Collection agencies: your rights
Collection agencies must be licensed and need to follow the rules set out in the Collection and Debt Management Agencies Act. These rules include how and when they can contact you and in what manner.
You’re responsible for paying money you owe. If you don’t pay, the business may collect their own debts or ask a collection agency to do it for them.
Businesses don’t need to be licensed to collect debt, but both businesses and collection agencies must follow similar rules when they contact you to collect debt.
Collection agencies and businesses collecting debt can’t:
- collect more money than you owe the business or person who hired them
- collect from a person who isn’t liable for the debt
- continue to try to collect from a person who proves to the collection agency or business collecting debt they’re not the person who owes the debt
- threaten, intimidate or speak abusively to you, your family or acquaintances
- make contact so often or in such a way that you, your family or acquaintances feel harassed
- contact you on a Sunday, any day between 9pm and 8am or more than 3 times within a 7-day period
- lie about your credit or a legal action (directly or indirectly) to anyone
- threaten to give information to anyone that could affect your job
- contact your family and acquaintances unless your family or acquaintance has guaranteed to pay the debt or the collection agency or business collecting debt is looking for your address or phone number
- contact your employer unless your employer has guaranteed to pay the debt or the collection agency or the business collecting debt is looking for your address, phone number, employment status, business title or business address
- publish or post your failure to pay a debt or threaten to do so
- use an auto-dialer unless the automated call system provides a contact number when leaving a message
- start legal action (like taking you to court) without notifying you first
Collection agencies collecting debt also can’t make any telephone or electronic contact with you unless they have first sent written notice.
You have the right to:
- ask collection agencies and businesses collecting debt to only contact you through a lawyer or at an address you provide
- ask who is looking for repayment, the repayment amount and the name of the collector
- request a copy of the initial written notice from the collection agency or business collecting debt if you didn’t receive it the first time
- ask the collection agency or business collecting debt for a receipt for payments made at your request, which contains the amount collected, the date of the payment, your name and the name of the creditor
- dispute the debt with the collection agency or business collecting debt through registered mail and request resolution in court
If you’re concerned that a collection agency or business collecting debt is not following these rules, you can contact the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services.
Businesses that collect their own debts don’t need to be licensed. But they need to follow similar rules of conduct set out in the Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act (PDF).