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Credit Counselling in Singapore: How They Can Help?

credit counselling singapore
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According to reports, personal debt soars among young Singaporean adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. People in their 20s are taking on an increasing amount of debt. Additionally, the Singapore household debt amounted to S$67,692 per capita as per the Department of Statistics Singapore.

Snowballing of credit card debt is one of the first signs of an individual’s financial distress. Failing to pay for credit card bills could mean they cannot repay their home loans and other debt obligations as well. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn, and rising unemployment are contributing to the rise of debt.

So what can you do in the face of these financial crises? Thankfully, there is hope. Before you reach the point of bankruptcy, you need to get your finances in order. The first step is seeking the help of a financial management programme, such as the Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS).

What Is Credit Counselling?

What happens if an individual has an unsecured debt problem? What kind of help is available?

Credit counselling in Singapore is a professional service that provides financial guidance and support on budgeting as well as credit and debt management. It helps you address the root cause of your debt problem through:

  • Credit Education
  • Financial Counselling
  • Debt Management assistance

With credit counselling service, you can create a plan according to your financial situation. This professional service is completely free for all.

In Singapore, credit counselling is offered by Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS). It is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental Social Service Agency. CCS is the only organization recognized by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS).

How Does Credit Counselling Work?

Credit Counselling Singapore’s program starts with a compulsory introductory talk with a trained and experienced financial counselor. The counselor will work closely with you to improve your financial situation.

During the talk, you will learn the basics of debt management. Plus, you will be provided with resources and tools to regain control of your finances. The talk typically lasts between 1 to 1.5 hours.

What happens after the talk?

1. You will be given a counselling request form.

2. Fill in the form once you’re home.

3. Submit the filled-in form along with supporting documents, such as your Credit Bureau Report, your last 15 month’s worth of CPF statements, and your latest 3 months’ worth of pay slips.

4. When CCS receives your application, they will contact you for an appointment date.

During financial counselling sessions, you will work one-on-one with a credit counsellor. CCS is committed to helping debt-distressed individuals through money management counselling, education, and facilitating debt arrangements –where suitable.

Note: Credit Counselling Singapore can’t guarantee that you will qualify for a debt management programme.

piggy bank looking at the time

Who Needs Credit Counselling?

If you have been struggling to repay your personal unsecured debts and credit cards, it’s time to seek credit counselling.

For instance, if you have unsecured debt that amounts to at least S$10,000, you may apply for the Debt Management Programme offered by CCS. They can help mediate with your creditor to restructure the debt repayment based on your financial capacity.

However, it’s best not to let your debt accumulate. You can benefit from credit counselling even before things escalate. In fact, everyone can benefit from this service.

Also, credit counselling will help you to get a personal loan even if you have a bad credit.

Benefits and Risks of Going Through Credit Counselling

Pros

  • Manage your budget: Doing so will determine the areas you need to improve your spending habits
  • Help retain a good credit score: Credit counselling will also build up credit ratings if you’re lagging behind in your debt repayment.
  • Create a repayment plan with the creditors: Credit counselling services can negotiate with your creditor. They may also make a debt management plan according to your capacity.
  • Reduction of interest rates: Credit counselors will work to provide you with lower interest fee charges on your credit card accounts.
  • Debt consolidation: This service will also help you consolidate your debt into one manageable monthly repayment.
  • Avoid harassment from creditors: The counselor can deal directly with credit collectors so you don’t have to directly deal with them.
  • Better financial management: A credit counselor will provide guidance for budgeting and overall financial stability. With their help, you will learn to maintain your income and allocate your funds according to your needs.

Cons

  • Credit card accounts are frozen. You are not allowed to have more credit while you’re undergoing credit counselling process.
  • Financial counselling will not lower the principal amount you owe.
  • This service will not null and void your debt, instead, you need to work out a budget and debt management plan
  • Your debts might take longer to pay off. This is due to the lower monthly repayment amount.

Services Offered by Credit Card Counselling Singapore

Assistance with Unsecured Debt ProblemsFinancial Education Programmes
Information Talks on Debt Management
For everyone
Financial / Credit Counselling
For people who need personalized financial advice
Financial Literacy Talks & Workshops
For everyone, including Social Security Agencies
Debt Management Programme
For individuals with debts amounting to at least S$10,000
Cents-ible Retirement Programme (CRP)
·        For a young senior, aged 50 and above.
Enterprise Debt Management Programme
For businesses with debts not exceeding S$500,000
National Silver Academy Courses
For anyone who wants to manage their money better in retirement

Assistance with Unsecured Debt Problems

Are you facing financial difficulties? Are you having a hard time keeping up with your debt repayments?

Here are some programmes and services offered by CCS that may provide you with some assistance.

1. Information Talks on Debt Management

Credit Counselling Singapore conducts FREE weekly Debt Management talks. These are provided via online webinars. Best of all, these are open to the public – whether you have a debt problem or none.

When you attend the Consumer Debt Management webinar, you will learn about the following:

  • Your options to address unsecured debt problems
  • About CCS Debt Management Programmes
  • How to deal with debt issues (do’s and don’ts)
  • How to deal with creditors when you can’t make repayments
  • The common collection tactics that creditors may use to recover money owed
  • How to approach CCS for help

This is a good starting point if you’re feeling overwhelmed. These webinars are conducted every weekday evening and every 2 weeks on Saturdays. They are about 2 hours long.

2. Financial / Credit Counselling

Need someone to lay down the reality of your financial situation?

You may want to consider going for credit counselling. During the one-on-one session, the financial counsellor will assess your financial position before providing you with options. However, you’ll need to reveal your personal financial information

The financial counselor will:

  • Help you understand your financial situation
  • Assess payment capacity
  • Help decide the best course of

How much does credit counselling cost? CCS has a one-time fee of S$30.

3. Debt Management Programme

CCS also facilitates debt repayment arrangements on behalf of suitable clients. This programme enables you to repay unsecured debts in full.

What is a Debt Management Programme?

A Debt Management Programme (DMP) is a structured repayment arrangement facilitated by CCS with major consumer banks, such as DBS and OCBC, as well as other credit card issuers in Singapore.

In April 2020, CCS also has a debt restructuring agreement with licensed moneylenders represented by the Credit Association of Singapore (CAS). This is known as the Moneylender Debt Management Programme (MDMP).

Note: Credit Counselling Singapore is the only Social Service Agency in the country that offers the DMP.

Are you qualified for a DMP?

  • You must have unsecured debts with more than one creditor.
  • Your total unsecured debt amounts to at least S$10,000.
  • Your bank accounts are at least 1 year old.

The approval of DMPs is at the sole discretion of creditors. Plus, you’ll have to attend CCS’ Information Talk on Debt Management, as well as enroll and complete their Online Debt Management Course.

If you are suitable for a debt management programme, you can get a lower interest rate or extend repayment for your outstanding balances.

When you’re on a DMP, your credit card and line accounts will be terminated. This means you can’t apply for any unsecured credit facility with any bank. When all repayments are done, the DMP status will be lifted from your credit report.

4. Enterprise Debt Management Programme (EDMP)

This programme is designed for businesses that have ceased or are in the process of ceasing operations. This program is a monthly installment debt repayment plan to repay outstanding unsecured debts within a reasonable time frame.

CCS will make an appeal for repayment arrangements on behalf of small business owners. EDMP is for:

  • Individuals operating as sole proprietorships, partnerships, and private limited companies
  • The business must have ceased operations or are in the process of ceasing operations
  • It should have business assets not exceeding S$1 million.
  • The business must have total unsecured business debt issues not exceeding S$500,000.

5. Financial Education Programmes

On top of debt management programmes, CCS also provides financial education talks and workshops. They aim to empower individuals to gain financial literacy and be financially resilient.

Financial Literacy Talks & Workshops

These talks and workshops focus on how to:

  • Use credit responsibly
  • Properly manage and budget money
  • Improve financial literacy in Singapore

Note: Credit Counselling Singapore also offers FREE weekly online webinars on Debt Management. They provide reliable information on the different options that you can consider to address personal debt problems.

Some of the topics you can expect at these talks include:

  • Coping with work transition
  • Making intelligent and informed decisions when choosing loan facilities
  • Preparing financial resources for life milestones, like getting married.

6. Cents-ible Retirement Programme

The Cents-ible Retirement Programme (CRP) is a specialized programme that is aimed to help individuals aged 50 and above become financially resilient and self-reliant in their retirement years. This programme is designed to help align your retirement expectations with the financial resources at hand upon retirement.

Currently, they have a webinar with Q&A about managing finances in retirement. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Learn the three challenges that everyone faces in retirement
  • Learn how you can manage your finances today so you can have a better tomorrow
  • Find out more about CCS Cents-ible Retirement Programme (CRP)

7. National Silver Academy Courses

CCS also conducts retirement, mental well-being, and financial literacy courses for seniors. The workshops aim to strengthen financial literacy as well as the financial and mental resilience of the elderlies.

These courses are open to anyone interested in learning how to manage their money better in retirement.

Currently, CCS has a FREE talk conducted via online webinar – Retirement Readiness: Am I There Yet? (1 hour, via Facebook Live)

Here, you will learn:

  • The challenges that impact everyone going into retirement
  • How to manage your finances today to be better prepared for retirement.

In this webinar, you will also find out more about CCS’ 4-hour workshop on assessing one’s financial adequacy in retirement.

credit consolidation coins 4 into 1

Alternative Solution If You Don’t Want To Go Through Credit Counselling 

Does the thought of going to credit counselling sessions seem overwhelming to you? 

You can take the first step by attending CCS’ information talks. The webinars can give you an idea about possible options. Alternatively, you can consider the best debt consolidation plans in Singapore.

But what is a debt consolidation plan?

Debt consolidation is a debt refinancing program wherein the borrower has the option to combine all his high-interest, unsecured debt (eg. Credit card, personal loan, and credit lines) under a single lender that charges lower interest rates.

Basically, you’re paying off all your debt from previous creditors, and then transferring those debts to one financial institution.

Many banks in Singapore offer debt consolidation plans, including:

  • POSB/DBS
  • HSBC
  • Maybank
  • CIMB Bank

To find the best debt consolidation plan (DCP), you need to figure out which would be the most cost-effective for you.

CCS also has a debt consolidation plan, however, it excludes the following types of unsecured loan accounts:

  • Approved loan granted under joint accounts
  • Renovation loans
  • Education loans
  • Medical loans
  • Business-related credit facilities.

Eligibility criteria for CCS’ debt consolidation plan:

  • Singaporean or Permanent Resident
  • Earn between S$30,000 and below S$120,000 per year with Net Personal Assets of less than S$2 million
  • Have total interest-bearing unsecured debt on all credit cards and unsecured credit that exceeds 12x of monthly income.

How To Apply for Credit Counselling in Singapore?

Before you can go for credit counselling at CCS, you are required to attend an online debt management class or talk on debt management. From these talks and workshops, you will learn about managing your debt and dealing with creditors.

The next step is to request a credit counselling appointment. This is advisable, especially if you need debt advice. To book a session:

  • Submit a Counselling Request Package
  • Bring supporting documents to the counselling agency. Documents needed include:
  • Credit report
  • Latest 15 months’ worth of CPF statements
  • Proof of income

Once you’ve submitted the request and all necessary documents, CCS will get in touch with you to set an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Can I Expect From Attending The Information Talk?

CCS’ Information Talk on debt management offers information on what you can do to resolve your unsecured debt problems. By the end of the talk, you will be able to make informed decisions on how to proceed.

On top of that, the Information Talk also discusses what creditors can and can’t do to recover money owed. Lastly, you will learn how to arrange for a one-on-one debt advising session and how to fill up the Counselling Request Package.

2. Will CCS Inform My Employer That I Have a Debt Problem if I Seek Assistance From CCS?

Rest assured that CCS will not inform your employers if you seek assistance from CCS.

Credit Counselling Singapore has a strict policy on maintaining client confidentiality and privacy. They will not disclose any information to third parties without the expressed consent of the client.

3. How Does CCS Differ From the Other Debt Consultancy Firms?

Credit Counselling Singapore is the only non profit organization that offers professional debt counselling services. Plus, they have a formal debt restructuring scheme with all member banks under the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS).

CCS is also a member of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Their aim is to promote the responsible use of credit as well as assist debt-distressed clients.

They are fully supported by ABS, Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS), and the State Courts of Singapore.

4. Does Credit Counselling Affect Credit Score?

Undergoing credit counselling will not negatively impact your credit score. In fact, it may be beneficial for recovering your credit score.

With credit counselling, you will learn to manage your debt properly. The counselor may even mediate between you and your creditor so you may be given a lower interest or longer repayments to suit your financial capacity.

Conclusion

Being in debt can be scary. Unfortunately, taking a step towards being debt-free can be equally daunting and overwhelming. Thankfully, help is available. Credit Counselling Singapore offers education and outreach, debt advising, and debt restructuring where suitable.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit counselling is a very good service that provides financial knowledge and support on budgeting as well as credit and debt management.
  • Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental Social Service Agency.
  • CCS’ program starts with a compulsory introductory talk with a trained and experienced financial counselor who will work closely with you to improve your financial situation.
  • Alternatively, you can consider looking for a debt consolidation plan where you combine all your high-interest, unsecured debt under one financial institution.

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