Legal Information - Consumer and Debt FAQ's

This page offers answers to questions most frequently asked by our clients regarding Consumer and Debt issues.


Q: Can I get out of an energy contract? 

A:   View our Energy Contracts Tip Sheet for information.  Call us if you are on social assistance and are trying to get out of an energy contract. 


Q.  When can my goods be repossessed?

A.  A seller can’t take back goods you’ve bought but not paid for fully, as long as you have paid two-thirds or more of the cost, except by court order. But remember, if you miss a payment, the seller can take you to court to get full payment, which could hurt your credit rating.


Q.  What is my credit rating?

A.  When you ask for credit or a loan a retailer or lending agency may want to verify the information in your application by checking with a credit bureau. These are private agencies that serve retailers and lenders by collecting information on borrowers from other credit-grantors and publicly available sources of information.

Starting with the first time you use credit, most of your borrowing transactions may be recorded by one of these agencies. Your file may also contain information on lawsuits, pending litigation or other matters of public record that might influence a lender’s decision.

 

All this information goes into your consumer report and helps establish your all-important credit rating.


Q.  How do I find out about my credit rating?

A.  You may be in touch with a credit bureau at any time to learn about your credit rating. Two of the most-used, national credit bureaus are:


Q.  How can I repair a bad credit rating?

A.  Ask the credit reporting agency that holds your file to show you what is in it.  If you find anything that is wrong or incomplete - and can prove it - the agency has to correct it, make the information complete or delete it.  If your file is corrected, the agency has to inform anyone you identify who has been given the old information in the past six months to a year.

The only sure way to improve a poor credit rating is to work with creditors and allow time to pass to show that your payment habits have improved.  Consumer reports should not contain a bankruptcy discharged more than seven years ago unless you have declared bankruptcy more than once.

If you're in serious debt, contact a credit counsellor.  Non-profit credit counselling services are available through the member agencies of the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services (OACCS) to help people control their debts and solve financial problems permanently.


Q.  What is a collection agency?

A.  A collection agency is an organization that obtains or arranges for payment of money owed to a third party; this could be a person or a company.

If you've been notified in writing that an account has been turned over to a collection agency, the agency wants to collect the money you owe its client.


Q.  What if I am being treated unfairly by a collection agency?

A.  There are many rules that collection agencies are required to follow and one of them is not to use threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language, or use undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure.  If this has happened to you, you may complain to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.  For more information on collection agencies, visit that Ministry's website.

 

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