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Thread: Terrorism by Telephone
12-28-2010, 07:47 PM #1
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- Welland, Ontario, Canada
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Terrorism by Telephone
If any of you have ever been in debt - I mean, really really behind, you will understand why I still cringe every time the telephone rings.
The tactics that are considered legal by bill collectors in Canada are nothing short of terroristic harassment.
Before I "disappeared" I got no less than 30 calls a day from creditors. I got 2-3 calls a day from friends or kids or the school. That means that whenever the phone rang chances were good that it was someone wanting money. I began to have a Pavlovian jaw clench every time I heard the phone ring.
Initially, I tried answering the calls. However, I soon discovered if you can't make arrangements to pay, there is no point to talking to the person on the other end of the line. I attempted to be polite - after all - I owe this money and these people are just doing a job.
But courtesy got me absolutely nowhere. Abrasively, they would reply to me that I was "stealing" by not paying the bill immediately, they would ask if I had ever had an intention of paying they bill, they would begin to ask personal questions about what other bills I had and whether or not I was behind on those bills too.
So I proceeded to screen my calls.
This led to the messages. Sometimes I would come home to over 20 messages on my answering machine. I can't really describe the stress felt when one message after another was a person representing a collection agency calling to "discuss a personal financial matter." I couldn't delete them fast enough to keep the anxiety at bay.
Then came the very vivid day when collector actually SHOWED UP AT MY DOOR. I felt invaded, paralyzed, nearly raped by his appearance. I sent my daughter into the house, told the man never to come there again and when he wouldn't stop questioning me, picked up the phone to call the police, which finally made him leave. I was shaking for days after that and every knock at the door made me want to hide under the table until the person went away.
That's when I decided to vanish.
I began to plan the best way to disappear. I figured that every place that had my address and phone number was one more way for bill collectors and creditors to track me down. I searched only for apartments that were not in buildings run by corporations that would run credit checks and keep records of their tenants. I looked only at places that had all utilities paid - including cable and internet. I finally found the perfect spot, an adorable but tiny apartment in an owner-occupied duplex with everything paid for.
My phone was not set up under my name and is unlisted.
My settings on Facebook are the most private settings available.
I don't give anyone my home phone number.
My workplace does not have my home address.
The only place that has my actual address and telephone number is the Ministry of Transportation and Revenue Canada, and that is only because I could find no legal way to get around it. The government really loves to know where you are.
This experience has been life-altering. I used to trustingly give out personal information at the fair, hoping to win some prize or another. I used to keep track of all sorts of bonus points and programs from Shopper's Drug Mart and Zellers. I used to have numerous magazine subscriptions. I had my city and workplace listed on Facebook for all to see. I'll never be that open again.
It is tough - I feel guilty, like a criminal hiding from the law. I know that I owe that money. I wish that I could pay it. However, I have the right not to be constantly harassed and hunted.
The way the collection agencies work - well, it's nothing more than legalized stalking. Did you know that collection agencies can look at your credit information at will, and if you have filled out a credit application somewhere, your personal information is updated on that site? There are so many places that you can be found.
If anyone is reading this who has not been in extreme debt and been at the mercy of an army of collection agents, you will probably think I'm crazy. You might look at this situation and feel like I'm over-reacting or that I'm some kind of spineless idiot, or perhaps a conspiracy theorist.
But to paraphrase the old saying, are you paranoid if everyone really is looking for you?
- 12-28-2010, 07:57 PM #2
Been there, still am to some extent. However There are recourses in the US. Hopefully there are some in your area too. It sounds silly as all get out, but I called on of the TV lawyers that advertise that they can help you if you are being harassed by bill collectors. I found one that was amazing. And she cost me...nothing. The law firm fights for you and rolls their cost into what they "go after" the collectors for when they are being abusive and harassing here. I don't know the laws there, but here it's illegal for the collectionhs companies to harass like that. Keep track of everything you can. I hope you find peace, can get back on your feet, and when you are able to pay, I hope the collection companies are willing to be civil.
03-19-2011, 10:25 PM #3
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Oh my. . .bless your heart. That is just unbelievable!!! I don't blame you one bit for the actions you've taken. You were pretty much boxed into a corner where it was your only recourse. I'm sure you felt on the verge of having a nervous breakdown because of it. And then to have them come to your house and not leave??? Scary!! It is a form of terrorism and I'm surprised that Canada allows it.~ Lori ~
03-20-2011, 12:51 AM #4
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I first want to say; I'm sorry this was happening to you. My dh has a seasonal job and when you don't have money; you don't have money.
I have never been in extreme debt and I do BELIEVE you.!!!! I had BOA (niko will love this one) calling me for 3 months and leaving messages that we owed money. I have NEVER owed them money and I was being harassed because we have a common last name and it was just looked up. AND while the credit reporting agencies make or break you with credit scores; they are busy giving or selling your name and address to any creditor who wants it!!!
03-22-2011, 06:02 PM #5
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That is truly horrendous. As said above, here in the US there are some protections against that kind of behavior, but unfortunately, many victims are not aware of their rights.
I did a quick google and it looks like there are some similar laws of protection in Canada. I wonder if you would have been able to pursue these prior to your "vanishing". Here in the US, violations can result in some pretty nasty monetary settlements from the debt collectors.
Canadian debt collection rules. Debt collection in Canada.
Debt Collection Laws
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