Thunder Bay Counselling Centre Supports Proposed Legislation

Thunder Bay Counselling

Business Thunder BayTHUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Counselling Centre is supporting proposed legislation from the Ontario Government that aims to protect consumers from debt settlement companies. Currently there are over 20 debt settlement companies operating in Ontario, providing services to residents of Thunder Bay online, or by telephone.

“Many consumers don’t fully understand debt settlement companies and the impact their practices can have on a person’s credit rating. There is a lack of information and transparency about what services consumers receive from these companies, who usually request fees upfront. Many consumers see no return for the fees they pay,” says Nancy Chamberlain, Executive Director of the Thunder Bay Counselling Centre.

Typically, debt settlement companies collect funds fromclients in the hope of negotiating settlements with creditors on the client’s behalf at a future date.  The new proposed legislation bans debt settlement companies from charging upfront fees, will limit the amount of fees they can charge consumers, will require transparent contracts, and will implement a 10-day cooling off period for all contracts.

“This really stops the ‘quick fix’ misleading advertising and prevents abusive practices. Most consumers fail to recognize that they have other not-for-profit options directly in their communities, and can seek debt management help from accredited agencies,” says Chamberlain.

Thunder Bay Counselling Centre helps people understand their options based upon individual circumstances and ensures creditors areincluded in arrangements every step of the way. “Debt settlement companies often advise consumers not to talk to their creditors. This leads to a lack of communication with creditors that further impacts credit ratings, and can lead to additional money loss as well as personal stress,” continues Chamberlain.

Thunder Bay Counselling Centre is the leading provider of counselling, education and support services in the Thunder Bay area, serving the community for the last 45 years. The Centre offers a regulated Credit Counselling Program with free assessments and no appointment required.

Consumer debt is a national concern. According to Statistics Canada, for every dollar Canadians earn, they have $1.64 in unsecured debt, while the average consumer debt in Ontario is up to $25, 447 in the second quarter of 2012, compared to $24, 721 in the second quarter of 2011.

Thunder Bay Counselling Centre has been actively lobbying the Province for this type of legislation for several years as a member of the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services (OACCS). OACCS is a membership network of accredited not-for-profit Counselling Agencies with uniform standards of practice.

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