Being in a situation where one is unable to satisfy all of one’s debt is more common than most people expect.  Any number, or combination, of unforeseen circumstances can leave one with a large discrepancy between money coming in and bills to be paid.  Unfortunately, if the situation persists, your creditor(s) could enlist the services of a collection agent in an attempt to recover what is owed.  

Attempting to avoid the collection agent typically adds to the stress that comes with an inability to satisfy outstanding expenses.  It may be in your best interest to make an effort to negotiate some type of payment plan or settlement.  Know there is some incentive for the collection agent to provide you with options as they are typically paid a percentage of what they are able to recover. Taking you to court to realize on the debt can be expensive for a creditor.  The use of a collection agent could be the most cost effective way for a creditor to collect the debt from you.

While most collection agents will behave reasonably, there have been instances where they exhibit overly persistent or aggressive behavior.  Consider the Ontario case of Tran v. Financial Debt Recovery Ltd., 2000 CanLII 22621 where collection agents repeatedly called the debtor at home and workplace, up to ten times per hour, impersonated a government employee, called the debtor’s boss directly and were extremely rude throughout.  The debtor was forced to commence an action against the collection agency to make this behavior stop and was awarded damages in the amount of $25,000.00.    

In Saskatchewan, actions of collection agents must conform with the provisions of The Collection Agents Act.  For example, pursuant to this Act, collection agents cannot:

  1. Attempt to collect any money over and above what is owed;
  2. Call you, your spouse, or members of your family with such frequency that would constitute harassment;
  3. Call you on a Sunday, on a holiday, or between the hours of 9:00 pm and 8:00 am on any other day;
  4. Give false information that may be detrimental to you, or any of your family members;
  5. Make comments to your employer, or any family member’s employer, which may jeopardize your employment, or theirs;
  6. Demand payment without telling you who the money is owed to, along with how much is owed;
  7. Call anyone with such frequency that would constitute harassment in an effort to locate you or your family;
  8. Provide you with notices, demands or other documents that attempt to mimic court documents.

Should you experience a collection agent who is exhibiting any of the above tactics, you should keep a record of what was said and the person you talked to.  If it continues, make a complaint to the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan or discuss with your lawyer.   

Lawyers from McDougall Gauley LLP regularly provide advice to clients working toward the resolution of issues pertaining to outstanding debt. 

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