Bob purchased a bedroom suite from a neighborhood furniture store. When he missed two payments the store hired a company to collect the amount owing. He was surprised when a collector from a collection agency appeared at his door.
Bob should have realized that missing payments for the bedroom suite entitles the furniture store to act on its own, or to send a collector to collect the amount owing.
However, he and you have certain rights when a bill collector comes knocking at your door.
It is against the law for a collection agency to:
- Phone or visit before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.;
- Phone or visit on a Sunday or a statutory holiday;
- Deliberately mislead you with a paper that looks like a legal document or a court form;
- Harass you or your family;
- Threaten to repossess goods without having the proper authority to do so;
- Remove any goods unless you or an adult having possession and use of the merchandise is present at the time and is aware of the removal, except with court authority;
- Harass neighbours or friends to locate the whereabouts of you and your family;
- Seize or attempt to seize any item other than what they are authorized to seize;
- Phone or telegram collect;
A collector must give you his or her name, his or her company’s name, and the name of the business or person who is requesting money and the balance owing, and may not request more than what is owed. Service fees for collection agents cannot be added to the sum owing unless the law provides for it.
If you decide to make a payment to the collector, ask for a signed receipt. The receipt should be dated and include the name of the business or person requesting payment and the amount paid.
Repossession is the act of re-claiming goods purchased on credit, for which payment is past due. Any repossession of goods must be done in accordance with The Consumer Protection Act.
If goods you have purchased on credit are repossessed due to default, you must be given a written notice within 48 hours (not including Saturday, Sundays and statutory holidays) telling you;
- That the goods have been repossessed;
- The date when the merchandise was repossessed;
- The amount that must be paid to have the goods returned;
- How the amount owed is calculated;
- The date by which the goods can be reclaimed (it must be at least 20 days after the notice has been given);
- The place where the company is storing the merchandise.
NOTE: Repossession must be performed by a licensed collection agent or the creditor. Check with the Consumers’ Bureau to see if a collection agent is licensed.
Having Repossessed Material Returned
Merchandise that has been repossessed will be returned if you:
- Make the payments that you have not made or missed;
- Pay any default charges for being behind in payments;
- Pay the actual expenses of taking and keeping possession, not exceeding the amount by statute.
If you do not recover your repossessed merchandise it can be legally resold.
If you fail to pay a debt, you may be required to appear in court where a judgment will be made on how you should make payment. If you fail to respond to the request to appear in court, a judgment may be granted in default. A court judgment may be enforced in a number of ways, including the following:
- Payment of debt through the garnishing of wages (taking a portion of your salary);
- Removal of personal property, as ordered by the court;
- Placement of liens on property.
If you have any questions regarding collection practices or repossession, contact:
Consumer Protection OfficeTelephone (Winnipeg and area): 204-945-3800
302-258 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0B6
Toll-free within Manitoba: 1-800-782-0067