Can creditors keep calling me after I’ve filed a bankruptcy (or proposal)?
They said they didn’t get the papers from my Trustee, and won’t stop calling until they do!
Once a proceeding has been filed with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, which could be either a Consumer Proposal, Division 1 Proposal, or bankruptcy, a “stay of proceedings” is put in place. A stay of proceedings means that your creditors must stop all collection actions unless there is an exception prescribed in law, or a Court orders otherwise. That includes phone calls, emails, and threats. It can stop garnishments from starting, or if they have already in place, it can stop them, excluding garnishments for spousal or child support.
So they are supposed to stop calling, but why don’t they know about my bankruptcy?
Trustees are required to send the documents regarding your file to the head office for each creditor within the required timeframe (5 days in a bankruptcy, 10 days in a Consumer Proposal), and have an incentive to send the information sooner, rather than later. As most Trustees send this information electronically where possible, creditors have the information to process reasonably quickly after the proposal has been filed. However, it is not uncommon, especially in large financial institutions, for there to be a delay between the time that you file with your Trustee and the time that your creditor enters that information in their system, which will stop the phone calls.
So what do I do until they update their records? I need these phone calls to stop!
When a creditor contacts you but does not have a record of your bankruptcy or proposal, we would suggest a three-step approach:
1. Check your list
Confirm that the creditor was on the list of debts that you provided to your Trustee. This is the list your Trustee will use when sending out the information. If it turns out you forgot a creditor, contact your Trustee, and provide them with the contact information for the person who contacted you (name, phone number, file number). Your Trustee will provide you with information specific to your file, but in most cases, if the file is just started, the Trustee will be able to add the creditor to the list and provide them with the documentation.
2. Provide your Estate Number
If the creditor is on the list, provide them with your Estate number (which you can get from your Trustee), and the contact information for your Trustee (firm name, Trustee name, and phone number). Generally, we provide our clients with a business card to keep by their phone or in their wallet for this purpose. Keep a record of who contacted you, and the date and time that you provided the information to them. Should they contact you more than once, contact your provincial or territorial Consumer Protection office. In Manitoba, you can contact the Consumer Protection Office of Manitoba to file a complaint, and in the Northwest Territories, you can contact Consumer Affairs.
3. Contact your Trustee
If these steps don’t stop the phone calls, contact your Trustee. The more information you can provide them about the person or company contacting you, the better. It is our office’s practice to directly phone or email creditors who continue to contact debtors, even after documents are sent, to ensure that our clients get a reprieve from the phone calls and that the creditors are able to locate the account and participate in the process.
Should a creditor continue to contact you, even after receiving the documents, the creditor will be reported to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, using their complaint process.
In our experience, creditors will better be able to locate your account in their records and stop their collection calls, if you are able to provide your Trustee with your account number at the time your documentation is prepared. So while it’s not always mandatory to provide account numbers, it is most definitely helpful if you have them, to provide them.