A fine example of how not to carry out debt collection appeared in Singapore newspapers this week after three men were jailed for their part in a farcical incident.
Andra Chew Keng Leng, 40, Lim Boon Tiong, 43, and David Tan, 37, all employees of a debt recovery firm called Double Ace Associates, were sent with three colleagues to collect a debt from a food stall owner at Singapore’s Funan Digitalife Mall.
What unfolded when they arrived does nothing to enhance the reputation of debt collectors worldwide, although on a positive note it does further serve to underline the sharp distinction between debt collection as an honest profession and the entirely separate criminal, and often clownish, elements who abuse the label.
On this occasion, the six men, all wearing black polo shirts with ‘Debt Recovery’ printed on the back, arrived at the food stall to find that the owner they were looking for was not there. They then started to harass and intimidate a cashier, turning the lights off in the stall to make it look as if it was not open for business, and chasing away customers.
At one point, having already been told to leave by police, one of the men struck on the bright idea of hanging a sign outside the stall which read: “Debt Recovery in Progress.” Just to make it all official.
When their attempts to get the cashier and duty manager to contact the stall owner failed, two of the men, Chew and his associate Yong Chee Meng, 40, decided to take matters into their own hands. They entered the stall, kicked over a rice cooker and threw the till to the floor, along with pots and cooking utensils left out on the work surface. Just to add insult to industry, they started to throw food around, and poured a load of different sauces into a pot of soup to ruin it.
They did not recover the debt.
All three men pleaded guilty to an offence of unlawful assembly, while Chew was also found guilty of mischief causing damage for his part in trashing the stall. Yong and the other two members of the gang, who also pleaded guilty, were due to be sentenced a week later.
While we don’t want to make light of this sort of intimidating and aggressive behaviour, it is hard not to treat the sort of people who act in this way in the name of debt collection with a certain degree of contempt. Unfortunately, wherever you go the world over, it seems as if there are unscrupulous people trying to jump on debt recovery as a way to make a fast buck through criminal behaviour.
Fortunately, there is another way to collect debts safely, ethically and effectively. Professional debt collectors do not use methods like those described above because they do not work. If you want to recover a debt, stick to professionals who use negotiation and clear, sensible communication instead.
Of course, if you are trying to recover a debt from overseas, it is not easy to to know if you are dealing with a reputable company or not. That is where Safe Collection’s international debt recovery service comes in handy. We have built up a worldwide network of honest, professional agents who will recover your debts on the same terms of service we offer.