Debt collectors are harassing me, what can I do?

Introduction

There are many cases in Singapore of debt collection agencies harassing and abusing debtors. It is important to know that debt collectors DO NOT enjoy special privileges, they are bound by the same laws as everyone else. If you are being harassed by debt collectors then the most obvious step to take is to call the police.

In April 2019 for example, a Director of a registered debt collection agency was jailed and fined for illegally harassing a 52-year-old real estate agent over alleged unpaid debts.

There are also many situations where a law firm can represent you in challenging or preventing debt collectors from causing you distress, and usually, these steps are extremely cost sensitive. If you are actively struggling with debt collectors or with to take preventative measures against them, please get in touch for a no obligation discussion and let us see if we can help you.

Your lawyer may be able to negotiate an instalment plan, or in cases where the bank is a creditor, help you to lower your interest rate. Hence, it is possible to come up with a manageable way to clear your debts. We have also supported various other clients in this area, particularly in cases such as:

  • Debt collectors incorrectly stating the amount owed, for example claiming that you owe $50,000 when in fact its $15,000.
  • Defamation, for example, video recording you as they attempt to collect a debt and then posting this on social media.
  • Harassment, breaking various laws in attempting to collect a debt.
  • Threatening jail, for example, telling you that you will go to jail if you don’t pay the debt, this is complete rubbish.

For further information around debt collection agencies, please read on, or for assistance please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Code of conduct for debt collectors in Singapore

The legal debt collection agencies in Singapore are expected to follow the industry’s Code of Conduct which was set up by the Credit Collection Association of Singapore (CCAS). The CCAS assists the debt collection agencies and the debtors by attempting to resolve their disputes, but it is important to note that the CCAS does not have the power to enforce the code of conduct.

What can’t the debt collection agencies do?

The are no specific laws regulating debt collection agencies in Singapore. The following are areas that they cannot do:

Unlawful assembly

In Singapore if five (5) or more people who have the common intention or objective with any of the criminal conducts listed under section 141 of the Penal code were to assemble they would be considered as part of an “unlawful assembly”, and they would be punishable under section 143 of the penal code.

Intimidation and violence

The finer details are found within the Protection from Harassment Act. Primarily in the Act, it is against the law to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the aim of causing alarm to someone or causing that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against that person.

Unlawful stalking

If the debt collector unlawfully stalks the debtor and causes the debtor to be harassed, alarmed or distressed in the process and if the debt collector did so know that such an effect would have been caused he may be guilty of an offence.

Threatening physical violence

The debt collectors are not allowed to threaten the debtors with any violence for the repayment of the debt.

Vandalism

If the debt collector sprays paint on your walls, throws paint or even sticks any posters or stickers on your property, they would be guilty of vandalism.

Harassment

If the debt collector were to persistently disturb, torment, trouble or persecute you, they might be guilty of harassment.

Damaging or taking possession of your belongings

Many debt collectors will try to make you believe they can tow your car away or seize your property if you don’t pay up. However, to do so, they would need a Writ of Seizure and Sale from the Singapore Courts to seize your property. If they do not have this document, they have absolutely no legal rights to seize anything.

Impersonating government bodies

It’s illegal for debt collectors to pretend to be government agents, such as the IRAS or the Police. They are also not allowed to put up fake sites that mimic existing government agencies or to use fake government letterheads in their letters to recover the debts.