Yes, if you owe money, a collection agent is permitted to call your work, or call your employer.
Collection agencies are provincially regulated, so the rules are slightly different in each province in Canada. For example, you can read the Collection Agencies Act of Ontario here. However the legislation is fairly similar across Canada.
Collection agents are prohibited from attempting to collect more than the full balance owed, and they must reveal the name of the company they are collecting for, but there are no specific rules governing whether or not they can call you at work.
There are two reasons why a bill collector would contact your work:
First, they want to scare you. They assume that if they contact you at work you will take it seriously, and be more likely to pay them, since you don’t want to be embarrassed at work.
Second, they want to confirm where you work, so that they can take steps to take you to court to garnishee your wages. There is no point in attempting a wage garnishment if the debtor isn’t working, so confirming employment is often the first step in a court action to garnishee wages.
What Should I Do If I Am Getting Collection Calls At Work?
If you are getting collection calls at work because you owe money, you should take steps to deal with the debt. Once bill collectors start calling, it is unlikely that they will give up and stop calling. They want their money, and now that they have confirmed where you work, it is more likely that they will escalate their efforts to the next step: legal action.
If you have the ability to make a settlement or payment offer to them, do it. Don’t ever promise more than you can afford, but if you can afford to pay them $200 per month, make them the offer. They may or may not accept it. Even better, if you have the ability to make a lump sum settlement offer, do it. If you owe $4,000, the collector may be willing to accept a cash settlement offer of $2,000 and write off the rest. Obviously you will want to get written confirmation from them that your offer is acceptable before you forward the money.
If you don’t have the ability to make a deal, or if they won’t accept your offer, it’s time to go to the next step, and to contact a consumer proposal administrator or bankruptcy trustee to review your options.
Collection calls won’t stop until you deal with the debt, so the sooner you take action, the sooner the phone calls at work will stop.