How To Deal With Loan Shark Harassment In Singapore: 5 Possible Solutions For You
Ah Long are one of Singapore’s most prolific criminals.
They target people of all ages, incomes, and education levels through several well-honed tactics. Anyone can fall into their trap.
Singaporeans who take up loans from Ah Longs deal with violence and harassment. Even if you make timely repayments, loan sharks can change their conditions suddenly and without reason.
Remember that Ah Longs want to squeeze all their clients for more money. Compared to licensed moneylenders who follow the rules, they are scary and violent. They don’t care about using legal means.
Paint splashing? Making threats? Hanging a pig’s head on your door? You name it.
That’s why you should learn how to recognise a loan shark before they hook you. If you made the mistake of borrowing illegal money, don’t lose hope. This article tells you how to deal with loan shark harassment in five easy steps. Read on.
What Are The Tell-Tale Signs Of Dealing With A Loan Shark In Singapore?
We can’t emphasize this enough: doing business with Ah Long poses enormous risks. Here are tell-tale signs to steer clear of them.
1. Illegal Advertising Means: SMS, Flyers And E-mails
Loan sharks want to attract as many desperate customers as possible. Thus, they employ invasive means of advertising to connect to you directly. These channels include messages on:
- Social media profiles
You never know who’s on the other end of the line.
You may even receive direct phone calls from loan sharks pretending to represent licensed moneylenders.
Remember: MinLaw Singapore restricts legal moneylenders’ advertising to the following channels:
- Business directories
- Consumer directories
- The moneylender’s website
- Their company’s walls, gates, or doors
2. Promise To Access Huge Amounts
If you’re trying to obtain a bank loan, you know they’ll do a background check. The approval process includes analysing your credit score and income.
There are two main reasons for that:
First, your lender must ensure they can get their money back. Secondly, you’re not overextending yourself with snowballing debt you can’t repay.
That’s why MinLaw outlines the following maximum amounts depending on your income:
- Up to $3,000 for yearly incomes below $20,000
- Up to six times your monthly salary for incomes above $20,000
These figures are similar if you’re a foreigner residing in Singapore. However, you can only borrow $500 if your annual income is below $10,000. If you wish to learn more about loans in Singapore, click here.
3. Enormous (And Illegal) Interest Rates
Some loan sharks may pose in licensed moneylenders to hook you in. One of the critical tell-tale signs, though, is asking for whopping interest rates.
Interest charged increases absurdly.
You may also notice that an illegal loan shark posing as a licensed moneylender is:
- Failing to draft and stick to an exact repayment schedule
- Asking for high interest out of the blue
- Asking for high penalty costs in case of missed instalments
Remember: The Ministry of Law in Singapore imposed a 4% maximum interest rate/ month for all licensed money lenders. For example, your monthly interest rate for a $5,000 loan can’t be more than $200.
Moreover, MinLaw outlined only three other possible fees that a moneylender can demand:
- Up to $60/ month in case of late payment
- Up to 10% of your initial loan sum when signing the loan contract
- Legal court charges if your moneylender sues you for faulty repayments
MinLaw orders that these charges are less than your principal loan amount.
4. Processing Or Admin Fees
A licensed money lender will never ask you to pay any money before approving your loan. The fees will be deducted from your loan amount.
If you are looking for a personal loan from a legal lender, you can find out more information here.
If they request for a bank transfer before approving your loan, or to test your bank account, it is 100% a scam or a loan shark.
Licensed moneylenders aren’t allowed to ask for money to:
- Speed up your application
- Loan you a higher amount
- Offer decreased interest
Licensed moneylenders can only ask for 10% of your initial loan amount, but only after both parties ink the loan contract.
That brings us to the issue of contracts:
5. Sketchy Contracts
As you probably figured by now, loan sharks are sketchy people. That’s why they’ll use manipulative tactics that drain you of more cash. One of these methods is drafting an unreliable contract.
By contrast, licensed moneylenders’ contracts state clearly:
- Both parties’ rights and obligations
- Exact instalments
- Repayment schedule
- Clear interest rates
- All applicable fees
- The legal process in case of missed instalments or loan default
- May not present you with any contract
- May ask you to sign blank or incomplete documents
- Don’t give any copies of these documents with their signatures on them
- Ask to know the passwords to your NRIC and bank accounts
- Keep your ID as collateral until you repay your debt
- Approve your loan without due diligence at their official headquarters
6. Threats, Harassment, And Violence
Lives have been ruined by loan sharks. Not only do they face physical violence, but they have to face mental stress as well.
Licensed moneylenders in Singapore and abroad must respect a carefully outlined code of conduct. Therefore, they will always maintain a professional and respectful attitude, even towards customers who break their contracts.
Pro tip: The most reliable moneylenders on the island go above and beyond their code of ethics. These people will strive to find personalised and affordable solutions if you can’t meet your contract’s terms.
Conversely, loan sharks will:
- Threaten their clients and their clients’ loved ones
- Harass you at your office and when you’re with your friends
- Harass people that are close to you
- Stop by frequently by your home and workplace
- Call you at inappropriate times
- Hit you
- Vandalise your property
How Do You Deal With Loan Shark Harassment In Singapore?
So far, we discussed signs that help you recognise loan sharks. Now, let’s find out how you should deal with loan sharks effectively.
1. Check The Ministry Of Law’s Database Of Licensed Moneylenders
MinLaw Singapore helps you avoid dealing with unlicensed moneylenders by simply checking if they’re genuinely legal. You can find the updated registry of authorised creditors here.
Remember: Loan sharks will pretend their company is licensed even when you confront them with the facts. Here are some lies they can make up:
- MinLaw’s list is not complete.
- They’re new on the market, so MinLaw hasn’t had time to add them to the list.
- They use a different trade name.
- They include a false MinLaw certificate on their website.
2. Contact The Police
You should always contact the police if you believe you’re dealing with fraudulent moneylending.
Pro tip: Some moneylenders are not above breaking the law. So, even if they appear on MinLaw’s list above, they can still use illegal practices.
Here’s when to contact the authorities:
A moneylender is marketing its services through flyers, direct messages, or phone calls
- They require pre-approval charges
- You didn’t sign a contract
- You didn’t get a copy of your contract
- The moneylender is avoiding due diligence
- The loan shark confiscated your ID and passwords
- You’re harassed or hit
- Your property is vandalised
- The lender is calling your family and co-workers
- The loan shark is coming to your home in groups of more than five
If this happens to you, you should:
- Call the police or file an e-complaint here
- Call the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664
- Report a licensed moneylender who’s using illegal practices at the Registry of Moneylenders
- Block their numbers and e-mail addresses
Warning: The loan shark may have already given your number and e-mail address to other loan sharks. These people can also harass you or contact you about special deals. Don’t fall prey to their schemes if you don’t want your debt to snowball.
3. Don’t Yield To Harassment
Keeping your calm when someone harasses or threatens you is nearly impossible. However, that’s precisely what you should do when dealing with a loan shark.
That and contacting the authorities, of course.
When you give in to manipulative and threatening behaviours, loan sharks gain the upper hand. Things get even worse if, following this harassment, you agree to commit crimes.
For example, some people may harass other debtors on behalf of the loan sharks. They are forced to become loan shark runners, which is illegal in Singapore.
These crimes have harsh punishments: gaol time, fines, and strokes of the cane.
Therefore, remember to change your phone number and block the loan shark immediately, without giving in to their demands.
4. Don’t Pay The Loan Shark
A lot of Singaporeans who have contacted the police to report a loan shark do this common mistake: They continue paying their debt to the loan shark.
The Ah Long may coerce you to do that, but it’s still illegal. For example, they may threaten to sue you if you don’t reimburse them. The loan sharks don’t have any legal basis for that threat because their entire moneylending activity breaks the law.
Also, you may not want the loan shark to find out that you alerted the police. In this case, you may understandably want to continue making payments until their arrest.
That’s a mistake too.
Here’s what you should do instead:
5. Contact Social Service For Further Assistance
Fighting off a loan shark is dangerous and challenging. Therefore, you may need extra assistance and advice along the way. Here’s where you can find that:
|Credit Counselling Singapore||6225 5227|
|MSF ComCare||1800 222 0000|
|Association of Muslim Professionals||6416 3960|
|Adullam Life Counselling||6659 7844|
|Arise2Care Community Services||6909 0628|
|Blessed Grace Social Services||8428 6377|
|One Hope Centre||6547 1011|
|Silver Lining Community Services||6749 0400|
Where Can I Get Help For My Debt?
The usual reason why people contact loan sharks is because they can’t get enough financial support elsewhere. You may face urgent financial problems or pre-existing debt.
They need money fast.
If that’s the case, below are two excellent solutions:
Reliable licensed moneylenders such as Katong Credit offers personal loans for Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners.
Our personal loans are approved quickly within hours, and we are more lenient with the credit score. Even if you have bad credit, don’t shy away!
Other than higher loan approval rates, Katong Credit will also look at your finances and provide financial tips for free.
We understand that sometimes borrowers truly need money urgently and we hope to help. If you require a personal loan fast, you can apply here within minutes!
Credit counselling helps people who are facing a pre-existing debt as well as other money problems. Agencies like Credit Counselling Singapore will teach you money management to organise your budget better. If you’re in debt, they’ll assist you through direct negotiations with your creditors, debt consolidation plans, and various bankruptcy options.
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