Netizens slam tactics of debt collectors

Netizens slam tactics of debt collectors

SINGAPORE - First, they raised their voices. Then came the furious banging on the door and grilles, accompanied by Hokkien vulgarities.

All this went on for close to an hour. The four legal debt collectors left after an unsuccessful attempt to collect money from an alleged debtor, who was at home but refused to open the door.

A two-minute video of the incident in Buangkok has been making the rounds online. The collectors' tactics have drawn criticism from netizens, who liken their actions to those of illegal loan sharks.

Several versions of the video have been posted online since Sunday. One particular video uploaded on a Facebook page has been shared more than 3,000 times.

Facebook user Ng Teck Guan Winston wrote: "This is the result when you legalise moneylending. When things are legalised, debt collectors act as though (the) law is in their hands."

The New Paper spoke to the family living in the one-room rental flat in Buangkok - a young couple in their 20s with a four-year-old child.

The target of the collectors, who wanted to be known only as Mr Jonathan, claimed the debt collectors had gone to his place on at least five occasions to harass him since early this month.

They would usually arrive at 7pm and loiter at the corridor or void deck.

Mr Jonathan said that if he and his wife were home early, they would turn off the lights to make it seem like they were not home.

Otherwise, they would make huge detours just to avoid any confrontation with the debt collectors.

"We try to take the lift up a few floors, switch to a different lift and then take the stairs.

"Sometimes, we hide behind a wall at the stairs and take a photo of the corridor with our phones to check if the debt collectors are there.

"We have to act like thieves just to get home," said Mr Jonathan.

The 24-year-old said the debt collectors first contacted him late last month. They asked him to pay them $23,000 - money that a friend had invested in a business venture they shared but did not work out.

Mr Jonathan, who is jobless, does not dispute the sum but feels he should not be held responsible for the business failing.

He said he initially agreed to pay $500 to the debt collectors at the end of the month and then $1,000 every month after that.

"I agreed to it in order to protect my family. If not for my family, I would have solved the matter with violence," he told The New Paper in Mandarin.

"I didn't want things to escalate. But later, I realised I would be admitting I'm at fault if I paid."

But not paying up led to the harassment at his home.

His wife, who wanted to be known only as Ms Linda, 26, started work this month as an administrative assistant.

She said it has got "very tiring and our safety is threatened".

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