Your Consumer Credit Rights

Know your privacy rights to avoid fraudulent practices

When you’re facing debt and need relief, it can sometimes feel like the entire world is against you. Don’t worry, you do have rights as a consumer and there are government agencies and laws put in place to make sure your rights are protected. Knowing your rights will protect you from unethical practices and help get your life back on track.

If you feel like you are facing your debt problems alone, give one of our credit counsellors a call at 1-888-294-3130 to help you alleviate your stress. A trained credit counsellor can negotiate with your creditors and collectors on your behalf. If you prefer to inquire online, we invite you to fill out a Free Debt Analysis and a counsellor will contact you soon.

The Bank Act

The Canadian Bank Act was passed in 1871 to protect your rights in borrowing money and working with financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions. The law requires financial institutions to provide full disclosure of fees, interest rates and terms that will be applied to accounts and lines of credit opened by consumers. The company must define late fees, penalties and payment terms clearly and communicate these guidelines to a consumer before an account can be opened. “Tied selling” is also prevented by the law, which is the practice of a company requiring you to sign up for one service in order to qualify for a different service.

The Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act prevents discrimination against consumers 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 – The collector must send you a document in writing that lets you know about the debt they wish to collect.
  • Contact friends, family or co-workers – The collector must deal directly with you. A relative, friend or co-worker can only be contacted regarding the debt if the person 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 and may not distribute that information or use it in any way that is not expressively stated in the company’s 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 sector-specific laws include provisions dealing with protection of personal information. The federal Bank Act, for example, contains provisions regulating the use and disclosure of personal finance information by federally regulated financial institutions. The majority of provinces have their own legislation dealing with consumer credit reporting.

Understanding Your Credit Rights

If you have a collections complaint, contact your local government to file a complaint as protection authorities differ by province and territory. Keep in mind, this is not totally accurate-creditors may contact, you, but you have to let them know not to and to go through representation instead-reword 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 conducts for 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. They cannot contact your employer in regarding the debt. They can’t publish blacklists barring you from credit.

You cannot be taken 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, talk to a credit counsellor today at 1-888-294-3130 to learn how they can handle calls from your creditor to help you breathe easier.