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Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act

[SBC 2004] CHAPTER 2

Part 7 — Debt Collection

Division 1 — Prohibited Debt Collection Practices

Definition

113  In this division, "collector" means a person, whether in British Columbia or not, who is collecting or attempting to collect a debt.

Harassment

114  (1) A collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a debtor, a member of the debtor's family or household, a relative, neighbour, friend or acquaintance of the debtor, or the debtor's employer in a manner or with a frequency as to constitute harassment.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), one or more of the following constitutes harassment:

(a) using threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language;

(b) exerting undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure;

(c) publishing or threatening to publish a debtor's failure to pay.

Disclosure to debtor

115  (1) A collector must not attempt to collect payment of a debt from a debtor until the collector has notified the debtor in writing or the collector has made a reasonable attempt to notify the debtor in writing of

(a) the name of the creditor with whom the debt was incurred,

(b) the amount of the debt, and

(c) the identity and authority of the collector to collect the debt from the debtor.

(2) A collector must not initiate verbal communication with a debtor with respect to the collection of a debt until 5 days after the collector has sent to the debtor the written notice referred to in subsection (1).

(3) If a debtor informs the collector that the debtor has not received the notice required under subsection (1), the collector must send that information to the debtor at the address provided by the debtor.

Communication with debtor

116  (1) A collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a debtor at the debtor's place of employment unless

(a) the collector does not have the home address or telephone number for the debtor and the collector contacts the debtor solely for the purpose of requesting the debtor's home address or telephone number or both,

(b) the collector has attempted to contact the debtor at the debtor's home address or telephone number, but the collector has not contacted the debtor in any of those attempts, or

(c) the collector has been authorized by the debtor to communicate with the debtor at the debtor's place of employment.

(2) The collector must not make more than one verbal attempt, under subsection (1) (b), to contact the debtor at the debtor's place of employment.

(3) At the time a collector communicates with a debtor, the collector must first indicate to the debtor

(a) the name of the creditor with whom the debt was incurred,

(b) the amount of the debt, and

(c) the identity and authority of the collector to collect the debt from the debtor.

(4) A collector must not continue to communicate with a debtor

(a) except in writing, if the debtor

(i)   has notified the collector to communicate in writing only, and

(ii)   has provided a mailing address at which the debtor may be contacted,

(b) except through the debtor's lawyer, if the debtor

(i)   has notified the collector to communicate only with the debtor's lawyer, and

(ii)   has provided an address for the lawyer, or

(c) if the debtor has notified the collector and the creditor that the debt is in dispute and that the debtor would like the creditor to take the matter to court.

Communication with persons other than debtor

117  (1) Except for the purpose of obtaining the debtor's home address or telephone number, a collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a member of the debtor's family or household, or a relative, neighbour, friend or acquaintance of the debtor unless

(a) the person contacted has guaranteed to pay the debt and is being contacted in respect of that guarantee, or

(b) the debtor has authorized the collector to discuss the debt with the person contacted.

(2) A collector must not communicate with a debtor's employer except

(a) for the purpose of confirming the debtor's employment, business title and business address, or

(b) for other purposes authorized in writing by the debtor.

Time of communication

118  (1) In this section, "statutory holiday" means a holiday, except Sunday, unless the holiday falls on a Sunday.

(2) Except on the request of the person contacted, a collector must not communicate, either by telephone or in person, with the debtor, a member of the debtor's family or household, or a relative, neighbour, friend or acquaintance of the debtor, or the debtor's employer or guarantor

(a) on a statutory holiday,

(b) subject to paragraph (a), on a Sunday, except between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time for the person contacted, or

(c) on any other day, except between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time for the person contacted.

Cost of communication

119  A collector must not communicate or attempt to communicate with a person for the purpose of collecting, negotiating or demanding payment of a debt by a means that results in the costs of the communication being payable by the person.

Collection from person not liable for debt or in excess of amount of debt

120  A collector must not

(a) collect or attempt to collect money that exceeds the amount of the debt owing,

(b) collect or attempt to collect money from a person who is not liable for the debt, or

(c) if a person has informed the collector that the person is not the debtor, continue to communicate with that person unless the collector first makes all reasonable efforts to ensure that the person is in fact the debtor.

Legal proceedings

121  (1) If a debt has been assigned to a collector, the collector must not

(a) bring or continue a legal proceeding for the recovery of a debt as plaintiff unless the debtor has been given notice of the assignment, or

(b) bring a legal proceeding unless the collector first gives notice to the debtor that the collector intends to bring the proceeding.

(2) A collector must not recommend to a creditor that a legal proceeding be brought, unless the collector first gives notice to the debtor that the collector intends to recommend that a proceeding be brought.

(3) Nothing in subsection (2) affects solicitor-client privilege.

(4) A collector must not directly or indirectly threaten, or state an intention, to bring or continue a legal proceeding for the recovery of a debt

(a) for which the collector does not have the written authority of the creditor, or

(b) for which there is no lawful authority.

Removal, seizure, repossession and distress

122  A collector must not do any of the following, whether on the collector's own behalf or on behalf of another person, directly or indirectly:

(a) unless there is a court order to the contrary, remove from inside the debtor's private dwelling any personal property claimed under seizure, distress or repossession, in the absence of the debtor, the debtor's spouse, the debtor's agent or an adult resident in the debtor's dwelling;

(b) seize, repossess or levy distress against personal property that is not specifically charged or mortgaged, or to which legal claim may not be made under a statute, court judgment or court order;

(c) remove, seize, repossess or levy distress against personal property during a day or during the hours of a day when removal, seizure, repossession or distress is prohibited by the regulations.

False or misleading information and misrepresentations

123  In collecting or attempting to collect payment of a debt, a collector must not

(a) supply any false or misleading information,

(b) misrepresent the purpose of a communication,

(c) misrepresent the identity of the collector or, if different, the creditor, or

(d) use, without lawful authority, a summons, notice, demand, or other document that suggests or implies a connection with any court inside or outside of Canada.

Additional prohibited practices

124  A collector must not commit or engage in a prescribed act or practice.

Division 2 — Collection Agents and Debt Poolers

Definitions

125  In this Division:

"bailiff" means a person, whether in British Columbia or not, who in the course of business acts, or assists a person to act, on behalf of another person in repossessing, distraining or seizing any personal property or in evicting a person from property;

"collection agent" means a person, whether in British Columbia or not, who

(a) in the course of business collects or attempts to collect payment of a debt for another person, or

(b) in the course of business takes an assignment of a debt due to another person for the purpose of collecting or attempting to collect payment of the debt,

and includes a bailiff;

"debt pooler" means a person, whether in British Columbia or not, who in the course of business arranges or operates a debt pooling system;

"debt pooling system" means an arrangement or procedure under which a debtor pays to a debt pooler money to be distributed or paid, according to a system, by that debt pooler to 3 or more creditors of the debtor.

Accounting for and payment of money collected

126  (1) In this section, "administrator" has the same meaning as in the Unclaimed Property Act.

(2) A collection agent or debt pooler must do the following without notice or demand:

(a) account for and pay the money collected, less the collection agent or debt pooler's proper charges, to the creditor on whose behalf the money was collected

(i)   within 30 days after the end of a month during which the collection agent or debt pooler collected $100 or more for a creditor, or

(ii)   within 60 days after the end of a month during which the collection agent or debt pooler collected less than $100 for a creditor;

(b) if the collection agent or debt pooler cannot locate the creditor within the applicable period of time under paragraph (a), pay the money, without deduction, within 60 days to the debtor from whom it was collected;

(c) if the collection agent or debt pooler has collected from a debtor more money than the amount owing to the debtor's creditors, pay any surplus money, without deduction, within 60 days to the debtor;

(d) if the collection agent or debt pooler cannot locate the debtor to whom money is due under paragraph (b) or (c), pay the money to the administrator within 7 days after the end of the applicable period of time under those paragraphs.

(3) If the director, or a creditor or debtor who is entitled to money collected, makes demand, the collection agent or debt pooler must immediately account for the money collected and pay it to the person who is entitled under this section.

(4) Money paid to the administrator under subsection (2) (d) is deemed to be an unclaimed money deposit under the Unclaimed Property Act.

Debt pooling

127  (1) If, under a debt pooling system, a debtor pays money to a debt pooler for distribution to the debtor's creditors, that debt pooler

(a) must not act for or represent any of the creditors, and

(b) is deemed to act for and represent the debtor.

(2) A contract between a debt pooler and a debtor must be in writing and signed by the debtor.

(3) A debt pooler must not charge fees or disbursements in excess of the prescribed amount.

Collection agent and bailiff fees and disbursements

128  (1) A collection agent must not charge the collection agent's fees and disbursements to a debtor except as authorized by an enactment.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (3), a bailiff's reasonable fees and disbursements are deemed to be part of the amount owing by the debtor.

(3) A bailiff may collect the amount of the debt from the debtor instead of repossessing, distraining or seizing any personal property.

(4) Despite an agreement to the contrary between a debtor and a creditor,

(a) any charges, except fees and disbursements deemed under subsection (2) and charges authorized under section 75 (b) [default charges], made or incurred by a collection agent or made or incurred by a creditor in employing a collection agent to collect a debt, are not part of the amount owing by the debtor, and

(b) a collection agent must not collect from the debtor any charges that are not part of the amount owing by the debtor.

Contents  |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  4.1  |  5  |  6  |  6.1  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |  12  |  13  |  14  |  15