Delinquent loans rose 142 per cent to a record $5.5 billion for the first half of the year as borrowers suffered under a sagging economy and rising unemployment, figures released yesterday show. The number of borrowers in default was also up 145 per cent to 95,882, compared with the same period last year, while the total number of delinquent loan accounts surged 160 per cent to 275,196, said Credit Information Services, a private-sector agency that provides data to 95 banks. Its managing director, Alex Yuen, said the rise was driven by a near-doubling of bankruptcy orders to a record 10,173 during the period. Although non-credit-card lending comprised little more than a third of total bad loans, the big increase showed that repayment problems had spread from credit-card borrowers into personal loans, Mr Yuen said. He conceded that part of the increase in overall loan delinquency was due to a change in reporting rules adopted by banks - which now declare loans 'delinquent' when repayments are 60 days overdue compared with 90 days previously. 'But even discounting this effect . . . newly reported records reached 199,674 - an increase of 89 per cent over the first half of last year,' he said. 'The root cause of the rise is the lack of positive loan data which banks could share to make more prudent lending decisions,' he said. Banks at present can share blacklists of customers who have failed to repay but want to be able to share 'positive' information on borrowers who have not defaulted. Privacy campaigners are opposed to the move. Banks had also partly contributed to the rise in delinquent loans by aggressively expanding their credit-card lending to higher-risk borrowers, Mr Yuen said. The economic downturn and rising unemployment were other factors. Mr Yuen said the rising trend in bankruptcies and bad loans could peak in the middle of next year.