Tag Archive for bill collectors

Laws Regulating Collection Agencies a Confusing Patchwork Quilt

 

Mark Silverthorn has spent more than three decades as a student of the law regulating collection agencies in Canada.

 

In Canada each province and territory not only licenses but also regulates the conduct of collection agencies.  The result is a patchwork quilt of inconsistent laws across the country.

Collection agencies, for example, are legally permitted to call the workplace of a Saskatchewan resident with an outstanding account–but are prohibited from making any phone calls of any kind to the place of employment of a consumer living in Newfoundland.

 

Relevant law is the law where the consumer lives

An individual may be receiving phone calls from a collection agency which has offices in his or her province, in another Canadian province, or from outside Canada.  The relevant law regulating the conduct of collection agencies is the one where the recipient of the phone call from a collection agency resides.

 

Collection agency-specific statute versus component of provincial consumer protection law

Provincial and territorial law regulating collection agencies in Canada fall into one of two broad categories:

  • collection agency-specific regulation
  • consumer protection legislation

In some provinces the provincial law regulating collection agencies is specific to collection agencies.  These narrowly focused statutes describes provincial law regulating collection agencies in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the four Atlantic provinces. The law in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and the three territories regulating collection agencies is contained in a much broader consumer protection statute regulating industries including but not limited to the collection industry.

 

Law regulating collection agencies may be contained in regulations

It is common for provincial statutes to permit some of the law in a provincial statute to be enacted pursuant to regulation.  The law regulating collection agencies in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia can be found in the regulations.

 

Names of specific statutes regulating collection agencies

You can find the names of provincial  and territorial statutes and regulations regulating collection agencies at the following link on www.comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca on a webpage titled “Provincial Regulation of Bill Collectors”.

 

 

Mistake for frontline collectors to be sending e-mails to consumers

 

In most large collection agencies the only staff with the authority to communicate with consumers via e-mail are senior managers and possibly collection supervisors.  As a general rule, large collection agencies do not permit frontline collectors to communicate with consumers via e-mail–only by telephone.  There is a good reason for this self-imposed restriction.  Some frontline collectors can, and often do, act in a very impulsive, immature manner which sometimes crosses the line into socially unacceptable and even illegal behavior.

A recent example involving an Ontario resident and a collection agency licensed to operate in that province illustrates what can happen when a collector communicates with a consumer via e-mail

In the past few days I came into possession of a redacted copy of an e-mail that was sent by a collector on April 24, 2015, to an Ontario resident.  Here is a copy of this e-mail.  Some content has been blacked out, or “redacted”, to protect the anonymity of the consumer.

This is a redacted copy of an e-mail dated April 24, 2015, sent from a collector at a collection agency to an Ontario resident.

This is a redacted copy of an e-mail dated April 24, 2015, sent from a collector at a collection agency to an Ontario resident.

 

Most people reading this e-mail would find it disturbing.  Since a collector at a collection agency sent this e-mail to an Ontario resident then we should look at the Ontario Debt Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act, the relevant law regulating the conduct of collection agencies operating in Ontario, to get some sense as to whether or not any provincial laws have been broken.

 

Illegal for a collection agency to threaten legal action unless it has express written authority to commence legal proceedings

In this e-mail the collector threatens to commence a lawsuit against an Ontario resident in connection with an unpaid account.   The collector in question has contravened subsection 23(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act by sending this e-mail unless her collection agency-employer had written permission to sue this file on April 24, 2015, the date that the e-mail was sent to the consumer.

 

Illegal for a collection agency or a collector to provide a consumer with false or misleading information

This e-mail would appear to be full of statements which would contravene subsection 24(a) which reads as follows:

24.    No collection agency or collector shall,

(a)  give any person, directly or indirectly, by implication or otherwise, any false or misleading information.

This e-mail contains a number of statements which, directly or indirectly, contain false or misleading information:

  • That if the consumer is sued the creditor will automatically obtain a judgment against the consumer
  • Those entities regulating nurses in a number of provinces will become aware of the existence of a judgment against the consumer
  • The existence of a judgment against a nurse for an unpaid debt would mean that the nurse is no longer bondable in Canada
  • The existence of a judgment against a nurse might result in the revocation of the consumer’s nursing license

I would be very surprised if the collector who wrote this e-mail, and the collector’s collectionagency- employer, have not contravened subsection 24(a) of the Act.

 

Repucussions of this collector’s adventure with e-mail

If I were the president of the collection agency employing this collector I would be very concerned that the creditor on whose behalf my agency is attempting to collect this account–as well as my existing client base, and my future clients– might learn of the existence of this e-mail.  A creditor has legal  liability for the misconduct of its authorized collection agent.  This means that if a collector does something stupid then a consumer can sue not only the collector, as well as the collection agency, but also the creditor on whose behalf the account was being collected.

As a result of this incident this collector should have had her e-mail privileges revoked.  I would imagine that many collection agencies would write up a collector for this type of behavior and some collection agencies would fire a collector for this unprofessional conduct.

If you have received an e-mail from a bill collector which you believe is unprofessional then I would invite you to share it with me.  You can call me toll free at 1 (866) 996-9941 or at (519) 827-5513.  You are also welcome to send your e-mail to myself at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca.

You might want to call Mark Silverthorn and learn more about how to stop workplace collction calls.

You might want to call Mark Silverthorn if you have received an unprofessional e-mail from a bill collector.

 

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.

 

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.