Consumer debtor protection companies in Canada - Before working with a debt consolidation company, debt relief agency, or credit counselling service make sure to check out their track record for reviews and complaints (these should be very limited) that may shed light on their business practices. According to popular TV debt expert and author Gail Vaz-Oxlade, “there are some credit counsellors out there who do not have the consumer’s best interest at heart” (source: Toronto radio interview on credit counselling). Here’s what to look for to identify the best Canadian organizations:
How to Find the Best Consumer Debtor Protection Companies - Review of What to Look for in Canada
- Complaints with Better Business Bureau (BBB) – Do they have a clean operating record with the Better Business Bureau with no complaints, or do they have a lot? The best credit counselling and consumer debtor protection companies in Canada have no complaints against them, and good companies might have one or two. However, some companies with a lot may try to explain away the derogatory information by claiming that they serve such large numbers of people that complaints are bound to happen. If this were true then why do some of the largest credit counselling organizations in Canada serve hundreds of thousands of people over many years without any complaints? Check out the Better Business Bureau to see if a company has any complaints.
- Certified Professional Counsellors – Are the organization’s Credit & Debt Counsellors or Financial Consultants professionally accredited or certified? Ask the company what kind of formal education they require of their counsellors or consultants, and how many of their staff members have been professionally certified. The Toronto Star, one of Canada’s largest newspapers, recently revealed that one of Canada’s largest credit counselling agencies doesn’t have any certified counsellors on staff even though they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and run radio and TV ads all over the country. Unfortunately, you can’t just assume that a company’s staff are professionally accredited. Make sure you ask.
The most recognized association for certifying credit counsellors and debt consultants is the Association for Financial Counselling and Planning Education.
- Reviewed & Accredited by Recognized National Association – Is the agency accredited by a nationally recognized national association? Being accredited by an independent national association ensures that an organization is accountable to its peers and adheres to industry best practices and a code of ethics and conduct. This also provides consumers with another avenue of recourse if they are unhappy with the service they have received from a member agency.
There are two recognized associations for credit counselling organizations in Canada. Make sure the agency that wants to help you is one of them:
- Licensed by Provincial Consumer Protection Authority – Each province of Canada has a consumer protection authority with a limited range of powers that it uses to protect debtors by regulating debt and interest relief companies. To hold your money in trust and then send it to your creditors on your behalf requires a license. You can search your province’s consumer protection authority website or call them to see if the company you are thinking of dealing with is licensed. If you call the authority, you can also ask them who they would recommend that you deal with. Many times these authorities are aware of complaints against certain companies and may be able to recommend the best organization in your area.
Click here for a government list of all provincial consumer protection authorities in Canada.
- Consumer Reviews – Because people often wish to keep their debt issues private, there typically aren’t a lot of reviews for credit counselling and debt help companies. However, if you can find some reviews, they can often be very insightful.
When you are looking for a debt relief, consolidation, or consumer debtor protection company your options in any part of Canada are not limited. The best credit counselling organizations not only have offices in many cities, but they can also help you over the phone too. We have put together a list of the non-profit organizations that we would recommend (click here to see the list). These companies all meet the criteria outlined on Gail Vaz-Oxlade's recent radio show where she discussed how to find the best credit counselling services.
Take the time to find a non-profit credit counselling service that you trust.