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If times are tight and you miss a few bill payments, your debt could end up going to collections. A debt collector recovers unpaid debt on a credit card, line of credit, or loan. Usually, you’ll receive a written notice from the debt collection agency before they try to contact you by phone. When you start to receive collection calls, you may question if you should answer the phone or ignore it.

This article breaks down what you should do when you receive a collection call, what happens if you ignore it, and why it’s important to know your rights.  

Should You Answer Your Collection Calls? 

Receiving a call from a debt collector can feel intimidating and scary. While your first instinct might be to ignore the call and pretend it’s not happening, this won’t make the problem go away. Ignoring debt collection calls could make the situation worse. A better plan is to answer the call and deal with the issue directly. 

When the collector calls, it’s your right to ask for the following information:

  • Debt collectors name
  • Collection company they work for
  • Name of the company they are collecting for
  • Debt collector’s phone number  

You can also ask the collector for additional details, including how much you owe, who you owe, and when you started owing the debt. You can use this information to review your bills, bank statements, and credit reports and confirm if the debt is really yours and if the amount is accurate. 

If the information is correct, you will have to decide how to move forward. By speaking with the debt collector early on, they might be willing to work with you to figure out a payment plan.  

What Happens If You Ignore Collection Calls?

Ignoring collection calls won’t make them go away. It will likely result in even more calls and letters. Debt collectors can also decide to pursue legal action against you, including wage garnishment or a lawsuit. Don’t forget, having debt in collections can damage your credit score. If your account is sent to collections, it can stay on your credit report for up to six years after the date of your last payment.1

If I Ignore Debt Collection Calls For 6-7 Years, Will My Debt Go Away?

Each province has a statute of limitations, which dictates how long a creditor can take legal action against you for your debts. Depending on where you live, the debt collectors can come after you for between two and six years. 

For instance, the statute of limitations in Alberta is two years. This means that if a debt collector has not pursued legal action and you have not made a payment or acknowledged your debt during this time, the debt collector can no longer legally come after you. 

If you’re wondering what it means to acknowledge your debt, this includes: 

  • You make a payment on your debt.
  • You inform the debt collector or creditor (in writing) that you plan to repay your debt in the future. 

Unfortunately, a debt collector can continue to contact you even after the statute of limitations has ended. However, they can’t take legal action against you due to the statute of limitations. if you feel that the collector is harassing you, you can file a complaint with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Who Can A Collection Agency Call To Contact You? 

If a debt collection agency is trying to contact you, they can reach out to your friends, employer, relatives, or neighbours. However, the only information they can request is your telephone number or address. A debt collector can not ask one of your contacts to pay for your debt unless that person has co-signed on your loan.

What Are The Laws Surrounding Collection Calls In Canada?

Each province has rules to regulate what debt collectors can do. The Government of Canada also has rules that apply to federally regulated financial institutions such as banks, loan companies, and debt collectors.  

Federal financial institutions can not:2 

  • Contact your employer unless they need to confirm your employment, type of employment, or your business title or address. 
  • Contact you at work unless they don’t have your home address or phone number, they tried to contact you at home and couldn’t, or you permitted them to contact you at work. 
  • Contact you on holidays, on Sundays before 1 p.m. or after 5 p.m., or on any other day before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Communicate in a harassing way. This can include swearing, using intimidating language, or threatening to make your debt public. 
  • Misrepresent the situation or give false information. 
  • Add collection-related costs to the amount you owe such as legal fees or other fees.
  • Call you on your cell phone, unless it is the number you asked to be reached on. 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In Ontario 

In Ontario, collectors can only reach out on Sundays between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and on Monday to Saturday between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. 

A collector can not try to charge you additional fees, harass you, or use abusive language. In Ontario, collectors are also limited to how often they can contact you, which is three times in a seven-day period. 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In Quebec

Quebec regulations limit collectors to call between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Collectors are not allowed to call on holidays. 

If a collector contacts you in Quebec, they must have a legal permit to collect debt. You can ask for the collection agent permit number issued by the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection office). 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In Alberta 

In Alberta, a debt collector can contact you at home between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

A debt collector can’t discuss your debt with anyone else unless you have given your consent or they are a guarantor of the debt, the creditor of the original debt, or someone you have identified as representing you. 

Similar to Ontario, collectors can not contact you more than three times in seven days.

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In British Columbia 

Debt collectors can only call between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday and between 7 a.m., and 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. They are also not allowed to call on statutory holidays. 

In British Columbia, a debt collector can not contact you in a way that will cost you money, and they can’t try to collect any more money than you owe.

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In Manitoba

Regulations in Manitoba state that collectors can’t call or visit on a Sunday or statutory holiday. They can only call between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday to Saturday.  

Collectors can’t threaten to repossess goods if they don’t have the ability to do it and can’t deliberately try to mislead you with a document that looks like a legal document. 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, collectors can call you on a Sunday but only between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. They can also call between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Monday through Saturday. 

A collector can not communicate with you until they identify who they are, the name of the collection agency, as well as the name of the company they are collecting for. 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In Nova Scotia

According to regulations in Nova Scotia, debt collectors can not call you on a Sunday and can only contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. 

Similar to Ontario and Alberta, a collector is only allowed to contact you three times within seven days. Collection companies are also not allowed to use an auto-dialer to contact you unless the call system provides a contact number when it leaves you a message. 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador debt collectors can only contact you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Collectors are not allowed to contact you or your family, friends or neighbours in a way that constitutes harassment to you or those around you. A collector can only communicate with your friends, family, or acquaintances if they need to get your address. 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In PEI

If you live in PEI and are dealing with a debt collector, they can only contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. They can not contact you on a Sunday. 

Collectors can not pretend to be someone else or use documents that look like court documents but aren’t filed with the registrar. They also can not include your spouse in collection or court action unless they have also signed for the debt. 

Regulations On Debt Collection Calls In Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, a debt collector can call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. They can not call on Sundays or statutory holidays. 

Similar to other provinces, a debt collector is not allowed to try and collect more than you owe, harass you or your family, or mislead you in any way. 

Can You Stop Collection Calls In Canada?

If collection calls are stressing you out, there are actions you can take to make them stop.

  • Pay your debt. Since it’s a debt collector’s job to try and recover unpaid debts if you pay your debt bill, the issue will be resolved, and calls will stop. Even if you can’t afford to pay the total amount of debt, you can try to negotiate an alternate payment method. 
  • Request contact in writing. You can request that the debt collector stop calling and only contact you in writing or through your legal advisor. To do this, you must send a written request by registered mail. In your letter, you have to provide an address where they can contact you. If you want them to contact your legal advisor you must provide their address and phone number.
  • File for a consumer proposal or bankruptcy. If you can’t afford to make any payments, consider reaching out to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). A LIT is a debt professional who is authorized to administer consumer proposals and bankruptcies, which can discharge your debt. When you file a proposal or bankruptcy, you immediately gain protection against creditor legal action, which means any wage garnishment, creditor lawsuits, or collection calls will stop. 

Collection Calls FAQs

What are the statute of limitations on debt?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time when collectors can pursue legal actions to recover a debt. The statute of limitations varies between provinces and territories ranging from 2 to 6 years.

What are debt collectors?

A debt collector is someone who tries to recover unpaid debts. If you don’t make your payments on a loan, a debt collector will try to get back the money you owe. Some creditors have in-house debt collection departments. Other creditors will hire a debt collection agency to help get the money back or sell your debt to the collection agency.

How do you tell if a debt collector is legitimate?

When you are contacted by a debt collector, you should ask for and record the name of the agent, the company they work for, the name of the company they are collecting for, and the debt collector’s phone number. You can also ask for details about the debt, including the amount you owe, who you owe it to, and when you started to owe it. You can then verify this information by reviewing your bank statements and bills. 

What can I do If a debt collector is harassing me with calls? 

If you feel you are being harassed by a debt collector, you can file a complaint with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. 

Are debt collection agencies licensed to collect debts in your province?

Debt collectors must have a licence to collect debts in each of the provinces where they plan to collect. You can check to see if a collection company is licensed by reviewing your province’s consumer protection authority website.   


  1. Equifax. How long does information stay on my Equifax credit report? Accessed October 11, 2023. 
  2. Government of Canada. Debt collection: know your rights. Accessed October 11, 2023.
Jessica Martel avatar on Loans Canada
Jessica Martel

Jessica is a freelance writer, professional researcher, and mother of two rambunctious little boys. She specializes in personal finance, women and money, and financial literacy. Jessica is fascinated by the psychology of money and what drives people to make important financial decisions. She holds a Master's of Science degree in Cognitive Research Psychology and Bachelor's degrees in Communications, and Psychology. Her work has been published on Investopedia, The Balance, Money Under 30,, Seeking Alpha, Consumer Affairs, and more.

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