A couple of weeks ago someone asked me to look at the website for a debt settlement firm called Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc., also known by its initials, CCDR. The firm’s website is https://ccdr.ca. According to the homepage for this company’s website, CCDR is licensed as a debt settlement firm in both Saskatchewan and in Ontario. At the bottom of the webpage titled “DEBT SETTLEMENT RED FLAG” the following sentence is prominently displayed:
We are proud to say that Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc. adheres to the best practices in the industry.
This screenshot is taken from the bottom of the webpage titled “Debt Settlement Red Flag” on CCDR’s website (Orange highlight has been added).
Four questions for CCDR’s ownership
After reviewing the firm’s website, researching various government sources and social media, and visiting the firm’s Ontario office, I have four questions for the firm’s Canadian owners.
Is CCDR’s ownership hypocrites?
Is CCDR adequately safeguarding its clients’ personal information?
Is CCDR misleading the public about the consequences of entering into a debt settlement agreement?
Is CCDR negotiating settlements on behalf of Ontario clients illegally?
1. Are CCDR’s owners hypocrites?
Despite the fact that CCDR is licensed to provide debt settlement services in both Saskatchewan and in Ontario the company is essentially a Saskatchewan-based firm. On the CONTACT page for the firm’s website its Saskatchewan office is described as the “Saskatchewan Head Office” and “All customer support and new inquiries are handled here.” Furthermore, a corporate search of the firm lists a Saskatchewan address as the firm’s head office and all of the firm’s directors are Saskatchewan residents.
The homepage for CCDR promotes the firm as the preferred choice as a debt settlement service provider for Saskatchewan residents. The website’s homepage goes so far as to discourage consumers from using “out-of-province” debt settlement firms. After reading this blog post, some people might think CCDR’s website is hypocritical warning consumers to avoid hiring out-of-province debt settlement firms. This Saskatchewan-based firm is offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents in circumstances where it has virtually no presence in Ontario. CCDR’s concerns for consumers using an out-of-province debt settlement firm would appear to be limited to Saskatchewan residents–and not the residents of Ontario.
Highlighting has been added to this screenshot of the top portion of CCDR’s homepage.
2. Is CCDR adequately safeguarding clients’ personal information?
On the homepage for CCDR’s website one can find the statement “No appointment is necessary you may call or drop in”. CCDR’s registered Ontario office is located at 55 King Street W., 7th Floor, Kitchener, Ontario, N2G 4W1. Since I just happen to live in Kitchener, Ontario, I thought I would take CCDR up on its invitation to drop by its office.
Recently I visited 55 King Street, 7th Floor in Kitchener, Ontario, which I discovered is a Regus corporate business centre.
One of the very friendly Customer Service representatives at Regus was only too happy to give me a tour of the entire 7th floor. When I provided the Regus Customer Service representative with the name of my firm, Comprehensive Debt Solutions Inc., she volunteered that Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc., was one of their clients that shared an office with one of more other firms. During our tour of the 7th floor my Customer Service representative from Regus showed me the actual office which CCDR shared with other firms, an office with six workstations and very little else.
My Regus tour guide also volunteered that the representatives from CCDR are “rarely here”. When I asked about a desktop computer sitting at an empty workstation the Regus Customer Service representative identified it as the CCDR computer. Later that day this Regus Customer Service representative confirmed that six individuals–not all of whom were CCDR employees–had keys to the shared office where CCDR’s computer was located.
Given this information, CCDR might want to ask themselves if their clients’ financial information is being adequately safeguarded. With respect to maintaining the confidentiality of client information is CCDR adhering to the “best practices in the industry”?
3. Is CCDR misleading the public about the consequences of entering into a debt settlement agreement?
Over the past few days I have thoroughly reviewed the content on CCDR’s website. There are two issues where I found the content on https://ccdr.ca to be misleading:
- statements suggesting that people entering into a debt settlement agreement with CCDR would not receive collection calls
- failure to mention that a client entering into a debt settlement agreement with CCDR might get sued
The following screenshot is Question 16 on CCDR’s FAQ webpage where the issue of stopping collection calls is referred to.
I am perplexed by the representation contained in Question 16 on CCDR’s FAQ page that CCDR can stop collection calls to a consumer who becomes a client within about a week. In fact, there is no law–no provincial law in either Saskatchewan or Ontario, nor federal law–which confers on a debt settlement firm the right to stop collection calls to its debt settlement clients. CCDR might very well send a letter to a client’s creditors demanding that all phone calls be made to CCDR and not its client. The creditor, and its authorized collection agent, however, have every right to make collection calls to any consumer owing it money, including anyone who has entered into a debt settlement agreement with CCDR.
The content on CCDR’s website contains a number of statements about the positive results that are available if an individual enters into a debt settlement agreement with CCDR. What I was not able to find anywhere on CCDR’s website was a statement indicating that a creditor might sue a consumer who had entered into a debt settlement agreement with CCDR.
4. Is CCDR negotiating settlements illegally on behalf of Ontario residents?
The Ontario Government has a regulatory regime for firms providing debt settlement services which is contained in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and Regulation 74. There are three different types of licenses under this Act.
- collection agency license
- branch office licene (required where a firm operates from multiple locations)
- collector license (required for employees performing certain functions)
Under the Act a firm providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents–except those exempt from the Act–must possess an Ontario collection agency license. If a firm providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents operates from more than one location then each location requires a branch office license.
Furthermore, some, but not all, employees of a firm offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents must possess a valid Ontario “collector” license. Individuals who negotiate settlements on behalf of Ontario residents are required to be licensed as a collector under the Act. Furthermore, a collector is only permitted to perform these debt settlement functions while physically present on the premises listed on their collector registration. Subsection 13(8) of Regulation 74 of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act reads as follows:
(8) A collector shall be registered where he or she is to be employed by a registered collection agency.
Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc. possesses an Ontario collection agency license with a registered office located at 55 King Street W., 7th Floor, Kitchener, Ontario, N2G 4W1.
I have written confirmation that Canadian Customer Relief Inc. does not have any branch office licenses that would permit its collectors to work at any address other than its registered office in Kitchener.
Furthermore, I have written confirmation that Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc. has two collectors licensed under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.: Gregory Roberts and Rachelle Roberts. You will find a screenshot confirming their license status below:
CCDR’s two licensed collectors are both Saskatchewan residents
A corporate search of Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc. reveals that CCDR’s two Ontario collectors, Gregory Roberts and Rachelle Roberts, are directors and shareholders of the company. A copy of the first page of a corporate search of Canadian Customer Debt Relief is reproduced below:
A search of social media confirms that both Gregory, or Greg, Roberts, and Rachelle Roberts, CCDR’s two licensed collectors under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act, are Saskatchewan residents.
I don’t know whether or not CCDR has any Ontario clients for whom it provides debt settlement services. I do know, however, that CCDR has gone to the time, trouble, and expense, to obtain an Ontario collection agency license, obtain a shared office in Kitchener, Ontario, place a computer in that shared office, and obtain two Ontario collector licenses. I also know that CCDR is offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents on the firm’s website.
There would appear to be some issue as to whether or not CCDR is complying with Ontario law when it comes to negotiating settlements on behalf of any of its clients who are Ontario residents. CCDR does not employ anyone as a licensed collector who works full-time at the firm’s registered office located in Kitchener, Ontario. In fact, the firm’s two licensed collectors live more than 1,900 kilometers from the firm’s registered office in Kitchener, Ontario. Therefore, one wonders how CCDR can legally negotiate settlements on behalf of its Ontario clients when it does not employ a full-time licensed collector who works at the firm’s registered Kitchener office.
Official complaint has been filed with the Ontario Government
Given my concerns about whether or not CCDR might be contravening the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act in connection with negotiating settlements on behalf of Ontario residents who are clients of the firm, I have taken the liberty of filing a formal complaint against the firm with the Ontario Ministry of Government and Social Services.
Any Ontario residents who are clients of CCDR invited to contact me
If you live in Ontario and you are an existing or former debt settlement client of Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc. I would invite you to call me at (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513. Alternaively, you are welcome to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.