Money lenders have been growing in popularity across Singapore.
More people are turning to them because of their attractive loan application processes: they are less stringent and get approved faster than conventional loans.
Unfortunately, in any rapidly growing industry, there are bound to be unethical businesses seeking to capitalise on borrowers to fetch a profit.
There are illegal money lenders in Singapore, and you need to know how to identify them to avoid getting caught up in their scams.
You also need to know how to make a complaint about a money lender in the event you realise that you’re dealing with an unethical lender.
Read on to learn about unlicensed money lenders and their unfair lending practices, when and how to make a complaint about a money lender, and how to keep yourself from falling into the trap of a loan shark in Singapore.
Deceptive, unfair, and abusive practices by money lenders is called deceptive lending.
Such practices can leave victims with ruined credit and massive debts.
Deceptive lending also includes lending practices designed to coerce borrowers to accept unfair terms through deceptive or exploitative actions to make them take loans they do not need, want, and most importantly, cannot afford.
Money lenders with these practices typically target the less educated, the poor, the elderly, and minorities.
They also target persons with credit issues or those that lost their jobs recently because they are disqualified from accessing conventional loans and credit lines.
Others looking for quick cash for emergencies are also likely to fall prey.
Examples of these practices are:
Unlicensed moneylending refers to the lending done by an illegal money lender in Singapore.
These unlicensed individuals or institutions are typically called loan sharks or “Ah Long” in Singapore.
Without regulations to keep them in place, these illegal lenders resort to intimidation, harassment and violence to chase debts.
Loan sharks in Singapore demand extraordinarily high interests without caring about the borrower’s ability to pay.
On the other hand, borrowers who seek them do not usually have many assets and often seek guarantors, landing such third parties in trouble as well.
An unlicensed money lender in Singapore is, therefore, a threat to the community, and the Singapore police have been actively working to bring them down.
The police ask that you report all loansharking activities or suspicious persons by calling the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 or 999.
So, when looking for a loan, only consider financial institutions with a moneylending license in Singapore.
You can find the list of all licensed money lenders on the Ministry of Law’s website.
If you don’t see the lender on this list, know that you’re dealing with an unlicensed money lender or a blacklisted money lender in Singapore.
You should lodge a complaint against a money lender if the lender:
If you’re having difficulty repaying the loan, you can also make a complaint if the lender:
If unable to resolve the issue internally with the financial institution, it’s time to seek a higher authority.
Contact the Ministry of Law’s Registry of Moneylenders through email at OneMinLaw@mlaw.gov.org or call 1800-2255-529.
Provide detailed information about the money lender, including its business name, license details, and how to contact it.
The handling officers will then contact you and request an interview so you can provide all other details of the loan transaction.
Your complaint is treated with utmost secrecy, and the money lender is only notified of your identity when you consent to it.
If your lender is harassing you, report it to the police. They take threat and harassment cases seriously. Call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or email www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.
If someone calls with unsolicited loan offers, call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688. It should help you determine the legitimacy of the lender.
Telling apart real and fake loan lenders is not a straightforward process, but there are some signs you can look out for to decipher the unethical lenders. They include:
Fraudulent lenders seek to hook their targets through emails, social media, or phone calls.
If you have applied for a loan, the company will contact you as part of their prescreening to check your credit worthiness.
But if the call is unsolicited, the loan offer is likely a scam.
Fraudulent lenders commonly use this line as a tactic to woo would-be borrowers.
But this is highly suspect because a lender’s willingness to issue money is typically dependent on the borrowers’ creditworthiness, indicated by income, credit history, employment, and the amount of debt accrued.
So if these essential factors do not deter a lender, the offer is likely a scam.
Lenders that won’t disclose their fees upfront or use vague language are likely fraudulent.
They lead the borrowers on until they sign the loan forms, only to bombard them with untold costs. Conversely, legit lenders are transparent and will indicate the applicable fees on the loan forms and their websites.
If the lender asks for some fees to initiate the application process, you may be the target of a loan scam.
Traditionally, origination fees are paid at the closing of the loan process and are often deducted from the loan amount. So if they are asking you to get some amount from your pocket, it’s a scam.
The law mandates lenders to register before they issue any loan services.
The registration process typically involves a vetting process that includes background checks that loan scammers would rather avoid.
So before you start the loan application process, visit the relevant website to confirm the lender’s registration and licensing.
To check if a lender has a moneylending license in Singapore, go to the official website of the Ministry of Law. Click on the link “List of Licensed Money Lenders in Singapore.”
Open the PDF in a new browser window or download it to your device. Scroll through the list and check the name of the supposed finance company.
Note that licensed money lenders in Singapore are not permitted to charge monthly interests exceeding 4% of the principal amount. This cap applies to both the nominal interest (interest involved on principal) and late interest (fees for late payments).
The loan interest is calculated by reducing the balance. So if you took a $20,000 loan and paid $10,000, the interest you pay is only on the remaining $10,000.
Also, the late fees only apply to each month’s due installment – and not the entire remaining amount.
Also, a licensed lender must not impose interests higher than the principal amount. The sum of the loan approval fees, legal expenses, and any late payment fees must not exceed the principal loan.
A reputable lender will have a physical address as the center of its business. Even when the lender operates exclusively online, it must have some physical headquarters.
A physical address creates accountability because it enables customers to visit and contact the business in case of legal action or other enforcement issues.
So a lack of physical address should count as a red flag. Also, don’t consider a lender that only offers a post office box.
Be wary of loan offers that have urgent application requirements or are set to expire within a short period.
A reputable lender generally takes time before entrusting a part of his business to you. Although they may occasionally issue some offers like limited fee waivers, the deals only apply to the fees charged and not the principal interest or other significant loan terms.
So if you’re offered a low interest rate that is only applicable within a set limited period, it’s likely a scam.
You are advised to take the following precautions to avoid becoming a victim of loan scams:
Thirdly, call the police hotline in case of anything.
Until the authorities figure out how to solve loan shark problems in Singapore permanently, it’s up to the citizens to exercise their due diligence and avoid getting sucked into loan scams.
Nonetheless, there are still plenty of legal money lenders in Singapore that could help you resolve your money needs legally and with professionalism.
Katong Credit is one such licensed money lender in Singapore, offering personal cash loans at low rates, to persons from all walks of life, including those with bad credit. If you need some cash to solve a need, consider reaching out to them.
Contact Katong Credit via its website or visit them at 304 Orchard Road, #02-30/31 Lucky Plaza, Singapore 238863.
You can also call +65 6291 2210 for more information or to book an appointment.