Canadian debt collection rules

Debt collection in Canada

Debt collection in Canada is governed by the provinces and territories. All the provinces and territories have similar laws, which attempt to strike a balance between giving creditors an opportunity to collect the money that is owed to them and preserving the debtors’ rights not to be unduly harassed and to be treated with dignity. Collection efforts can be persistent but collectors cannot phone at unreasonable hours or jeopardize the debtor’s job by interrupting him or her at work.

The BC Debt Collection Act is used to illustrate some of the rules and what is allowed and what is not.
Unreasonable Collection Practices
The following are the unreasonable collection practices outlined in the BC Debt Collection Act (The numbers and letters refer to the applicable sections of the Act):

14 (1) A person must not, exert undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure on a debtor, or a member of the debtor’s family or household, or the debtor’s employer

(a) in collecting, negotiating or demanding payment of a debt,

(b) in repossessing, seizing or restraining on any chattel, or

(c) in evicting a person from property.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) and without limiting that subsection, undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure is exerted if a person does any of the following:

(a) makes a charge, threat or promise that pertains to matters other than the collection of the debt;

(b) except for the purpose of verifying the employment of the debtor, communicates with the debtor’s employer, without the consent of the debtor;

(c) communicates with a debtor, the debtor’s family or the debtor’s employer in a manner and in circumstances that, because of the nature or frequency of the communications, alarm, distress and humiliation are likely to result;

(d) uses a summons, notice, demand or other document expressed in a language, style, or purport of a form used in a court or under the authority of an Act of British Columbia, or printed or written in the general appearance or format of that form;

(e) uses, after the director makes known the director’s objection to it, an agreement, document, letter or other collection practice;

(f) collects or attempts to collect money from a person who is not liable for the debt;

(g) collects or attempts to collect money that exceeds the amount of the debt owing;

(h) when not licensed as a collection agent, collects or attempts to collect a debt in a name other than the name in which the debt was contracted or incurred;

(i) communicates with a person for the purpose of collecting, negotiating or demanding payment of a debt by a means that the charges or costs of the communication are payable by that person;

(j) communicates with a person for collecting, negotiating or demanding payment of a debt during a day or during the hours of the day when communications are prohibited by regulations made under this Act.

(3) If, in the opinion of the director, a person is causing alarm, distress or humiliation, the director may send to that person written notice of the director’s objection and that person must not use the practice to which the director has objected.
Reporting Complaints about a Collection Agency
Consumers who wish to complain about a collection agency may contact their provincial or territorial office of consumer affairs.

British Columbia
Director of Debt Collection at 1-250-356-6035 or by fax at 1-250-953-3533.
Director of Debt Collection
PO Box 9297, Station Prov. Govt
(Wharf and Fort)
Victoria BC, V8W 9J8

Alberta Government Services
Consumer Services Branch
13th Floor, Commerce Place
10155&-102 Street
Edmonton AB T5J 4L4
Tel: (780) 427-4088
Toll Free (in Alberta): 1-877-427-4088
Fax: (780) 422-9106
Web site:

Consumer Protection Branch
Department of Justice
1871 Smith Street
Regina SK S4P 3V7
Tel: (306) 787-5550
Toll Free (in Saskatchewan): 1-888-374-4636
Fax: (306) 787-9779
Web site:

Consumers Bureau
Manitoba Finance
302-258 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg MB R3C 0B6
Tel: (204) 945-3800
Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067 (in Manitoba)
Fax: (204) 945-0728

Government Services
Consumer Services Bureau
33nd Floor, 250 Yonge Street
Toronto ON M5B 2N5
Tel: (416) 326-8800
Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768
Web site:

Office de la protection du consommateur
Room 450, 400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard
Quebec QC G1K 8W4
Tel: 1-888-672-2556
Fax: 418-528-0976
Web site:

New Brunswick
Justice Services Division
Office of the Rentalsman and Consumer Affairs Branch
Centennial Building
PO Box 6000
Fredericton NB E3B 5H1
Tel: (506) 452-2583
Fax: (506) 453-3651
Web site:

Prince Edward Island
Consumer, Corporate and Insurance Division
Fourth Floor, Shaw Building
95 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown PEI C1A 7N8
Tel: (902) 368-4550
Fax: (902) 368-5283

Nova Scotia
Mail Room, 8 South
Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street
Halifax, NS
B3J 3K5
Tel: (902) 424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357 (in Nova Scotia)
Fax: (902) 424-0720
Web site:

Newfoundland and Labrador
Consumer and Commercial Affairs Branch
Department of Government Services and Lands
2nd Floor, Confederation Building West Block
PO Box 8700
St. John’s NF A1B 4J6
Tel: (709) 729-2570
Fax: (709) 729-4151
Web site:

Department of Community Services
PO Box 2703
Whitehorse YK Y1A 2C6
Tel: (867) 667-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408
Fax: (867) 667-3609
Web site:

Northwest Territories
P.O. Box 1320
Yellowknife NWT X1A 2L9
Tel: (867) 669-2377
Fax: (867) 873-0169
Web site:

Community Government and Transportation
Box 1000, Station 204
Igaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Tel: (867) 975-5300
Fax: (867) 975-5305

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