PRESSURE is mounting for the Government to license debt collectors after complaints of intimidation. Legislators and some debt-collecting companies yesterday said the rights and interests of bank customers should be protected. Unscrupulous practitioners were harassing and threatening debtors, they said. At yesterday's Legislative Council security panel meeting, legislator Mr Zachary Wong Wai-yin said the problem had reached a dangerous level because some debt collectors were using methods similar to those of loan sharks. But the Deputy Secretary for Security, Mr Ken Woodhouse, said the problem was not that serious. He said the Government was considering a review. Mr Wong said debt collectors were often appointed by banks and credit card companies after signing an agreement, saying the bank would not be responsible for any act carried out by the collectors. A licensing system and stiffer legislation were necessary to keep the situation under control. The United Democrats and the Liberal Party threw their weight behind calls for licensing. United Democrats chairman Mr Martin Lee Chu-ming said banks and financial institutions should be liable for activities carried out by debt collectors. He said the Consumer Council should name banks which hired unscrupulous debt collectors. Mr Wong said there were inadequate channels for borrowers to voice their complaints in a system which lacked legal protection. He also accused the Government of being apathetic, with debt collectors using legal loopholes to collect money for their clients. The Consumer Council, which is conducting a study on cartels in the local banking business, usually refers cases to the police. Council spokesman Mr Simon Ho Shiu-kau said there was nothing the consumer body could do about the banks, which lent out money legally. Mr David Lau Fu-keung, operations director of Dun and Bradstreet International which is involved in debt collecting, agreed that some form of regulation should be introduced to eliminate malpractice. ''Some debt collectors are using undesirable means to get their money back and it has a very bad impact on the practitioners as a whole.''