Collection agencies are businesses hired by other businesses to collect unpaid money. Employees of collection agencies and other collection agents must follow specific rules.
Important! The rules explained in this article do not apply to these businesses or people:
Collection agencies must respect two sets of rules:
- general rules about debt collection
- rules specific to collection agencies, explaing in the rest of this article
Permits for Collection Agents
Collection agencies must have a permit to legally collect a debt in Quebec. To get a permit, an agency must have a place of business in Quebec and its business name must include the words collection agency or collection agent.
If a collection agency contacts you, you have the right to ask for its collection agent permit number issued by the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection bureau). If you wonder whether the number is valid, you can check it with the regional office of the Office or online.
Legal Ways of Communicating With People Who Owe Money
- A collection agency can contact the person who owes money from Monday to Saturday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., but not on holidays.
- The first contact must be in writing, not by telephone.
- The agent who calls must identify himself each time.
- The person who owes money can ask that the collection agent only communicate in writing. This request must be made in writing to the collection agency and it is valid for three months. It can be renewed.
Report on Payments and Amounts Still Owed
If a collection agent contacts you, you can make a request in writing at any time asking the collection agency to give a report on payments you've made so far and the amounts still owed. The collection agency has 10 days to answer you.
It must also give you this information:
- the date the report is made
- the initial amount owed
- the name of the person or business owed the money
- the agency's permit number.
You cannot be charged a fee for this information.
Proof of Payment
It might be important to prove that money has been repaid. For example, you might want your credit record corrected.
- If you pay cash: the collection agency has 10 days from receiving payment to give you a receipt.
- If you do not pay cash: the collection agency has 10 days from receiving your written request for a receipt to give you one.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.