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How to spot an Unlicensed Money Lender

August 15, 2018

It’s frightening to know 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 very often we can hear about their activities from the news, such as ridiculous interest rates, threatening “borrowers”, extortion, harassment and their signature move which is the “paint splashing of borrower’s doors”.

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 with creative activities such as posing or pretending to be Licensed money lenders thus making it difficult for genuine borrowers to tell the differences between Licensed money lenders and Unlicensed money lenders which leads to victims falling into scams and Loansharking activities.

This article is to help genuine borrowers to arm oneself with the knowledge to spot an unlicensed Money Lender, difference between licensed and unlicensed money lenders to prevent oneself from becoming a victim.

Below are the Top 3 methods used by them to scam innocent people.



Unlicensed Money Lenders – Till now this is their most effective way of scamming customers, coming out with “FAKE” websites posing as Licensed Money Lenders or advertising their services on Facebook. These websites or advertisements looks extremely professional with their fake business address, fake license numbers and fake customers remarks therefore making very challenging to tell them apart.

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

  1. Check with Ministry of Law for the undated list of approved Licensed Money lenders take note of the name of company, business address and license number if they matches with Ministry of Law’s list.
  2. Be very alert if they claim they are affiliated/subsidiary/branch or outlet of certain Licensed Money Lenders.
  3. Be very alert if they request for your Bank Account number as Licensed Money Lenders do not need your Bank Account number.
  4. Be very alert if they claim they can process the loan over the phone without meeting up with you in person in their place of business. They may tell you excuses such as no need to meet up to save time, they are outsourced, they operate only online and many more.
  5. Be very alert if they request that you pay a deposit claiming it’s to show one has the repayment ability/sincerity/stamp duty/transfer fee/admin fee or requirements before or after the loan is approve and that you will be able to collect in person later when you arrive at their place of business. Because once you transfer, you can kiss your money goodbye and they will have your personal details.

Licensed Money Lender – Be mindful if a Licensed Moneylender:

  1. Ask for your SingPass password
  2. Retain your NRIC, ATM card, driver’s license or any other ID cards
  3. Ask you to sign on blank or incomplete Note of contract for the loan
  4. Grant you a loan without giving you a copy of the contract or explaining the terms and conditions of the contract.
  5. Grant you a loan without exercising due diligence such as approving a loan over the phone, SMS or email without you submitting a loan application



Unlicensed Money Lender – Though such scams have been around for a couple of years, but people are still falling for it. One will receive SMS or What’s App that looks like an advertisement which includes the name of sender, name of the company they represent, offering attractive loan packages, and handphone number to contact them if interested.


Licensed Money Lender – Under the Moneylenders Act, Licensed money lenders are not allowed to send out such advertisement thru such channels, one can be very sure these SMS/What’s App messages are from Ah Longs. As Licensed Money Lender’s only way of advertising is thru internet such as thru their homepage and at their places or business.

What should you do if you receive them?

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.



Unlicensed Money Lender – are now calling random people offering them loans, the numbers they used are usually “unknown number”, overseas number and though sometimes local numbers are being used too.

They usually start the conversation by saying “do you remember me”/Hello my name is… from so and so company, we provide financial assistance. Please take note some of them really do sound professional.


Licensed Money Lender – Under the Moneylenders Act, Licensed money lenders are not allowed to call to offer their services, therefore if you received such calls, you can be sure that person on the line is an Ah Long.


What should you do if you receive them?

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

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