Step 1. Keep a record of all communications
The first step in stopping harassment by a debt collector is to create a paper trail. Start keeping a record of all communications. This includes any contact the collector has with you—or with anyone else—about a debt you owe.
Record the date, time and content of any phone calls or messages you receive. Gather any written evidence that you sent or received from the collector, including letters, emails, faxes or text messages.
If a debt collector contacted your employer, co-workers, family or friends, ask them to write a letter saying so.
Step 2. Research the debt collector
Confirm the identity of the debt collector. Use caller ID or call tracing if you have to.
If it’s a collection agent, it must be licensed by Consumer Protection BC. Use the Consumer Protection BC licence search to see if the agent is properly licensed.
Step 3. Contact the debt collector
Before you respond to a debt collector, determine if the limitation period for the claim has expired. The basic limitation period for starting a legal action in BC is two years from the date the claim was “discovered”. See the “Understand your legal rights” section above.
Insist that the debt collector send you written notice of the debt, if they haven’t done so already. A collector is legally required to wait five days after sending you written notice before trying to collect.
Let the collector know you’re aware of the debt and want the calls to stop. Tell the collector you’ll be making a complaint to Consumer Protection BC if this continues. Consider advising the collector that you’ll start a legal action if there is any further harassment.
You can request that the collector contact you only in writing or only through a lawyer. The collector is legally required to cooperate. See the “Understand your legal rights” section above.
Consider sending a written letter outlining your proposal for resolving the debt claim. The collector may agree to change the repayment terms to make it easier for you to pay. See our guidance on negotiating with your creditors.
Step 4. Complain to Consumer Protection BC
If a debt collector continues to harrass you or someone you know, submit a complaint to Consumer Protection BC. This office, the provincial regulator, oversees debt collectors and licenses collection agents in the province.
You can contact them by:
- filing a complaint form
- calling toll free at 1-888-564-9963
If you submit a complaint form, you will hear back within one to two weeks. If you call instead, someone will hear your complaint immediately.
Have all of the evidence you gathered ready when you make your complaint. If the complaints manager thinks there’s merit to your complaint, they will contact the collector.
The complaints manager will ask the collector to stop its collection practices against you. They may also issue a compliance order. This requires the collector to stop future unreasonable collection practices.
If there have been multiple complaints against them, a collection agent may have their licence revoked. If the harassment is serious, the agent may have to pay a penalty as well.
Let the collector know you’ve made a complaint against them. Often, this will be enough to stop them from making any more phone calls.