The COVID-19 pandemic changed the work landscape. In 2021, the Great Resignation in the U.S. resulted in 47 million Americans quitting their jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pandemic also required many people to work from home who had traditionally commuted into work. First, this was a necessary practice due to lockdowns and government work-from-home orders. Now, working from home has become the preference for many.
The pandemic provided employees with proof that their job could be done effectively from home. Now many employees are requesting permanent work-from-home arrangements, and many employers are complying. As of October 19, 2021, Nova Scotia legislation decided to allow debt collection agencies to join the growing work from home movement to work remotely.
What is a Debt Collection Agency?
If you’ve missed a few credit card payments or you’re behind on your car payments, you may have received a call from a collections agency. A debt collection agency is a company that recovers unpaid debts. If you fail to pay your bills, a debt collector can contact you to try and recover the money you owe on your credit card, loan, or line of credit.
When your debt is sent to a collection agency, you can expect to receive a written notice before the agency contacts you. The written notice will typically include the name of the debt collection agency, the name of the business you owe money to, and the amount of debt you owe.
Unfortunately, once your debt has gone to a collection agency, this can cause your credit score to drop. A poor credit score can make it more difficult and more expensive to borrow money in the future.
What a Debt Collection Agency Can and Can’t do
Receiving a call from a debt collector can feel stressful and unsettling. No one wants to fall behind on their bills but it happens. If you are in a situation where you have missed your payments and are now receiving collection calls, it’s important to know your rights.
A debt collector can contact your friends, family, employer, or even your neighbours to get your phone number and address. A collection agency can only call you during specific hours, Monday through Saturday between 7 am and 9 pm. They can not contact you on holidays.
A debt collector can not use threatening or abusive language when they contact you or use unreasonable pressure to get you to repay your debt. For a more thorough list of what a debt collector can and cannot do, visit the Government of Canada website.
Consumer Protection Act
The Consumer Protection Act is another document that is meant to prevent unethical business practices and outlines your rights as a consumer. In Nova Scotia, the Consumer Protection Act outlines many of your rights as a consumer. Different provinces have their own Consumer Protection Acts.
For instance, in Alberta, the Consumer Protection act requires all collection agencies, collectors, debt repayment agencies, and debt repayment agencies to be registered under the act and the Collection and Debt Repayment Practices Regulation. It also outlines specific actions that collection agencies cannot take. For instance, a collection agency can not contact you more than three times in a seven-day period on behalf of the same creditor except by mail.
Remote Work for Debt Collectors
In Nova Scotia, there are over 60 licensed collection and debt management agencies doing business. There are approximately 2,000 individual collectors and debt management agencies. Up until 2021, Nova Scotia was one of two provinces in Canada that typically didn’t allow employees in the collection agency to work from home.
In March 2020, debt collectors, like so many other working Canadians, were required to temporarily work from home. The purpose was to keep employees safe during the pandemic. As of October 19, 2021 debt management agents and individual collectors who work with Nova Scotians are now able to work remotely from home thanks to an amendment to the Collection and Debt Management Agencies Act.
In a Nova Scotia news release, Internal Services Minister Colton LeBalanc said “These amendments will help modernize our legislation while also bringing our industry in line with practices across the country. Employees working in the industry have proven they can work responsibly and effectively from home during the pandemic and we would like to allow them to continue to do so, as they have requested.”
What qualifies as a remote workspace for collection agents?
If you’re concerned that a collection agent might be calling you from a remote location that lacks the security and privacy they would have in a collections office, know that there are standards in place. Several conditions must be met to ensure the collector or debt management agent’s remote workspace is secure and private and debtors’ information can not be accessed or overheard by anyone else. All of these conditions are outlined in Section 10A of the Collection and Debt Management Agencies Act.
What to do if a Collection Agency is Contacting You
If you are unable to pay your credit card bill or you’re behind on your mortgage payments and you are starting to receive calls from a collection agency, it’s time to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). Receiving calls from collections can be incredibly stressful. It can feel like there is no way out of debt. But there is. An LIT can work with you to find your best debt solution, remove financial stress, and get you on track to become debt-free.
Get Remote Debt Help, Contact Allan Marshall Today
At Allan Marshall and Associates, you can book a risk-free 20-minute call with an expert to discuss your specific debt issues and your needs. Just as debt collectors can work remotely, at Allan Marshall and Associated we can help you with your debt issues remotely.
If you aren’t able to make it to our offices, or you just feel more comfortable speaking to an LIT remotely, we can support you. If you’re struggling with your debt, don’t hesitate to reach out. Give us a call at 1-888-371-8900 or reach out online.