Can debt collectors discuss your debt with your family members?

Wondering about who debt collectors might contact? We’ll walk you through what debt collectors can and can’t do when it comes to contacting people in your life. 

Can debt collectors contact your employer?

Yes, a debt collector can reach out to your boss—but only to confirm basic personal details. They can call your workplace or employer to confirm your employment status and the business address. Another reason they might call your employer is to determine your home address or phone number. They cannot discuss the amount of your debt with anyone. That would violate your rights, and it’s not permitted under either federal or provincial laws.

Can debt collectors contact your family members?

The short answer: Yes. Debt collectors are permitted to contact your family, friends and neighbours under the following two circumstances:

  1. They’re looking for your address or phone number.
  2. The person they’re calling guaranteed or co-signed your loan.

However, collectors are very limited in what they can say to people other than you.

Can debt collectors discuss your debt with family members?

Just to reiterate, no, debt collectors cannot discuss your debt with anyone other than you, including family members. Collections agencies can only contact family members under the specific circumstances noted above.

If a debt collector tells your family members, even your spouse, about your debt information, you should report the collector to your province’s or territory’s consumer affairs office. The Canadian government says you have certain rights when dealing with the debt department of a financial institution, like a credit union or a bank, and provincial legislation says similar rules apply for private lenders.

For example, Ontario’s Collection and Debt Services Act 1990 has clear rules about confidentiality. The law states that anyone collecting debt must maintain confidentiality and not communicate debt information to anyone other than law enforcement, a relevant government agency, the debtor’s counsel, or anyone the debtor permits them to contact. (More on your rights.) 

Bottom line: Debt collectors can’t call your family members and discuss your debts with them. 


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