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Need some advice on how to deal with your debt? Have your found yourself facing a financial crisis, or are you just plain tired of making monthly payments that never seem to get you ahead? When it comes to finances there are experts in every area, and it’s important to get advice from the right source at every step – debt management professionals included.

Sands & Associates Senior Vice-President and Licensed Insolvency Trustee Blair Mantin joined CTV News Vancouver to outline some key considerations that BC consumers should know when it comes to accessing debt help services.

Watch the clip here and read more below:

Getting Debt Advice & Debt Solutions

Debt continues to be a big challenge for Canadians, and consumers should be aware that there is only one debt help professional that the government of Canada fully empowers and endorses to help Canadians with debt – a Licensed Insolvency Trustee:

Licensed Insolvency Trustees carry the legal authority and expertise to help you get out of debt using legislated solutions. Multiple options are accessible working with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, including Consumer Proposals to consolidate and cut debt, or bankruptcy to get full debt forgiveness.

The advice and education on resources and legislation that exists for consumers facing unmanageable debt is invaluable – and often gives people access to a debt solution of which they were otherwise unaware.

No matter where you are at financially, “life happens” and knowing where resources are in the event life takes an unexpected turn can be crucial. Licensed Insolvency Trustees help people in a wide range of situations, and there are many reasons why a person or business might seek debt advice:

  • Explaining your legal rights and remedies when it comes to debt
  • Whether a debt is collectable
  • What to do when you cannot pay a debt
  • Providing knowledge of and solutions for virtually all types of debts

Besides Licensed Insolvency Trustees, some other debt service providers you might commonly encounter include:

Debt Settlement Companies: Debt settlement companies may offer services under many different names such as: Debt consolidation, Debt negotiation, Debt pooling, Debt relief, Debt arbitration.

  • Essentially the debt settlement agency will offer your creditors a lump sum of money (often lower than what you owe) to clear your debt. If your creditors agree to the offer then you will pay the agreed upon amount to the debt settlement agent, who will then pay your creditors.
  • Your creditors may not negotiate with this type of company and may not agree to the offer either.
  • These companies often charge high fees and may charge you even if creditors refuse your offer.
  • Be especially aware of “too good to be true” promises, including immediate credit repair claims, and watch out for high-pressure sales tactics.

Credit Counsellors: Both for-profit and non-profit, with services including: Financial counselling, courses and tips; debt management plans.

  • A debt management plan is an informal offer to your creditors that allows you to repay your debts in one monthly payment. You may not have to pay any interest on the debts eligible to be included in the debt management plan, but you will be required to repay 100% of the debts you owe.
  • Some creditors will only work with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (such as government creditors) so if you choose a credit counselling program those debts would need to be paid separately.
  • You will normally make monthly payments to the credit counsellor and they will pay your creditors who accept your debt repayment plan.
  • Your creditors may agree to stop pursuing you with collection actions or agents, but a credit counsellor has no legal authority to guarantee this or stop them from contacting you.
  • No specific licensing or education/training is required to operate as a credit counsellor. Be cautious of advertising promises, sales tactics and fees.
  • Some credit counsellors may promote their debt management plans over other options you have, as they make money from creditors, getting a percentage of the debt they recover via your settlement.

Understand More About the Differences Between Credit Counselling and Consumer Proposals

Where Should I Start When Getting Debt Help?

The easiest way to ensure you are getting accurate and impartial debt advice in Canada is by connecting with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, and virtually all offer a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation and assess ALL potential options to address your debts.

  • You could have multiple options that would work for your specific situation and in less than an hour you can gain insights into strategies and resources that can allow you to stop debt-stress and get a debt-free plan.

Everyone’s situation is different – consider what is important to you in a debt solution. For example:

  • For many people seeking a better way to consolidate debt, and the lowest monthly payments possible, a Consumer Proposal may be the most suitable option, since there is no interest charged and you can also cut how much debt is repaid.
  • If you want to be assured that your creditors cannot go back on their agreement or resume collection action, seek a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. No other professional can enforce these points – a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can even halt wage garnishments and asset seizures from Canada Revenue Agency.

You might want to ask yourself some of the following questions as you consider possible solutions:

  • What types of debt do you have?
    • What types can the solution you are considering manage?
    • What kind of creditor agreement and protection do you need?
  • How much of your debt can you afford to repay?
  • How long will you be making debt payments?
  • How much will your monthly debt payments be in total? Are there fees on top of this?
  • What happens if you miss a payment?

If you or someone you know needs assistance managing debts, guidance on how to deal with creditors, or just some free advice and a helpful conversation about debt solutions available in BC, remember that:

  • The first step of reaching out for help is often the hardest – but avoid delaying seeking advice or asking for help. It can be difficult to admit when we need help, or to overcome feelings of embarrassment in seeking advice. We are here to help you, not to judge the circumstances that brought you to us. You are not alone!
  • Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable and confident in your decision. Most people have little to no experience with the legalities of debt solutions.
  • No referral is needed to connect with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee and there is no cost to talk and get some guidance. You are also under no obligation to take further action after the first meeting – if nothing else, it can just be free, helpful advice.

Get debt advice, and a plan to be debt-free! Book your free confidential consultation with a caring Sands & Associates debt help specialist today.