Wed, Jan 11, 2006 - Page 10 News List

FSC urges card debtors to seek government help

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Financial Supervisory Commission yesterday called on the nation's 400,000 heavily indebted credit and cash-advance cardholders to take advantage of the government's debt-relief mechanism to clear their debts.

Since the launch of the first-generation card-debt negotiation program on Nov. 7 last year, 40 consumers have obtained help through longer repayment periods and preferential interest rates.

A revised package was put into place on Jan. 1, with the aim of giving so-called card slaves faster and better assistance.

During the first six days of the month, 4,000 people called seeking help and 1,200 debtors applied for aid in dealing with their card debts, according to the commission's statistics.

However, the financial watchdog was not satisfied and expressed concern that hesitation to seek assistance by those who are deeply in debt could lead to more social tragedies. A security guard in Taipei was found dead from self-immolation on Monday morning. He had reportedly incurred card debt of more than NT$3 million (US$93,700).

"The 160 exclusive phone lines offered by the eight agent banks only resolved 200 cases a day. Consumers have not fully used this well-managed mechanism," commission spokesman Lin Chung-cheng (林忠正) said at a press conference.

Gary Tseng (曾國烈), director general of the commission's Banking Bureau, also urged consumers to talk to banks directly, which is a free service.

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