If you’ve ever had something go to collections then you know how terrible the experience can be. If you haven’t, try to imagine the harassing calls and the incessant requests for payments that you can’t afford. Now imagine you don’t actually owe a thing, but still receive the invasive calls for months on end. How annoying would that be?
For some Canadians, the above scenario isn’t imagined at all. It’s reality, one that is both frustrating and illegal. According to CBC News, employees of one of the country’s largest debt collection companies, iQor Canada, routinely calls people who don’t have unpaid debts.
Sometimes they have even collected on said ‘debts.’ Sometimes they call because they don't have a first name, so they call everyone with that last name in a given area. Sometimes those receiving the calls are related to the debtors. Other times they're unrelated, but have similar last names. Robert Buisson of Laval, Quebec told CBC that he was harassed by iQor Canada for a $90 Rogers bill that was not only paid, but didn’t even belong to him (it belonged to his father). The company called Buisson continuously for over a year and half – even months after his father had died.
The story is similar for Toronto couple, Randy and Nina Walsh, who told CBC that iQor had called them several times a week for eight months.
“The calls were nothing short of harassment,” Walsh told CBC. “After about four or five months, the calls were driving us crazy.”
After many months, the Walshs contacted the Better Business Bureau to have the calls stopped.
In another incident, Emanuel Carvalho of Markham, Ontario told CBC that although he’s never had outstanding debt, he received voicemail messages from iQor for over six months.
“They better get their act straight and indeed find out who [are] the real people they should be contacting,” Carvalho told CBC. “That’s their job.”
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of complaints against iQor. A CBC News investigation found that the company has been fined several times this year already. In fact, hundreds of complaints have been filed over the past few years, the investigation found.
Former employees, who wished to remain anonymous, confided that they were told to contact the names on their lists, regardless of whether or not they were the right people.
“[The company] just pays us to call them and we call them and we don’t bother with if it’s honest or not,” a former worker told CBC. He believes that some of the non-debtors actually paid for debts they didn’t owe either.
“People paid bills they had no idea where they came from just because they wanted to unblock their credit, or stop being called,” said one former employee.
In a written statement, iQor said, “iQor takes seriously any call to a wrong number and regrets the inconvenience caused to any consumer as a result.”
That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been infractions, though. iQor has been fined in provinces across Canada, and in the U.S. This year alone, iQor has been fined $51,420 in Canada for violating provincial regulations, including continuously harassing non-debtors. In the U.S., a subsidiary of iQor, Allied Interstate Inc., was fined $1.75 million dollars for attempting to collect from non-debtors, for using abusive language, and making repeated, harassing phone calls.
Have you ever received harassing calls for debt that you didn’t have?
Collection agency harasses debt-free Canadians - Finance Blog | How to Budget (external - login to view)
Anyone had any experiences with these clowns? This company IQor in particular I've seen mentioned quite a bit. I had a period of time where they kept calling (they use different numbers and keep changing them but you can google and it'll come up)and asking for a name where the only similarity to mine was the first letter of the first and last name matched mine. It felt like a fishing expedition so I just said no one here by that name and then stopped answering if I saw the number, eventually I got rid of my home line anyway and went completely cellular so it's no longer a problem. Besides the fact that I'm up to date on all my bills, even on the off, off, off chance that it was some long ago Blockbuster late rental that I'd forgotten about or something similar, I had just moved to a different city, different address and different phone number than any creditor would have had anyway.
I don't think people really know too much about the legislation surrounding collection agencies and what consumers rights are. There's such a stigma around debt and being 'behind' in payments that it's not something people will often talk about. But it's shameful to think that some people end up paying for a debt that's not even theirs simply our of fear and because of the underhanded tactics of these companies.