On January 10, 2012, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada issued a consumer alert warning of the pitfalls in dealing with debt reduction companies. Among the things to watch out for are misleading information about getting protection from creditors and protecting your credit rating, claims about having governmental involvement or approval and other false statements.
For more information on the alert, please refer to the FCAC website.
On a provincial basis, the Manitoba Government has amended the Consumer Protection Act to further protect consumers in their dealings with debt reduction companies. Specifically, any such agency operating in Manitoba must now be licensed by the provincial government. In addition, upfront charges/fees are prohibited and total fees have been capped to a maximum of 10% of the debt owed.
For more information refer to the Government of Manitoba website
Where to Turn for Advice
Not sure where to turn for advice? Consider that many Licensed Trustees in Bankruptcy provide a free, no obligation assessment of your financial situation that helps you to explore and consider all of the options available in relation to your own unique situation. Bankruptcy is not the only option provided by Trustees. Other options include a consumer proposal, orderly payment debt (available only in certain provinces), or perhaps your issue is one that requires debt counseling or development of budgeting skills. In summary, the assessment will provide you with the foundation to make a proper decision on how to move forward.
Watch also for the designation of CIRP or Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional. Even before passing an Oral Board Examination to obtain a Trustee license from Industry Canada, we have gone through a difficult course of study to obtain the professional designation of CIRP. Within this process, we have also obtained certification as a Qualified Debt Counselor.
Only a Trustee in Bankruptcy, licensed by Industry Canada, can provide solutions to debt problems that include a formal, legislated stay of proceedings that protects you from garnishment, stops creditor calls and other collection efforts.
Brad Milne, CIRP
Trustee in Bankruptcy