The overall consumer debt in Canada has risen in the past decade. The 2008 financial crisis exacerbated this effect to a great extent. A large number of Canadians right now are steeped in debt because of student loans, mortgages, car loans, and other types of personal loans.
Getting into debt is easy. Getting out? Not so much. However, if you are truly motivated to get out of debt completely, there are numerous debt relief strategies that you can try in Canada. Here is a list of the most practical debt relief tactics with the best chances of getting complete debt relief in Canada:
Government Debt Relief Programs
These are the most reliable, safe, and affordable to get debt relief in Canada. If you have incurred debt under “honest but unfortunate” circumstances, you can apply for a consumer proposal with the government. Consumer proposals are applicable only to unsecured debts, like those incurred because of payday loans, credit cards, CRA taxes, and personal loans. Secured debts are currently not covered by consumer proposals. Some unsecured debts, such as court fines and child support, are also not covered by consumer proposals.
Simply put, a consumer proposal is a legally-binding agreement between the debtor and the creditor. These agreements list new terms for paying down a past debt. Normally, the debtor agrees to pay back a portion of the debt within 5 years. The proposal only becomes binding if all the creditors involved vote yes to approve. Consumer proposals are governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, so both parties have their rights addressed.
The debt payments will be made through a trustee. If you qualify for a consumer proposal, you will also receive free debt counseling and financial planning advice from a professional.
Settle the Debt Directly with the Creditor
Traditionally in Canada, debts were settled by directly negotiating with the creditor involved. If you default on a loan, it’s bad for both you and the creditor. You ruin your credit history, and the creditor gets nothing and has to write off a huge loss. Settling the debt out of court is less expensive for both parties as well. So, if you find yourself unable to repay a particular loan, instead of avoiding your creditors, talk to them. Explain your situation clearly and honestly. Negotiate with your creditor for a new set of terms to repay the loan. The creditor might write off a portion of the debt, extend a grace period or the repayment time frame, and could possibly reduce the monthly interest rate as well.
Seek Help from a Debt Relief Agency
There are private companies that help people get out of debt as well: https://www.lifeoncredit.ca/getting-out-of-debt-get-a-chance-with-debt-consolidation-loans/ However, this industry is rife with scammers. So, only seek a reputable debt relief agency and only if you are unable to negotiate with the creditor directly. A debt relief agent can assess your finances and negotiate a settlement with the creditor. This service is not for free. You will have to pay service charges. Make sure you understand how much the agency charges before you agree to their help.
The last resort for debt relief is bankruptcy. Do not apply for bankruptcy before trying at least one of the above mentioned tactics. Bankruptcy can make you ineligible for certain loans. Therefore, think carefully before applying. It’s best to seek professional debt counselling before you make any final decision regarding your debt.
Legal assistance can be very expensive, especially for low-income persons and families. The good news is that there are organizations and foundations that offer aid and a range of legal services.
Low-income persons benefit from legal services such as representation by a lawyer, community legal clinics, summary legal advice, referral and information, duty council, as well as toll-free telephone service. Legal assistance is also offered to persons experiencing domestic violence. The court’s staff and the legal aid duty counsel lawyer also offer assistance to persons who are charged with a crime.
If you are eligible for legal aid under a contribution agreement, then you have to cover a portion of the costs. There are different ways to find financing, one being a loan by a family member or friend. If you just need a small amount, you can ask your employer for a pay advance or you can apply for a small loan through a payday lender. For a list of lenders click here. If you have poor or fair credit, there are other alternatives to consider, including a secured credit card whereby you deposit a certain amount to serve as collateral. Using a credit card is also a good way to build credit with time provided that you make timely payments. If you qualify for free legal assistance, then you’ll have the full amount covered. In this case, you need to take and pass a financial test to determine whether you are eligible. You will be asked about your gross income, including salaried income and additional sources. The minimum income requirement is lower for single boarders.
Eligibility and Application
Eligibility is based on income level, and there are different thresholds depending on the number of family members in your household. One option is to apply through a certificate program and benefit from free legal assistance. The program will pay the costs of hiring a member of the private bar or an attorney to represent you in court. There are eligibility criteria to meet as well, including financial eligibility guidelines. Persons who own real estate or have some income may be entitled to get assistance under a contribution agreement. Assistance is usually offered in the form of a legal aid certificate whereby an attorney agrees to represent you in court for a pre-agreed number of hours. If you qualify under a contribution agreement, then you may be required to make monthly payments. This depends on your gross annual income. In case that you meet the eligibility criteria for legal aid, there is a range of services available, including family law services and community legal clinics. Customers are offered a number of family law services, including family duty council, law offices and service centers, information programs, mediation, and summary legal advice. Free advice and assistance are offered to persons dealing with complicated family matters. Assistance is available in court with a variety of matters, including child support and custody.
Whether you are going through divorce or complex litigation case, legal costs add up to the point where many are forced to look into different borrowing solutions. There are various options to consider, from traditional banks and unions to specialist lenders. The choice of lender depends on the fees involved, your income and credit score, and whether you need urgent cash to pay expenses.
A bank loan with a short term is one way to cover legal costs. Legal aid is not offered to meet the cost of dissolution or divorce but you can apply for a personal unsecured loan (https://www.lifeoncredit.ca/bad-credit-personal-loans-in-canada/) to cover court, solicitor, and other fees. This will add to the legal costs, and many consumers end up paying thousands of dollars. To this, it is important to shop around and find a low-cost loan with no prepayment penalties.
If you are a union member, you may visit your credit union and inquire about different options you have. Similar to banks, your credit score is one of the most important factors to measure risk.
Third Party Funding Services
There are funding services that offer loans to borrowers involved in commercial disputes, personal injury cases, structured settlement, workers’ compensation, and civil rights cases. Some borrowers resort to title loan companies and payday lenders but they charge higher interest rates. In some cases, the rate, term, and repayment schedule are heavily weighted, and this is a warning sign. On the good side, lenders promise quick approval and only require that borrowers have an active checking account and present a photo ID or driver’s license and proof of employment. If you need cash over a short period, this is a good starting point because traditional lenders request more documents and information and take more time to process your application. Find list of lenders here.
Peer to Peer Lending Services
Peer to peer loans are another option to cover expenses, and lending services often advertise lower fees than unions and banks. They also claim that they are able to offer competitive rates and terms because they are not standard operators. Unlike banks, they don’t pay salaries, utilities, and other expenses. Some peer to peer lenders require a cosigner or collateral to guarantee prompt repayment while others offer unsecured loans. Keep in mind that not everyone gets approved. Lending services also use scoring systems to assess creditworthiness and risk. Some will be willing to offer a loan to a borrower with a score of about 660 but many require a higher rating. Check lenders here: https://www.lifeoncredit.ca/
Credit Card Companies and Introductory Rates
Using a low-interest credit card (https://www.lifeoncredit.ca/find-a-low-interest-balance-transfer-credit-card/) allows borrowers to cut down on interest payments. Better yet, you may want to use a card with an introductory zero rate to meet legal expenses. The introductory offer is usually valid over a period of 6, 12, or 18 months. Avoid department store and specialty cards with heavy interest rates unless you have exhausted all other options you have.
One option is to cover legal expenses once a financial settlement has been reached. Some law firms offer this option. You may also think of valuables to sell or stuff you no longer need. You may also ask your friends or family for a short-term low-cost loan to cover the expenses.
Legal Services for Low Income Families, Payday Lenders, and Loan Traps to Avoid
Low income families face many challenges and are often heavily indebted. They are often victims of loan sharks and other predatory lenders that use unethical and illegal practices.
Challenges Low Income Families Face
Poverty affects your ability to meet basic expenses such as transportation, electricity, heat, and water supply, food, health care, phone service, and a lot more. Parenting on a low income is particularly challenging. Many families face housing and food hardships and child care expenses make a substantial portion of their expenses. Health problems are also more prevalent.
Legal Services for Low Income Residents
There are legal services that provide aid and advice to low income residents. Services are often offered free of charge to qualifying members. Legal services specialize in different fields of law such as old age security, employment standards, employment insurance, disability support programs, tenants’ rights, and others. There are legal services that offer advice and consultations in areas such as immigration law, employment, and wrongful dismissal. Low income residents are also offered legal advice on issues related to personal injury, real estate, and family law. Depending on the case and situation, some services are offered regionally and cases are handled by lawyers. Some legal clinics specialize in advocacy for elderly citizens and offer advice on retirement home, income and pensions, home and health care, elder abuse, consumer protection, advance care planning, consumer protection, and health care consent. They also specialize in retirement home tenancies and mental capacity law. In addition, there are services that provide settlement support and offer immigration help and advice. Some services also run a tenant helpline and engage in tenant advocacy. The goal is to help low income residents find appropriate and reasonable accommodation. They also offer social service and housing support and crisis counseling. Many work toward homelessness prevention.
Community legal aid and advice is also available to injured workers. Different legal clinics also offer community development services, public legal education, and representation. Social assistance is also available as well as legal aid to refugee claimants. Legal referral and assistance are also offered in case of emergency. Paralegal services are also available. There are legal clinics that offer student legal aid and advice on minor crimes. In many cases, legal services are offered by both volunteer law students and full-time lawyers. They are run as non-profit community legal clinics. Some offer children and youth services and run various programs, including anti-poverty and anti-violence programs.
Payday Loan Companies Targeting Low Income Families
While there are many legitimate and trustworthy loan providers that offer short-term loans, (see here), some lenders use illegal and unethical practices such as threat of violence and blackmail. They target low income families, recent immigrants, senior citizens, and persons who are heavily indebted. There are some red flags signaling that you are dealing with a loan shark. For example, if your loan provider resorts to threats and intimidation, this means that you are dealing with an unethical lender. Watch out for lenders that request items as security and add random and hidden charges. Stay away from services that take items such as benefits and bank cards and passports and ID cards. Some doorstep lenders and loan sharks fail to disclose the interest rate and contract terms and give no or little paperwork. Legitimate payday lenders, on the other hand, disclose the term, rate, and all charges involved. While they charge high interest rates over a short period, this option makes sense in case of emergency. The best thing about payday loans is that they are offered to customers with different credit profiles, including borrowers with poor credit, see here. Applicants who are employed and have an active bank account meet the criteria. Repeat customers are offered larger loans. While payday lenders offer loans to low income families, they only accept applicants with regular income. Some lenders may also target low income borrowers because they are more likely to use their services. For more legal and financial aid visit Lifeoncredit.ca