What a Collection Agency in Canada Cannot Do


If you have ever had a debt that went as far as a collection agency, you probably already know the annoyance they can be, even if the debt is not owed. But before you deal with them, check out the what collection agencies cannot do.

  • Trying to collect a debt without first notifying you in writing or making a reasonable attempt to do so.
  • Recommending or starting legal or court action to collect a debt without first notifying you.
  • Implying or giving false or misleading information to anyone including you.
  • Communicating or attempting to communicate with you without identifying themselves, saying who is owed the money and stating the amount owed.
  • Continuing to demand payment from a person who claims not to owe the money, unless the agency first takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the person does, in fact, owe the money.
  • Contacting your friends, employer, relatives or neighbours for information, other than to get your telephone number or address. The ONLY exception would be if any of these people have guaranteed the debt, been listed as a ‘reference’ on the debt or if you have asked the agency to contact them to discuss the debt or, in the case of your employer, to confirm your employment, your job title and your work address.
  • Communicating with you or your family such that the communication amounts to harassment, or calling to collect a debt at certain prohibited times (which vary from one province or territory to another).
  • Discussing your debt with any third party without permission. A creditor must have terms in the original agreement to pass a debt onto a collection agency.
  • Repeated harassment of any kind.

  • Kim Paul Halverson

    Can a collection agency take money out of ur bank account, including your overdraft, after 13 years? No payments have been made, no court action was taken and it’s even off my credit history

    • UB

      No, nor can any one else, unless there has been a court order.

  • Sancag

    My ex agreed on a divorce agreement to pay off a $13000 scotiabank visa 10 years ago. This agreenest has been signed aND notorized by bother layers.. Little or no payments were made.My ex is now residing in California.
    My mortgage is with SB. They have taken money out of my account on occasion to pay portions of the visa card. The last time Jan.2015 I had to beg to have the money redeposited back into my account. They returned $2000 of the 5000 they took.
    Last week I received a letter from a bankruptcy lawyer telling me I had to pay the amount owing plus interest which has amounted to almost $30.000 plus their legal fees.
    Where do I go from here? I do not want to lose my house…my job or claim bankruptcy. Please advise me as I am so lost and helpless.

    • Guilia Hernandez

      Why did you wait so long to enforce your written debt payment agreement with your ex-spouse? Was the credit card in both names or just yours? When was the last payment your ex made if at all. Since this is now 10 years old you are talking about just your ex”s portion correct? Because since you went through the process with an attorney to document your ex’s payment agreement you complied with your end and have paid your part off right? If not how much of what you owed did you pay?

  • Terry

    I have a large amount of Debt with CIBC. About $8000 in Credit card, $4000 line of Credit. Also about $5000 loan which is Secured debt. It has all gone to Collection agencys and then Passed on to a law firm. What action can the Law firm actually take against me? I know the secured debt i don’t have much choice or they can sieze property but what about the unsecured? Or is it all just threats and do they actually take action or is that just to scare you into making payments?

  • Sheri

    so if a collection agency is contacting me at work on a frequent basis (at least twice a week), and the debt is past the statute of limitations in Alberta, and the collector that called started mentioning the name of the original creditor on the debt prior to confirming they were actually speaking with the person named on the debt, what is my recourse?

    • UB

      Take them to court and sue for damages. Search for this case:

      Tran v. Financial Debt Recovery Ltd.
      [2000] O.J. No. 4293
      Ontario Superior Court of Justice
      Molloy J.
      Mark Tran, on his own behalf.
      A. Savage, for the defendant.

      The appellant Tran experienced similar harassment as you describe via FDR. He sued FDR for $15,000 without being represented by counsel. He was awarded $25,000 and the Magistrate informed he and the defendant FDR that had the action be taken to the next higher court the award would have been $40,000.

      I experienced a similar problem with repeated telephone calls at home (I am retired) and threatening letters, both from them and various lawyers. I ignored all the letters and told them to take me to court each time they called, but they never did. I finally wrote a registered letter to the CEO of FDR and told him that if I received any more phone calls I would be suing them, and enclosed a copy of the above case. I never heard any more from them.

  • Karen

    I live in BC and have a debt owed that is over the new BC Statute Of Limitations. I am receiving letters claiming that they are going to get a judgement to seize property. I have not spoken to any collection agency nor have I admitted to owing the money. Can they still go to court for a judgement to seize stuff.

  • John

    I live in BC and have a debt owed that is over 9 years old, 1 year ago I noticed a p.e.i on my credit report, credit card debt, file date 2015. How long will it being on credit report statute of limitations it’s 10 years after file date, or 10 years after last payment?

    • Guilia Hernandez

      The statute of limitations starts from the date you last paid them in PEI it is 6 years. The debt however can remain on your credit report indefinitely regardless of how old it is. Collection agencies can also continue to attempt to collect they just can’t take you to court. Be careful not to acknowledge the debt or the time resets.

      • Brian Radford

        I’ve read that making a payment and in writing are two ways of resetting the statute of limitations on a debt older then 6 years. Can they also reset it via a phone conversation?

  • Francesco sergi

    Hi, I have recently been contacted by a collection agency in regards to a debt I have been disputing with an ISP- I have since moved, they do not have my current address, I refuse to pay this debt, because I feel that I am being extorted – the amount in question is$429cdn- I have been in contact with the collection agency(partners in credit Inc.) by phone, but they have not sent me any letters – can I just simply ignore them? Can they still affect my credit score? Can they take legal action against me? Would appreciate your reply, thx

    • Adrian

      Depends on the province you live in, how old the debt is and what your initial contract says. Every province has different laws.

      • Francesco sergi

        Thanks for replying Adrian- I am in Ontario, and the debt is about 5months old- as far as the contract goes, it was initially a 3 year contract, which have since been banned

        • Adrian

          Bell is bad for the cancellation runaround. The problem with this is its new and if you cancelled before your contract was up then you either have to pay it before it gets reported or you will have to live with it in your credit rating for 6 years from the date or last payment. If your contract was up then I can suggest telling the collection agent you are disputing the debt and to send all correspondence in writing and make a formal complaint with Ontario consumer affairs. Another option also if your contract was up is to pay it then take the creditor to small claims court.

          • Francesco sergi

            Thanks again for the advice- I decided to pay a reduced amount, just to avoid any headaches, although I am confident I could take the matter to court and win, I reckon I would be spending more money on a lawyer than what the amount paid was, not to mention the time spent on the matter – I still feel that I have been extorted in this case, but unfortunately the law makes it very difficult for people to contest these matters, as these companies are allowed to conduct business in this manner, always at the expense of the customer, costing money and time, imo. But for future reference, I will surely take the time to do my research and take into account your advice-thanks again

  • andyoutside

    Sorry Ive posted this wrong the first time, I tried posting under Student loans but could’t figure out where to post it…. Please answer, thanks in advance.
    Hi, I am unable to pay for my student loans. They are from Ontario, OSAP Provincial and of course the Federal part. I am a dual citizine; Canadian, European, and no longer live in beautiful Canada although I’ve spent most of my student and working life there. I will I be returning to Canada any time soon if at all. I have been financially strapped over the years and have not paid anything back. I finished my studies over 3 years ago and have had no contact with OSAP or their Wolfes i.e. Collection agency in that time. My questions are; if I don’t pay the Loans back will it affect my old age pension in 25 years when I apply for it? Can they still collect, my loan plus interest, should I move back in 10 years? Does the debt stay on my record for how long?I just don’t want to be riddled with debt and interest over that time period it would be tens of thousands in interest. I’ve read there is a limit on debt retrieval i.e how long they can come after you, but does the debt stay with you your whole life? i.e. do you have to pay it back even after 10 years or does it get washed away so to speak?
    To sum it up do I have to pay the monster of a debt back? if I don pay it back what possible problems could I face in the future?

    • Leelu88

      Affect your old age pension? In Canada? That you won’t have paid into in 25 years? Sorry dude , but I hope it does

    • Adrian

      If you qualify for OAS you have to live in Canada and if you don’t contribute to CPP then you won’t get it. As for the federal student loan, the CRA will apply any credits or payments to your student loan debt. Student loan debt no longer expires.

  • andyoutside

    Sorry my previous post should read I will not returning back to Canada any time soon…..

  • Patricia Tellis

    For the past 6 months a collection agency has been trying to collect a debt from me for a credit card that was cancelled in January 2009. Has it not been too many years for them to collect? I understand that there is a statute of limitations.

    Also, they have only contacted me by phone. I never received anything in writing from them stating who the debt was owed to. The only written document sent to me by email was a settlement agreement which I was unable to pay.

    While I did verbally acknowledge that I had a credit card with an outstanding balance, I did not do anything in writing. Does that verbal acknowledgement reset the statute be of limitations?

  • Victoria

    If you leave in another province where the original debt is 6 year and in the other province is 2 year how that this affect the debt? Will the debt statute of limitations change to 2 years from your new place of residence

  • don

    Hi I have an agency calling me constantly for a debt that is 17 years old.How can I stop them from bothering me.I understand that it is past sol.

  • Bayport

    Do you need a loan? from who you can trust in this company we offer financier services in an affordable,contact us now for we offer in all categories maybe you want to use money urgently we can help you through out or do you want to start a business, help your family out of poor situation contact us now we offer in a low interest rate, contact our email; bayportfinancierservice@yandex.com for more details.

  • Kathy

    I have recently notice that a collection agency has reported a non payment on my credit report
    I believe this is a debt I had with Bell Canada which I disputed back in 2012. Can I get this removed or am I going to have to wait for 6 years?

  • Harry Nic

    Is the city a collection agency ??
    Just happened to a relative…
    In late 2010 step daughter and her boyfriend and new baby left the province. Had been renting an appartment under step daughter’s name. Bills being handled by boyfriend as step daughter stopped working to have the baby.
    She returned to the province and same city two years ago without the boyfriend. Rented an apartment, and obtained utilities from the same city. She moved once, transferred utilities no problems. At all times using the same name. Always paid her utilities.
    Last Friday she gets a letter from the city, she owes $320 +/- for unpaid utilities for apartment vacated in 2010 and if she doesn’t pay within 3 weeks, her current (completely paid for, always paid on time) utilities will be cut off.
    She attends city hall the first day available and finds out that the city made the apartment owner pay the unpaid utilities of $190 back in 2010. They are collecting the debt for him.
    OK, no argument she owes somebody something, the question is ….
    The city has been dealing with her currently in the same name that they had the bad debt in, for two years. She had no idea about the outstanding $. Should she be assessed the interest for those two years that the city could have advised her but didn’t ?
    It would appear that she owes her former landlord money and the city has taken up the position of debt collector, since the city was paid by the landlord/property owner.
    By what right can they threaten to cut off her current utilities ? If utilities were unpaid, even from 2010, perhaps, but the city has been paid.
    Thoughts ?

  • Mr. Nobody

    I’ve been getting letters lately from a creditor trying to claim a debt when I was in high school some 20 years ago. I have never acknowledged or made a payment towards this debt but they keep persisting. I believe through different collectors.

    Do the laws simply state they cannot garnish your wages or sue for restitutions but still permit them to send letters/phone calls trying to claim? I was and still am under the impression that a debt if not successfully claimed after 7 years, it gets expunged from your records.

    The most recent letter is offering me a big 75% discount on the debt. It’s still a substantial amount given the number of years of interest build up but what annoys me the most are the phone calls.

  • Curious Cat

    Hello Adrian, and thank you so much for your post! Very useful and informative :)

    I am currently in the process of trying to wrap my head around how one might presently navigate dealing with creditors still calling and hounding for debts that ceased to be paid– and have not again been engaged/acknowledged– since the Spring of 2013 (ex. a Visa and a Line of Credit, both with the same institution), and am curious if you might be able to please guide my understanding.

    Firstly, if the correct term is “defaulting” (when a person ceases to make payments on their debts to their original creditor, in this example a financial institution), I’m wondering, for example, if the “default” occurred in the Spring of 2013, shortly before the change to the Statute of Limitations in British Columbia that took place on June 1st, 2013 if the limitation period would remain 6 years, become 2 years, or have a special transition rule?

    Furthermore, (whether the limitation period is complete or active depending on if it remained 6 years, or has shifted to 2 years under the new Act) how might one go about getting current creditors to cease their phone contact/all contact without acknowledging the debt?

    Finally, if one was to wait out the 6-7 year credit report period, would the debt literally be “dropped”, or does it remain “dormant” (i.e. if it were to ever be acknowledged and “restart” the SOL) until the Ultimate Limitation Period has passed? And do you have any useful links/resources on how one might navigate that process/rebuild their credit going that route?

    Thank you so much for your time, feedback, and guidance!

    All the Best,

    Curious Cat

  • floyd

    I have not paid any debt I owed since 2012. A collection agency has been hounding me for a long time (CBB collections) and in the last week an automated call stating that a law firm is mandated to collect the debt. What are my options. Thank you