Loan shark crimes are thriving in Singapore because many honest people believe them.
The unscrupulous Ah Longs prey on innocent victims. They con individuals into loans with very high interest rates. When they are unable to repay, they harass and disturb them, bringing chaos to their personal and work life.
Therefore, our country’s authorities do our best to educate people about the dangers of Ah Longs.
You should know that once you start dealing with loan sharks, you’re in grave danger. You and your loved ones may be bullied, harassed, or injured. Your debt can skyrocket even if you’re only borrowing a small amount.
Remember that Ah Longs don’t play by the rules. They can turn the tables without any notice and bury you in more financial problems.
If you need money urgently, it is recommended to turn to legal financial institutions for help. You can apply for a loan with them, and they will never harass you.
Wondering how to differentiate loan sharks from licensed moneylenders? Let this article help you!
How Do I Know If I’m Dealing With A Loan Shark In Singapore?
The signs of a loan shark includes illegal advertising, high principal sums and interests, hidden taxes, and no clear contracts. Physical violence and threats are distinct marks of loan sharks too. Let’s discuss these below:
1. Loan Sharks Advertise Through SMS, Flyers And E-mails
Licensed moneylenders in Singapore should only use the following advertising channels, according to MinLaw:
- Business directories
- Consumer directories
- Official website
- Their venture’s physical premises (walls, doors, gates, etc.)
Instead, loan sharks will bombard you with WhatsApp texts, calls, flyers, e-mails, and other invasive ads.
2. Loan Sharks Claim To Lend You Any Amount
Loan sharks seem extremely generous at first. They won’t ask for your credit score or income because they seemingly want to help out of the goodness of their hearts.
However, borrowing an amount that’s outside of your financial means brings on more debt.
Warning: You’re not safe even if you can repay your initial loan. Your loan shark will claim all sorts of hidden fees and failed payments to squeeze more cash.
Instead, MinLaw imposes the following maximum amounts to moneylenders to ensure you can repay your debt comfortably:
|Annual Income||Singapore Citizens and PRs||Foreigners|
|$10,001 - $20,000||$3,000||$3,000|
|> $20,000||Six times your monthly salary||Six times your monthly salary|
Pro tip: If you need a more considerable sum, you can try securing a smaller loan now and another one later.
Most licensed moneylenders in Singapore such as BST Credit, are more inclined to offer you two consecutive loans if they see you’re a diligent repayer.
3. Loan Sharks Charge You Extremely High And Illegal Interest Rates
Before accepting a loan from loan sharks, remember that licensed moneylenders are only allowed to impose a 4% maximum interest rate per month. They can also ask for $60/month of late repayment.
Higher interest rates are illegal.
Loan sharks demand more money. They’ll trick you by saying it’s the only way to obtain a loan. However, you have many other options, such as credit counselling and debt consolidation. We’ll discuss them below.
Also, loan sharks ask for massive penalty fees in case of missed payments. Don’t count on a clear-cut repayment plan, either.
4. Loan Sharks Impose Processing Or Admin Fees
Processing fees to hurry your application approval or to access more money are illegal. Loan sharks in Singapore will claim that you need to transfer them a certain amount of money before they can approve your loan.
Please remember that you never need to pay any fees before loan approval.
5. Loan Sharks Draft Unreliable Contracts
Loan sharks’ paperwork is unreliable, iffy, and unlawful. That’s if you’re lucky enough to receive a contract at all.
Here’s one example:
Before drafting your contract, a licensed moneylender can demand proofs of identity, residence, and income. Illegal creditors will also want to know your passwords, hold yours and your spouse’s ID, and learn where your kids go to school.
Loan sharks will also neglect to include in their “contracts”:
- An exact repayment schedule with precise interest rates
- All their fees
- Their legal obligations and your rights as a customer
- Legal measures in case of loan defaults
Remember: Don’t give anyone your ID as collateral, access to your bank accounts, or personal info about your loved ones. Make sure always to get signed copies of your contracts. Never ink blank or incomplete documents, either.
6. Loan Sharks Use Threats
Loan sharks frequently appeal to manipulation and an innovative array of violent means of constraint. They’re not above hurting you or your loved ones physically, but usually, they will harass, threaten, and bully you.
In short, they will make your life miserable.
For example, they can call you and your loved ones incessantly. Loan sharks may also contact your co-workers or employer.
Other loan sharks harass you with multiple deliveries you haven’t made. They can destroy your car, paint offensive words on your walls, and threaten to hurt your loved ones.
In turn, licensed moneylenders in Singapore always keep their calm and composure. They will maintain a professional demeanor even if you’re late repaying your loan. In this case, the best agents will assist with new payment options.
If you have decided to apply for a loan with a licensed moneylender, consider BST Credit, one of the best companies around to help you.
How To Deal With Loan Shark Harassment In Singapore?
Recognising the giveaway signs of a loan shark helps you escape their reach faster.
Here are five clean-cut steps below:
1. Check If They Are Registered Licensed Moneylenders With The Ministry Of Law
Illegal lenders will construct a seemingly legit persona online. They will build a professional-looking website with testimonies, reviews, and other persuasive elements.
Remember: Check MinLaw’s database of licensed moneylenders in Singapore on the official website to check your moneylender.
Loan sharks may try to trick you by sending other lists or by claiming their business is too new to be on the government’s database.
2. Report Them To The Police
The safest course of action is to call the authorities immediately. Here are a few numbers and websites to access:
- Singapore Police: 1800 255 0000 (for crime-related info); 999 (for emergencies)
- X-Ah Long Hotline: 1800-924-5664
- E-complaints police form: Here
- Registry of Moneylenders: 1800-2255-529
You should be proactive and report a loan shark before they become physically dangerous. They may harm other members of the public as well!
File a complaint as soon as you see a creditor using unlawful advertising practices. Do the same if you receive an incomplete contract or if someone is asking for illegal fees.
3. Don’t Submit To Harassment
If you and your loved ones are harassed, threatened, and hurt, it’s almost impossible not to submit. However, that’s not the intelligent thing to do.
Calling the authorities immediately is your best chance to protect yourself and your family.
Remember that doing illegal acts on behalf of your loan shark is illegal, even if you’re acting out of fear. For example, loan sharks may ask you to be loan shark runners. They will ask you to harass other debtors.
However, both these actions are criminal offences in the category of aiding and abetting. Nearly 300 people have been arrested. Their punishment may include:
- Up to five years of jail
- $5,000-$50,000 fines
- 3-6 cane strokes for men
4. Don’t Pay The Loan Shark
If you’re like most people, you’ll repay your loan shark because:
- You believe they can sue you
- You’re afraid of them
- You don’t want to hint to them that you’ve called the police
Although these arguments might sound reasonable, they’re not true.
Even if you repay your loan, you’ll probably never be able to get rid of loan sharks.
They will definitely contact or harass you.
5. Contact Social Service For Further Assistance
Getting involved with a loan shark is dangerous. Understandably, you might feel scared and trapped. You may also face massive financial distress now compared to where you started. Whether you need financial assistance or moral support, here are a few trustworthy institutions to contact:
|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?
You can try many solutions to solve your debt. For example, you can rent or sell some of your things, ask your friends for help, or look for loans from legal financial institutions.
Here are two convenient options, though:
Debt Consolidation Loan Offered By BST Credit
Many Singaporeans fighting off bad credit ended up in this situation because of accumulated interest rates from multiple debts. Thus, the solution is to reduce your debts’ interest and installment amounts.
If you choose a debt consolidation plan, your financial institution will repay your existing debt.
You will then have to repay them but at a lower interest and on a more extended schedule. That way, you can plan your budget better and become debt-free faster.
Worry not if you have bad credit, because financial institutions such as BST Credit are always ready to help our customers tide through financial difficulties.
Applying for a loan with BST Credit can be completed within minutes.
Unsure? Read real Google reviews from our valued customers here!
Credit counselling Singapore is an excellent alternative if you want to discuss more repayment options with a specialist. You’ll learn about various debt settlement ways and also how to manage your finances wisely.
A CCS agent may also help you renegotiate more comfortable terms with your moneylender. CCS carries a lot of weight in Singapore, so it’s good to have them in your corner.