Today, moneylenders don’t go as far as sticking a pig’s head to pressure debtors into paying their debt – mainly because it’s illegal. They are expected to follow the Credit Collection Association of Singapore (CCAS) code of conduct. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some debt collectors from resorting to frightening tactics.
So what can you do?
First of all, don’t lend money from loan sharks. Verify the credibility of the moneylender by checking if they are on the list of registered moneylenders. Secondly, know your rights by focusing on what debt collectors can and can’t do under the law.
One of the most effective ways to ensure debt repayment is proper communication. The debt collector must be able to reach you. If they’re unable to, they can reach out to your family and friends.
The debt collector can go to your workplace or residence to ask for your whereabouts. Plus, they can check your social media, call your residence, and ask where you are.
Debtors are protected by law from harassment and threats but the law doesn’t promote running away from debt.
Borrowing money from lending agencies is great for getting emergency cash. But problems will start to arise when you fail to pay your dues on time. So what are you going to do when moneylenders start coming for you?
Don’t be afraid. Legal debt collectors must act within the confines of the law. In fact, they can help a debtor in negotiating a loan repayment plan with moneylenders.
The Credit Collection Association of Singapore mandates debt collectors to consider other repayment options if a debtor can prove their inability to make full payment.
That said, you can propose repayment solutions and installment plans. The debt collectors will then relay this information to their employers. Creditors can also empower them to offer different repayment plans.
Legal debt collectors are prohibited to inflict injury on the debtor. This means they can’t resort to violence such as knocking you unconscious or cause bodily harm.
If the debt collector is found guilty, he may:
- Face up to 2 years’ imprisonment
- Pay a fine of up to $5,000
- Or both
For severe injuries known as “grievous hurt”, the offender will face up to 10 years’ imprisonment, and a fine or caning.
Debt collectors may resort to banging on doors or shouting vulgarities to pressure you into paying up. If these behaviors cause you distress and alarm, it may fall under harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act.
The Act states that it is against the law to use threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behavior towards another person. So for example, if the debt collector threatens to harm your family, you may contact the police.
Additionally, the threats don’t need to be verbal. For example, if the collector waves his fists in front of you and causes you alarm, this can still be classified as a threat.
Vandalism can take many different forms. The most common form of vandalism is defacing your property. If the debt collector resorts to such an act, they will have committed an offense under the Vandalism Act.
Vandalism may include:
- Spray painting your walls
- Sticking posters on your property
- Damaging your property
First-time offenders may face:
- A fine not exceeding $2,000.
- Or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years.
The punishment may also include caning. The severity of the punishment varies depending on the vandalism act they have committed.
The Protection from Harassment Act also protects a debtor from unlawful stalking. But what is unlawful stalking?
It’s when debt collectors repeatedly do an action that makes you anxious, distressed, and alarmed. For example, the collector deliberately follows you from your house to work and vice-versa. Or they keep inquiring about your whereabouts and sending cryptic messages through email or SMS.
Note: As previously stated, debt collection agencies can contact you at work or in your home. It only becomes illegal due to the frequency of the act which causes alarm or distress.
Unlawful assembly occurs when creditors send five or more people to collect the debt with the intent to harass, threaten, or harm the debtor.
An example of this act is when five debt collectors show up in your home and forcefully takes away your belongings. If found guilty, offenders will face an imprisonment term of up to two years, fined, or both.
When you fail to pay your credit card, cell phone bill, or loan, the creditor may attempt to collect payment. The moneylender can hire a debt collector to do their bidding. While there are legitimate debt collection agencies, there are also scammers in the market.
These scammers will pressure you to pay debts you don’t owe. So how do you identify scams?
They are required by law to provide you with information such as the creditor’s name, the amount owed, their phone number, and mailing address. Additionally, they are required to send you a written notice within 5 days of initial contact.
These payment methods are untraceable which makes them attractive to scammers. Legitimate debt collectors in Singapore will accept different payment methods including checks, debit cards, or credit cards.
It’s illegal for debt collectors to pose as government agents. So be sure to verify their identities with the proper authorities. For instance, if you receive an official-looking document about your debt, double-check it. Government bodies don’t usually get involved in such matters.
Upon hiring debt collectors in Singapore, the creditor will provide them with your basic information. This includes your name, address, account number, or your Social Security number. So when a debt collector calls and asks for your information, don’t give it to them. They will use your information to commit fraud or identity theft.
If a debt collector commits any of the illegal acts, you should immediately call the police. Doing so will protect you from any immediate danger until a resolution is reached.
You can also seek the help of the authorities to determine whether the debt collection process is legal or not. Lastly, ask for guidance on what appropriate action should be undertaken next.
Once proven that the collector committed an offense, you can apply for a Protection Order from the collector and/or the creditor.
The Credit Collection Association of Singapore is responsible for ensuring that the members engage in professional and lawful activities. If any of the members violate the law, the CCAS may sue them.
That said, you can file a complaint to utilize their dispute resolution procedures. However, this is only applicable if the debt collection agency is a member of CCAS. You can check the list of members on their website.
Lastly, it’s best to seek the legal services of a lawyer. Harassment cases can be daunting and stressful. Hiring a lawyer will help you take the necessary steps to address the problem.
Additionally, a lawyer can also help you in negotiating installment plans to settle your debt. For example, if your creditor is a bank, your lawyer may help you get a lower interest rate.
Know your rights and don’t be intimidated by debt collectors. If they overstep and commit illegal acts, don’t hesitate to call the police. Otherwise, know that legitimate debt collection agencies can act as a mediator between you and your creditors.
That said, borrow money only from trusted money lending agencies. A1 Credit is a licensed moneylender that follows the standards of the Moneylender Act and Moneylender Rules. We offer fast and convenient solutions as well as the best personal loans in Singapore.