Superintendent of Bankruptcy: How spot sketchy debt advice

Superintendent of Bankruptcy: How spot sketchy debt advice

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) is continuing its efforts to help Canadians experiencing serious financial difficulties find the right debt solution. These efforts include increasing consumer awareness about the unregulated Debt Advisory Marketplace and helping consumers identify reliable sources of debt assistance.

Building on the joint consumer alert issued by the OSB and the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals during Financial Literacy Month 2022, the OSB has developed consumer awareness material to help promote the Debt Solutions Portal, to warn Canadians about unregulated debt advisors and to point consumers to Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LIT)s for trustworthy advice.

With the goal of reaching as many consumers as possible, the OSB has asked LITs to amplify the message through their websites and networks. Below is one of the articles they've provided:


How to spot sketchy debt advice

Between the high cost of living and inflation, many of us are struggling with debt. But with financial advice available everywhere - from your uncle’s friend to social media influencers, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and hard to know whose advice you can trust.

Learning some key warning signs and red flags can help you manage your debt and avoid falling for a scam. Here are some to keep an eye out for:

A magic bullet. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics or unrealistic promises to quickly solve your debt problems or fix your credit score. Remember, it’s difficult to change information in your credit history unless something is inaccurate. Raising your credit score will take time while you show your creditors that your financial habits have improved.

A pricey service. Some companies or debt advisors may charge high fees but only offer a high-interest loan to pay off your debt or claim they can negotiate a better deal with your creditors. Instead, Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) are legally required to explore all your debt options and are the only professionals authorized to file a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, which include financial education. You don’t need to pay another advisor to find or consult an LIT.

Protect yourself by consulting reliable sources for information, asking questions and seeking a second opinion. You can also find dependable advice and options to deal with your debt at

Source: Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (2023) How to spot sketchy debt advice.

Charla Smith & Company is a Calgary-based Licensed Insolvency Trustee, serving the southern Alberta region. We regularly provide advice to individuals about their options for dealing with overwhelming debt. If you'd like to schedule a free consultation, please reach out to us.


With our experience and our caring approach, we will help you find the best option for debt relief based on your unique situation - from advice on talking to your creditors to a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, and everything in between. We are here to lift the burden caused by overwhelming debt. 

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