How To Choose A Licensed Money Lender In Singapore
Due to the advancement in technology, it has become pretty easy to find a money lender online. Some even promise to give you a loan in a matter of minutes.
But if you’re not careful, you may end up dealing with a scammer, loan shark or unlicensed money lender. Such illegal lenders can make your life very difficult.
To know how to choose a licensed money lender in Singapore, you need to know what to look out for. It’s the only way to ensure you stay off loan sharks.
A commonly asked question is “where can I find a licensed money lender in Singapore?” and “how can I check if a lender is licensed in Singapore?”
In this article, you will find what you need to know.
Why You Should Choose A Licensed Money Lender
For the right answer, you have to ask the right question.
So if you are wondering why you should choose a licensed money lender, it is because legal lenders have to abide by the Moneylenders Act and will not act unreasonably or impose sky-high fees.
This is the exact opposite for loan sharks or illegal lenders, who will stop at nothing to recover their money from you.
That said, there are things you will need to consider when applying for a loan with a licensed money lender.
But the first step is to know how to find a licensed money lender.
Which Are The Licensed Money Lenders In Singapore?
Licensed money lenders in Singapore are those approved by the Ministry of Law to provide loans.
Due to the rising number of loan sharks and unlicensed money lenders these days, the Singapore government has to ensure its citizens will not be duped to take loans by the deceptive ways employed by unlicensed lenders.
Therefore, all licensed money lenders can be found in the Ministry of Law’s list of licensed money lenders maintained by the Registry of Moneylenders.
The Registry of Moneylenders oversees the registration, regulation and updating of this list, which can be found online and downloaded as a PDF.
But you should still do further checks on a money lender to ensure it is licensed.
How To Check If A Money Lender Is Licensed
After looking up the Ministry of Law’s list of licensed money lenders, ensure the money lender has a money lender license.
Verify its license registration status with what is stated on the list of licensed money lenders.
A legal lender should also have such a license placed in its office premises. Be careful if a lender claims to have a license that has been revoked or not renewed.
A money lender’s license must be renewed yearly one month before it expires.
Another huge red flag is if it does not even have an office location.
Signs Of An Unlicensed Money Lender In Singapore
An unlicensed money lender may:
- Ask for your Singpass user ID or password
- Use threatening language in an attempt to force you to repay the loan
- Ask you to sign a contract without understanding its content
- Promise to grant you a loan with no due diligence (i.e. face-to-face meet-up)
- Retain your NRIC or other vital documents
- Offer you a loan through SMS, flyers, or phone calls
- Withhold some part of your principal amount for no valid reason
Use this checklist to ensure you are not dealing with a loan shark or scammer.
How To Know If It’s A Loan Scam
Most loan scammers will claim to be licensed money lenders with valid licenses.
Once they get your vital information such as your contact number or Singpass details, you will be in deep trouble as these details will be used for illegal purposes.
To avoid this, avoid any “lender” that:
- Promises to give you an instant loan within a day: There are no 24-hour money lenders in Singapore and if you happen to meet one, he or she is a scammer.
- Sends you unsolicited loan ads: Block such ads or alerts. You can also report them to the police.
- Asks for fees to dispatch your loan or demands high processing fees
- Uses an unsecure website: Many borrowers fall victim to loan scams as they think a website is a legalised way to prove one’s authenticity.
- Requests an urgent response
- Pushes you to accept approval online: It may approve your loan through a SMS or call since it has no office.
- Does not offer a loan contract for the loan granted
If the deal sounds too good, it probably is a scam. No authorised money lender will pressure you to take a loan.
But what if you want to know what legal lenders offer? Can you get such information from advertisements?
Are Licensed Money Lenders Allowed To Advertise?
According to the Moneylender Act, there are strict rules on what a money lender can or can’t do concerning advertising.
Licensed money lenders are heavily governed by rules set by the Ministry of Law. These regulations ensure that Singaporeans are protected from rogue lenders.
So where can licensed money lenders advertise?
Where Licensed Money Lenders Can Advertise
Business or consumer directories: The usage of both printed and online media mediums is allowed.
Official website of the licensed money lender: Check the address bar and the URL. It should be like this “https: //”. Also, check the domain name. If you are not sure, the best way is to compare the website address against what is stated on the list of licensed money lenders in Singapore. Once you submit your personal details to a fake website, you will have compromised your address, NRIC number, contact number, and other vital information.
The money lender’s office premises: A licensed money lender can put up advertisements on the interior or exterior of its approved place of business.
What Licensed Money Lenders Can And Cannot Do
A licensed money lender has to conduct a face-to-face meet-up with you so you can identify it before any loan is granted. It also needs to check your identity.
No 100%-online loan transactions are allowed whatsoever. You also verify the advertisement posted at its premises.
A money lender is not allowed to advertise via:
- Mobile text messages
- Phone calls
- Fake websites
- Social media accounts
Fees And Rates Charged By Licensed Money Lenders
Laws govern what legal money lenders in Singapore charge for interest as below:
- The maximum interest rate for customers should not be more than 4% per month. Such a rate applies regardless of whether you take a secured or unsecured loan.
- The rate of late interest is not more than 4% per month. The late interest is applied to every month a borrower pays late.
- Late repayment charges and expenses should not exceed $60 every month.
- An admin fee of not more than 10% is to be charged on the principal amount when a loan is granted.
Note that the total charges (interest rates, administrative fees, late interest, or late fee) imposed on a borrower should not exceed the amount equivalent to the principal loan amount.
What To Do Before Taking A Loan
Before you take that long-awaited loan, there are things you need to consider as follows:
- Consider other options. You may find out that other legitimate financial institutions offer more favourable terms compared to a money lender. Do some research to get the best deal.
- While each licensed money lender has to abide by the set regulations, it may have unique ways of handling customers. You don’t want to deal with someone with unfavourable terms or a tough personality. So check reviews from satisfied customers.
- Ensure you have all the required documents. These include:
- Proof of your income and employment
- Proof of residency
- Current credit score: You can request this from Credit Bureau Singapore. Note that this may be a requirement for unsecured loans.
- Past CPF statements: You can get such using the CPF Mobile app via your Singpass or can log in to the website and print the statement.
- If you are a foreigner, you will need a tenancy agreement, employment pass, and passport, plus all the above-stated requirements.
- You will be legally bound by the contract you will sign. Be sure that you’re in a position to repay whatever amount you want to borrow, which is as per the required limits in Singapore. You can consider your income and other financial obligations to fulfil.
- If you have a secured loan and default in payments, your assets may be sold off. Conversely, defaulting on an unsecured loan will impact your credit score. For an unsecured loan, money lenders may want to know about your credit rating. You can get a report from the Moneylenders Credit Bureau. In case the report is negative, there are options to clean it before applying for a loan.
- Let your loan provider explain to you the contractual terms in a language you fully understand and provide a copy of the loan contract. This way, you will know how to settle a licensed money lender.
- Take time to understand all details, such as interest rates, repayment schedule, and any other charges or fees applicable. Ask questions for clarity until you are satisfied.
If you follow this guide, you will have an easier time.
What To Do After The Loan Is Granted
As a borrower, you have a huge part to play to ensure all goes well. Once your loan is approved, do the following:
- Ensure that the amount of loan granted is correct. Your money lender is only supposed to deduct a loan approval fee of not more than 10% of your principal amount.
- Get a copy of the loan contract.
- Fulfill your obligations – pay your installments on time to avoid late interest and late payment fees.
- Once you make a payment, request a receipt as evidence. Confirm your name, date, and the amount paid. Keep these documents safely as proof in case of any payment disputes.
Request for a statement of account. You can ask for quarterly, half-yearly, or annual reports. Check that the details are in line with all the financial transactions conducted. You must have an idea of the outstanding balance due and any other charges therein.
But what if you have done what is needed, but your legal money lender decides to play the game of cat and mouse?
According to the Ministry of Law, you have a legal right to take action against a licensed money lender. Any engagement in unfair practices whether threats or harassment should be reported.
But where do you take such complaints?
Where To Get Help
Make sure to report such cases to the Registry of Moneylenders by dialing 1800-2255-529. You will need to have the licensed money lender’s business name, contacts, and license number.
The Ministry may also request an interview to get more details on the same.
You can also take your case to the Small Claims Tribunal or the Consumer Fair Trading Act. This protects your rights against anything that doesn’t conform to the contract and any matter connected therewith.
Your details are kept confidential and will not be given to the money lender without your consent.
Always Choose A Reliable Licensed Money Lender
Loans scams are on the rise, making it scary for Singaporeans who want to take loans. It’s worth your time to choose and deal with a licensed money lender.
Always conduct a proper background check based on what has been provided on the Registry of Moneylenders website.
But if you’re not sure, choose BST Credit to protect yourself from becoming a loan scam victim. We are a licensed money lender that acts with integrity and honesty.