Singapore is actively fighting loan shark harassment because many people are falling into the trap of Ah Longs.
Known for violence, harassing victims and making unreasonable demands, loan sharks make the lives of their borrowers terrible.
These illegal moneylenders are well-versed in the art of manipulation. Once they hook you in, though, they’ll become violent.
Even customers who repay their loans diligently may face problems with loan sharks. For example, many Ah Long demand increased interests that snowball your debt. Others threaten to expose you as a bad debtor to your employer.
In some cases, loan sharks may hit you, threaten to kidnap your children or vandalise your home.
That’s why you should nip any relationship with a loan shark in the bud. We’ll tell you how to recognise loan sharks to avoid doing business with them. Some of these loan sharks have been disguising themselves as licensed moneylenders and caused numerous victims to fall prey to their loan scams.
We’ll also discuss how you can untangle yourself from their webs if you’ve borrowed cash from them. Read on!
How Do I Know If I’m Dealing With A Loan Shark In Singapore?
Nearly 300 people were arrested in September 2020 for loan shark activities. These illegal lenders are still around in Singapore!
Here are the tell-tale signs of a loan shark that will enable you to take action against them:
1. Loan Sharks Advertise Through SMS, Flyers And E-mails
If you received an SMS, a WhatsApp message, flyer, e-mail, or call from someone advertising their lending practice, you might be dealing with a loan shark.
At the very least, you’re dealing with a licensed moneylender that doesn’t respect MinLaw’s rules about advertising channels. These are:
- Business directories
- Consumer directories
- Official website(s)
- The practice’s physical headquarters, aka walls, windows, and so forth
2. Loan Sharks Claim To Lend You Any Amount
Many Singaporeans believe that banks are unfair when rejecting their loan applications. So when a loan shark doesn’t want to see proof of income or your credit rating, you’re hooked.
Remember, though, that banks conduct due diligence has a crucial advantage for you:
It ensures you can repay your debt effortlessly in budget-friendly installments. There will be a price to pay for the easy way.
If a bank rejects your loan application, legal moneylenders in Singapore have laxer rules. These licensed practitioners are interested in your willingness and current ability to repay the loan rather than your past mistakes. Licensed moneylenders like GS Credit have a higher loan approval rate than banks, and will be able to process your loan application within an hour. If you’re interested, you can apply for a loan here.
Below are the maximum amounts that MinLaw imposes:
|Annual earnings||Singapore Citizens and PRs||Foreigners|
|$10,000 to $20,000||$3,000||$3,000|
|> $20,000||Six times your monthly earnings||Six times your monthly earnings|
3. Loan Sharks Charge You Extremely High Interest Rates That Are Not Legal
If loan sharks lend gargantuan amounts with virtually no due diligence, they have to ensure profit somehow. The method they choose is charging exorbitant interest rates.
- You won’t repay your debt according to a specific schedule within a time limit.
- They can ask for the entire sum back without warning or reason.
- They can increase your rates suddenly.
- If you’re late repaying your loan, Ah Longs will demand excessive penalty fees.
Loan sharks are highly unpredictable. Instead, licensed moneylenders in Singapore have to follow these rules:
- Maximum 4% interest per month
- Maximum $60 late penalty fee
If you fail to repay the loan and dubious loan shark fees, these illegal creditors will become violent. They may harm you or worse, your precious family.
Conversely, if are facing financial difficulties, genuine licensed moneylenders can work out more convenient repayment conditions.
4. Loan Sharks Impose Processing Or Admin Fees
No licensed moneylender in Singapore is allowed to charge you ANY fee before your loan is approved or before your money is disbursed.
If the “lender” is asking for payment to check your bank account, to approve your loan or to process your loan application, they are 100% a loan shark. No second guesses.
You will never be charged any fee before your loan is approved.
Based on the laws set by the Ministry of Law, they are only allowed to deduct a maximum of 10% payment from your loan amount, and never require you to pay separately.
Loan sharks lure you with pre-loan fees to supposedly accelerate your deal or to grant more massive amounts.
Although paying this charge is tempting, remember that it’s just a ploy.
5. Loan Sharks Draft Unreliable Contracts
Loan sharks may not offer you any contract. If they do, this contract is likely incomplete or contains illegal provisions.
You can tell if your contract is illegal if:
- It doesn’t outline specific rights and obligations for all parties involved.
- It doesn’t feature exact interest rates, reimbursement schedule, and transparent fees.
- There aren’t detailed courses of action regarding late reimbursements and loan defaults.
- You notice incomplete conditions.
- The loan shark asks you to sign your name on a blank piece of paper or a document that’s not complete.
Also, loan sharks recur to illegal practices such as:
- Demanding and keeping your ID as collateral until you repay your debt in full
- Asking for passwords to your bank accounts or SingPass
- Transferring you the money without due diligence at their headquarters, aka through texts and e-mails
- Not explaining the contract in depth
- Not giving you any contract
- Refusing to hand over your copy of the contract with their signature on it
6. Loan Sharks Use Threats
Singapore Police warns people about loan sharks’ dangerous practices, such as threats, physical abuse, harassment, and vandalising your property.
Loan sharks can show up in large groups at your doorstep or workplace to intimidate you. They can send you unwanted deliveries to harass you or threaten to hurt your family.
Instead, licensed moneylenders have a professional obligation to remain courteous throughout their interaction. If you can’t follow your agreement’s terms, your licensed moneylender will maintain a professional conduit as well. The best agents will also help you reimburse your loan or consolidate your loans even when the situation seems dire to you.
How To Deal With Loan Shark Harassment In Singapore?
How do you stop loan shark harassment in Singapore? Here are five easy steps to break all contact with a loan shark effectively:
1. Check If They Are Registered Licensed Moneylenders With The Ministry Of Law
Review the updated list of licensed moneylenders on MinLaw’s website. Check your moneylender’s name here before doing business with them.
Remember that loan sharks will:
- Put up fake websites to trick you about their legitimacy
- Send you fake MinLaw’s databases
- Claim the official lists are incomplete or that their practice is too new to appear on MinLaw’s database
2. Report Them To The Police
Call Singapore police or submit an e-complaint if you believe you’re dealing with a loan shark. You can also call 1800-924-5664 for direct contact with the X-Ah Long service.
If you have any doubt that they are loan sharks, or that they start bothering you, don’t hesitate to check with the police. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
If your harasser is a licensed moneylender, you can report them to the Registry of Moneylenders at 1800-2255-529.
Here’s when to take action:
- You get or see illegal ads, such as flyers or texts.
- Your moneylender asks for dubious fees.
- Your ID and passwords are confiscated.
- You didn’t receive any contract or have suspicions about your paperwork.
- You or your loved ones are being harassed, threatened, and injured.
- The loan shark is vandalising or wrongfully seizing your property.
Remember: Block the loan shark’s number, e-mail and social media accounts.
Unfortunately, once you start dealing with a loan shark, they will probably post your contact details within their Ah Long network. So, other illegal creditors may contact you with tempting loan packages if you can’t repay your initial debt.
The ploy is to hook you on their web. You’ll be caught in a downwards spiral of borrowing more cash to repay your previous debt. Some people who only needed a 5-figure sum ended up with a debt twenty times larger.
3. Don’t Submit To Harassment
Loan sharks are masters of harassment. They play mind games are expert manipulators. It’s challenging to keep your cool when you feel ambushed and without a way out.
Loan sharks will take advantage of this state and will ask you to participate in their illegal dealings. They will threaten you and force you to become Ah Long runners.
They can demand to use your credit card or tell you to harass other debtors.
Remember, though, that these deeds are criminal offences. If you abet the loan shark, the punishment is a maximum of five years of gaol, a massive four-figure fine, and up to six strokes of the cane for men.
If you think you are in danger, please contact the police or the X-Ah Long helpline at 1800-924-5664.
Here’s the good news:
Once you contact the police, they will protect you by patrolling your neighbourhood until they catch the loan shark.
4. Don’t Pay The Loan Shark
Reimbursing the loan shark is another common yet understandable mistake.
You may continue to repay the Ah Long out of fear of repercussions after you’ve called the authorities. Before this, the loan shark may threaten to sue you if you can’t repay your debt.
Of course, illegal creditors will also threaten to harm you physically, harm your loved ones, or contact your employer. Although you’re afraid, giving in to these threats is more dangerous.
Remember that loan sharks conduct illegal practices. Thus, you’re not obligated to reimburse an unlawful debt. Seize your payments at once and contact the authorities as soon as possible.
5. Contact Social Service For Further Assistance
As we’ve said before, dealing with the aftermath of Ah Long debt is taxing. Luckily, Singapore has a slew of social service agencies that can assist you.
For example, you can call:
- 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?
It is definitely a criminal offence to lend money for profit, especially when they do not have a consumer credit licence. For the sake of you and your family’s safety, stay away from loan sharks!
Worry not, there are alternatives for you!
If you’re having extreme financial difficulties, you may feel hopeless. But there’s always a solution:
Debt Consolidation Loan
Debt consolidation loans combine your previous debt into a single loan. The main advantage of this solution is by paying lower interest rates.
Debt consolidation loans are designed to help borrowers clear their debts. It might sound weird taking on another loan, but banks or licensed moneylenders who provide this loan truly want to help.
Another advantage is renegotiating a comfortable repayment scheme. Usually, licensed moneylenders like GS Credit are more open to loan contract negotiations. We are more flexible in terms of loan tenures and more understanding to borrowers’ situations. Therefore, you can reimburse your loan in more accessible installments.
If you have a huge debt or a poor credit rating, you may not secure a debt consolidation loan by yourself. Luckily, agencies like Credit Counselling Singapore will negotiate with moneylenders on your behalf. We have an easy guide on credit counselling that can help you here.
They can advise you on multiple legal and affordable courses of action. For instance, you can discuss numerous repayment options, including debt consolidation. CCS also has extended literature, conferences, and talks regarding wise money management.
Nonetheless, if you need to borrow money urgently and have no time to wait for banks, do consider licensed moneylenders like GS Credit. We are a legal and trustworthy licensed moneylender located near Jurong East MRT, ready to serve your financial needs!