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You Aren't Alone

Very often, consumer who has a debt problem feels very alone. He tends to keep the debt problem to himself, not wanting anyone to know because he may feel ashamed, silly, guilty, loss of pride or worry about losing his job… For some married persons, they don’t share or even dare to let the spouse know about the debt problem. In short, many heavily-indebted individuals carry the heavy burden alone and in silence. As a result, the debt problem grows bigger, the stress level becomes higher, work performance is affected, relationships turn tense and subsequently, the individual may become depressed and suicidal thought may began to arise…

You are not alone.

Since people rarely talk about money problem, many consumers tend to think that he is the only one who has a BIG DEBT PROBLEM! Or that he has to handle his BIG DEBT PROBLEM himself.

You are not alone.

CCS has come across many individuals who have BIG DEBT PROBLEM and were suffering alone and quietly until they have decided to do something about their BIG DEBT PROBLEM. These individuals decided to help themselves by seeking assistance from CCS; and with their own resourcefulness, determination and discipline, they are slowly climbing out of the debt pit and looking forward to debt-free living.

You are not alone... CCS is here to assist.



CLIENTS TESTIMONY

Mr Ben (in his 40s)
This is my story:
I am working as a Manager drawing a salary of S$6,000 per month. To many people I know, this is an upper salary bracket. However, to me this is the minimum sum required to keep my family survive. This amount do not include allowance for food. My wife has to work to help me make ends meet. And I only have one son who is in secondary school now. This is because three
quarter of my salary is used to pay my credit card debts.

Sounds tough ... it was tougher two years ago when almost all the banks who had issued me with credit cards, magnified and spelled out the fine wordings stated in the terms and conditions that I had earlier signed; except I must add CITIBANK who was quick to equitably help me restructure my credit card debt to term loan. The same banks who had for many, many years loan me the money and treat me like VIP as a customer at the front counter had now transferred my acounts to their Collection Dept who termed me legally as debtor. The legal language switched from Banking Act to Bankruptcy Act. Many are armed with willing lawyers who had memorised the Bankruptcy Act by heart to prey on obviously unrepresented debtor. Some of the banks employed licenced ’Tai Long’ who are fond of offending and breaching the debtor’s privacy. It was a very tough period for me; psychologically.

I requested the help of The Association Bank of Singapore who directed me to Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS). The latter had helped me mitigate the situation by summarising my expenses and expenditure thereby showed me my financial strong and weak point. My financial situation was dire; I can easily submit to bankruptcy but I opt to be responsible for my debts. Now I am still struggling to pay back my debt but at least I can see the light. Four years more and I hope to be free of the credit card debts and bank loans of more than S$100k.

I now prefer Debit Card.

CCS is well recognised by the government, the banks and the courts. My advice is if you are having "credit card problems" talk to them first.

Ms Helen (in her 30s)
As a result of my carelessness, my little debt snowball to a huge debt of S$100K. I was stressed when my total monthly repayment has exceeded my monthly salary. I was really desperate for help and unable to cope. On my own accord, I tried to approach banks, credit cooperative etc for help, but was unsuccessful. For almost a year, I struggled to cope with the hounds of my creditors. The feeling was terrible. I felt insecure, helpless, hopeless, despised, rejected and a failure.

I was overjoyed when I heard of CCS from the media. Immediately, I called to enquire. I attended their awareness talk, counseling and finally had my DMP worked out.

At CCS, I was treated with respect. CCS has helped me to restructure my debts and my lifestyle. I begin to appreciate the beauty of credit free living. Today, I am able to meet my monthly debts repayment. My stress was gone and I have gained back my confidence. I am now a happier person and I look forward to be debt free soon.

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Mr Patrick (in his 40s)
Hi, I am 44 yrs old. In 2002, due to cost saving plans in my company, I was left with free time due to less O/T in my company.

To pass the time, i resorted to gambling and in a short space of 1 and a half yrs, i chalk up a debt of more than $100k. How to pay? In 2004, i called up the banks whom i am owing .Except for Citibank, the rest of the bank did not respond to me. So every month, i just paid the minimum sum. I then realise that i was not reducing my debt at all.

Earlier this year, i read in the Sunday Times about CCS. I then called up CCS and attended the talk at the Subordinate Courts. Afetr i had filled up all the forms, I attended the councilling session.I was then put on the DMP.

CCS has helped me to appeal to the banks for a lower monthly repayment which i am able to service, of course with a lot of self discipline. However, i know that if i am to keep my part of the plan, i will be debt free in 6 yrs time.

Thank you CCS and especially Gillian for your help for i know that without you, my name will be added to the bankruptcy list. Thank you once again and will be grateful always,

Sincerely,
Patrick

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Mr Leo (in his 30s)
To vent the escalating pressures of everyday working life, I had uncontrollably chalked up heavy investment loses (during the economic downturn) and also indulged in impulsive spending in order to relieve the stress. As credit was then "readily available" as a result of the immense competition amongst the financial institutions, I had plunged deeper and deeper into taboo of using one credit source to cover the other. Later, as my financial burdens got heavier, partly due to the debts’ high interest rates and also the increasing medical/hospitalization costs of my family, I had reached the point whereby I was having problems in meeting even the monthly minimum sum repayments of the credit loans.

I had, on my own, tried to make genuine and sincere appeals to all my creditor banks for a manageable repayment scheme by explaining to them my financial situation. However, it may be because I am not a good negotiator and also the fact that the credit control departments of the some of the banks have generally set their priorities to recover as much as possible in the shortest possible period, my appeals, in the light of my adverse financial situation, were doomed to failure. After weeks of prolonged unsuccessful negotiations with some of the banks, a few had even initiated legal actions against me. It was at the point of having received legal judgments awarded against myself that I totally gave up on any further negotiations and virtually resigned to face bankruptcy.

It was by chance that I later came across the CCS website and decided to give a last ditched attempt to salvage my seemingly hopeless situation and avoid the social stigma of being a bankrupt. I attended one of the weekly CCS briefings and was informed of the options available and the assistance CCS can offer. Although I was still rather apprehensive of what CCS can do in view of my precarious situation, I nevertheless signed up for a counselling session. After learning about my case (and the urgency involved due to the legal suits that have already commenced), the professional and very experienced CCS officers swung into immediate action by swiftly contacting all my creditor banks in a desperate bid to stave off the legal actions and negotiate for a solution that is beneficial to both parties. Within a few weeks, CCS had managed to draw up a Debt Management Program (DMP) agreement with all my creditor banks and I had begun making my first installment repayments.

My advice to people who may be in the same situation as I am, is to give yourself a decent chance by urgently seeking expert counselling from CCS, especially if you are sincere about fulfilling all of your financial obligations. On your own, you may not be able to bring your case successfully to all of your creditor banks as you may not be technically good in negotiation. It may also be extremely stressful in trying to deal
with a number of creditors at the same time and coping with burdens of your
job and even perhaps your family’s growing financial commitments.

Although I still have a long, long way to go, to repay all of my debts, I am indeed very grateful to CCS for at least getting me to the starting line, which I am sure I know I would not be able to on my own.

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Ms Grace (in her 30s)
I’m currently holding an executive post with monthly gross salary of $4,000 per month. Rightfully speaking, I should not get myself into this financial predicament.

It all started when my second brother started to do his own business. In the initial stage, the business was good and he did make some profit. With this, he ventured into another business and mixed with some ’bad company’. He started gambling the last year and got himself stranded with debts and started borrowing money from the loan sharks. It became a snowball situation and owed the loan shark about S$100K.

He was not able to make his credit card payment, phone bill and car loan. With this, I lend him my savings to pay the loan sharks and also pay his phone bill...etc. Worst of all, he left the house without informing us. With his ’disappear’, I had to shoulder the household expenses, take care of my father. In the end, I couldn’t even pay the minimum payment for all my credit cards.

Everyday, I’m receiving calls from the banks chasing for payment and also received lawyer’s letters. At one stage, I really thought of committing suicide as I do not know who to turn to for help.

Luckily I read about CCS from the newspapers and attended the talk.

With CCS’ help to negotiate with the banks, they allowed me to pay my debt using the DMP programme.

I consider myself lucky, without CCS’ help, I will be sued bankruptcy by the banks.

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