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More debtors seek help from Credit Counselling Singapore

CREDIT Counselling Singapore (CCS) on Tuesday said the average number of debtors seeking help annually went from 650 in its first five years (2004 to 2008) to 1,377 in the last five years (2009 to 2013).

For the first eight months of 2014, CCS counselled 1,509 individuals.

CCS president Kuo How Nam said, however, that the statistics did not mean that Singapore's debt situation was worsening. Instead, he attributed the increase in the number of individuals seeking CCS' help, to the expansion in loans base and a greater awareness of CCS' services.

Speaking at the organisation's 10th anniversary, he said the average outstanding debt owed by distressed debtors who sought CCS' help has grown 22 per cent, from $77,807 in 2004 to $94,765 in the first eight months of 2014.

Mr Kuo added that growth in average outstanding debt is a function of rising income, in line with the rise in expenditure.

"Consumer loans have definitely increased over the years. The important indicator to watch is the banks' write-off figure for credit cards. This has been consistent at around 5 per cent of credit card rollover balances. In good and bad times, however, there will always be individuals who will get into debt problems because of overspending or other factors like a bout of unemployment or medical expenses."

CCS said common reasons cited for being in debt are overspending and having been retrenched or been dealt a pay cut.