How Long Can A Creditor Pursue A Debt In Canada
The straight answer is that a collection agency can try to collect on a debt forever, but they only have a short window to pursue you legally to recover any money. Specifically, a limitation period sets a time limit during which a creditor can commence legal action by filing a claim with the court to collect on a debt.
Canadas base limitation period is six years however, many provinces have lowered that time limit to 2 years.
Is it legal for a debt collector to pursue a 20-year-old debt? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. A collection agency or creditor can try to collect an outstanding debt in perpetuity however, through provincial statutes of limitation, you have a defense against any legal action once the limitation period has expired.
This means that even though a collection agency can continue to call and try to collect the debt, any legal action they might suggest after the time limit is up is an empty threat. Moreover, you have the right to file a complaint with the consumer protection office if you feel that the debt collectors are harassing you.
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Get A Written Copy Of Your Agreement
If you choose to move forward with a financial relief option, its important to understand the terms of the agreement before agreeing to anything. Once youve accepted a relief option, make sure to get a copy of the agreement in writing.
During the relief period, you want to make sure to look at your statement each month for any errors or inaccuracies, and if you see anything, make sure to refer back to the agreement so you can dispute it.
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How The Statute Of Limitations For Debt Works
Having your states statute of limitations run out does not mean that your creditor no longer has the right to try to collect money owed. However, it does mean that the courts will not be a viable method of doing so, provided that you explicitly notify the judge that your debt is time-barred. Failing to bring this information to the courts attention could result in the progression of a lawsuit that could have easily been dismissed.
Consider the disclaimer that creditors in New York City are required to include in collection efforts:
The legal time limit for suing you to collect this debt has expired. However, if somebody sues you anyway to try and make you pay this debt, court rules REQUIRE YOU to tell the court that the statute of limitations has expired to prevent the creditor from obtaining judgment.
Making a payment is not always the only act that can re-age debt either. According to the New Mexico Attorney Generals handbook, this occurs if you:
- make any payment of the debt
- sign a paper in which you admit that you owe the debt or in which you make a new promise to pay
- sign a paper in which you give up your right to stop the debt collector from suing you
The Truth: Should You Never Pay A Debt Collection Agency
Summary: When a collector contacts you, respond with a debt validation letter. You may not want to pay a collector if you will never have any income or assets, if you don’t owe the debt, if you want to settle for less, if the statute of limitations has expired, or if the collector doesn’t own the debt.
You’ve heard that you should never pay a debt collection agency, and now you want the truth. What happens if you never pay collections? Should you pay the debt collector or the original creditor?
Debt collection agencies can employ a variety of shifty tactics. They may start with harassing phone calls and escalate from there. But depending on your situation, you may never need to pay a debt collector. Not sure where to begin? SoloSuit can help.
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Consequences Of Not Making Minimum Monthly Credit Card Payments
If you stop making the payments on a credit card, there will be consequences:
- You may lose entitlement to rewards under the credit cards rewards program
- Your creditor will attempt to collect money from you
- There will be a negative impact on your credit score and your credit report
- You may experience adverse consequences from the right of set-off
- A Licensed Insolvency Trustee can legally protect you from the consequences of unpaid credit card debt.
If you are worried about the consequences of unpaid credit card debt, your first step is to make a commitment to speak with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to explore your debt relief options.
Filing For Bankruptcy Will Stop A Lawsuit
Well, there you have it. Whether a credit card company can take your stuff after non-payment depends on whether theyve obtained a judgment by filing a lawsuit and the size of your states property exemptions.
If you are facing a credit card lawsuit, its always best to call a lawyer. Also be aware that filing for bankruptcy will eliminate your credit card debt and stop a lawsuit, even if its already been filed.
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Can You Be Sued By Your Creditor
If you owe monies to your creditor and have stopped making payments as agreed, there is a chance that your creditor will sue you. However, launching a law suit isnt free your creditor will incur significant professional and administrative expenses. It is possible for a creditor to sue a debtor and not to recover a penny from them. Your creditor will be much more inclined to sue you if they are confident the odds are high that they will actually recover monies from you.
1. When might your creditor be inclined to sue you?
Your creditor might sue you under the following three conditions:
- The dollar amount owing is significant enough
- The relevant limitation period on the debt has not expired
- You own real property in your own name
Most large creditors in Canada will not sue regarding outstanding accounts of less than $4,000. This threshold for suing could be significantly higher depending upon the creditor.
Creditors are not likely to sue consumers if the relevant limitation period, or statute of limitations has expired such a suit would not likely succeed.
2. When might your creditor not be inclined to sue you?
To learn more about the likelihood of being sued, read the article, Nine Reasons Why Your Creditor Might Never Sue You.
3. What will a creditor do when it intends to sue you?
In event that a creditor wants to sue an account, it might do one of the following:
Learn Your Options If Sued For Credit Card Debt
Debt has consequences, some of which will surprise the average American.
For example, if you default on credit card debt the major consequence could be a lawsuit.
Hold on. Can a credit card company sue you? Yes, it can. And pushed into extreme circumstances, it will. In a heartbeat.
Which leads to the bigger question: What to do if you are sued by a card company?
First, never ignore calls. That just makes things worse and paints you as negligent. Study the complaint carefully for accuracy. Try to negotiate a settlement, if possible.
Heres the bottom line: Credit cards are not play toys that allow mass purchases on the Home Shopping Network.
Most importantly, make sure the lawsuit is accurate. Sometimes, your account is sold to a debt collection agency, which specializes in harassment and strong-armed tactics. The amount they say you owe? It might be incorrect.
If it gets to this stage, be ready for a fight, which may include hiring a lawyer. Its never pleasant when a giant financial institution sets its sights on you, but you do have rights.
But when signing up for the card, you accepted those terms, whether you read them or not. Somewhere in that sea of legalese, it spelled out the conditions if you defaulted.
Falling behind on credit cards is not uncommon. According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. credit card debt stood at $770 billion in early 2021.
Heres a step-by-step action plan on what to do if you are sued by a credit card company.
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What To Do During Covid
If youve lost a loved one during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be left worrying about debt during an already-stressful time. Its important to follow the guidelines above and remember that regulations in place under the FDCPA mean that card issuers have to follow standard collection practices. If you have other questions about how credit card issuers are responding to their customers during the pandemic, check out our list of coronavirus credit card relief measures.
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What Debt Collectors Do
Debt collectors use letters and phone calls to contact delinquent borrowers and convince them to repay what they owe. When debt collectors cant reach the debtor with the contact information provided by the original creditor, they look further, using computer software and private investigators.
They can also conduct searches for a debtors assets, such as bank and brokerage accounts, to determine their ability to repay. Collectors may report delinquent debts to to encourage consumers to pay since delinquent debts can seriously damage a consumers .
Debt collectors use letters and phone calls to contact delinquent borrowers and try to convince them to repay what they owe.
A debt collector has to rely on the debtor to pay and cannot seize a paycheck or reach into a bank account, even if the routing and account numbers are knownunless a judgment is obtained. This means the court orders a debtor to repay a certain amount to a particular creditor. To do this, a collection agency must take the debtor to court before the statute of limitations runs out and win a judgment against them. This judgment allows a collector to begin garnishing wages and bank accounts, but the collector must still contact the debtor’s employer and bank to request the money.
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How Credit Card Companies Can Contact You
Handling credit card debt after a loved ones death can be confusing and emotionally difficult, especially when collectors start calling. Credit card companies may contact a deceased persons family regarding any debt left behind, but they must follow rules established by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA.
A debt collector can contact a deceased persons spouse, parents , guardian, executor or administrator to discuss the debt. But the debt collector cant mislead people by saying theyre responsible for paying the debt if theyre not, and the collector cant use abusive, unfair or deceptive practices to try to collect a debt.
You can also ask the collector to stop contacting you, regardless of whether youre legally responsible for the debt or not. If youre responsible for the debt though, the collector may contact you once more to explain that the creditor plans to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit to collect the debt or confirm there will be no further contact.
If a collector does reach out about a deceased persons debts, you can specify how youd like to be contacted in the future. And know that its legally required to provide certain information to you. Dont give out any personal information until youve verified that the debt collector is legitimate. And if you can, talk with an attorney before making any payments to avoid any potential problems. You can also opt to have the debt collector contact you through your lawyer.
Statute Of Limitations Summary
Ultimately, the decisions of whether or not to pay outstanding credit card debt and when to do so are yours alone to make. However, as is the case with any major decision, its imperative that you have all of the facts and know your options. Be sure to understand the statute of limitations, and do not let a creditor bully you into doing or saying anything that will extend the time during which you are liable. Finally, if a creditor files a lawsuit when your debt is time-barred, remember that you must take action to have the courts throw it out. If you dont prove that the debt is too old, the creditor will likely win his case.
This can all get a bit confusing at times, especially when you have debt collectors breathing down your neck. To help, we compiled the following table, which provides quick tips and information for you to reference at different times during the process of handling credit card debt.
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Ask Questions About The Credit Card Relief Packages They Offer
While your credit card company may offer up one or more options, have a list of questions prepared in advance. You want to make sure youre completely comfortable with the terms before you agree to these options.
Here are key questions to ask:
Note: that the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act places special requirements on companies that report your payment information to credit reporting agencies if they provide payment relief due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Will I lose the ability to charge anything to my card if I enroll or request relief?
What A Debt Collector Can’t Do
A debt collector can’t do the following:
- suggest to your friends, employer, relatives or neighbours that they should pay your debts, unless one of these individuals has co-signed your loan
- use threatening, intimidating or abusive language
- apply excessive or unreasonable pressure on you to repay the debt
- misrepresent the situation or give false or misleading information
A debt collection agency can’t add any collection-related costs to the amount you owe other than:
- legal fees
- fees for non-sufficient funds on payments that you submitted
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Do This If Your Debt Is Already In Collections
To start digging out of debt that’s already in collections, “get some help quickly,” says Eweka. Contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and ask to work with a nonprofit credit counselor.
With the counselor’s help, call the collections agency and arrange a payment plan so the delinquent marks roll off your credit report as quickly as possible. It can take up to seven years for your past-due history to disappear completely off your report, but as you work toward settling outstanding debts your score will consistently increase with time.
Even if your debt is already in collections, debt collectors are not allowed to lie to you, threaten you, use obscene language or harass you by phone. However, a new report from Pew Charitable Trust found that increasingly, collections companies are taking debt settlements to civil court. The study shows that, from 1993 to 2013, the number of debt collection lawsuits steadily doubled from at least 1.7 million cases to 4 million cases nationwide.
And although laws vary state by state, collections agencies are generally not allowed to use unfair practices like adding fees and interest on top of what you owe , nor can they threaten to take your property through illegal means. However, they may be able to leverage the legal system in surprising ways, like suing you or freezing your assets.
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Coronavirus Credit Card Relief Programs
Many credit card companies are offering some form of financial relief to customers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
In order to take advantage of any of these relief programs, youll need to first contact your provider to formally request financial assistance. Be aware, however, that many companies are asking you to first visit their websites or use their mobile apps because theyre experiencing longer-than-normal wait times on the phone.
While itll vary based on the company, here are some of the most common forms of assistance that companies are offering:
Lowering or deferring your monthly minimum payment
Many credit card companies are offering emergency forbearance, which allows you to skip or reduce your payments for a limited period of time. Keep in mind youll need to make up any skipped or reduced payments after your forbearance period ends. When forbearance ends, you won’t be asked to make up missed payments immediately, but you will need to resume making at least your minimum monthly payments, which may have changed.
Waiving or refunding late fees
If you miss a payment, your credit card company would generally charge you a late fee. During the coronavirus pandemic, however, many companies are waiving or refunding late fees, if you request financial relief because of the pandemic.
Reducing your interest rate
Establishing a payment plan to pay off existing balances
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