You’ve spent hours looking for the best offers from financial institutions, and you’ve discovered that a potential loan provider can offer your ideal amount with a reduced interest rate and longer loan term. However, Singapore has many “ah longs” or loan sharks, which are notorious gang-backed financial institutions operating without any government regulation.
If the offer is too good to be true, you might be walking right into a loan scam. If you’re unsure, here are five signs your prospective financial institution is a potential loan scammer.
Signs You’re Working With a Potential ‘Ah Long’ or Loan Scammer
1. Requests Sensitive Information
Your SingPass User ID and Password and personal IDs, such as NRIC and company identification, all contain delicate information about your person. All licensed moneylenders and legitimate loan providers will never ask for your SingPass details and retain IDs — they’ll only ask for you to login your own SingPass and ask for an ID photocopy with your permission.
If the lender asks you to provide all these details upfront, stating that it’s essential to gain their approval for your financing, reconsider working with them. Financial institutions can never ask a loan applicant about their sensitive information. Your SingPass or bank account details must always remain confidential only to you.
2. Signing a Blank Contract and Other Financing Documents Without Explanation
A licensed moneylender trains its staff to carefully explain the borrower’s contract with simple and easy terms. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) implements these rules alongside the Ministry of Law to ensure borrowers have a complete comprehension of financial contracts before signing.
Ah longs will ask you to sign a blank contract, claiming that it will speed up the process and increase the likelihood of loan application approval. This sign clearly indicates you’re not corresponding with a licensed moneylender, only a loan shark who will extend your loan limitlessly.
3. Unsolicited Outreach Messages
The Moneylenders Act of 2008 indicates that borrowers must begin corresponding with a licensed moneylender and not the other way around. All licensed lenders cannot implement outreach campaigns through digital communications. They must respond only if engaged.
If you’ve received attractive and too-good-to-be-true loan offers, you’re likely corresponding with a loan shark. Even if you’re strapped for cash, don’t give in to their offers — the consequences of working with ah longs can be traumatizing for unsuspecting borrowers.
4. No Physical Address
The 2008 Act also states that all licensed moneylenders and loan providers have an established branch or operational headquarters in Singapore. In doing so, they have their respective phone number, which is the respective phone number you’ll want to use inquiring about their offers or voicing your concerns.
Therefore, think twice before finalizing your contract with a lender who has no actual address. It’s highly likely they’re loan scammers and have corresponded with you through a message they’ve initiated. Remember, any outreach messages from any moneylender is against the law.
5. Upfront Fees Before Loan Application Approval
If your prospective lender asked you to deposit before the loan application begins, consider it a red flag. Licensed moneylenders will never ask for money as a deposit to guarantee your loan application. No high credit scores and financial institutions can guarantee the success of any loan application.
Don’t trust any “licensed” lender who has instructed you to transfer a deposit before you can use their loan services. At any time you receive this instruction through a text message, email, or social communication, never pay a deposit and verify your prospective lender’s identity and particulars.
6. Not Registered in Singapore’s Registry of Moneylenders
The Ministry of Law oversees all activity of licensed moneylenders. You can find the lending roster on the Registry of Moneylenders’ respective website. The Registry’s responsibility is to license, observe, record, and penalize (through MinLaw) unscrupulous licensed moneylenders’ activities.
Any moneylender who presents themselves with a low-interest offer that seems too good to be true likely has no place of business. Checking the Registry of Moneylenders’ roster is similar to checking the law to verify your prospect lender’s identity and activities.
How to Avoid Working With Unscrupulous Financing Parties
1. Only Trust MinLaw’s Registry
Many “licensed” moneylenders will tell borrowers that they’re legitimate companies. Truthfully, many even borrow the web design and communication style of legitimate lending companies and invent their own license number series.
Always check these details against the Registry of Moneylender’s records. If you can’t find any information about the license series you’ve received, report the number and loan services scammer’s name to Singapore’s Registry and Monetary Authority.
2. Ignore or Block Outreach Offers
Cold calls, text messages, emails, and social communications are illicit forms of licensed lender communication. Many victims report entertaining these messages, plunging them deep into a debt scam. These unsuspecting interested parties have faced numerous verbal, public, and physical harassment from loan shark elements because of their liabilities.
If you receive outreach offers, block and report the number that is serving as the source of cold calls and text messages. Even if their loan amount and interest are attractive, don’t give in and become victims of these scams.
3. Never Give Out Your Most Sensitive Data
As we’ve mentioned earlier, your SingPass and bank account details should only and always remain with your knowledge alone. Legitimate lenders will only ask you to log into your Singpass for verification without knowing about your delicate information. Any lender who asks for your particular details partakes in activities as illegal as asking for administrative fees before processing your loan application.
Loan scams readily stop once they’ve received your bank details, enabling them to siphon your bank account and SingPass wallet. Many victims have fallen straight to these life-breaking scams, so be vigilant about any message offering unbelievable offers.
4. Report Unlicensed Lending to The Registry
If you’ve personally encountered unlicensed and illicit lending activities, report them immediately to the Registry of Moneylenders. In doing so, they can quickly take action and blotter the illegal lender’s names and trademarks. Unlicensed lending is punishable by law, especially if it has a reputation to harass or “debt-enslave” victims of their scams.
Always remember: The Registry has a complete list of licensed moneylenders. Plus, if you’ve reported a licensed moneylender for fraudulent or illegal activity, you can see them delisted immediately. Call the Registry’s hotline at 1800-2255-529 to report any illicit activity you’ve encountered.
5. Call The Police If You Encounter Any Form of Harassment
Singapore’s local authorities consider illegal lending and loan shark intimidations as criminal activities. Therefore, if you face any incidents of violence, verbal abuse, public humiliation, and other threats that make you uncomfortable after applying for a loan, call the Singapore police hotline at 1800-255-0000 for immediate assistance. Additionally, you can submit your case at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness online.
The Government’s Covid19 Lending Program for Singaporeans
Singapore’s government has established friendly loan terms with adequate amounts for Singaporeans deeply affected by Covid-19’s economic devastation throughout 2020. You can apply for a Covid-19 Support Grant if you’ve experienced a massive 30% salary reduction three months and beyond after Covid-19 protocol implementation.
The government also provides a Temporary Relief Fund for any Singaporeans who have lost their jobs during Covid-19’s forced economic halt. Lastly, The Courage Fund helps lower-income Singaporeans to have sufficient financing if anyone in the household has contracted the virus or all members are on Home Quarantine Order (HQO). Learn more about it from the government’s official digital publication.
Always Work With Licensed Moneylenders ONLY
Even if you’re in desperate need of cash from dependable sources, don’t give in quickly to any offers of low-interest, high-amount loans. By law, you shouldn’t entertain any outreach messages from any lender. Look through the Registry of Moneylender’s roster, where you can find legitimate lenders ready to help you with all your financing needs.To find the best loan products, services, and other financing products in Singapore suitable for your needs, check out and compare loan offers through Moneylender Review.