Archive for February 2016

Is Strategic Credit Solutions offering debt settlement services across Canada illegally?

I recently received a tip about a Newmarket, Ontario-based debt settlement firm called Strategic Credit Solutions.  It would appear that this firm–which focuses on paying mortgage brokers for referrals–is offering debt settlement services not only in Ontario but also across Canada. I was given a copy of an e-mail dated February 23, 2016, describing the firm’s services as well as a very professional looking 4-panel digital brochure.

 

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In this e-mail dated February 23, 2016, Ms. Amanda Potts, Regional Business Coordinator for Strategic Credit Solutions, discloses that the firm works with a lawyer to provide debt settlement services.  Nowhere in this e-mail or the attached marketing brochure is the name of the participating lawyer mentioned.

 

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In February of this year a Newmarket, Ontario- based firm, Strategic Credit Solutions, has been using this 4-panel brochure to market the firm’s debt settlement services to mortgage brokers.

 

 

Are the activities of Strategic Credit Solutions subject to the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act?

Debt settlement services is defined in subsection 1(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act as follows:

“debt settlement services” means offering or undertaking to act for a debtor in arrangements or negotiations with the debtor’s creditors or receiving money from a debtor for distribution to the debtor’s creditors, where the services are provided in consideration of a fee, commission or other remuneration that is payable by the debtor.

Based upon the contents of Ms. Potts’ e-mail dated February 23, 2016, the 4-panel marketing brochure, as well as the language contained in Strategic Credit Solutions’s website, www.scredit.ca, it would appear clear that the activities of Strategic Credit Solutions fall within the definition of “debt settlement services” as defined in subsection 1(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  The definition of “debt settlement services” includes “offering” debt settlement services.

 

Is Strategic Credit Solutions licensed to provide debt settlement services to Ontario residents under Ontario law?

Given the fact that Strategic Credit Solutions’ business model would appear to fall clearly within the definition of “debt settlement services” in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Servics Act the first question one might ask is whether or not the firm possesses the appropriate license to “offer” debt settlement services to Ontario residents?

Any firm offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents must possess an Ontario collection agency license pursuant to the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act unless it is exempt from the Act.  Anyone visiting the homepage on Strategic Credit Solutions’ website, www.scredit.ca, could be excused for believing that the firm is licensed to provide debt settlement services in Ontario.

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The website for Strategic Credit Solutions, www.scredit.ca, would certainly suggest that this Newmarket, Ontario-based debt settlement service provider is licensed by the Ontario government to provide debt settlement services.  This is a screenshot of the homepage for www.scredit.ca, captured on February 26, 2016.

 

SCS is a Government licensed debt company that reduces consumers debt without filing consumer proposal or credit counselling.

This sentence is the first sentence which appears on the homepage for Strategic Credit Solutions’ website, www.scredit.ca

But is this statement true?

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Ms. Stephanie Lawrence is the Ontario civil servant responsible for processing license registrations and renewals under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  In this e-mail dated February 24, 2016, sent to me she confirms that Strategic Credit Solutions is not registered as a collection agency in Ontario.

 

Is Strategic Credit Solutions exempt from the requirement of being registered as a collection agency under Ontario law?

The Ontario Collection Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act does contain a number of exemptions in subsection 2(1) of the Act.  I am, however, not aware of any information that would suggest that, given Strategic Credit Solutions’ business model, the firm is exempt from the Act.

 

Strategic Credit Solutions would appear to be operating as an unlicensed debt settlement firm in Ontario

The activities of Newmarket, Ontario-based Strategic Credit Solutions would appear to be clearly within the definition of “debt settlement services” as defined in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  Furthermore, it would appear that Strategic Credit Solutions is not “registered” or licensed as a collection agency under the Act.  Finally, there is no evidence to suggest that Strategic Credit Solutions falls within an exemption under the Act.

Is Strategic Credit Solutions operating as an unlicensed debt settlement firm across Canada?

On Friday, February 26, 2016, I phoned Ms. Amanda Potts, Regional Business Coordinator, Strategic Credit Solutions.  During this telephone conversation I asked a number of questions in order to learn more details regarding the firm’s business model.  When I asked her in which provinces the firm operated she informed me that Strategic Credit Solutions’ services were available across Canada.

It would appear that Strategic Credit Solutions is operating illegally as an unregistered debt settlement service provider in Ontario.  What I have yet to determine is whether or not Strategic Credit Solutions is operating illegally as a debt settlement service provider in any provinces in addition to Ontario.  Accordingly, I anticipate that over the next week or so I will be contacting senior civil servants outside Ontario asking them to satisfy themselves whether or not Strategic Credit Solutions is offering debt settlement services contrary to the law in their province.

 

Toronto lawyer Colina King working with Strategic Credit Solutions?

When I asked Ms. Potts how many lawyers were participating in providing debt settlement services in conjunction with Strategic Credit Solutions she informed me it was just one lawyer.  The lawyer Ms. Potts named during this telephone call was Toronto lawyer Colina King.  On Friday, February 26, 2016, I spoke with Ms. Colina King on the phone.  During this phone call I identified myself, I advised her that Ms. Potts had identified her as the lawyer providing debt settlement services in conjunction with Strategic Credit Solutions.  I informed her that I would be publishing a post concerning Strategic Credit Solutions’ business model and I asked her if she cared to make any comments.  Ms. King told me she was busy and she was unable to speak with me.

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In a telephone conversation on February 25, 2016, Ms. Amanda Potts, Regional Business Coordinator, Strategic Credit Solutions, identified Toronto lawyer Colina King as the lawyer providing debt settlement services in conjunction with Strategic Credit Solutions.

 

The LinkedIn Profile for lawyer Colina King does not make any reference to Strategic Debt Solutions nor to debt settlement services.

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This is a screenshot of Ms. Colina King’s LinkedIn Profile–captured on February 28, 2016.  Nowhere in her LinkedIn Profile does Ms. King make any reference to Strategic Credit Solutions nor debt settlement services.

 

Hamfisted attempt to avoid draconian limitations on fees imposed by provincial regulators?

Over the past couple of years provincial governments across Canada have been enacting laws intended to protect consumers from abusive practices by some debt settlement service providers.  In many provinces these reforms included the introduction of draconian limitations on the fees charged by debt settlement service providers.  This has motivated a number of traditional debt settlement service providers to attempt–with varying degrees of success to reinvent themselves–but in circumstances where they could avoid the severe restrictions on fees which they could charge their clients.

The most common tactic for a traditional debt settlement service provider to avoid the new draconican restrictions on fees is to have the consumer enter into a contract for debt settlement services with a lawyer–and not the traditional debt settlement firm–in an attempt to be exempt from the Act.  The problem facing those attempting to successfully use this tactic is the narrow scope of the “lawyer’s exemption” contained in subsection 2(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act, which reads as follows:

This Act does not apply to a barrister or solicitor in the regular practice of his or her profession or to his or her employees.

I would suggest that the current business model used by Strategic Credit Solutions is a hamfisted attempt to avoid the draconian limitations on fees imposed by provincial regulators.

 

Solicited comments from Josh Balner, Amanda Potts and Colina King prior to publication of this post

Prior to publishing this post I spoke to two representatives of Strategic Credit Solutions, Amanda Potts, Regional Business Cooridinator, and the firm’s Founder, Josh Balner.  I also had a brief telephone conversation with Toronto lawyer Colina King.  I also sent a draft of this post–via e-mail–to these three individuals before 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 28, 2016, requesting their comments on the post.  They did not respond to my invitation to comment on this post.

 

Contact me if you have entered into a debt settlement agreement with Strategic Credit Solutions or any lawyer associated with that firm

I would invite anyone who has entered into a debt settlement agreement with Strategic Credit Solutions or any lawyer associated with the firm to contact me.  You are welcome to call me at (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you can e-mail me at markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

 

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I would invite anyone who has entered into a contract for debt settlement services with either Strategic Credit Solutions or any lawyer associated with that firm to contact me.

 

 

 

 

Should Law Society be concerned about marketing on behalf of Ontario Debt Law?

 

Sometime in July of 2015 a new player entered the debt settlement marketplace in Ontario, Ontario Debt Law.  The first two sentences of a marketing letter on Ontario Debt Law letterhead, dated August 12, 2015, reads as follows:

 

Ontario Debt Law (ODL) is a Canadian law firm that is owned and operated by Angelo Serafini, J.D.  Angelo has been practising law for over 30 years and is currently a Deputy Judge.

 

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This document–together with several other pages–were sent to a prospective client of Ontario Debt Law in August of 2015.  In August of 2015 Ontario Debt Law held itself out to the public as operating from 188 Wilkinson Road, Brampton, Ontario, the same building where OCCA is located. 

 

The only services performed by Ontario Debt Law appear to be “debt settlement services” as defined in subsection 1(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  In late 2015 a mystery shopper contacted Ontario Debt Law and made arrangements to meet in person with representatives from the firm.

 

Statements made to a mystery shopper in late 2015

Sometime in late November or early December a mystery shopper attended in person at 188 Wilkinson Road in Brampton, Ontario, home to Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance (OCCA), one of the largest debt settlement service providers in Canada over the past decade.  During this meeting two individuals–one female and one male–encouraged the mystery shopper to become a client of Ontario Debt Law.

In this 1:00 video clip the person meeting with a mystery shopper describes herself as “just the greeter”.

 

In this 2:37 clip the female representative identifies herself as an employee of OCCA.  She explains the various tasks performed by OCCA, Angelo Serafini, and Ontario Debt Law.

 

 

In this 1:22 video clip a male representative explains how OCCA and Debt Helpers–a marketing firm– work under the umbrella of Ontario Debt Law.

 

 

The mystery shopper advises the female representative that she is three months in arrears making payments on her Rogers bill.  The representative advises her that if she becomes a client of Ontario Debt Law then the law firm can stop collection calls on her Rogers bill.  In fact this statement is not entirely accurate.  With respect to non-bank debt, a lawyer can take certain actions to stop collection calls from a creditor’s collection agents, collection agencies or law firms.  A lawyer who is representing a debtor, however, cannot stop collection calls from the original creditor.

In this 1:12 video clip a female representative working at OCCA’s premises in Brampton, Ontario–who describes herself as an OCCA employee–misrepresents Ontario Debt Law’s ability to stop collection calls on the mystery shopper’s outstanding Rogers bill.

 

The mystery shopper spoke to a second representative from Ontario Debt Law who made a number of troubling statements on a variety of subjects including the merits of making a consumer proposal, the impact of an informal proposal on a consumer’s credit report, and the legal consequences of the expiry of Ontario’s 2-year statute of limitations.

The Law Society may have some concerns about some of the statements made by the male representative–captured on this 2:03 video clip–to a mystery shopper seeking information about Ontario Debt Law in late 2015.

 

This representative misrepresents the legal consequences of the expiry of Ontario’s 2-year statute of limitations.  He also made the bizarre statement that “a consumer proposal is an expensive bankruptcy”.

 

Angelo Serafini is responsible for statements made by those marketing the services offered by Ontario Debt Law

A lawyer is responsible for the actions of anyone marketing his firm’s services to the public.  Therefore, lawyer Angelo Serafini is responsible for statements made by those marketing the services offered by Ontario Debt Law regardless of who employs the individuals responsible for these representations.

 

Contact me if you are a client of Ontario Debt Law

I would invite anyone who has become a client of Ontario Debt Law since July 1st of 2015 to contact me.  You are welcome to call me at 1 (866) 996-9941 or at (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you can send me an e-mail at markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

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You are welcome to contact me if you are a client of Ontario Debt Law.

 

 

 

 

 

Are debt settlement clients of Ontario Debt Law entitled to a one hundred percent refund?

 

Very few Canadians will have ever heard of a debt settlement law firm by the name of Ontario Debt Law.  This debt settlement firm began carrying on business sometime around July of 2015.  I have yet to be able to identify a single employee of this firm.  It would appear that most of the tasks performed for Ontario Debt Law’s clients are done by employees of Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA).

 

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Most of the tasks performed on behalf of Ontario Debt Law’s clients are carried out by employees of Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA) at its office located at 188 Wilkinson Road in Brampton, Ontario.  This location is about 40 kilometers from the address listed for Ontario Debt Law on the firm’s website, www.ontariodebtlaw.ca, 447 Speers Road, Oakville, Ontario.

 

The other day someone asked me if a client of Ontario Debt Law, which would appear to provide no services other than “debt settlement services” as defined under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act, would be entitled to a one hundred percent refund of fees paid to the firm.  After researching this issue, in my opinion anyone who has become a debt settlement client of Ontario Debt Law since July 1, 2015, might be entitled to a hundred percent refund of fees paid to the firm.

A majority of Ontario Debt Law’s clients might be unaware that the contract that they have entered into with Ontario Debt Law is a debt settlement services agreement because Ontario Debt Law calls its debt settlement services agreement a Membership Agreement.  Some of Ontario Debt Law’s clients might also be under the impression that they are actually clients of OCCA because employees of OCCA would appear to perform the lion’s share of tasks associated with their debt settlements services agreement.

 

Ontario Debt Law’s nightmare scenario

If an Ontario judge, or the Ontario Government, were to take the position that Ontario Debt Law is not entitled to the “lawyer’s exemption” contained in paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act then Ontario Debt Law might find itself in for some significant difficulties.

 

Are you an Ontario Debt Law client who would like a full refund of fees paid to the firm?

Here is some food for thought for Ontario Debt Law’s clients and former clients. If you are interested in a refund of 100 percent of fees paid to Ontario Debt Law then you might want to consider sending them a written notice advising them that not only are you cancelling your debt settlement services agreement within one year of the date of the agreement but also you are demanding a refund of 100 percent of all fees paid to the firm.

In the event that Ontario Debt Law were to decline to provide you with a full refund within 15 days of receipt of your written notice of both cancellation and demand for a full refund then you do have a remedy available to you.  You can sue Ontario Debt Law pursuant to sections 16.10(1) and (2) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act seeking an order awarding you repayment of your fees.  If your lawsuit were successful, in addition to awarding you repayment of your fees, and court costs, the trial judge has a statutory discretion to award you exemplary and punitive damages.

You might be saying to yourself that your cannot afford to sue a law firm to recover your fees.  I have news for you!  I can think of one or two dozen firms whom would be quite happy to pay all your legal expenses if you decided to sue Ontario Debt Law to recover fees paid to the law firm.  This group would include some collection agencies, some bankruptcy trustees, and potentially some credit counselling agencies.

 

Background information

On July 1, 2015, a new regulatory regime came into effect in Ontario that had a dramatic impact upon the entire debt settlement industry.  Beginning July 1, 2015, the Ontario Government imposed significant restrictions on the amount of fees that a debt settlement services provider could charge.  Firstly, a debt settlement provider could not charge a penny in fees until such time that a settlement actually took place.  Secondly, the amount of these fees was capped, not to exceed ten percent of the amount of the debt when the debt settlement services agreement was signed.

An example will help illustrate the new fee structure in place in Ontario as of July 1, 2015. If an Ontario resident signed a debt settlement agreement on July 2, 2015, and he had one outstanding credit card on which they owed $10,000.00 then the maximum fee which the debt settlement firm could charge its client would be $1,000.00, or ten percent of $10,000.00, the amount of debt on the date the debt settlement services agreement was signed.

These new restrictions on fees, together with a number of other onerous requirements on debt settlement service provider, encouraged many firms to leave the industry or reinvent themselves.  A substantial number of debt settlement firms ceased operating in Ontario because of the new regulatory regime.  A few debt settlement firms sought to avoid the new regulatory regime altogether–including its restrictive fee structure–by offering their services through a lawyer practising law in Ontario.

If you would like more background information about Ontario Debt Law and its Siamese-twin relationship with OCCA then you are welcome to read one of my earlier blog posts, dated August 16, 2015, and September 28, 2015 or my article appearing in the print edition of the Law Times on September 21, 2015.

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On September 21, 2015, the Law Times, a weekly newspaper for Ontario’s lawyer, carried a story I wrote titled “Speaker’s Corner:  Questions raised about deputy judge’s debt settlement activity.

 

What are the consequences if Ontario Debt Law were not able to bring itself within the “lawyer’s exemption” in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act?

As mentioned earlier, Ontario regulates firms providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents.  The relevant law is the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  Any firm that provides debt settlement services to Ontario residents must be the holder of a valid Ontario collection agency license–except where it is exempt from this licensing requirement under subsection 2(1) of the Act.

The term “collection agency” is defined in subsection 1(1) of the Act as follows:

“collection agency” means

(a)    a person, other than a collector, who obtains or arranges for payment of money owing to another person or who holds himself out to the public as providing such a service,

(b)   any person who sells or offers to sell forms or letters represented to be a collection system or scheme, or

(c)   a person, other than a collector, who provides debt settlement services

 

If a judge in a civil lawsuit or the Ontario Registar of Collection Agencies–the senior civil servant responsible for enforcing the Act–were to take the position that Ontario Debt Law does not fall within the “lawyer’s exemption” in paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Act then Ontario Debt Law would be required to possess an Ontario collection agency license.

Such a finding would affect the viability of Ontario Debt Law’s current business model because the firm would face the prospect of all of its clients seeking a one hundred percent refund of their fees paid pursuant to their debt settlement services agreements.

If Ontario Debt Law cannot bring itself within the “lawyer’s exemption” then it is not entitled to charge a penny in fees to anyone entering into a contract for debt settlement services after June 30, 2015.  Paragraph 16.6(2) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Servies Act reads as follows:

A collection agency or collector that enters into a debt settlement services agreement before being registered shall not be entitled to receive any payment or security for payment under subsection (1) for debt settlement services provided under the agreement.

 

Why might Ontario Debt Law not fall within the “lawyer’s exemption” contained in paragraph 2(1)(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act?

There are three distinct grounds upon which either a trial judge or the Ontario Registrar of Collection Agencies might base a decision that Ontario Debt Law does not fall within the “lawyer’s exemption” in the Act.

1       Mr. Serafini not providing services in the regular practice of his profession

Angelo Serafini’s law office is located in Oakville.  Mr. Serafini’s website for his Oakville law practice is www.serafinilaw.ca.  Nowhere on this website is there any reference to Ontario Debt Law–which according to e-mails sent out on behalf of Ontario Debt Law–is a law firm owned and operated by Angelo Serafini.  This website lists various practice areas–real estate, wills and estates, and business law.  There is no reference whatsoever on this website that would suggest that Angelo Serafini’s Oakville-based law firm offers debt settlement services.

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On the ABOUT US webpage on www.serafini.law, Mr. Serafini’s bio does not contain any reference whatsoever to Ontario Debt Law.

 

Angelo Serafini makes no reference to Ontario Debt Law on his LinkedIn Profile.

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Oakville Lawyer Angelo Serafini makes no reference whatsoever to Ontario Debt Law, a law firm he owns and operates, on his LinkedIn Profile.

 

In the second paragraph on one of the pages of Ontario Debt Law’s debt settlement services agreement–a document titled Membership Agreement–it states that any of Ontario Debt Law’s obligations under the contract can be performed by OCCA.

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This clause found in Ontario Debt Law’s (ODL) debt settlement services agreement would appear to permit Ontario Debt Law to assign all of its contractual obligations pursuant to this agreement to Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA), a firm whose Brampton office is located 40 kilometers from Angelo Serafini’s Oakville office.  Coloured highlights have been added.

 

OCCA’s Brampton office is located 40 kilometers from Mr. Serafini’s Oakville office.  To the best of my knowledge, there are no employees of Mr. Serafini’s Oakville-based law practice or Ontario Debt Law working at OCCA’s Brampton office.  Some people might ask what tasks–if any–are Mr. Serafini and his employees performing in connection with Ontario Debt Law’s debt settlement service agreements?

Is Ontario Debt Law providing services in the regular course of Mr. Serafini’s practice of law?

 

2      Amount of work performed by Angelo Serafini or “his employees”

The “lawyer’s exemption” in paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act reads as follows:

This Act does not apply to

(a)   a barrister and solicitor in ther regular practice of his profession or to his or her employees

Some people might ask what work, if any, pursuant to the debt settlement services agreements entered into by Ontario Debt Law, is being performed by either Angelo Serafini or “his employees”.

I obtained a better sense of the division of labour between Brampton-based Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA) and Angelo Serafini and “his employees” after watching some video footage taken recently by a mystery shopper that visited OCCA’s Brampton office posing as an individual interested in becoming a client of Ontario Debt Law.

 

In December of 2015 a mystery shopper visited OCCA’s Brampton office at which time she sought clarification about the relationship between OCCA and Ontario Debt Law.

 

3      Disqualified because of the Act’s anti-avoidance provision?

Section 2.1 of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act contains an anti-avoidance provision which reads as follows:

In determining whether this Act applies to an entity or transaction, a court or Tribunal shall consider the real substance of the entity or transaction and in so doing disregard the outward form.

A trial judge might decide that Ontario Debt Law was created for the sole purpose of permitting Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA) to avoid being licensed under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and make a ruling that Ontario Debt Law is not exempt from the Act pursuant to paragraph 2(1)(a).

 

Contact Mark Silverthorn if you are a former or existing client of Ontario Debt Law

You are welcome to contact me if you are a current or former client of Ontario Debt Law.  You can call me at (519) 827-5513 or send me an e-mail at markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

 

Sample Cancellation/Demand for Refund letter

The letter which appears below can be used by anyone seeking a refund from a debt settlement firm in circumstances where (1) the debt settlement services agreement was entered into after June 30, 2015, and (2) the debt settlement firm is not licensed as a collection agency in Ontario nor is it exempt from the requirement of being licensed.

 

sample cancellation and refund demand letter

This is a sample letter which any Ontario resident can use to obtain a full refund of fees from an unlicensed collection agency.  For more information you are invited to contact me.

 

 

Copy of Ontario Debt Law’s debt settlement services agreement

 

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CCDR cancels debt settlement contracts with Ontario clients

 

Last week a Saskatchewan-based debt settlement firm, Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc. (CCDR), cancelled its contracts with its Ontario clients.  This means that there are a number of former clients of CCDR in Ontario without a debt settlement service provider.  Tomorrow I have a phone call scheduled with one such “orphan” debt settlement client.

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It would appear that Saskatchewan-based debt settlement provider Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR), has sent a letter to its Ontario clients in late January cancelling their debt settlement service contracts leaving clients without a debt settlement service provider.

 

 

CCDR cancelling debt settlement agreements with Ontario clients

Today I received a phone call from an Ontario resident–who wished to remain anonymous–who described himself as a debt settlement client of CCDR living in Roseneath, Ontario.  According to this individual, he received a letter dated January 28, 2016, from CCDR informing him that CCDR was cancelling its debt settlement contract with him.

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This letter dated January 28, 2016, from Saskatchewan-based Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR) informs one of its clients, a resident of Roseneath, Ontario, that the firm is no longer providing debt settlement services to the residents of Ontario.  Some information has been “whited out” on this document to protect the identity of the recipient of this letter.  This page is one of three pages of correspondence from CCDR sent to a client living in Roseneath, Ontario.  The other two pages can be found at the bottom of this post.

 

Why did CCDR cancel its debt settlement contracts with Ontario clients?

According to the January 28, 2016, letter from CCDR addressed to one of its Ontario clients changes to Ontario’s debt settlement laws that came into effect in September of 2015 were instrumental in CCDR’s decision to cease providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents.

What I find odd about this statement is that there were no changes to the law in Ontario regulating debt settlement firms in September of 2015.  If CCDR ceased offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents in January of 2016 then what was the reason for this decision?  It is important to appreciate the fact that not only did CCDR stop taking on new clients in January of this year but also in 2016 it was issuing refunds to Ontario clients.

What I also find odd about this statement is that–according to my confidential source–it was “business as usual” with CCDR’s Ontario clients as late as October of 2015.  This leads me to conclude that something incredibly important happend sometime between October of 2015 and January of 2016 to motivate CCDR to cease providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents.

 

CCDR’s failure to satisfy Ontario-based staffing requirements

I suspect that the real reason for CCDR’s cessation of operations in Ontario is its refusal to comply with the requirement in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act that its debt negotiator(s)–negotiating settlements on behalf of Ontario clients–work on the premises of its Ontario office.  I wrote about this issue in a post on this blog on August 2, 2015.  Furthermore, in August of 2015 I made a formal complaint to the Ontario Government stating that it would appear that CCDR was contravening Ontario’s Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act because it did not employ any collectors licensed under the Act that worked on the premises of its Ontario office situated at 55 King Street West in Kitchener, Ontario.

I suspect that within a few months of my June 2015 complaint that the Ontario Government was putting some pressure on CCDR to either hire a full-time collector licensed under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act to work on-site at its Kitchener, Office or wind up its Ontario debt settlement operations.

 

Strong response from CCDR owner Greg Roberts

My August 2nd blog post attracted a strong reaction from Greg Roberts, one of the owners of CCDR.  Mr. Roberts added the following comment at the end of one of my two LinkedIn posts published in June of 2015.

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Greg Roberts, one of the owners of Saskatchewan-based CCDR, posted this Comment at the end of one of my two LInkedIn posts about CCDR in June of 2015.

Contact me if you have any information regarding CCDR’s activities in Ontario

I would invite anyone with information regarding CCDR’s actities in Ontario to contact me.  You are welcome to call me at 1 (866) 966-9941 or (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you are welcome to e-mail me at (519) 827-5513.  In particular, I would ask any Ontario resident who was a former client of Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR) to contact me

 

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You are invited to contact me if you have any information regarding the activities of Canadian Customer Debt Relief in Ontario. 

 

 

Documents dated January 28, 2016, sent by CCDR to an Ontario client

 

According to an anonymous source, Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR), sent its Ontario clients three pages of correspondence in late January in connection with the firm’s decision to cancel their existing debt settlement services contract.  A redacted copy of one such letter can be found below.  Any information which can identify the Ontario client of CCDR has been whited out to protect the individual’s identity.

 

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