Unlicensed moneylenders continue to target most vulnerable in Singapore

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The most persistent of unlicensed moneylenders are not deterred even by Police cameras.

By: Phoenix Lee/

The Singapore Police Force said cases of harassment linked to activities of unlicensed moneylenders in Singapore went up by about 20 per cent to 4,619 cases last year. There was also a 33.5 per cent jump in harassment by electronic means such as on social media and SMS, with these instances forming the bulk of such cases reported last year.

unlicensed moneylendersThe police noted that more foreign workers are increasingly borrowing money from unlicensed moneylenders.

To tackle this growing problem, the Police they have engaged maid employment agencies and businesses to educate these workers against borrowing from loan sharks.

Even though efforts to put up police cameras in neighbourhoods have forced unlicensed moneylenders or their runners to change to non-confrontational and less damaging tactics, such as placing harassment notes in letterboxes, the police said that the proliferation of new communication platforms and smartphones has made it easier for debtors to be harassed through electronic meanhttps://www.icompareloan.com/resources/urgent-loans/s and for larger groups of people to be targeted.

But police cameras have failed to deter the most persistent harassment of unlicensed moneylenders.

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The Police reported on Feb 19 that they have arrested a 39-year-old man for his involvement in a case of loanshark harassment.

Their media advisory said:

“On 17 January 2019, the Police were alerted to a case of loanshark harassment where the door of a residential unit at Blk 230 Compassvale Walk was splashed with red paint and a debtor note was pasted on the wall outside the unit. Through follow-up investigations and the aid of images from police cameras, officers from Ang Mo Kio and Woodlands Police Division established the identity of the suspect. The man was subsequently arrested on 19 February 2019.
The man will be charged in court on 20 February 2019. Under the Moneylenders Act 2010 (Revised Edition), first time offenders found guilty of loanshark harassment shall be fined not less than $5,000 and not more than $50,000 with mandatory imprisonment of up to 5 years and mandatory caning of up to 6 strokes.
The Police take a zero tolerance approach towards loanshark harassment activities. Those who deliberately vandalise properties, and cause annoyance and disruptions to public safety will be dealt with severely in accordance with the law.
Members of the public are advised to stay away from loansharks and not work with or assist the loansharks in any way. The public can call the Police at ‘999’ or the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in illegal loansharking activities.”

The best advise anyone can get when faced with financial crunch is to cope with cash flow without borrowing. Before you are late on a rent, mortgage, or utility payment, speak with the creditor. For non-interest bills, such as utility or telephone bills, ask about making payment arrangements. Ask to delay payment until your pay arrives or set up a repayment schedule that stretches out payments.

Those in financial crunch may ask your friends or family to lend you money. Remember that a written agreement to repay the loan can help avoid family strife later. Licensed money lenders who charge no more than 4% interest per month on the amount you have borrowed, are another source for those under financial stress.

But before you approach a licensed money lender, consider other alternatives, such as the various financial assistance schemes offered by various Government agencies. As you are legally obliged to fulfil any loan contract you enter into with a licensed moneylender, consider whether you are able to abide by the contractual terms, bearing in mind your income and financial obligations.

Personal loan offers may seem like best friends in crisis, but watch out!

Borrow only what you need and are able to repay. Be mindful that if you are unable to meet the contractual terms, the late payment fees and interest payment will be a financial strain not just on yourself but also on your family. The law requires moneylenders to explain the terms of a loan to you in a language you understand and to provide you with a copy of the loan contract. Make sure you fully understand the terms of the contract, in particular, the repayment schedule, the interest rate charged and the fees applicable.

Regardless of how much of a financial crunch you are in, you should always shop around different moneylenders for the most favourable terms. You should not rush into and commit yourself to a loan until you are satisfied with the terms and conditions.

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