Your Consumer Credit Rights

Credit cards and mallet

Know your consumer credit rights to avoid fraudulent practices

When you’re facing debt and need relief, it can sometimes feel like the credit card companies are against you. There are government agencies and laws put in place to make sure your rights are protected. Of course, knowing your rights will protect you from unethical practices and help get your life back on track.

Give one of our credit counsellors a call at 1-888-294-3130. A trained credit counsellor can negotiate with your creditors and collectors on your behalf.

The Bank Act

The Canadian Bank Act was passed in 1871 to protect your rights when borrowing money and working with financial institutions. The law requires financial institutions to provide full disclosure of fees, interest rates, and terms.

The company must define late fees, penalties and payment terms clearly. They must communicate these guidelines to a consumer before opening an account. “Tied selling” is when a company requires you to sign up for one service in order to qualify for a different service. It is an illegal practice.

The Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act protects consumers from discrimination when applying for and using credit in Canada. A creditor cannot discriminate based on age, race, gender, religion, marital status, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

The act also prevents companies from discriminating against consumers on anything unrelated to your financial outlook. As a result, you may only be evaluated based on your employment, income, credit rating and financial stability.

The Collection Agencies Act

The Collections Agencies Act protects your rights by setting guidelines for how collectors can communicate with you.

The following is prohibited under the Collections Agencies Act:

  • Harassing language or treatment – The collector may not contact you in an abusive manner. They may not call on Sunday, early in the morning, in the middle of the night, or during statutory holidays.
  • Withhold information – They must send a document that lets you know about the debt they wish to collect.
  • Contact friends, family or co-workers – The collector must deal directly with you. Colletors can only contact a relative, friend, or co-worker if he or she is a co-signer or co-borrower on the account.
  • Legal action without notification – A collector may not pursue legal action against you to collect debt without notifying you in writing first.

The Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

The PIPEDA was established in 2000 to protect the personal information of consumers when they are online. It regulates how personal information is collected through websites, email and other electronic means. Companies must obtain your consent to collect personal information. Reporting information without consent is illegal.

They cannot distribute the information or use it outside of the company’s stated Privacy Policy. All companies must comply with the PIPEDA in order to collect personal information from you as a consumer.

Provincial Privacy Laws

Every province and territory has its own public and private sector legislation. Several federal and provincial laws include provisions dealing with protection of personal information. The federal Bank Act contains provisions regulating the use and disclosure of personal finance information. The majority of provinces have their own legislation dealing with consumer credit reporting.

Understanding Your Credit Rights

If you have consumer complaints, contact your local government to file a complaint. Protection authorities differ by province and territory. Be aware, creditors may contact you, but you must tell them not to.

In addition, you may need representation from bankruptcy attorneys, consumer proposal providers, and credit counsellors. Also, always read a company’s Privacy Policy carefully before using a website or providing any personal information on line.

Keep in mind codes of conduct for debt collectors and always stand up for your rights! In order to repossess a property, a collector would have to obtain a judgment against you. They cannot just send someone to repossess your property.

Furthermore, they cannot contact your employer regarding the debt. They can’t publish blacklists barring you from credit.

You cannot go to jail for not paying a credit card back. In fact, all negative remarks on your credit cards can remain only up to six years.

If you have concerns about your consumer credit rights, talk to a credit counsellor today at 1-888-294-3130. Learn how they can handle calls from your creditor to help you breathe easier.

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