Tag Archive for debt settlement firms

Indebted consumers often receive poor financial advice from those holding themselves out as helping them

 

In 2010 my book The Wolf At The Door:  What To Do When Collection Agencies Come Calling (2010), published by McClelland & Stewart, was in bookstores across Canada. As part of the research for this book I mystery shopped about a dozen organizations in the Greater Toronto Area holding themselves as helping consumers with unsecured debt problems.  For lack of a better term I will refer to debt settlement firms, credit counselling agencies, debt consultants, and bankruptcy trustees as debt resolution service providers.

WATD(2)bookcover one column wide (1)

 

Response where limitation period was relevant

I provided my mystery shoppers with special pens that could surreptitioulsy record conversations.  I also provided my mystery shoppers with various scenarios to persent to debt resolution service providers.

One of the scenarios these mystery shoppers presented was that the date of last payment on all their unsecured consumer debts were more than three years ago.   I wanted to test these organizations’ response to a scenario where a consumer might be better off simply taking advantage of Ontario’s two-year limitation period for simple contract debt with respect to any unpaid unsecured consumer accounts.

An Ontario resident might have $60,000 in unsecured consumer debt in circumstances where the date of last payment on these debts was more than two years ago.  In this scenario, the consumer would have the option of not paying a nickel to their creditors.  The fact that an Ontario resident had an unpaid account, however, would show up on their credit report for seven years following the date of their last payment.

I was shocked when I listened to the recordings of these interviews.  As a general rule, the people who met with my mystery shoppers either had no idea about the significance of Ontario’s two-year statute of limitations, they denied its application to the mystery shopper’s particular situation, or they informed the mystery shopper that the fact that Ontario’s statute of limitations had expired was of no benefit whatsoever to their situation.

 

Free debt consultation or sales pitch? 

All of the organizations who were mystery shopped as part of my research for The Wolf At The Door offered a free consultation.  When I listened to the recordings provided by my mystery shoppers it was evident that the firm’s representative was highly motivated to encourage the mystery shopper to sign on the dotted line for a debt resolution option available from their organization.

 

A system that is broken

 

1.       A system that is rife with conflicts of interest

The debt resolution service provider industry has a huge problem. And that problem is conflicts of interest.  As a general rule, these organizations only offer one or two debt resolution options from the toolbox of the six to ten debt resolution options that might be available to a particular consumer.

When a consumer drowning in debt speaks with a representative from a debt settlement firm, a credit counselling agency, or a bankruptcy trustee that organization is very limited in terms of the range of solutions it can offer to the consumer.  It is only human nature for these organizations to put the debt resolution option offered by their firm in the best light possible.  These organizations only receive financial compensation if an individual decides to proceed using a service offered by that debt resolution service provider.

 

2.    A system where consumers often choose less-than-optimal solutions

Consumers who reach out to a debt resolution service provider are typically vulnerable individuals.  They may be facing major issues: missed bill payments, collection calls, lawsuits, and sometimes wage garnishments.  It is common for these individuals to sign up for a debt resolution option with the first organization they contact.  These consumers might not be aware that in some instances the person they are discussing a debt resolution option with is essentially a commissioned salesperson.

Two factors contribute to consumers choosing less than optimal debt resolution options.  Firstly, the average Canadian knows very little about debt resolution options.  Secondly, debt resolution service providers often sell their debt resolution option to the exclusion of other alternatives. This cocktail often results in a terrible hangover for the consumer:  a debt resolution option which is not optimal for the consumer in their particular circumstances.

 

More robust role for government and government regulators needed

Governments and government regulators should take a more active role in protecting vulnerable consumers from signing up for debt resolution options which might not be in the consumer’s best interests in a particular situation.  Firstly, government websites should offer detailed descriptions of various options available to a consumer.  These should not only be educational but also they should be balanced.  Secondly, before a consumer makes a financial commitment with respect ot a debt resolution option–a debt settlement agreement offered by a debt settlement firm, a debt management plan offered by a credit counselling agency or a consumer proposal or personal bankruptcy– they should be required to either read a government-approved document or watch a government- approved video describing the particular debt resolution option in detail as well as alternative debt resolution options.

 

At my firm Comprehensive Debt Solutions, we are not captive of a particular debt resolution option.  If you would like to learn more about your various options for dealing with your debt please feel fee to contact me.  You might find that paying a modest amount to speak to me for 15 to 30 minutes is the best money you ever spent in your life!  Feel free to contact our office to arrange a consultation.  You can call our office at 1 (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513 or send me an e-mail at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca

You might want to contact our office and schedule a telephone consultation with Mark Silverthorn to learn more about your options for dealing with your current debt situation.

You might want to contact our office and schedule a telephone consultation with Mark Silverthorn to learn more about your options for dealing with your current debt situation.

 

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How to file a complaint to the Ontario Government against a collection agency or a debt settlement firm

 

It is possible to file a complaint against a collection agency or a debt settlement firm to the Ontario Government. In order for you to file a complaint it will be necessary for you to go through a two-step process.

 

Step One:   Send a written letter of complaint to the business

The Ontario Government will decline to process your complaint unless you first write a letter of complaint to the business in question.  In this letter you should describe the nature of your complaint against your business.  Furthermore, you should also state what actions by the business, if any, would resolve your complaint.

 

Step Two:   Submit a completed Complaint Form to the Ontario Government

Once you have made your written complaint to the business in question then you can file a written complaint to the Ontario Government using the Ontario Government’s Complaint Form which can be found online at the following link:

https://www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca/esearch/compform/english/complaint.jsp

You can also find a copy of this 4-page Complaint Form reproduced at the end of this post.

You should also include copies of any relevant documents in connection with your complaint.  For example, if you are complaining about the conduct of a debt settelement firm, you might want to include copies of your debt settlement agreement as well as copies of correspondence between yourself and the debt settlement firm.

You have a number of options in terms of how you submit your Complaint Form.  You can submit your completed Complaint Form onlineYou can also print a Complaint Form and then submit it via e-mail, by fax, or by regular mail:

  • via e-mail to consumer@ontario.ca
  •  by fax, to (416) 326-8665
  • by mail to the following address:

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Consumer Protection Branch

Box 480

1201 Wilson Avenue, Building A

North York, ON  M3M 1J8

 

 

What happens to your complaint after it is submitted?

After your complaint is forwarded to the Ontario Government it will be be processed.  Complaints are input into the Ontario Government’s computer system and the complaint will be assigned a unique file number.   Complaints go through triage to determine the priority in which a particular complaint should be dealt with.  Those complaints which are deemded sufficiently serious are forwarded to an Investigations Unit.  Complaints alleging that a business is contravening Ontario law is more likely tobe  forwarded to an Investigations Unit.

 

Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and Regulation 74

The conduct of both collection agencies and debt settlement firms is governed by the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and Regulation 74 enacted pursuant to the Act.  A complaint to the Ontario Government against a collection agency or a debt settlement firm alleging a violation of either the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act or Regulation 74 will likely be treated more seriously than a complaint which does not involve conduct contravening these provisions.

You can find the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act at the following link:

http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90c14

 

 

Contact me if you would like to make a complaint against a collection agency or a debt settlement firm

You are welcome to call me at (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513 if you have made a complaint, or you wish to make a complaint, regarding a collection agency or a debt settlement firm.  You can also contact me, via e-mail, at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca.

 

You are welcome to contact Mark Silverthorn if you have, or if you wish to file, a complaint against a collection agency or a debt settlement firm.

You are welcome to contact Mark Silverthorn if you have, or if you wish to file, a complaint against a collection agency or a debt settlement firm.

 

 

Complaint Form

The 4-page document reproduced below is the Complaint Form that must be completed by an Ontario resident who wishes to make a complaint against a collection agency or a debt settlement firm.  The Ontario Government will decline to process a Complaint Form unless a consumer first writes a letter of complaint to the business in question.

 

p1ComplaintForm

p2ComplaintForm

 

p3ComplaintForm

 

p4ComplaintForm

 

 

 

 

 

How to cancel a debt settlement agreement and obtain a full refund

Some Canadians enrolling in a debt settlement agreement might be entitled to a refund in the thousands of dollars.

Some Canadians enrolling in a debt settlement agreement might be entitled to a refund in the thousands of dollars.

 

Over the next few weeks and months a substantial number of Canadian consumers entering into a debt settlement services agreement will not only be able to cancel the agreement but also obtain a full refund of all the payments they made under the agreement.  That is, if they take appropriate action.  In some cases, a consumer might be able to obtain a refund in the thousands of dollars.

The right to cancel a debt settlement services  agreement is available with some, but not all, agreements entered into on or after July 1, 2015.  These rights are not available to consumers, however, where the debt settlement firm is exempt from the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.

 

Who has the right to cancel an agreement and receive a full refund of monies paid?

These two rights, the right to cancel a debt settlement services agreement, and the right to a refund of all monies paid to a debt settlement firm—is available to the following consumers:

  • Any Ontario resident who entered into a debt settlement services agreement after June 30, 2015
  • Any person residing outside Ontario who entered into a debt settlement services agreement with a firm located in Ontario after June 30, 2015

If you are going to enter into a debt settlement services agreement you should make sure that the debt settlement firm does not back date the agreeement to a date prior to July 1, 2015.  This tactic by an unscrupulous debt settlement firm might deprive you of the important protections for consumers afforded under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.

 

The right to cancel a debt settlement agreement

A consumer has an absolute right to cancel a debt settlement agreement, at any time within 10 days of receiving a written copy of the debt settlement services agreement. There are also two specific situations where a consumer who has entered into a debt settlement agreement can obtain relief within 365 days of a specific event.

The following chart summarizes the relief that is available to a consumer under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act with respect to both cancelling a debt settlement services agreement and obtaining a refund for payments made to a debt settlement firm which are not lawfully permitted under the Act.

R1ChartReliefundertheAct

Fees:    With respect to any debt settlement service agreements entered into after June 30, 2015, a debt settlement service provider is not entitled to charge a client a penny in fees until such time that a settlement is actually paid out.  Once a debt is settled–and only then–is a debt settlement firm entitled to charge a fee under a debt settlement services agreement. This fee cannot exceed 10 percent of the original amount owing on the date the consumer entered into the debt settlement agreement.

 

Mandatory requirements:   The mandatory requirements for a debt settlement services agreement are contained in paragraphs 1 through 6 of subsection 27(1) of Regulation 74, R.R.O 1990, 309/14, enacted pursuant to the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.

A copy of these provisions is reproduced below with the relevant provisions highlighted in yellow for clarity.

 

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YHsections34and5subsection271

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One of the provisions in this Regulation is that the first page of any debt settlement agreement must be a document titled Settling Debt–What You Need to Know, a copy of which can be found on an Ontario Government website.  You can find a copy of this document at the very end of this post.

 

Requirement to provide written notice of cancellation of agreement

In order to cancel a debt settlement agreement a consumer must provide the debt settlement service provider with notice.  What constitutes adequate notice is set out in subsection 92(1) of the Ontario Consumer Protection Act, which is reproduced below.

section92CPA

 

If a consumer wanting to cancel a debt settlement agreement also seeks a refund of payments made to a debt settlement firm it would be prudent for the consumer to provide the debt settlement provider with written notice using a method where the consumer can later prove such notice was received by the debt settlement firm.  Depending upon how much time a consumer has to provide notice, a consumer might want to consider providing such notice by XPress Post, overnight courier, or registered mail.

Furthermore, this written notice should include a demand for the return of all monies paid to the debt settlement firm under the agreement.

 

 

Debt settlement firm’s obligation to refund monies within 15 days

Where a consumer who is entitled to cancel a debt settlement agreement cancels the agreement within the relevant time period, and satisfies the notice requirement, then the debt settlement service provider has 15 days from the date of receipt of notice of cancellation to refund any monies owing to the consumer under Ontario law.

If the debt settlement firm fails to provide a refund within 15 days then the consumer has a number of options:

1.       File a complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

A consumer can make a complaint to the Ontario Government where a debt settlement service provider fails to provide him with a refund.  In order to make an official complaint to the Ontario Government a consumer must first send a written notice to the debt settlement firm complaining about its conduct and stating the remedy sought and then it must file a complaint using the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services’ online Complaint Form.  Here is an online link for this form:

https://www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca/esearch/compform/english/complaint.jsp

 

2.       Sue the debt settlement service provider in an Ontario court

Where a debt settlement firm fails to refund monies to a debt settlement customer in accordance with Ontario law then the consumer has the option of suing the debt settlement provider in an Ontario Court.  Where a consumer sues a debt settlement provider successfully then the court has the discretion to award exemplary or punitive damages.

 

Provide us with a copy of your debt settlement agreement entered into after June 30, 2015

If you have entered into a debt settlement agreement after June 30, 2015 then I would invite you to call me at (866) 996-9941 or at (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you can send me an e-mail at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca

 

You are invited to contact me if you have entered into a debt settlement agreement after June 30, 2015.

You are invited to contact me if you have entered into a debt settlement agreement after June 30, 2015.

 

 

Copy of document titled Settling Debt–What You Need to Know

Under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act the following document must be the first page of a debt settlement services agreement that is entered into after June 30, 2015.

 

SettlingYourDebtTopportion1of4

Settling Your Debt 2nd from top

SettlingYourDebt3rdfromtop

SettlingYourDebt4thfromtop

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complete Debt Solutions and the smoking gun

 

Those who follow the Mark Silverthorn Blog might recall that on June 22, 2015 I wrote a post titled “Complete Debt Solutions Operating in Canada Illegally?”  In that post I raised the question whether or not a firm based in Toronto, Ontario, carrying on business under the name Complete Debt Solutions was operating in one or more Canadian jurisdictions illegally as a debt settlement firm.

I became aware of the existence of Complete Debt Solutions after receiving a tip, from one of my hundreds of contacts, about the firm’s website, www.completedebtsolutions.ca.  A portion of the CONTACT page from this website is reproduced below.

 

This screenshot includes the bottom half of the CONTACT page on www.completedebtsolutions.ca.

This screenshot includes the bottom half of the CONTACT page on www.completedebtsolutions.ca.

 

 

Complete Debt Solutions is an Ontario-based debt settlement firm offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents

On its website Complete Debt Solutions lists its business address at 1075 Bay Street,  Suite 149, Toronto, Ontario.  I recently came into possession of 13 pages of material which Milton Kaseke, the principal of Complete Debt Solutions, e-mailed on or about June 22, 2015, to an Ontario resident making inquiries about the organization’s services. A redacted copy of the first page of these 13 pages is reproduced below (yellow highlights have been added for clarity).

YHREDP1CDScontract

On this page Milton Kaseke, who describes himself as a Senior Account Executive, confirms that “Complete Debt Solutions (C.D.S.) is a Debt Relief/Debt Settlement/Debt Negotiation and Credit Repair company located in Toronto Ontario Canada.”

 

 

Debt settlement providers require a collection agency licene

Subject to the following two exceptions, a firm must possess a license–typically a collection agency license (or a debt repayment agency license in Alberta)–in order to legally provide debt settlement services.

  1. a few Canadian provinces might not require a debt settlement provider to be licensed
  2. in some Canadian provinces and territories a law firm might be exempt from the requirement of obtaining a collection agency license

 

Complete Debt Solutions is not licensed in any province or territory as a collection agency

After I wrote my initial post on June 22, 2015, concerning the activities of Complete Debt Solutions I began making inquiries concerning the status of Complete Debt Solutions across the country.  I contacted, some, but not all, of the regulators in various provinces responsible for supervising the conduct of debt settlement service providers.  I was unable to identify a single province or territory where Complete Debt Solutions possessed a collection agency license.

You can imagine my surprise when on Friday, July 17, 2015, I received a phone call from Milton Kaseke, the principal of Complete Debt Solutions.  After advising me that he was not a fan of my June 22nd posts on both LinkedIn and the Mark Silverthorn Blog he confirmed that Complete Debt Solutions does not possess a collection agency license in a single province or territory in Canada.

 

E-mail from Milton Kaseke in which he states Complete Debt Solutions does not charge consumers for its services

On June 23, 2015 I received an e-mail from Milton Kaseke, the principal of Complete Debt Solutions.  In this e-mail Mr. Kaske states that “I haven’t taken any penny from anybody which means that I am not breaking the law (Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act of Ontario).”  This e-mail is reproduced below.

 

MiltonKasekeemailtoMS

Mr. Kaseke is correct when he says that a firm offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents does not need to possess a valid Ontario collection agency license if the firm is not receiving any compensation for its services.

The question that remains to be answered is whether or not Complete Debt Solutions and Milton Kaseke are offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents in circumstances where potential clients must pay a fee to Complete Debt Solutions.

 

Complete Debt Solutions would appear to be offering debt settlement services in return for financial compensation

As noted earlier, I recently came into possession of 13 pages of material that Milton Kaseke of Complete Debt Solutions e-mailed on or about June 22, 2015 to an Ontario resident inquiring about debt settlement services offered by the firm.  This material contains a 2-page contract for debt settlement services titled “Complete Debt Solutions Service Agreement”.  The first page of this document is reproduced below (yellow highlight has been added to some of the most pertinent portions of text).

 

YHP8topportionCDScontractBottomportinP8CDScontract

—————————————————————————————————————-

 

According to the first page of this debt settlement agreement Complete Debt Solutions charges its clients an Administration Fee.  In the middle of the first page of this 2-page debt settlement agreement a potential client is advised that he is responsible for paying to Complete Debt Solutions an “Administration Fee equal to 13% (thirteen percent) of the Client’s total enrolled debt.”

 

Official complaint made to the Ontario Government on or about June 24th

About a month ago, after spending a signficant amount of time reviewing the content on Complete Debt Solutions’s website I thought it would be appropriate to ask the Ontario Government to make inquiries and determine whether or not Complete Debt Solutions was operating as an illegal debt settlement service provider in contravention of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  Accordingly, I wrote a letter dated June 22, 2015, to Doug Kariam, Ontario’s Acting Registrar of Collection Agencies, requesting that his office investigate the matter. The following day I completed and submitted the appropriate online Complaint Form used by the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

The Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services refuses to process a complaint against a business unless a consumer first writes a letter of complaint directly to the business in question.  Some people might think that this requirement is not only bad policy but also a direliction of the Ontario Registrar of Collection Agencies’ statutory duty to enforce the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  In order to satisfy this “written notice requirement” I sent an e-mail to Milton Kaseke of Complete Debt Solutions on June 23, 2015, a copy of which is reproduced below.

 

June232015EmailMStoMScomplete

 

Furthermore, I forwarded copies of my letter to Doug Kariam to several of his counterparts in a number of provinces across the country.  I asked them to make inquiries to determine whether or not the activities of Complete Debt Solutions warranted an investigation in their province to determine if the law regulating debt settlement firms was being contravened.

On Friday, July 17, 2015, I sent an e-mail to Doug Kariam, Ontario’s Acting Registrar of Collection Agencies.  In that e-mail I provided a copy of the 13 pages of material that Milton Kaseke e-mailed to an Ontario resident on or about June 22, 2015, which I refer to in this post.  You can read a redacted copy–with the name of the consumer removed–of this material, in its entirety, at the end of this post.

I am not privy to what action the office of the Ontario Registrar of Collection Agencies has taken to date in response to my official complaint regarding the activities of both Complete Debt Solutions and its principal, Mr. Milton Kaseke.  Nor am I privy to the actions which might be currently underway in other provinces as a result of my communications with Doug Kariam’s counterparts in other provinces.  I would hope that my complaint receives the attention that is warranted under the circumstances.

 

Contact Mark Silverthorn if you have recevied a debt settlement agreement from Complete Debt Solutions

If you have received a debt settlement agreement from Complete Debt Solutions I would invite you to contact me.  I would also invite anyone who has received a debt settlement agreement from any other debt settlement service provider to contact me.  I can be reached at (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you can contact me via e-mail at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca

You are invited to contact Mark Silverthorn if you have received a debt settlement agreement  after June 30, 2015.

You are invited to contact Mark Silverthorn if you have received a debt settlement agreement.

 

 

 

Redacted copy of 13 pages of material sent from Complete Debt Solutions to an Ontario resident on or about June 22, 2015

P1redactedCompleteDebtSolutiosn

P2redactedCompleteDebtSolutions

 

P3redactedCompleteDebtSolutions

 

P4[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-004

P5[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-005

P6[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-006

P8[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-008

P9[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-009

P10[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-010

P11[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-011

P12[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-012

P13[name redacted] - CompleteDebtSolutions Client Enrollment Package - Copy-page-013

 

Complete Debt Solutions Operating in Canada Illegally?

 

In virtually every province in Canada, with the possible exception of British Columbia, a firm offering debt settlement services must be licensed as a collection agency.  The only exceptions might be for those entities which are exempt from licensing–the most important exemption being for lawyers.  Subject to these exceptions, any firm offering debt settlement services to Canadians must be licensed as a collection agency in a province where it operates.

Recently, someone sent me a link, www.completedebtsolutions.ca, for an outfit which calls itself Complete Debt Solutions.  According to its website the firm offers debt settlement services in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.  You will find the entire homepage for www.completedebtsolutions.ca reproduced below:

 

Homepage for Complete Debt Solutions

 

cds home page top

CDS homepage middle section

CDS homepage bottom section

 

Contact page for Complete Debt Solutions

I have reproduced the bottom portion of the webpage titled “Contact” on www.completedebtsolutions.ca beneath this sentence.

This screenshot includes the bottom half of the CONTACT page on www.completedebtsolutions.ca.

This screenshot includes the bottom half of the CONTACT page on www.completedebtsolutions.ca.

 

Nowhere on this website does it state that Complete Debt Solution’s debt settlement services are limited to the residents of a specific province.  On the Contact page for this website local phone numbers are listed for the residents of Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba.

The Contact page for this website lists a Toronto address for Complete Debt Solutions at 1075 Bay Street, Unit 149.  I would invite anyone reading this blog post who lives or works in the vicinity of this location to visit this address, and using their cellphone take a photograph of the nameplate on the wall in the hallway at Unit 149.  Furthermore, I would invite anyone reading this blog post to attend at this address, enter the premises, ask to speak to a representative from Complete Debt Solutions, obtain the name of the representative and request a copy of their business card.  I would then invite you to forward this photograph and any additional information you discover to me at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca and markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

 

Is Complete Debt Solutions lawfully permitted to offer debt settlement services to Canadian residents?

As noted earlier, with the possible exception of British Columbia, it is illegal for a firm to offer debt settlement services to members of the public unless it is licensed as a collection agency in that province.  The Ontario Government maintains a website where a member of the public can confirm whether or not a firm is licensed as a collection agency in Ontario:

https://www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca/esearch/start.do

According to this website there is no firm by the name of Complete Debt Solutions licensed as a collection agency in Ontario.  Nor is there any firm licensed as a collection agency with a registered office address at 1075 Bay Street, Unit 149, Toronto, Ontario.

I am currently in the process of contacting each province in Canada to determine whether or not Complete Debt Solutions holds a valid collection agency license in that province.  I have found that debt settlement firms that are licensed as a collection agency typically make a statement on their website touting the fact that they are licensed to provide debt settlement services in a particular province. The website, www.completedebtsolutions.ca, contains no statements that the firm is licensed to provide debt settlement services in any province.  Accordingly, I would be surprised if Complete Debt Solutions is licensed as a collection agency in any Canadia province.

 

Call on Ontario Government to take appropriate enforcement action against Complete Debt Solutions

I have taken the liberty of writing a letter, dated today’s date, June 22, 2015, to Doug Kariam, the Acting Ontario Registrar of Collection Agencies, requesting that the Ontario Government begin an investigation into the activities of Complete Debt Solutions and take whatever action is appropriate under the circumstances.  You can read a copy of my letter to Doug Kariam which was sent to his office via e-mail and X-Press Post on Monday, June 22, 2015, which is reproduced below:

p1June222015DougKariamtotalDebtSolutions

p2June222015DougKariamtotalDebtSolutions

 

 

In the above-noted letter sent to the Acting Registrar of Collection Agencies in Ontario I indicate that I will be sending a copy of this letter to his counterparts in other provinces.

 

Anyone signing a contract with Complete Debt Solutions invited to contact Mark Silverthorn

I would invite anyone who has signed an agreement  for debt settlement services after visiting www.completedebtsolutions.ca to contact me.  I would like to learn who is responsible for putting up this website and which firm is actually providing the debt settlement services.  With the consumer’s permisssion, I will forward a copy of the consumer’s debt settlement agreement to the provincial regulator responsible for regulating the conduct of debt settlement firms in that province.

If you have signed a contract for debt settlement services after visiting www.completedebtsolutions.ca then I would invite you to contact me at (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513.

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

You are invited to contact Mark Silverthorn if you have signed an agreement for debt settlement services after visiting www.completedebtsolutions.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Illegal Debt Settlement Services Provided to Ontario Residents

Mark Silverthorn, Founder, Comprehensive Debt Solutions Inc.

Mark Silverthorn, Founder, Comprehensive Debt Solutions Inc.

 

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a substantial amount of research into the new regulatory regime for the debt settlement industry in Ontario.  As you might be aware, effective July 1, 2015, Ontario will have a new regulatory regime for those firms providing “debt settlement services”.  This includes not only what might be described as traditional debt settlement firms but also credit counselling agencies.

 

Draconian restrictions on fees for post-July 1, 2015 debt settlement agreements

The new law will have a devastating impact upon existing debt settlement firms operating in Ontario negotiating lump sum settlements on behalf of clients.  The new law contains draconian restrictions on fees–a maximum fee of ten percent of the amount of a debt at the time the debt settlement contract was signed.  Furthermore, on any debt settlement contract signed on or after July 1, 2015, a debt settlement firm will not be entitled to charge any fees until such time that a settlement is actually paid out!  These new restrictions regarding fees which affect all debt settlement contracts signed on or after July 1, 2015, except where the debt settlement provider is exempt from the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act, will make it very difficult for a debt settlement firm to be financial viable in the future.

 

Anger directed towards some mortgage brokers operating illegally in Ontario

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to get some feedback from a signficant number of owners of debt settlement firms in Ontario who are licensed as collection agencies and who have been “playing by the rules” in terms of complying with Ontario’s existing regulatory regime for firms providing traditional debt settlement services.  What struck me these past few weeks is the anger felt by some of these debt settlement firm owners directed at certain mortgage brokers who they claim are operating illegally in Ontario–providing “debt settlement services” to their clients without being licensed as a collection agency in contravention of Ontario law.

 

Frustration with Ontario civil servants responsible for enforcing provincial law

What I have also learned over the past few weeks is the level of frustration among the owners of some Ontario-based debt settlement firms regarding the enforcement, or lack thereof, in connection with Ontario’s existing law regulating Ontario firms providing “debt settlement services”.  It would appear that a number of members of senior management at Ontario-based debt settlement firms have provided the Ontario Government with information about firms they believe are offering “debt settlement services” to Ontario residents illegally and the lack of response from the Ontario Government.

 

Provide me with information regarding illegal debt settlement operatiors in Ontario

Over the next few weeks and months I plan on gathering as much information as I can in connection with firms providing debt settlement services in Ontario.  Some of these firms–including some law firms and licensed bankruptcy trustees–might be exempt from the Act and, consequently they do not requrie an Ontario collection agency license.  In contrast, other firms will not be exempt from the Act.

I anticipate that some of the firms that might be offering “debt settlement services” illegally might not be considered to be traditional debt settlement firms.  It might be possible that a mortgage broker is providing “debt settlement services” illegally.  It is also possible that a firm which is holding itself out as “financial advisers” or “debt consultants” is providing debt settlement services” illegally if their activities fall within the definition of “debt settlement services”, the firm is not exempt from the Act, and the the firm does not possess a valid Ontario collection agency license.

 

 

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

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

 

I would invite anyone reading this blog to forward information or documentation to me which would suggest that a particular firm has engaged in debt settlement services in Ontario in circumstances where it is doing so illegally.  Feel free to send your material via e-mail to mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca.  If you would care to discuss this issue on the phone with me then I would invite you to call me Toll Free at 1 (866) 996-9941 or at (519) 827-5513.