Useful Information

How To Spot An Unlicensed Money Lender

October 10, 2023

It’s frightening to know that despite all the clamping down on loansharking activities by the government, loan sharks are becoming more brazen and creative with different methods to scam innocent people. There seems to be no shortage of loan sharks operating in Singapore, and their activities often make headlines—be it ridiculous interest rates, harassment, or their signature move of “paint splashing on borrowers’ doors.”

Top 3 Scamming Methods Employed by Unlicensed Money Lenders

1. Fake Websites

Unlicensed Money Lenders:
Till now, this is their most effective way of scamming customers. They create “fake” websites posing as Licensed Money Lenders or advertising their services on Facebook. These websites or advertisements look extremely professional, complete with fake business addresses, fake license numbers, and fake customer remarks, making it very challenging to tell them apart.

How to Protect Yourself:
In order not to fall victim to these scams, one can:

  • Check with the Ministry of Law for the updated list of approved Licensed Money Lenders. Take note of the company name, business address, and license number to see if they match with the Ministry of Law’s list.
  • Be very alert if they claim they are affiliated/subsidiary/branch or outlet of certain Licensed Money Lenders.
  • Be very alert if they request for your Bank Account number, as Licensed Money Lenders do not need it.

2. SMS/WhatsApp Advertisements

Unlicensed Money Lenders: Though such scams have been around for a couple of years, people are still falling for them. One will receive SMS or WhatsApp messages that look like advertisements, offering attractive loan packages.

Licensed Money Lenders: Under the Moneylenders Act, Licensed Money Lenders are not allowed to send out such advertisements through these channels.

Recommended Courses of Action:

  • Do not reply, ignore these messages, and block the number. You may proceed to make a police report, though usually, it’s not very effective.

3. Unsolicited Calls Offering Loans

Unlicensed Money Lenders: They are now calling random people offering them loans. The numbers they use are usually “unknown numbers,” overseas numbers, and sometimes even local numbers.

Licensed Money Lenders: Under the Moneylenders Act, Licensed Money Lenders are not allowed to call to offer their services.

Recommended Courses of Action:

  • There’s no use asking them how they got your number; just reply you are not interested, hang up the call, and block the number. You may proceed to make a police report, though usually, it’s not very effective.

Red Flags for Licensed Money Lenders

Be cautious if a Licensed Money Lender:

  • Asks for your SingPass password.
  • Retains your NRIC, ATM card, driver’s license, or any other ID cards.
  • Asks you to sign on a blank or incomplete Note of Contract for the loan.
  • Grants you a loan without giving you a copy of the contract or explaining the terms and conditions of the contract.
  • Grants you a loan without exercising due diligence, such as approving a loan over the phone, SMS, or email without you submitting a loan application.


As more Singaporeans are taking up personal loans with Banks and Licensed Money Lenders, which is probably due to the weak economy, Unlicensed Money Lenders also known as “Ah Long” are joining in the fray. This article aims to help genuine borrowers arm themselves with the knowledge to spot an unlicensed Money Lender and understand the difference between licensed and unlicensed money lenders to prevent becoming a victim. The best defence against loan sharks is awareness and vigilance. Always verify the credentials of money lenders and be cautious of unsolicited offers. If something feels off, it probably is. Trust your instincts and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.

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