On July 5, 2004, responsibility for oversight of business practices and consumer protection in British Columbia was delegated from the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General to the new, independent Consumer Protection BC, or CPBC.
CPBC is responsible for BC consumer protection activities including investigations and enforcement under a new Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act and Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act , regulation of targeted industry groups, and information and mediation services offered through a toll free BC consumer complaint centre.
Moving consumer protection services to the new CPBC will increase industry and consumer involvement in consumer protection, enhance oversight of regulated industries, provide more emphasis on consumer education, and increase the focus on critical industry and consumer issues.
Go to www.bpcpa.ca to enter the CPBC site. If you do not have access to the internet, you may contact the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority at toll free 1-888-564-9963 or locally at 604-320-1667 and fax at 604-320-1663 .
IN B.C. THESE ARE YOUR RIGHTS:
1. Debt collectors are entitled to get a court judgment and garnishee your wages. However, their immediate goal is usually to resolve the case through voluntary co-operation.
2. Debt collectors cannot make abusive phone calls, harass or be misleading.
3. They cannot contact you at work after being told to stop.
4. They cannot make telephone calls at unreasonable times of the day.
5. They cannot misrepresent themselves in order to locate debtors.
6. They cannot use profanity or verbal abuse.
7. They must provide clear identification.
8. They cannot demand payment from consumers whose ONLY source of income is social service assistance.
9. A collector must refrain from making contact with a debtor while the debtor is engaged in a period of extreme duress, family crisis, special celebration, or similar extraordinary event.
10. A collector must not mail a letter to the debtor's place of employment in an envelope indicating the name of the collection agency and which is not clearly marked personal & confidential.
11. All collection activity apart from legal action is prohibited after a debtor or debtor's representative advises the collector or creditor, in writing, that a claim is disputed.
12. All collection activity apart from legal action is prohibited after the creditor or their agent refuse to accept a payment schedule offered by the debtor if the schedule is represented by the debtor as the maximum amount and shortest repayment period that the debtor can afford.
13. A threat to immediately garnishee wages of a debtor or seize the debtor's assets where a judgment has not been obtained is prohibited.
14. Credit Reporting agencies have minimum debt amounts that they will accept for reporting purposes and some reporting agencies will not accept information for reporting purposes that arises from non payment of parking fines or tickets. Collection agents are urged to consult with their credit reporting agencies to determine the policies of the reporting agencies with regard to small amounts and parking fines or tickets. Collection agents and collectors must not threaten to report parking fines unless their credit-reporting agency actually accepts such reports. This directive does not apply to the reporting of judgments that are obtained for parking violations.
HERE IS WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE CONTACTED BY A DEBT COLLECTOR:
1. Keep a diary.
2. Record conversations.
3. Try to negotiate with your creditor BEFORE the debt goes to collection.
4. Once your debt goes to collection try to cooperate with agency and its management.
5. Complain to the agency, senior management, the original creditor and the government: Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority at 1-888-564-9963 or go to their website at www.bpcpa.ca .
For further information on this subject, contact DIAL-A-LAW at (604) 687-4680.