Is a collection agent trying to contact you? The following tips may be of interest to you if you are contacted by a collection agent.
All collection agencies must hold a permit from the Office de la protection du consommateur. In addition, representatives of collection agents must hold a certificate.
Obligations related to the permit
This permit makes it possible to control the honesty and competency of the collection agent. To be issued this permit, the agency must have given a security to the Office. The security is a sum of money that can be used to compensate you, for example, if you were to win a court case as a result of a problem with an agency.
An agency that holds a permit is also required to deposit any amounts it collects in a trust account until they are remitted to the creditor. You are thus assured that the amounts paid will not be used for other purposes.
How to find out whether an agent holds a permit
You can use the Get information about a merchant tool to find out whether a collection agent who contacts you holds a permit.
What if the agency does not hold a permit? Contact the Office to file a complaint.
How to find out whether an agent’s representative holds a certificate
The collection agent representative certificate attests that its holder is aware of his or her obligations and responsibilities with regard to debt collection. To obtain this certificate, the representative must, among other things, pass an exam on the laws and regulations that apply to debt collection.
The Office has made a search tool available so that you can check whether a representative who contacts you holds the required certificate.
You do not want the collection agent who is contacting you to call you on the phone? You have the right to ask him or her to only contact you in writing.
To do so, you must send the agent a written notice. This notice remains valid for 3 months. You may send the agent another notice after 3 months if you still only want him or her to contact you in writing.
The methods used by collection agents to recover sums of money are governed by the Act respecting the collection of certain debts. Here are some examples of prohibited practices.
False information and harassment
Collection agents are not allowed to give you false information or withhold information.
They are also prohibited from harassing you. The page titled Putting an End to Harassment provides details on this subject.
The manner in which an agent contacts you is regulated. You can obtain details on:
- the rules about the 1st contact. The agent must first contact you in writing;
- contacting you at work. The agent is not allowed to disturb you while you are at work;
- communications with friends or relatives. The agent is not allowed to contact people around you as he or she sees fit.
The days and times when an agent may contact you are also limited. The section titled Times When an Agent May Contact You provides all the details on this subject.
A collection agent may require that you pay the amount owing, nothing more. He or she is not allowed to claim:
- an additional amount, such as a collection fee;
- a percentage of the amount owing for having granted you more time to make your payment.
Requesting information and proof
The Office de la protection du consommateur recommends that you ask the agent to provide you with details on the amount he or she claims is owed to him or her. You may also ask the agent to provide you with supporting documents. You can then be sure that the agent is not claiming a higher amount than what you really owe. The section titled Documents to Request provides more information on this subject.
Agent who claims a supplement
If an agent claims a supplement, refuse. The agent is acting illegally. You may contact the Office to file a complaint. The page titled Contact us lists our contact information.
Last update : February 28, 2023
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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.