Wednesday, 24 June 2015

How to Stop Collection Calls to Your Workplace

The collection industry has come a long way since the unregulated days when collection agents could basically do and say whatever they wanted.

However, even with the changes that protect consumers, one popular tactic that collection agents still deploy is calling you at work! Why? For obvious reasons: maybe you were able to avoid their call at home, but at work it is more difficult. It is also because it is so incredibly embarrassing to receive collection calls at work that some people are just mortified and pay.

If you can’t pay though, it is entirely unfair that you suffer this kind of humiliation.

If you have the type of job where the state of your personal finances is important as a testament to how responsible you are, an employer catching wind of financial problems could also interfere with your job.

So, how do you nip an aggressive collector repeatedly calling you at you in the bud?
  • When agents call, advise them that they do not have permission to call you at work and should they call again you will file a complaint with the appropriate regulator.
  • Write them a letter advising them where they may call and/OR write to you – we put OR in caps because it is an option to tell them they cannot call you at all and may only write to you.
  • If they continue to call, you may file a formal complaint against them with the provincial regulator.
If you know that you plan to go as far as making a complaint against the collection agency be diligent and keep good records. Note the dates and times of calls, who called you, what happened – what did they say to you and what did you say to them.

When you are ready to make a complaint, here are some links to some provincial regulators of collection agencies in Canada:

·         Saskatchewan
·         Manitoba

Now, stopping the collection agency from harassing you at work is a good first step, however it is not going to make the debt go away. Continue to ignore them and the agents may just look at other ways to collect from you or your creditor may decide to pursue you through small claims court.

Stand up for your rights and don’t be bullied by a collection agency, but don’t ignore the debt in the process. Make finding a solution for dealing with the debt a serious priority – that is the only way that you can truly put an end to your problem.

For more about your rights when it comes to collection agencies, or to get rid of the debt to make the harassment stop, please call DebtCare Canada today at 1-888-890-0888.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Can a Collection Agency Garnish my Wages?

No one wants to be unable to pay their bills. For most it is devastating to reach a point where you simply can’t afford your obligations to a creditor, causing you to default and forcing your creditor to assign your account to third party collections.

When the collectors start calling they mean business. They have one goal and one goal only, and that is to collect money on behalf of your creditor. Some may even threaten to garnish your wages, leading you to wonder, “can a collection agency garnish my wages?”

Answering this question means taking a closer look at collection agencies, their powers and the regulations governing them.

In Ontario, collection agencies are regulated by the Ontario Government and have to adhere to guidelines in terms of what they can and cannot do when collecting a debt.

Here are some examples of things collection agencies can’t do:
  • Contact you on a Sunday, except between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Contact you on any other day of the week between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Contact you on a holiday
  • Use threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language
  • Use undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure or harass you
  • Charge you any fees
If a collection agency crosses the line you can file a complaint against them here:

Getting back to collection agencies and wage garnishments: in order for your creditors to be able to garnish your wages in Ontario, they must first sue you in small claims court, obtain a judgement against you and then gain permission from the court to garnish your wages.

In small claims court your creditor can represent itself or hire a third party agent as its representative. A paid agent must be a paralegal licensed by the LSUC.

The only way that a collection agency can garnish your wages on behalf of a client is if they have a division that includes licensed paralegals who may administer small claims court documents and filings and if:
  • The company has been engaged to represent the creditor to sue you in small claims court.
  • The file was assigned after the creditor already had a judgement and it simply hasn’t been enforced.
  • They are representing an arm of the government that doesn’t require a court order to garnish – but in this instance it is more likely that the government would directly garnish your wages.
If a collection agency threatens to garnish your wages:
  • Ask them to put their threat in writing.
  •  Ask for written evidence that they have been engaged by the client to take legal action or enforce a judgement against you.
  • Contact the small claims court to confirm if there has been a judgement filed against you.
While you have some leverage as far as asking for transparency and standing up to the collection agencies, eventually you are going to have to look at ways to address the root cause of your challenges -which is the debt that you can’t pay. The cycle will only continue because, after a certain amount of time, the creditor may assign your account to another collection agency and then another. Some collection agencies do have legal departments and paralegals on staff, so while most won’t garnish your wages on behalf of a creditor and may merely threaten, others do have the power to do so.

Know your rights about what collection agencies can and cannot do - but don’t ever ignore a debt that has gone to collections. Call DebtCare Canada today - we will help you get the relief you need: 1-888-890-0888.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Contractors – The 2015 Tax Deadline is Approaching

A great deal has changed in the working world with the boom in “contracting”. It used to be that companies would hire workers and pay them as employees. This has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. By contracting a worker, employers no longer have those strings, responsibilities and obligations that come with having an employee.

Where contractors are concerned, a job is a job, however contract positions can prove to be a major headache when tax time comes if you are not good about keeping your books.

The 2015 tax deadline is approaching – are you ready? If this is your first year filing as a contractor, here are some tips:

·         Try your best to organize your receipts and invoices.
·         If you haven’t been saving them, request bank statements and credit card statements. This will at least show deposits and give you an idea of what you spent.
·         Find a bookkeeper. If your receipts are all in a pile, or in a box, or worse, you don’t have any, a bookkeeper is your cheapest solution. If you bring your box of loose records to an accountant you will likely pay more to have them organized than you would through a bookkeeper.
·         If you have not registered a business, make sure that you get a T2200 from your employer. The T2200 allows you to claim personal expenses in accordance with your job.
·         Make sure that you have collected your T forms. If you are a contractor likely your employer will give you a T4A, but there are other T slips to consider. If you are in a union they will issue a T slip for your union dues, which are tax deductible. There may also be another T slip from the company that contracts you or from the union if you are in one related to taxable benefits (which are monies you may have received which are taxable).
·         Make sure you consider all expenses you incur to fulfill your contract – and do not write off things you are not entitled to. So many people do this and this will land you in real trouble with CRA later.

Our next major tip regarding the upcoming June tax deadline: don’t miss it! If you miss it and this is your first time filing late you will pay a 5% fee on the amount that you owe, plus 1% per month for up to 12 months. Interest will accrue on top of both the tax debt and penalties.

If you filed late in the 3 years preceding this year the penalty may increase to 10% of the amount of the tax debt, then 2% per month for up to 20% plus interest.

If you are currently behind a couple of years filing, now is a better time than ever to get compliant! Did you know that you can’t claim HST input tax credits more than 4 years retroactively? This is a huge incentive to get filing in order.

Now, add to this the fact that not filing your tax returns is tax evasion and could land you with a criminal problem, and tax time turns into a nightmare! Don’t believe us? Look how many people have already been prosecuted this year alone for tax evasion

Typically people avoid filing tax returns for 3 reasons: 1)They don’t think that they are going to owe 2)They know they will owe and want to buy time 3)They have no records and don’t know how to go about filing.

If you are coming up to the June deadline and fall into the second or third groups, you should seek out professional guidance ASAP. A tax debt is a financial problem with severe consequences. You can’t ignore it because it won’t go away by itself and the more time that passes the greater the consequences.

Fortunately there is still time! Call DebtCare Canada today and we can help you get those tax debts straightened out: 1-888-890-0888. 

Monday, 1 June 2015

Tips for Starting Summer on Fresh Financial Footing

Summer is here, the kids are out of school and you have the next 3 months to look forward to “mom, do you have $20 so I can go to the movies?” Summer, more so than any other holiday, can be one of the most expensive seasons of the year. This is your opportunity to seize the day and kick your summer off on fresh financial footing.

Cut back on expenses. People are out of the house more in the summer, so look at expenses you can trim back on.

·       Find savings in the budget – Even if you can find 10% savings in your budget you will be ahead of the game. It is not that hard to do either. Look at cable for example: during the summer everyone is out of the house, so why pay for the full supply of channels? Walk around the house – how many TVs do you have with rented cable boxes? Those boxes cost $5-$10 to rent monthly, and getting rid of 1 or 2 doesn’t mean those TVs won’t work – it just means that they may not have all 9999 channels - but your pocketbook will be heavier!

·        Register kids for activities – Registering the kids for activities is actually often far cheaper during the summer than having them home (depending on the activity). Organized activities are not only good for your kids’ personal development, they also keep them out of the house and keep them from eating all your food and asking for activity money, mainly because organized activities often involve some form of lunch room so your kids can bring a lunch instead of scooping $5 from you to go out to eat with their friends.

·       Have a garage sale – Want to generate a lump sum to pay bills or even for kids’ summer activities? A garage sale is a great way to do it. If you haven’t used something in a while, just get rid of it. This gives you a financial benefit and also leaves you with a de-cluttered house =)

·       Grow some produce at home – Food is often a huge expense, so curb your grocery expenses by starting a garden in your yard. Savings on produce can add up to a minimum $20 per week savings in your grocery budget.

·       Take a good hard look at your debt – If your cash flow feels pinched, one reason may be because your monthly payments on loans and credit cards are too high. Summer is a better time than ever to sit down with a financial professional to look at ways that you can restructure your debt to put more cash flow back into your household.

·       Take advantage of free, fun, family activities - There are tons of free activities that you can do with the family to help save. Look at the GTA – the beach, Centre Island, a host of parks – there are so many “entrance free” activities to enjoy that you can surely find savings on the weekends.

Trimming back coming into the summer and clearly communicating your plans with your family is your best shot to glide through summer on better financial footing. Call DebtCare Canada today for more summer budgeting tips: 1-888-890-0888.