potentially harm members of the public?

The following paragraph can be found on the FCAC’s website on a webpage titled “Managing debt: Getting help from a credit counselling agency”.

Find out about the credit counselling agency’s reputation and qualifications

You can find out if an agency is a recognized member in good standing of a   provincial or national association such as Credit Counselling Canada, the Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services or the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services, which all require their members to maintain specifc standards of practice.

 

FCACMasthead

This copy appears on the FCAC website.

This copy appears on the FCAC website.

 

For the purposes of determinting the reputation and qualifications of a credit counselling agency, the first industry assocation recommended by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is Credit Counselling Canada.

 

Credit Counselling Canada only accredits “registered charitable organizations”

On Credit Counselling Canada’s website, www.creditcounsellingcanada.ca, on a webpage titled “Who We Are – A Non-Profit Credit Counseling Association”, it states that the association only accredits “registered charitable organizations”.

 

Credit Counselling Canada's website states its membership is limited to "registered charitable institutions".

Credit Counselling Canada’s website states its membership is limited to “registered charitable institutions”.

 

Is the statement on Credit Counselling Canada’s website–that it only accredits “registered charitable organizations” actually true because it would appear that one of its accredited members is Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc., an agency that had its charitable status annulled by the Canada Revenue Agency on July 12, 2013, more than eighteen months ago!

 

According to CRA's website, Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. had its charitable status annulled on July 12, 2013.

According to CRA’s website, Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. had its charitable status annulled on July 12, 2013.

 

We know that Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. had its charitable status annulled by the Canada Revenue Agency on July 12, 2013.  We know that Credit Counselling Canada’s website states that it only accredits members who are “registered charitable organizations” and yet it continues to list Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. as an accredited member despite the July 12, 2013 annullment.

Then why is the Government of Canada’s Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) recommeding to Canadians on its website  that they contact Credit Counselling Canada for advice about the reputation and qualifications of credit counselling agencies?

Is this yet another example of taxpayers’ hard-earned tax dollars being wasted or has someone at Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) not been monitoring the activities of industry associations like Credit Counselling Canada?

 

New online Ontario Debt Collection Industry Directory

 

My goal has always to provide the public with as much information as possible about the collection industry.

My goal has always to provide the public with as much information as possible about the collection industry.

 

I am pleased to announce that today Comprehensive Debt Solutions Inc. has published an online Ontario Debt Collection Industry Directory which is available to the public at no charge.  This directory will contain the contact information of every collection agency, debt settlement firm, and credit counselling agency with offices in the province–regardless of size.

This online directory currently lists more than 150 organizations.  This directory comes after months of hard work collecting information and every effort was made not to leave out any organization, including some so small they are one-person operations.

The rationale behind publishing this online directory is consistent with our firm’s philosophy that the better informed a consumer is, the better his or her chances of making the optimal decision in connection with addressing their debt situation.

The Ontario Debt Collection Industry Directory can be found under the “BILL COLLECTORS” tab on the horizontal navigation menu on  www.comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca.  Here is the link for this directory on this website:

http://www.comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca/ontario-debt-collection-directory.html

If you feel that we have omitted to add an organization to this directory or the directory contains inaccurate or outdated information, then I would invite you to contact me at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca, or call me at (866) 996-9941.

Please feel free to share this post with others.  I anticipate that some individuals in the collection industry will favourite this webpage.

 

Compiling the list of names of organizations for the Ontario Debt Collection Industry Directory involved tapping into our extensive network of anonymous sources.

Compiling the list of names of organizations for the Ontario Debt Collection Industry Directory involved tapping into our extensive network of anonymous sources.

 

Data entry for the Ontario Debt Collection Industry Director was the responsibllity of our intern/Office Manager, Rosie.

Data entry for the Ontario Debt Collection Industry Directory was the responsibllity of our intern/Office Manager, Rosie.

 

What is with Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. and its charitable status?

 

 

Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. is a large credit counselling agency operating in the four Atlantic provinces.  According to its website, www.solveyourdebts.com, the organization has five offices in Nova Scotia, three offices in New Brunswick, and one office in each of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.

 

Agency collects large sums of monies for Canadian chartered banks

Industry sources confirm that Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. facilitates the repayment of a substantial amount of debt owing to creditors–including Canada’s chartered banks and major credit card companies.  On the organization’s webpage titled Organization Information the agency describes itself as a “registered non-profit organization”. Furthermore, at the bottom of a substantial percentage of the webpages on this organanization’s website appears the logo for Credit Counselling Canada, an industry association whose membership accreditation is restricted to “registered charitable organizations”. 

The logo for an industry association, Credit Counselling Canada, appears at the bottom of many of the webpages on this agency's webiste.

The logo for an industry association, Credit Counselling Canada, appears at the bottom of many of the webpages on this agency’s webiste.

 

 

Canada Revenue Agency annulled the agency’s charitable status in 2013

There is only one problem!

According to the CRA website, the charitable status of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. was annulled on July 12, 2013more than eighteen months ago!

 

According to CRA's website, Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. had its charitable status annulled on July 12, 2013.

According to CRA’s website, Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. had its charitable status annulled on July 12, 2013.

 

The term “annulled” is definded on the CRA website as follows:

When a charity’s .. registration is annulled, it is deemed to have never been registered.

 Why did CRA annull the charitable status of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc.?

Like me, most people reading this blog might be wondering why the Canada Revnue Agency annulled the charitable status of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc., one of the largest credit counselling agencies in Canada.  If anyone wants to learn the reason for the annullment all they have to do is contact CRA and request the information which might take up to 30 days to obtain.

 

Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc.’s use of Credit Counselling Canada’s logo

Given the information contained on the website for Credit Counselling Canada, www.creditcounsellingcanada.ca–that membership accreditation is limited to “registered charitable organizations”–it would appear to be inappropriate for Credit Counselling Canada to permit the agency to use the Credit Counselling logo on its website.

 

Credit Counselling Canada's website states its membership is limited to "registered charitable institutions".

Credit Counselling Canada’s website states its membership is limited to “registered charitable organizations”..

 

Not only does Credit Counselling Canada’s logo appear at the bottom of numerous webpages on the website for Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. but also the agency’s website contains a statement that it is an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada.

 

The agency's website states that it is an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada.

The agency’s website states that it is an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada.

 

It would be reasonable for a member of the public, reading the website for both Credit Counselling Canada and Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc, to come to the conclusion that Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. is a “registered charitable organization”, something which does not appear to be true.  This is an issue which ought to be brought to the attention of the Compliance Division at the Charities Directorate at the Canada Revenue Agency.

 

Appropriateness of content appearing on Credit Counselling Canada’s website

Given the fact that Credit Counselling Canada’s website states that membership accreditation is limited to “registered charitable organizations” is it appropriate for its website to include any information whatsoever regarding Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc?  In fact,  website visitors to Credit Counselling Canada’s website can find all of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc.’s locations on its website.

An individual visiting Credit Counselling Canada’s website would conclude that Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. is a “registered charitable organization”.  By including content regarding Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. on its website is Credit Counselling Canada misleading the public about the charitable status of the agency?  At some future date the Compliance Division at the Charities Directorate at the Canada Revenue Agency might be asked about the appropriateness of content on Credit Counselling Canada’s website with respect to this agency.

 

Appropriateness of agency’s accreditation with Credit Counselling Canada

On its website Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. states that it is an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada.  One can find detailed contact information for Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc.’s offices on Credit Counselling Canada’s website which I would assume means that the agency is an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada.

Given the fact that Credit Counselling Canada’s website states that membership accreditation is restricted to “registered charibable organizations”, is it appropropriate for this agency to be an accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada?  It would appear that Atlantic Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. is not a “registered charitable organization”.  Therefore, some might believe that by providing this agency with membership accreditation that Credit Counselling Canada is misleading the public about the agency’s charitable status.

 

Should creditors be participating in Debt Management Plans with a credit counselling agency that misrepresents its charitable status to the public?

Some industry obervers might take the position that Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc., directly or indirectly, with the assistance of Credit Counselling Canada, is misleading the public as to is charitable status. This then raises the issue of whether or not credtiors should decline to participate in Debt Managment Plans arranged through Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc.

 

Time for representatives from the agency and Credit Counselling Canada to make a public statement

It is time for senior management at both Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. and Credit Counselling Canada to make a public statement and make themselves available to the media to answer important questions surrounding the facts and issues arising from this post.  They owe it to every person who not only is, but also anyone who might at a future date be, enrolled in a Debt Management Plan with Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc.

 

If you have any information that would shed light on this unfolding story then I would invite you to contact Mark Silverthorn toll free at 1 (866) 996-9941  or  (519) 827-5513 or via e-mail, at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca.

Any consumers who are currently enrolled in a Debt Managment Plan with Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Inc. are invited to contact Mark Silverthorn.

 

People should feel comfortable calling Mark Silverthorn and speaking with him as an anonymous source.

People should feel comfortable calling Mark Silverthorn and speaking with him as an anonymous source.

Radio Stations Big Winners in Consumer Debt Air Wars

 

It is hard to listen to the radio for more than 15 minutes wihout hearing an ad from a credit counselling agency or a bankruptcy trustee.  The amounts of money spent on radio ads by a handful of the largest Canadian credit counselling agencies and bankruptcy trustee firms across Canada must be staggering!

This air war highlights a number of developments in Canada.  Firstly, some bankruptcy trustee firms and some credit counselling agencies are aggressively competing for market share.  Secondly, some players–the largest credit counselling agencies and the largest firms of bankruptcy trustees– have the financial resources to play this high-stakes game, and others simply do not.  Finally, it would appear almost inevitable that we are going to witness a certain degree of consolidation in both the non-profit credit counselling space and the bankruptcy trustee space over the next five years. Some smaller credit counselling agencies and smaller bankruptcy trustee firms might face challenges competing with the large advertising budgets of the big players and they might feel compelled to join their larger competiors or simply exit the marketplace or reinvent themselves and offer a different mix of services to the public.

In the past we have waxed nostalgic about the disappearance of the family farm.  In the not-too-distant-future we might be doing the same for the community’s local credit counselling agency and the bankrupty trustee down the street.

Help Us Create Comprehensive Canadian Debt Collection Directory

 

"I look forward to helping Canadians resolving their outstanding debt situation in the most  optimal way!" Mark Silverthorn

With the help of Canadians across the country we are going to create and maintain a comprehensive Canadian Debt Collection Industry Directory.

 

If you are a consumer facing debt problems it helps to know who you are dealing with or who you might be dealing with.  There are plenty of organizations out there who are only to happy to take money from consumers in financial distress.  The more information you have about these people–who they are, how they operate, what services they provide, and how they get compensated, the more informed a decision-maker you will be.

At Comprehensive Debt Solutions, one of our objectives in making consumers with debt problems better informed is the creation of a comprehensive Canadian Debt Collection Directory.  This directory would include the names and contact information of any organizations that collect monies from consumers–especially those collecting monies on behalf of creditors.

This list will include the following:

  • collection agencies
  • credit counselling agencies
  • debt purchasers
  • in-house collection departments at major creditors
  • law firms doing large-volume collection work

If you know of a firm operating in Canada that collects monies on behalf of creditors then we would ask you to provide us with this this information so that we can build the most comprehensive up-to-date Canadian Debt Collection Directory.

We would invite you to send your information to mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca.  You are also welcome to call Mark Silverthorn toll free at (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513.

Are you a collection industry insider?

 

Please feel free to contact me and provide me with information on an anonymous basis, unless you desire that your identity be made public.

Mark Silverthorn has confirmed the accuracy of the list set out below by speaking with his network of contacts in the collection industry.

 

How well do you know the collection industry in Canada?

If you can identify the missing title for the following list then you can call yourself a Canadian collection industry insider:

 

The ***  #### in Canada

Total Credit Recovery Ltd

Affinity Global

CBV Collection Services Ltd.

NCO Financial Services Inc.

Allied International Credit Corp.

ARO Inc.

Gatestone & Co. Inc.

MJR Capital Services Inc.

EOS Canada Inc.

D & A Collection Corporation

Credit Bureau of Canada Collecitons

Iqor Canada Ltd.

Metropolitan Credit Adjusters Ltd.

Tricura Canada Inc.

Commercial Credit Adjusters Ltd.

Credit Risk Management Canada Ltd.

Financial Debt Recovery Ltd.

Common Collection Agency

Allianceone Ltd.

Partners In Credit INc.

GECG Collections Co/Society de Recouvrement GECF

St. Catharines Credit Corporation Ltd.

General Credit Services Inc.

International Credit Experts Inc.

City Collection Company Ltd.

Suite Collections Canada Inc.

CCL Financial Inc.

North American Receivable Management Services Company

ARM Collection Agency Ltd.

Action Collections and Receivables Management

A-1 Credit Recovery & Collection Services Inc.

Bond Street Collections Inc.

Excel Collection Services Ltd.

Pomer & Boccia Professional Corporation

Collectrite of Hamilton Ltd.

Kingston Data and Credit Inc.

Groupe Solutions Credit

C.G.C. Collection Group of Canada Inc.

C.B. Cameron & Associates

Credit Bureau of Timmins

Mac Financial Recovery (Canada) Inc.

Skylink Receiveables Inc.

Groupecho Collection Canada Inc.

National Credit Recovery Inc.

Contract Resources Services Inc.

National Recovery Corp.

Canadain Credit Corporation

Northstar Location Services, Inc.

Advanced Collection Services Ltd.

Go Beyond Collection Agency Inc.

Collectrite Ontario Inc.

Unik Collectrite Inc.

Crelogix Portfolio Services Corpoation

Carfinco Inc.

Canada Bonded Attorney and Legal Directory Ltd.

Phillips & Cohen Associates (Canada) Ltd.

Collection Service of Windsor Ltd.

Case Receivable Management Inc.

CTL-WDW Ltd.

Canada Legal Referral Inc.

Priority Credit Recovery Inc.

Credit Bureau Collections Ltd.

Integrated RM Inc.

Collection Recovery Systems

Credit Bureau Collections

Credit Central Control Ltd.

Continental Legal Services Corporation

Shellco Credit Systems Ltd.

Northumberland County Collection Service Inc.

GCQ Canada Inc.

Icollect.com Corp.

 

If you want confirmation that you can identify the correct title for the above-noted list then you are welcome to send an e-mail to Mark Silverthorn at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca

If you would like to learn more about the Ontario Collector Database, a list of more than 4,000 collectors employed by third party collection agencies in Ontario then you are weclome to contact Mark Silverthorn by calling toll free (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513, or via e-mail at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca..

 

You are welcome to call Mark Silverthorn and to speak to him on a private and confidential basis.

You are welcome to call Mark Silverthorn and to speak to him on a private and confidential basis.

Remembering Leonard Nimoy

Recently I was saddened to learn that Leonard Nimoy, aged 83, passed away on Friday, February 27th.

Millions of people around the world enjoyed watching Leonard Nimoy play First Officer Spock on the original Star Trek television series and later in Star Trek movies, some of which he directed.

Millions of people around the world enjoyed watching Leonard Nimoy play First Officer Spock on the original Star Trek television series and later in Star Trek movies, some of which he directed.

Leonard Nimoy will always be remembered as the actor who played Mr. Spock on the television series Star Trek that ran from 1966 to 1969–a total of 79 episodes.  I can remember watching countless reruns after the show aired its final episode.

Star Trek also inspired several movies in which Leonard Nimoy appeared as an actor as well as directing.  The original Star Trek series also inspired several other television series including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyageur, and Star Trek: Enterprise.

A few years ago I can recall playing a popular video game, Civilization IV, in which Leonard Nimoy was the narrator.

 

Iconic relationship between Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk

I can vaguely recall reading an English Lit article several years ago analyzing the popularity of the original Star Trek television series which focused on the relationship between First Officer Spock and Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation Starship USS Enterprise on its five-year mission to explore unknown worlds.  The relationship between the two men reprises that of  two characters found in many of the great fictional works in classical English literature.

The two men are very different.  Mr. Spock is the rational man who not only relies upon logic but also who typically follows the rules.  Captain James Kirk doesn’t play by the rules, and he is impulsive and emotional.  While the two men have different personalities they do share a number of important qualities, loyalty to the Federation, basic decency, and finally–the fact that they will lay down their life for one another.  Their affection for one another is unconditional and is the epitome of “brotherly love” common among brothers in arms in the military.

For all you Star Trek fans join me in a salute to Mr. Spock.

For all you Star Trek fans join me in a salute to Mr. Spock.

 

If I can quote Mr. Spock, “Live long and prosper.”

Mr. Spock, you will be missed!

 

Beat Winter Blahs For About $50

My partner, Danielle, and I were talking earlier this week about how we were tired of this winter weather.  I suggested we look into spending a day at an indoor water park located in southwestern Ontario.

We chose Waves Indoor Waterpark at the Americana Hotel located at 8444 Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls, Ontario, (www.americananiagara.com, tel.: 905-356-8444). Yesterday, my partner, Danielle, and my 16 year-old daughter drove about 90 minutes from Kitchener to the Americana Hotel where we found free parking at the hotel.

 

WavesIndoorWaterpark

We purchased three day passes which cost $96.31 all in–$26.91 each, plus H.S.T. We obtained lockers for $1.00 each and had lunch at their snack bar–standard snack bar fare–costing about $12.00 per adult.  This day at Waves Indoor Waterpark at the Americana Hotel would cost us about $50.00 per person including admission, one meal, parking, snacks and the cost of gas to drive from Kitchener to Niagara Falls.

Wavepool

Upon entering the waterpark the first thing that hits you is the warmth, 84 degrees Fahrenheit, the sunlight, the entire facility is under glass, and its size, 25,000 square feet of space for various activity centres including a kiddie play area,  a giant tipping bucket, beach entry wave pool, water slides, hot tub, and an eating area where some families were enjoying a birthday party.

When we arrived my 16 year-old daughter and I spent the morning on the facility’s four water slides, two of which were 3-storeys tall.  For a guy with grey hair in his mid-fifties, I might have been the oldest kid on the water slides!  After lunch it was time to try out the wave pool and the hot tub which can accomodate 16 people.  We really did feel like we spent the day at a Carribean resort, all for the price of about $50.00 per person.  Now that is a bargain!

I am already thinking about visiting an indoor waterpark two weeks from now!