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What rules do collection agencies have to follow and what are my rights when dealing with them?

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What rules do collection agencies have to follow and what are my rights when dealing with them?
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Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC)

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What rules do collection agencies have to follow and what are my rights when dealing with them?
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Reviewed: 
August 17, 2018
Answer

A collection agency collects debts for other people or businesses.

So, if you owe money and don’t pay it back on time, the person or company you owe the money to may hire a collection agency.

But, there are rules that collection agencies must follow and limits to what they can do.

Collection agencies must be registered with the government of Ontario. If they’re not registered, it’s against the law for them to try to collect money from you.

Rules about contacting you

Usually, collection agencies have to send you a written notice about a debt before they can contact you by phone, text, or email, or in person. Written notice can be sent by mail or email. But if you tell the collection agency you don't want to receive emails and give them your address, they must send you the written notice by mail. 

And after sending the notice, they must wait at least 6 days before they can contact you.

When the collection agency contacts you, there are other rules they must follow. For example, they must contact you:

  • only at certain times of the day
  • no more than 3 times in a week

If you don’t owe money

If a collection agency contacts you about a debt that you don’t think you owe, don’t give them money or any personal information.

The collection agency, or your creditor who hired the collection agency, may have made a mistake. So contact both of them and explain why you don’t owe the money.

When you do this, it’s called disputing the debt

Make sure it’s a collection agency

Sometimes, people pretend to be collection agencies as a way to get money from you. These people are often called “scam artists”.

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