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As we get through various stages in our life, there may be times when we require a little extra financial help. It might be to finance a home, its renovation costs, your children’s education costs or any medical emergency that arises.

Rather than risking relationships by seeking financial help from family or friends, you might find yourself turning to financial institutions to help resolve your issue. However, what happens when you inadvertently fall prey to unlicensed moneylenders?

This will only cause the problem at hand to snowball. We’ve all heard the horror stories associated with borrowing from an unlicensed moneylender. You wouldn’t want to be at the receiving end of this.


What Is The Difference Between Licensed And Unlicensed Moneylenders?

Typically referred to as loan sharks, unlicensed moneylenders are well known for their exorbitant interest rates. As they are not governed by the law, they often resort to unscrupulous harassment methods to terrorise their clients into repayment.

Compared to unlicensed money lenders, licensed moneylenders are well governed by the Ministry Of Law and have a strict set of ethics to adhere to. They are non-institutional lenders that provide personalised loan packages to individuals. More often than not, these loans are unsecured and you do not have to provide any collateral in exchange for the loan. For the full list of licensed moneylenders in Singapore, you can view them here.


The Unlicensed Moneylending Landscape in Singapore

According to the Singapore Police Force (SPF), in the year 2017, there has been a significant drop (21.8%) in unlicensed money lending tactics. This can be attributed to the increase in police security cameras within the neighbourhood, along with the strong community partnership and spirit.

That said, this is not something to entirely rejoice about. Unlicensed money lenders are now resorting to non-damaging and non-confrontational tactics to get to their clients. This can be attributed to the advancements in digital technologies resulting in higher smartphone usage. In the process, it has also made it easier for these unlicensed money lenders to go about their harassment tactics: Through electronic means (SMS, messaging platforms, etc.), allowing for them to target larger groups of people. Apart from this, they have also resorted to placing harassment letters in letterboxes.


Has There Been Anything Done To Combat These Unlicensed Moneylenders?

Since 2009, loansharking and harassment cases have been on the decline along with the increase in arrests made for loansharking and harassment activities. The SPF, along with the community have also stepped up their efforts to strengthen enforcement against these unlicensed money lenders.


Latest Loanshark Activities in Singapore (2019 Update)

As much as the SPF and community have been trying to prevent these unlicensed money lenders from their harassment activities, there still exist cases of loanshark activities in Singapore. These include:


1. Duo Arrested For Loanshark Harassment (23 May 2019)

A residential unit in Bukit Batok East Avenue 5 was linked to a case of loan shark harassment where the door was splashed with red paint along with debtor notes left behind.

Through ground enquires and the help of police security cameras, officers from the Jurong Police Division have arrested one man and a woman, both aged 20, on the grounds of alleged involvement in this case.

First time offenders who are found guilty of loanshark harassment can be fined anything between $5,000 to $50,000 with a jail term of up to 5 years and mandatory caning of up to 6 strokes.


2. Two Teenagers Arrested For Loanshark Harassment (27 April 2019)

On 27 April 2019, the police were alerted to a case of loanshark harassment in a residential unit at Woodlands Street 32.

The unit was intentionally locked up with a bicycle lock and splattered with red paint. Added to this, loanshark graffiti was also reportedly scribbled on the walls beside the aforementioned unit.

The perpetrators – two teenagers aged 15 and 17 were arrested by officers from the Woodlands Police Division with the help from images off police cameras.

First time offenders who are found guilty of loanshark harassment can be fined anything between $5,000 to $50,000 with a jail term of up to 5 years and mandatory caning of up to 6 strokes.


3. Man Arrested For Loanshark Harassment (20 April 2019)

A 25-year old man was arrested for suspected loanshark harassment on a residential unit along Bedok Reservoir Road. Similar to the previous incident, the unit was splashed with paint and secured with a bicycle lock along with a debtor note left behind.

Officers from the Bedok Police Division managed to apprehend the accused through images from police cameras and with the assistance from ground enquiries.

The accused was also believed to have conducted similar loanshark harassment acts in Yishun housing estates.

First time offenders who are found guilty of loanshark harassment can be fined anything between $5,000 to $50,000 with a jail term of up to 5 years and mandatory caning of up to 6 strokes.


If I Receive Unsolicited Messages From Loansharks, How Do I Deal With Them Effectively?

If you happen to be a victim of unsolicited messages (SMSes or “Whatsapp”) by these unlicensed moneylenders, here’s what you can do:

  • Ignore the message. Do not engage in any replies or entertain the loanshark;
  • Notify the police here;
  • Report the number as spam and block the number

Added to this, do also ensure not to give out your personal information such as your name, IC number, bank details and contact number to anyone. If you are a witness or victim of any loanshark activities, you may also call the National Crime Prevention Council’s X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 to report loansharking activities anonymously.


How Do I Differentiate Between A Licensed And Unlicensed Moneylender?

With so many unscrupulous unlicensed money lenders, it is important to discern between the licensed and unlicensed ones.

Do note that licensed moneylenders are only permitted to advertise through their own website and their business premise. They also do not require the need for guarantors.

On top of this, licensed money lenders also have the following:

  • A physical office address on their website
  • A landline office number and not a personal handphone number

Personal handphone numbers are usually indicative of unlicensed moneylenders.


How Do I Prevent Myself From Getting Harassed By Loansharks?

To put it simply, the best advice would be not to deal with them at all. More importantly, you should not put yourself in a vulnerable position where you’ll be subjected to loanshark harassment.

Below is a list of things that you can do to steer clear of such harrowing situations:

  • Never borrow from loan sharks. Their unscrupulous methods of harassment will continue even after you’ve made full repayment.
  • Never act as a guarantor to any illegal loans.
  • Do not disclose your personal details freely.
  • Do not engage in compulsive gambling behaviour as this usually leads to addiction.

If you require additional financial help but are unwilling to borrow from your friends and family for fear of risking relationships, there are alternatives.

You can seek help from traditional financial institutions such as banks or licensed money lenders. They will be more than glad to offer you a loan with favourable loan terms. More importantly, you and your loved ones wouldn’t be subjected to the trauma caused by loanshark harassment.


Require financial assistance urgently, but feeling lost after reading so much? Read below and find out how you can get help from a licensed moneylender.

With all the risks associated with unlicensed moneylenders, the last thing you would want is to be associated and harassed by them.

Some unlicensed moneylenders might also unethically request that you provide them with your SingPass login details. Under no circumstances should you provide them with your personal information.

Ensure that you are borrowing from a licensed money lender who has a physical office address and landline contact number. As a licensed moneylender, they will not ask you to reveal any private information such as your ATM or SingPass login details. Neither will they request that you sign blank contracts.

The benefits with applying for a loan with a licensed money lender include:

  • Strictly governed by the Ministry Of Law
  • Fast and simple application process, no paperwork required
  • Unsecured loans, no collateral needed
  • Flexible repayment tenures of up to 36 months
  • All Singaporeans, foreigners and PRs are welcome to apply

That said, with over 100 licensed moneylenders for you to choose from, how do you narrow down on some of the better ones?

If you’re still unsure of which licensed moneylender to pick, you can always check out this comprehensive list for some of the best and more reliable licensed money lenders in Singapore.

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