You know the situation is serious and you need some professional help to accomplish your goals. It is time to prioritize paying off your debts so you can build a better future.
Talk to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee
A Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) is a professional who is licensed by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. They are legally and ethically bound to provide accurate, unbiased debt advice and they are subject to reviews and audits to ensure adherence to standards of practice.
As part of their duties, LIT s are required to undertake an assessment of your financial situation and to identify and discuss all options available to you to help resolve financial difficulties and assist in determining whether an insolvency option or a non-insolvency option is appropriate.
Many LITs may provide a free, initial consultation.
After reviewing your financial situation the LIT may recommend one of the following options:
- Talk to your creditors
- Consolidate your debts
- A Debt Management Plan
- Consumer Proposal
Talk to your creditors
Talking directly with your creditors can be intimidating, but remember, it is in their best interest to help you find a way to pay off your debts. If you are having difficulty making minimum payments on a line of credit or a credit card, it is always worth trying to talk directly to your creditors. Most credit issuers in Canada have programs that can grant you a payment break or lower your minimum payments. Make sure that you fully understand the impact of any agreements you make with your creditors.
It is often better to be accompanied by a qualified professional engaged by you in your discussions with your creditors.
Consider consolidating your debts
You can simplify your debt payments by combining all of your debts and transferring them to a single creditor—in most cases, your bank. Instead of paying off multiple creditors, you will then only have to pay off one. This option could be more affordable and easier to manage if the interest rates and terms of a consolidation loan are better than those of the individual creditors. Make sure you shop around for the best rates.
Debt Management Plans (DMP)
A Debt Management Plan may be the right option for you. A DMP is a voluntary agreement with some or all of your creditors that often includes interest relief and the payment of your debts over time. You are under no obligation to agree. You should consult a reputable, provincially regulated credit counsellor or credit counselling agency who offers this service. Remember, before agreeing to a DMP, be sure you understand what the full financial impact will be on you.
Orderly Payment of Debts (Alberta only)
If you are a resident of Alberta, you can voluntarily seek out a legal proceeding called a consolidation order (also known as an orderly payment of debt (OPD)) to help you make your payments. With a consolidation order, the provincial court combines all your debts into one and determines the amount that you must pay to the court periodically. The court will then ensure that payments are made to your creditors on your behalf.
Voluntary Deposit Service (Quebec only)
If you are a resident of Quebec, you can register at the nearest courthouse for the province’s Voluntary Deposit Service.
Under this program, you deposit money with the court monthly. The size of these payments is based on your income and number of dependents. The court then distributes the money to your creditors.
Beware of unregulated, unlicensed debt advisors that claim to be authorized to assist with debt relief solutions. Some charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for services they are not licensed to provide. Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics or unrealistic promises to quickly solve your debt problems or to fix your credit score. Signs may include high fees, high interest rates, delayed payments and advisors encouraging you to make further advances on your credit card or take out a high-interest loan to pay their fees.
If your situation is more serious, an LIT may recommend that you look at other options such as a consumer proposal or bankruptcy for you to get your debt under control. Explore other options.