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Legalised debt collectors in action?

A video clip which is circulating online shows what seems to be a group of debt collectors knocking on a debtor's home in the evening.

One of the debt collectors identified himself as "Xiao Long" as he called out for the debtor, presumably a person by the name of "Jonathan".

The debt collectors alleged in the video that "Jonathan" is hiding behind the door and continued to pound on the door in an attempt to get him to open the door. The debt collectors were not too concerned about the police - one even said, "Let them come" when cautioned that they will be arriving soon.

It is uncertain how much "Jonathan" owes the credit company which engaged the debt collectors.

Legalised debt collection is not a new concept in Singapore. Channel News Asia reported the story about such debt collectors in 2006, and recently again in the news.

The Registry of Moneylenders is the regulatory body that grants moneylending licences and comes under the Insolvency and Public Trustee's Office (IPTO), which is a department of the Ministry of Law.

In 2012, the registry reported that the number of complaints against licensed moneylenders in the first nine months of the year is more than double that for the whole of 2011.

In 2011, it received 93 complaints against licensed moneylenders. But within the first nine months of 2012, it received 206 complaints.

It is uncertain what the current figures are as there are no such figures displayed within the IPTO website.

In a story reported by local media in 2012, one of the interviewed individuals said that licensed moneylenders feel that they can say and do anything and get away with it because they are legal.

"Their debt collection tactics really affect me mentally because they keep shouting and abuse me with vulgarities when they come to my house or call me.

"They also always threaten that they will come to my workplace and make me lose my job and send the 'bad' debt collectors to find me.

"They are worse than Ah Longs because their aggression is in your face. They will hunt you down like prey, showing up wherever they can find you."

"They are not afraid to show their faces, and will do so as many times as possible because they cannot get caught for bothering us."

More examples of the questionable antics of the debt collection by licensed money lenders could be seen on a local money lending review site, http://moneylenders-sg.com/

money lender review

Such descriptions match the video accounts indicated earlier in this article.

According to the registry of money lenders, there were 200 registered money lenders in Singapore as of 2013, and the total loans taken valued at $478 million in that same year.

In the second quarter of 2014, the total value of loans is $283 million.

However, it is uncertain if the total value of loans includes the late payment fees and the interest generated from the late payment and compound interest.

TOC has written to the IPTO for clarification on this matter and will reflect it here when they reply.