You just got a letter/phone call about an old debt that you owe. The first consideration is to determine if you owe the money. If you do not owe the debt, simply tell the collection company that you do not owe the money. Ask them to send you copies of any documentation that proves otherwise. When they say that they do not have to send you any papers or that they do not have to prove to you that you owe the money – be very clear – yes, they do have to prove that you owe the money and if they refuse to prove it, you will not pay them any money. In other words, you are not refusing to pay what you owe, but you are legally entitled to know what you owe and to whom you owe it to.
In Ontario, there is a law called The Limitations Act of Ontario which stops a creditor from suing you if your debt is over two (2) years old. The debt is still owing, of course, but the creditor cannot go to a court to collect the debt. You must be aware that if you acknowledge the debt in any way, the two-year period starts all over again. Also note that the credit bureau (Equifax Canada and Trans Union of Canada) will still list the delinquent account for six years as an R9 bad debt which will keep your credit score low. Certain debts are not subject to the two-year limitation period – these include income tax, government guaranteed student loans, child support arrears, etc.
Other provinces/territories have similar limitation periods. Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan are all two years. Quebec’s limitation is three years. The rest of Canada is six years.
If I am in financial trouble, do I have to go see (and pay) a consultant before I speak with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee? You do not have to use a consultant of any kind before speaking with a trustee and considering filing an Assignment in Bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal. There may be a level of comfort in speaking with a consultant who is not in an officer of the court and may be able to communicate with you in your native language, but, this is a choice that you make that has a cost attached to it. You are paying a consultant for their opinion about your situation and then you still have to pay the trustee who is going to do the work. Sometimes you are simply paying two people to get a second opinion before you make a very serious decision of what to do with your life going forward.
When you file a Consumer Proposal in Ontario, there is a hold on all legal proceedings that your creditors can take against you. Interest on all debts stop as of the day the court accepts the Consumer Proposal and confirms the appointment of your Licensed Insolvency Trustee who acts as the Administrator of your proposal. If the creditors accept the offer in your proposal, then your only obligation is to make payments in accordance with the terms of the proposal, which may or may not include an interest factor. If the creditors refuse your proposal, then you have options. Normally, your trustee will contact the creditors who refused to agree to your proposal and ask what they would accept in payments to change their decision. This may take several months of negotiating back and forth. You want to pay as little as possible. Your creditors want as much as possible. Somewhere in the middle is what is reasonable in these circumstances.
In cases where no proposal can be negotiated with the creditors and the proposal is refused by a majority of creditors, then you, as the person filing would be back at square one. The full rights of all creditors are reinstated and their right to claim interest is back to the day you filed the Consumer Proposal when the interest was stopped. If you subsequently file another proposal or a bankruptcy, the interest stops again.
Contact Rumanek & Company Ltd. for more information on bankruptcy in Ontario and debt solutions. Please fill out the bankruptcy evaluation form. To learn more please visit our YouTube Channel. Rumanek & Company have been helping individuals and families overcome personal bankruptcy in Ontario for more than 25 years.
The average Canadian owes more than $1.60 for every $1.00 of after-tax take home income. No wonder, we are all feeling stressed. A major cause of this is the high cost of living in major cities like Toronto or Vancouver in relation to other parts of Canada. If you are only making the minimum monthly payments on your debts or even taking cash advances from one creditor to make those payments to another creditor, consider meeting an experienced professional who has the experience to assess your situation and offer a plan of action that will result in getting out of debt. The options that should be considered are:
This is mainly a self-help approach although there are several for-profit and not-for-profit agencies that will assist you. You or the counsellor will contact each individual creditor to try to get them to waive some of their late fees, reduce their interest rate and set up a long-term payment plan. This is a long-term program that must be negotiated with each creditor individually. There is no court assistance or other court approval for this option. There is no requirement for any creditor to negotiate with you or the counsellor, although, creditors will often negotiate some settlement out of goodwill.
You or a debt settlement company hired by you at your expense approach each of your creditors to negotiate a reduction in the debt that you owe. No creditor is required to negotiate anything with you but they usually will negotiate a reduction in the total of your debt if you will tell them that the reduced amount will be paid in full over a specified short period of time. The cost of hiring a debt settlement company must be factored into your eventual saving of the debt owing. They normally charge a fee based on a percentage of what they save you but this is also subject to negotiation.
A consumer proposal is administered by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee who will negotiate a reduction in the overall debt as well as the payment of the reduced amount over a period of time with no interest (usually 60 months or less).
The advantages of a Consumer Proposal are:
You keep your house, car, RRSP, RESP, etc.
You lose no assets unless you decide to sell the assets and pay the money into the proposal as a lump sum
Once 51% of creditors agree to your proposal, the other 49% are bound to abide by the terms of the proposal
All interest charges by creditors stop on the day your trustee files the proposal with the court
All legal actions, wage garnishees, etc. stop on the day the trustee files the Consumer Proposal with the court
The proposal once approved by the creditors and the court is a legal process that can be enforced against all creditors
When all else fails, bankruptcy is the final solution. As long as you are unable to meet your financial obligations as they come due and your debts exceed $1,000, you can legally file an Assignment in Bankruptcy using the services of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. You will be placed under the protection of the court to prevent any creditor from suing you, garnisheeing your wages or bank account or taking any actions against you to collect their debt. If your situation is not complicated, you may be able to obtain your discharge from the bankruptcy process in as little as 9 months. Your trustee will still take much time after your discharge to complete the administration of your file. Your trustee will still continue to assist you in rebuilding your credit score even after your discharge.
The above are the four (4) main solutions to a person with debt problems. Please consider meeting with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee for a free initial consultation to determine which of the above or any other options are best for you.