I am getting daily phone calls from a collection agency telling me that I owe money for an unpaid credit card bill. The staff from the collection agency use foul language and threaten that I will go to jail if I don’t pay the bill soon. I’m afraid to pick up the phone. Do I have any rights?
Yes, you have several rights under the Collection Agencies Act and its regulations.
In your situation, the law forbids collection agencies from:
- Calling you before or after the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays;
- Contacting you on Sunday (except between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.);
- Contacting you on holidays;
- Calling you more than three times in a seven-day period (including voice mail messages) without your permission;
- Using threatening, profane and intimidating or coercive language or using undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure; and
- Give false or misleading information to any person.
Collection agencies can take people to court on behalf of creditors (the people or businesses who are owed money). If you disagree with the debt, send the collection agency a letter by registered mail stating this and suggesting that the matter be taken to court, the collection agency cannot attempt to contact you afterward.
If a collection agency is engaging in any prohibited practices, you can write a letter of complaint to the collect agency itself. If this is not successful, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Branch at the Ministry of Consumer Services. Their phone number is 1-800-889-9768 (toll-free) or 416-326-8800 (Toronto area). More information about collection agencies and your rights can be found on the Ministry of Consumer Services’ website.
A salesman came to my door yesterday and sold me an expensive vacuum for $1,000.00. I felt pressured to buy the vacuum and now I’m having second thoughts. But, I don’t have any paperwork to show how much I paid for the vacuum. Is there any way to get out of the contract and get my money back?
Yes, the Consumer Protection Act and its regulations give you certain consumer rights.
The legislation says that if a contract is signed in your home, there is an automatic cooling off period of 10 days. This means you can cancel the contact within 10 days by giving notice of cancellation. You must provide the notice of cancellation in writing. An example of a sample notice of cancellation is available at the website for the Ministry of Consumer Services. The company then has 15 days to return your money and to either pick up the vacuum or to pay for you to return the vacuum to the company.
Also, if enter into a contract in your home for something that costs more than $50.00, there must be a written contract. The contract is required to include certain information, such as:
- The name and address of the buyer and seller;
- A description of the goods or services being purchased;
- The total amount owing to the business;
- The terms of payment;
- Delivery dates and delivery charges; and
- A statement about your rights under the Consumer Protection Act.
More information about door-to-door sales and your rights can be found on the Ministry of Consumer Services’ website.