So you’ve had enough of the continuous phone calls and repeated emails from collection agencies and decided to file a consumer proposal or for bankruptcy in order to settle your debts. And yet the calls keep coming. What’s that all about?
Well, it all comes down to communication, or lack thereof. And communication is not always easy or fast.
Once you file a consumer proposal or for bankruptcy, your trustee sends out notices to all your creditors advising them of the filing and the consequent actions. That should make the calls stop. But the action isn’t always immediate — it may take a while. In this day of electronic correspondence, things can be a lot quicker, but it’s still not immediate.
First of all, your trustee has five business days to notify your creditors in the event of a bankruptcy filing. The period in the event of consumer proposal is 10 business days — there’s two weeks right there.
If your trustee doesn’t correspond with your creditors electronically, you have to take mail times into account, and Canada Post offers delivery within four business days. There’s another week gone.
The creditor then has to enter the information into its system, which could take another couple days. So when all is said and done, there could be a period of three weeks from the time you sign off on your file until all your creditors are up to speed on the action. Then the calls should stop.
But they might not if your creditor has turned your file over to a collection agency. Collection agencies are agents (either in-house or third-party) of the company to which money is owed. They collect money for a fee or a percentage of the debt owed. Debt buyers are a type of agency that basically buys your debt from the company you owe it to and then takes on collecting the full amount owed (sometimes tacking on interest). Collection agencies in Ontario have to be registered and have to follow certain guidelines, including how many times they can contact you (no more than three times in a seven-day period) and when (never on holidays, for example).
So, once the company you owe money to has entered the filing information into its system, it could take another couple days to pass on the information to the collection agency. Or the company you owe money too could have sold your debt to an agency after you filed, and neglected to tell the agency.
Usually, an explanation of what has transpired and a transfer of information between the agency and your trustee should immediately put a stop to the agency’s contacting you.
However, some debt collectors may not be satisfied with the action taken and may continue to call you or a guarantor in an attempt to collect the total amount outstanding. If that happens despite repeated requests that it stop in light of your consumer proposal or bankruptcy, you can file a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario.
Most of the time, the contacts are a result of missed communication and most agencies will stop once they have all the satisfactory information that the debt has been settled.