A pig’s head and the red splattered O$P$ is the character image to be seen on corridor walls. This clearly shows how the Singaporeans feel about debt collectors. Whereas genuine debt collection agencies may not use the loan shark runners’ methods, they do take actions that tend to lean towards harassment. When you find yourself no being able to pay your bills, you may receive unwanted attention from debt collectors. Even then the following are things you need to know.
Who They Are
Many money lending institutions could lose large sums of money yearly due to non-paying clients. Therefore, it is for their good to put in place a way of getting back all the money due to them. Often times the unpleasant task is given to debt collection agencies to carry out. These agencies act on the behalf of the money lending institutions by going after debtors for the money they owe. For example, when you do not repay your credit card debt, the bank will more likely seek the services of a debt collection agency to help them get back their money.
What They Can Do
It is illegal for debt collection agencies to run around splattering pig’s heads on borrower’s doors. This is simply the reason why legitimate collection agencies do not do it. Even then, it has not prevented most of the debt collectors from turning to using scare methods. These methods may include banging on your doors and windows and even hanging up banners that tell everyone that you owe them money.
What will differentiate them from the neighbourhood gang is that the legitimate collection agencies try to observe the law. In Singapore, there is an industry Code of Ethics put in place by the Credit Collection Association. The CCA is meant for resolving disagreements between collection agencies and debtors. Nevertheless, the collection association seems not to have power enough to put into effect these codes.
What They Can’t Do
Sadly for most debtors, there are no set laws that regulate the debt collection agencies. This often times means that they can essentially do anything that regular entities do. This also means they are subject to similar laws applied to a friend you have borrowed from. Yet it is many times necessary to examine debt collector’s actions. And especially those that are after you to ensure they do not undertake an illegal action. Listed below are some examples of dealings that may get debt collectors in problems with the law.
- Unlawful Assembly
When a gang of angry, heavily built men, is sent to you by a debt collection agency, you may call the police on them because of holding an unlawful assembly. Any gathering of more than 5 people will be convicted as long as you can prove that their intention is to commit a crime. This also includes the use of any criminal force to, vandalize your property, taking any property belonging to you or putting you under any perceived threat of harming you physically.
Earlier in the year, an assembly of 7 debt collection agency workers was put under arrest for unlawful assembly. This was after they showed up at a food court booth at the Funan DigitaLife Mall.
- Violence and Intimidation
Although banging doors and shouting in vulgar language is typical debt collection practices. It is in fact against the set law to use, abusive, threatening or insulting words and behaviour. Particularly when it is intended for causing an alarm to you. And or even make you think that unlawful aggression will be used against another person or on you. Therefore when a debt collector shakes his fist in front of your face threatening to punch you. Immediately call the police on him.
When a debt collector sprays paint on your property, affixes on your possessions with any banners, posters, advertisements they are guilty of vandalism. Other forms that vandalism may take include stealing, destroying or damage to anything that belongs to you. Then they are guilty of undertaking vandalism.
Causing alarm, harassment or distress to you by debt collectors when they use abusive, threatening, or insulting words. And any behaviour or making threatening, abusive or insulting communication can all amount to harassment. When a debt collector’s actions cause you to think that criminal violence will be acted against you or he manages to incite actual violence, you equally have reason enough to call the police.
- Taking possession or Damaging your Belongings
A lot of debt collectors will attempt to make you think they will tow away your car. Or take hold of your TV when you do not pay up. In actuality, they will need a writ allowing then to seize and sale. This writ is obtainable from the law courts for them to be able to get hold of your property.
How To Deal With Debt Collectors
The unfortunate news is that even though you will run, you won’t be able to hide. Though, you may be able to avoid debt collectors for a short while. You will be letting your debt spin out of control and soon you may find your property or car being repossessed. This way the institution can then be able to sale the item and recover the outstanding debt. You may even have bankruptcy trials commenced against you. Don’t be frightened by debt collectors. When they go beyond their limits and break the laws. Call the cops immediately.
But do know that they are only meant to be a go-between your creditors and you. This then means that they can negotiate an instalment repayment plan with you. And in the incidences that banks are your creditors, they can help lower the interest charged. Therefore instead of running from them, seek to bargain with them. And work with them to work out a manageable way to help you repay your debts. This can even end up saving you some money and also alleviating the pain of your case escalating and even being taken a court of law.