Collection Agency Rules

There are definite rules that collection agencies need to follow. They cannot call you all hours of the day and night. There are limits.


Get familiar with the collection agency rules. Understanding these rules can help you deal with collection agencies when they call. Below we provide a partial list of the rules for Ontario. The legislation is similar (not identical) in other provinces and territories. In general, collection agents:

  • may not harass you or your family. Calling you once or twice a day is acceptable. Calling you and your family ten times a day is harassment
  • cannot use threatening, intimidating or profane language
  • may not use unreasonable pressure or coercion
  • are prohibited from calling you on a statutory holiday, on a Sunday before 1 pm or after 5 pm, or on any day before 7 am or after 9 p.m.
  • Collection agents may not contact you (by phone, voicemail, or e-mail) more than three times in any seven-day period on behalf of the same creditor
  • may not contact your friends, relatives, neighbors or employer for any information other than your address or telephone number, with limited exceptions (for example, someone has co-signed for a good or service you have purchased).

Detailed rules by province are available at the Office of Consumer Affairs Canada

You should deal with collection agents in a forthright and professional manner. Try to treat them the way that you like to be treated yourself. Don’t allow them to bully you into making commitments that you know you cannot keep. If you do make a commitment – keep it. If you cannot, be certain to explain to the agent why you couldn’t.

If you believe a collection agency is harassing you, keep a record of the time, date and frequency of the calls. If you decide to make a formal complaint against the collection agency you will require this information.

Ignoring collection agents’ attempts to contact you will not help you solve your problems: it might stop the collection calls – true, but beware that if they cannot reach you, they may simply proceed with the legal action.

To get free, confidential advice on reducing your debts and stop the calls for good, contact a debt expert today.

Join the Conversation

  1. AvatarTommy Karr

    Can a credit card collector sue you after 20 years

  2. AvatarTed Michalos

    Pretty much anyone can sue anyone whenever they want to – the question is will they get away with it? You will need to defend against the lawsuit if one is filed. If you do not then the credit card will simply get a Default Judgment against you and then they may apply to garnishee your wages or seize a bank account. Your defense is pretty straightforward. A company has 2 years from the last time you confirmed the existence of a debt to take legal action. If you can prove it was more than 2 years since you even heard about the debt the Court should throw it out. You can even ask the Court to force the credit card company to pay your costs for appearing in Court if you want to… So ignore their threats, but watch for a legal notice in the mail. If they sue yo make sure you indicate you will defend and then appear in Court. In most of these cases someone else has bought a very old debt and they are counting on either scaring you into paying them something to go away, or they sue counting on the fact that you don’t respond… Don’t let them win.

  3. AvatarJoe L. Cobb Jr.

    Does a debt collecting agency have to at least attempt to contact you once before reporting you to the credit bureaus as delinquent? If not, what if the company claiming you owed them that debt never contacted you either?

  4. AvatarTed Michalos

    Here’s the issue – have you kept your contact information up to date? If anything has changed and you haven’t updated it with your lenders then you’re kind of stuck.

    When a debt is referred to collections the original lender or the collection agency is supposed to send you written notice that the debt is now being acted on by the collection agency for the lender. By rights, until you receive that notice you shouldn’t speak to a collector – it could be a scam for all you know…

  5. AvatarMaggie

    Is it true that statue of limitations does not apply to charged off checking account? I told the collection agency that it’s past the statue of limitations because it’s been 12 years, and she said it doesn’t apply to charged off checking accounts

  6. AvatarTed Michalos

    I am not familiar with the term “charged off” checking accounts – I assume it means an account that was written off or cancelled. Regardless, the Limitation Laws are slightly different in every province (or state). In Ontario, the Limitations Act is used as a defence in Court. If you have not confirmed the existence of a debt (by making a payment or confirming you owe the money verbally, in writing or electronic form) and a creditor takes you to Court you have the right to say the Limitation period has expired and the Court will cancel the action. If a collection agency is bothering you then send them a letter either by registered mail or couriered demanding that they cease collection actions and take you to Court. If they keep bothering you after that you may lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and they may have their licence pulled.

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