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As Licensed Insolvency Trustees, we have the legal authority and expertise to help you get out of debt. For many people that come to see us, some of the best value we provide is to give coaching and education about what resources exist for consumers faced with more debt than they can handle.

Blair Mantin, Vancouver Licensed Insolvency Trustee and Vice-President of Sands & Associates joined Global News to talk about debt solutions BC residents can access that they might not be aware of.

Watch the clip here, and learn more below:

4 Resources That Can Help You Deal with Debt:

1. Statute of Limitations on Debt

We often help people who are dealing with old debts that they just haven’t been able to pay off. What a lot of people don’t know is that there is a Statute of Limitations on Debt.

In the province of British Columbia, the Limitation Act sets out a limitation period which caps the length of time people are able to take action against you (i.e. to sue) for a debt owing.

  • BC has a two-year basic liability limitation period, which is two years after:
    • The date an unsecured debt was incurred;
    • The last payment against it was made; or
    • The last written acknowledgment of the debt by the person who owes the money
  • What this means is: If it has been two years (or more) since you incurred the debt, made a payment on the debt, or acknowledged the debt – the creditor who is owed the money can no longer take legal action against you to force you to pay.
    • Timing is crucial to this resource – certain actions can restart the two-year period.
    • Be very careful about making ‘partial’ or ‘good faith’ payments – no matter how small, any payment can reset the two-year clock!

Caution: Not all debts will be subject to this limitation period, such as:

    • Debts that you have already been sued for and are required to pay;
    • Debts owing to government bodies like Canada Revenue Agency or student loans;
    • Arrears of child or spousal support.

2. Request for Communication in Writing Only

If someone is going to “wait out” the two-year Statute of Limitations period, or they’re suffering endless collection agent and debt collector calls, a Request for Communication in Writing Only is a great resource.

  • Consumer protection laws in BC give consumers the legal right to require that your creditors contact you in writing only.
  • Most people find it much easier to deal with a written debt collection notice, rather than having to react in real-time to a collection agent who may be using very aggressive and even potentially threatening language.
  • To request that a debt collector contact you in writing only, you will need to:
    • Notify the collection agency in writing;
    • Send your written request using a method that gives you proof of its delivery (i.e. Fax, registered mail, or email);
    • Keep a copy of the request for your records.

Caution: Make sure you open your mail regularly! Just because creditors are no longer calling doesn’t mean that they are taking no action at all.

3. Access your Credit Report (for Free!)

Most people are aware of whether they are paying their bills on time or not, but in our experience, very few people periodically check their credit report to ensure accuracy until they’re actually faced with a situation of needing to borrow money.

  • If there’s a problem on your credit report (such as identity theft, or even just a clerical error), it will take time to correct. You will need to open an investigation with each bureau and provide relevant documentation to get your report corrected.
  • If you’re trying to secure financing (like a mortgage or car loan) you may not have planned for a delay of weeks or months to correct an inaccuracy on your credit report.
  • You are entitled to get a copy of your long-form written credit report once a year from each of the credit bureaus in Canada.
    • Credit History Request Forms can be found here

Quick Tip: If you need to see a list of your credit accounts (debts) immediately, you can review your “Consumer Disclosure” online, then later request your full Credit History Report.

4. Government Debt Forgiveness

Unlike most debts, you can’t “wait out” the government if you owe them money. Many Canadians mistakenly believe that there’s nothing that can be done to legally write-off government debts, but there are in fact two ways to accomplish this.

  • If you are trying to deal with government debts such as balances owing for income taxes, business GST, federal and provincial student loans, or even MSP and ICBC debts – there are two federally legislated debt solutions that can wipe out these government debts:
  • Filing a Consumer Proposal: A Consumer Proposal allows you to consolidate, reduce and settle your debts for less than what you owe. Consumer Proposals are the only method of debt negotiation that government-body creditors will accept to reduce your debts, besides a personal bankruptcy.
  • Filing a Personal Bankruptcy: No creditor or other party can prevent you from seeking the protection of personal bankruptcy legislation should you be unable to repay your debts in full.

Caution: Only a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help you deal with government debts; these two specialized debt management options are only available with the help of bankruptcy and debt consolidation experts – Licensed Insolvency Trustees.

At Sands & Associates we truly believe that “Knowing is Not Owing”!

To learn more about these resources, and other solutions to deal with debt, meet with a local Licensed Insolvency Trustee for a free debt consultation. It may take less than an hour of your time to find your best debt solution.