You Can't Hide From Your Creditors

2018-03-15   minute read


Consumer Proposal

One of the worst parts of having debt problems is dealing with the multiple phone calls from creditors and collection agencies looking for payment. Professional bill collectors are tenacious, persistent and resourceful. And they'll do almost anything within their legal rights (and sometimes beyond) to extract payment from you.

In most provinces, debt collectors can begin calling as early as 7:00 a.m. and as late as 9:00pm. So, if you have multiple creditors, this can mean receiving several calls at all hours of the day. They will send letters in the mail. They will contact you at work. They may even attempt to reach out to your friends, family members and employers attempting to embarrass you into submission.

Person on a tablet holding a credit card

A common strategy for many debtors – especially those who are experiencing the collections process for the first time – is to take a wait and see approach. They wager if they can run, hide and avoid their creditors long enough, they'll eventually just give up. But, especially in this hyper-connected digital era, it is more than likely to be a futile effort.

Handing Over the Evidence

When a collection agency is given your account, they will often receive any personal information you gave the original lender when you applied for credit. This includes your address, telephone numbers, social insurance number and last known employer. They will also be provided with any updates the lender has learned about you since – if you've moved, changed employers, etc. Like a detective working to solve a cold case, this foundation offers numerous clues for debt collectors about when and where to find you.

Foiled by Your Credit Report

Even if you haven't recently been in contact with your overdue creditors, they can still easily keep tabs on you. Credit bureaus, for example, will update your personal information any time you open a new account or change your account information. Even something as seemingly harmless as signing up for a new mobile contract would trigger changes to the address, telephone number and employer on your credit report – which can be accessed by anyone you owe money to or with whom you've applied for credit. 

Digital Bread Crumbs

With the help of search engines and social media, the effort required to track you down is further reduced. Even without a publicly listed address or telephone number, sometimes all it takes is identifying restaurants or business you frequent through "check ins" or photos you've posted. It doesn't even have to be your own online activity that gives you away. Every time a friend or family member tags you in a status update or your employer posts your bio or contact information on its website, they're unwittingly leaving breadcrumbs regarding your whereabouts.

Skip Tracing

Legally, creditors and collections agencies are allowed to contact other people – typically family, friends, co-workers and neighbours. But only if they're attempting to learn your current address. This tactic is called skip tracing and it can be surprisingly effective.

Your first instinct is likely to (correctly) assume that your loved ones want to protect your best interests – leading you to believe they wouldn't willingly divulge any information that might make it easier to find you. But that protective nature is exactly what creditors are counting on.

Debt collectors may use tactics such as saying you could face significant legal penalties or irreparable financial damage if they can't get a hold of you immediately. Using their convincing powers of charm and persuasion, they can often convince your contacts and acquaintances to provide all the information they need to find you.

Know Your Rights (And When to Seek Help)

Debt collectors have a significant incentive to do whatever it takes to get payment from you. Most work on a fee structure where they don't get paid until their employer does. So, as a consumer, it is important to know your rights. These differ slightly depending on the province where you reside. But for those living in Ontario, the pertinent information you need to know is easily found on the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services website

If you find yourself struggling with overdue debts you can't afford to pay, and the fear of collections activity is keeping you up at night, help is available. Both a Consumer Proposal and personal bankruptcy are federally legislated Life-Changing Debt Solutions intended to help you achieve a financial fresh start. An added benefit is once initiated, both will cease any current or future collections actions against you – freeing you from the barrage of phone calls and letters and allowing you to focus on defeating debt once and for all. 

During a Free Confidential Consultation, your Licensed Insolvency Trustee will review your financial situation and explain the available options. Together you can decide which path makes most sense for you, given your unique circumstances and goals. Your debt-free future is just one phone call away.

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