Loan shark harassment has been on the ‘boom’ lately in Singapore. From foreigners to locals, people who don’t know the banking system and the country’s laws often fall prey to these frauds.
This alluring scam has ruined lots of lives, but most people are not even aware of them. If you need money urgently, you should consider applying from a legal financial institution.
It won’t hurt to learn how to identify these loan scams for you never know when you might be hit with it.
In this article, we talk about the whole nine yards on loan shark scam you should be aware of and what to do if you go one-on-one with them.
Give this write-up a read if you won’t win this tussle.
Who Are The Loan Sharks/Ah Longs?
The only difference between loan sharks and real sharks is, real sharks eat your flesh while loan sharks eat your money. Otherwise, they’re basically the same; at least that’s what we think.
Imagine someone lending you money while charging you extremely high interest rates. What’s worse, they’re illegal. Yep, you’ve read that right. You see, licensed moneylenders are Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approved. They follow the codes of practice authorized by the FCA.
However, loan sharks go illegal. They don’t have a law or any code of conduct.
Loan sharks basically target people who have low income or struggling financially. If you borrow money from loan sharks, most likely, you’ll face some common scenarios.
- They’ll lend you the money on bad terms
- You’ll have to pay a huge interest rate
- If somehow you don’t repay them on time, they’ll harass you
- They’ll create pressures on you so that you’ll borrow more money and repay their previous debt with the latest one
Before approaching anyone for a loan, please learn how much you can borrow here.
What Are The Common Scams Used By Loan Sharks
Now that you know what a loan shark is, you can just simply think, ‘Oh, that’s it? I’ll just brush them aside every time I see one.’.
Well, newsflash! If a loan shark tries to prey on you, you won’t even know you’re getting hoodwinked most of the time. So, don’t underestimate these people at all.
Here are some common scams they use.
1. The Licensed Lender Impersonator
In this scam, the loan shark will contact you via e-mail, text, WhatsApp, Facebook or phone. These Ah Longs are tech-savvies, so yes, they have lots of leads and contact information of people all over Singapore.
As you speak to them, they’ll seem pretty professional and legitimate, thanks to their well-planned façade. They’ll try to promote their ‘service’ and give you all the mumbo-jumbo on why you should choose them.
In fact, they use important information and credentials illegally from lots of reputed business addresses and business names. They have been pretending to be officials from the police, the banks and even the Ministry of Health!
So, be vigilant if you’re planning to take a loan for any of your financial difficulties.
2. The Loan Collector Scam
Now, this one is pretty simple, but hundreds if not thousands of people get duped into this. The loan shark will impersonate themselves as someone who is a legitimate moneylender like we’ve discussed earlier. However, this time, they’ll tell you that you owe them money.
Sometimes, they’ll make up stories and bluff, explaining that some third-party guy has cheated you, playing as a fake moneylender. They (the loan sharks) are the ‘actual’ money-lenders, so you’ll have to repay the money to them, not the other guy you’ve taken the money from.
To make things worse, they’ll threaten you with consequences if you don’t repay them. We are pretty sure that you’ve seen the “0$P$” sign before.
This includes vandalism to property or assault. People who took money from other money-lenders fall prey to it in no time.
So, if you’ve already taken a loan from someone, make sure you call the agent or the lender himself and verify everything. In fact, legal loans require you to visit the shop to sign the loan contract. This is true regardless of the COVID situation.
3. The Fee Transfer Scam
This scam is something you need to worry about. This one is probably the most dangerous trick the loan shark will try on you. If you fall into the trap this time, the loan sharks will take your money and your personal information.
In this scam, the loan sharks will either text you or call you via phone, claiming that they’ve approved a loan for you. To take the loan, you have to pay an admin fee.
The scammers will then want the SingPass access from you, and they’ll throw all their hocus pocus on this. If you don’t buy it, you’re saved. However, if you fall for it, they’ll have access to all your private and personal information.
Since it’s a huge win from their side, they’ll use this information as leverage on you. Now, they can harass you, blackmail you and make you their puppet.
There’s a silver lining, though. This scam is dangerous, yes. However, you’ll find the easiest exit to this problem as well. If you actually asked for a loan from someone, all you need to do is give them a call and verify if they’ve sent someone on their behalf to contact you.
How To Deal With Loan Shark Harassment In Singapore?
Alrighty! So, let’s say you’ve fallen into the trap of a loan shark, and you don’t know a way out. What do you do?
Screaming doesn’t help my friend — action does. Here are 5 easy steps you can follow to close all the contact with your loan shark once and for all.
1. See If They Have License for Lending You Money
When a loan shark tries to lend you money, make sure you check if they’re licensed or not. You check his information, such as his name or ID, on the website of the Ministry of Law.
Always remember that loan sharks will put up fake websites to show you that they’re legitimate. They’ll even manage fake databases from the Ministry of Law.
The best way is to visit the moneylender’s physical shop to confirm things for yourself.
2. Contact the Police
Call the Singapore police department and tell them you’re suspecting someone as a loan shark. You can either call them via 1800-924-5664 or can send them an e-complaint.
Sometimes, even licensed money-lenders play as ‘part-time’ loan sharks. Just in case you find someone like that, contact the Registry of Moneylenders and report them. You can try 1800-2255-529.
Here’s when you should be concerned and take action.
- If the money-lenders show you illegal ads, let’s say texts or flyers, for example
- They’ll ask for dubious fees
- They’ll seize your ID and password
- You didn’t get any contract about the paperwork
- They’re threatening you and your loved ones
- Loan sharks are seizing your property wrongfully
Remember: If you find them suspicious, don’t hesitate to block their number, social media accounts, and e-mails.
Nevertheless, that’s not the end of the story. Once their first attempt fails, the loan sharks probably share all of your information and contact details within their Ah Long network. As a result, other illegal creditors will try to contact you with lots of appealing packages.
The ploy is simple; they’ll want to cage you. So, no matter how tempting their offer is, don’t buy their words at all.
3. Don’t Submit to Their Harassment
Loan sharks are great at harassing people. They’re expert manipulators who’ll try to play mind-games with you. Keeping your cool is the most challenging part here. But you got to do what you go to do.
If they understand that you’re getting stressed out, that’s when they’ll take advantage of it. They’ll try to lure you into their illegal dealings. If you don’t agree to their terms, the loan sharks will threaten you and force you to be one of the Ah Long runners.
What’s worse, they can force you to harass other debtors as well. If you, somehow, end up helping the loan sharks, you’ll face 5 years in jail, up to 6 strokes of cane (if you’re a man), and a massive 4-figure fine.
There are many solutions to deal with loan shark harassment in Singapore. You can read the recommended solutions here.
So, if you fall in any kind of danger, contact the X Ah Long right away by dialing 1800-82405664. The best part?
If you seek the assistance of police, they’ll patrol your neighborhood and keep doing it until they apprehend these frauds.
That was the whole caboodle on loan shark scam you should be aware of. Remember, the only thing you need most to fight loan sharks is your confidence and courage.
No matter how desperate you are, never ever borrow from loan sharks! It will be tough to escape their clutches! In face, personal loans are better than credit cards and these Ah Longs.
All you need to do is act a bit smart and help your local authorities. That’s it!
There’s no need to panic because that’s the weakness the loan sharks are looking for. Just take a deep breath, relax and take the necessary measures. You’ll be good to go.
If you need a loan from a legitimate financial institution, you can learn more about BST Credit here. We are a reliable company in Singapore that has been around for several years. Our shop is also located near Jurong East MRT.