Panic, uncertainty, and negativity. These have been the new normal since the nasty 2019 novel coronavirus struck the world and our shores – with each passing day, news of establishments that were once viewed as invincible start to crumble, the economy cracks further, and livelihoods become ever threatened. COVID-19 has undoubtedly struck a big dent in our professional, personal, and social lives forever.
Life as a debtor can be very challenging – apart from worrying about having peace in your day to day living, the uncertainty of job security to feed your family, and ultimately your outstanding debt repayment, you are still scared about what debt collectors can potentially do to you and your loved ones. Take heart my friend, we here at Debt Aid are here to put it clear to you about what debt collectors can and cannot do here in lawful Singapore.
What they can do:
Arrange a private meeting with you
First of all, relax – as much as they sound intimidating, debt collectors are just normal people and can arrange a meeting with you and speak with you privately regarding your debt matters. This is not in any conflict with legal and statutory laws in Singapore. They can arrange to have a word with you, with some kopi to keep things civil.
Discuss alternative payments
We must realize that debt collectors only have 2 purposeful goals in mind: to help you clear your debts and help their hiring company recover what is owed. This surely involves discussing alternative payment modes, plans, or propose debt consolidation.
If you haven’t already known, debt consolidation is basically a form of debt refinancing that involves taking out one loan to pay off many others. This theoretically keeps things streamlined, and also helps you to concentrate your worries on one victorious battle.
Explain the consequences to you
Do you have a bad habit of not being timely on your payments? Debt collectors can also explain the legal and financial consequences to you when you choose not to pay on time. These include your compounded interest, late charges, lawyer letters, or even legal fees. Every action has a consequence, and you are not exempt from them carrying out their duty by helping you understand clearly what you might be in for.
What they cannot do:
Despite image and public perception, debt collectors are not the mafia. Thus, they cannot mentally or physically intimidate you in any way. Forcing or scaring you to comply with their demands is illegal, and they should be reported to the police. Be comforted that there are ample existing avenues that you can turn to get help from, which include confiding with us at Debt Aid and going directly to the police.
Take your items by force
They cannot forcefully take your belongings, as they have no legal powers for such action. Owning your belongings is a basic civil right in Singapore, and they have no legal right to annul that. They are also not enforcement agents, so they cannot pretend to be one. It’s a criminal offense to do that in Singapore!
Disclose information indiscriminately
Debt collectors are prohibited from telling your friends, neighbors or colleagues, family, employers or even roommates about your debt. Your debt should be kept to the highest confidentiality, and should only be dealt with by law enforcement officers and lawyers with fiduciary duty towards you.
They cannot contact you during unreasonable hours
If you get rudely woken up by debt collectors shouting outside your house in the wee hours of the night, don’t hesitate to call the police on them. Even during debt collection work, they are to accord debtors basic respect and not to contact debtors during unreasonable hours of the day.
BONUS – What you can do:
Ask for their personal identification details
You have all the right to ask for their personal identification details to know their name, or the agency they are working for. It is nearly a basic right to know who is looking for you, and where he or she is from. Don’t be fearful to demand basic identification from the debt collectors. Should they fail to comply, you have the right not to engage with them.
Ask them to leave
It is not a must for you to engage with debt collectors – you may ask them to leave anytime when they do home visits, especially when they do not have legal documents to show during their visit. Just like any unwelcome visitor, you have the right to deny them entry to your house and ask them to leave.
Get a witness
You can have another person with you during the discussion with the debt collectors to act as a witness. This is not only to protect yourself, but also to have a person who is kept abreast of your matters so that they can help you should anything arise. Debt collectors have no right to chase witnesses away.
Lodge a report or complaint
You might have forgotten this in the midst of getting frightened or scared by debt collectors, but always know that you can lodge a report or complaint to the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) about their improper conduct. You can reach them speedily at +65 6100 0315 from Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.
Debt collectors are not superheroes – they cannot do anything as they like, when they like. Being a debtor doesn’t mean being stripped of your basic liberties as a citizen or resident here. Should you need any help regarding your debt matters, do feel free to call/message us at +65 9382 1253, or drop us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org!