Responsible Licensed Moneylender in Singapore: Government Assistance schemes & Responsible Borrowing

Responsible Licensed Moneylender: Government Aid & Responsible Borrowing

The current Covid-19 has thrown the economy into a recession and lots of fear has crept into people. Not just on health concerns alone, but also on financial stability. In this article, we look into what is a responsible licensed moneylender and how we at Empire Global practise being a responsible licensed moneylender.

We will be diving into Singapore government assistance schemes that borrowers can consider first before taking up loans with financial institutions or responsible licensed moneylender.

Learn about Government Financial Assistance and Schemes

As the pandemic Covid-19 is behind everyone’s minds, we in Singapore do see drops in the recurrent cases. The pandemic has affected the livelihoods of many and not just employees but businesses and corporations have been greatly affected.

There are numerous financial assistance schemes available to help everyone tide through the Covid-19 crisis that has hit our homelands hard. We are going to introduce a few schemes that can best benefit you before considering to get a loan.

The Singapore government is fast to introduce several financial schemes to address the concerns of the public. For an overview of all the available schemes, check out on supportgowhere.gov.sg

The Temporary Relief Fund

Assistance: Immediate financial cash assistance of $500

Application Window: 1 Apr to 30 Apr 2020

Who can Apply

  • Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents aged 16 years and above;
  • Was retrenched or suffered substantial loss of personal loss of personal income due to COVID-19 (at least 30%)*;
  • Had a gross monthly household income of ≤$10,000 or a gross monthly per capita income of ≤$3,100 before loss of job or income; and
  • Not currently a beneficiary of ComCare assistance *Loss of job/income must have taken place after 23 Jan 2020

Where to Apply: 

  • Social Service Offices (SSOs)
  • Community Centres/Clubs(CCs)
  • Online using Singpass at go.gov.sg/temporary-relief- fund

COVID-19 Support Grant

Assistance scheme provides: 

  • Monthly cash grant of $800, for 3 months
  • Job and training support by Workforce Singapore or the Employment and Employability Institute

Application Window: 1 May – 30 Sep 2020

Who can Apply 

  • Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents aged 16 years and above;
  • Had a gross monthly household income of ≤$10,000 or a gross monthly per capita income of ≤$3,100 before loss of job or income;
  • Live in a property with annual value of ≤$21,000; and
  • Not currently a beneficiary of ComCare assistance

Where to Apply: 

  • Social Service Offices (SSOs)
  • Community Centres/Clubs(CCs)

The Courage Fund

Assistance: One-time lump sum payment of up to $1,000 (depending on household’s per capita income after being affected by COVID-19)

Application Window:

  • From 6 Apr 2020
  •  Applications should be made within 6 months from the end of the SHN, LOA, QO or discharge from hospitalization due to COVID-19 (whichever is later)

Who can Apply

  • Lower-income households (with at least one Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident) whose family member(s) have contracted COVID-19 or are one Stay-Home Notice (SHN), Leave of Absence (LOA), or Home Quarantine Order (QO);
  • Had a completed or partial loss of household income due to COVID-19 (at least 10%); and
  • A household income of $3,900, or per capita household income of $1,350, prior to being affected by COVID-19.
  • ComCare clients may also apply.

Where to Apply: Social Service Offices (SSOs)

ComCare Interim Assistance

Assistance (depending on the situation of the household) may include:

  • Cash
  • Vouchers; and/or
  • Food rations

Application Window: Unrestricted
Who can Apply:

  • Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident (at least one immediate family member in the same household must be a Singapore Citizen);
  • Need urgent and immediate help for less than 3 months; and
  • Have a household income of $1,900 and below, or a per capita household income of $650 and below
  • Where to Apply: Social Service Offices (SSOs)

ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance

Assistance may include:

  • Monthly cash assistance
  • Assistance with household bills i.e. rental, utilities and/or service and conservancy charges
  • Medical assistance
  • Employment assistance such as job search and/or training
  • Referrals for other relevant services
  • Application Window: Unrestricted

Who can Apply:

  • Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident (at least one immediate family member in the same household must be a Singapore Citizen);
  • Have little or no family support, savings, or assets to rely on for daily needs; and
  • Have a monthly household income of $1,900 and below or a per capita income of $650*
  • *If income exceeds these guidelines, individuals may still approach SSOs for assistance

Where to Apply: Social Service Offices (SSOs)

ComCare Long Term Assistance

Assistance (depending on the situation) may include:

  • Cash assistance
  • Additional assistance for school-going children
  • Secondary assistance (e.g. recurring essentials like medical or hygiene consumables)
  • Discretionary assistance (i.e. one-off essentials like medical equipment and household appliances)
  • Medical assistance
  • Education assistance
  • Supplementary community assistance (i.e. free or highly- subsidised access to social support services like home help and senior activity centres funded by the Government)

Application Window: Unrestricted
Who can Apply:

  • Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Is unable to work due to old age, illness or disability;
  • Have little or no family support, savings or assets to rely on for daily needs;
  • Is an elderly person who receive only a small monthly payout from other sources (e.g. CPF Retirement Sum/CPF Life, Pension, ElderShield, etc.); and
  • Has children who are low-income themselves (i.e. household income of $1,900 and below, or per capita household income of $650 and below, and are unable to support their parents

Where to Apply: Social Service Offices (SSOs)

Responsible Borrowing from Responsible Licensed Moneylender

It actually takes both parties to come together and ensure that borrowing does not become a long term liability for both parties. The parties mentioned are the actual borrowers who are seeking short term loans, personal loans or even unsecured loans to either tide them over a tough time like the current Covid-19 pandemic or to ensure continuity in their business or lifestyles. Borrowers can also comprise those who are in sudden need of cash to pay for a service or solution, for example borrowers needing money to pay for their utility bills.

In such unprecedented times, businesses are unable to sustain their cash flow or their workers income as most of them see huge dips in sales and human traffic. Many are trying to tide over with their savings. Financial stability is on everybody’s minds as whether there will be a new form of circuit breakers or new measures to clamp down on the spread of infection.

It is now more than ever crucial to practise responsible borrowing as fear might just creep in and take over a borrower’s mindset.

What is Responsible Borrowing?

  1. Simply not borrowing more money that you can afford to pay back
  2. Understand different loan interest rates offered by different financial institutions or licensed moneylenders
  3. Choosing a loan scheme that caters to your loan needs
  4. Checking the duration of the loan. Longer loan term might have a smaller repayment. Short loan terms have larger repayment. A responsible borrower ensures that he/she borrowers at a comfortable level without hurting other financial commitments.
  5. Not missing out a repayment plan

Why borrow from a Responsible Licensed Moneylender?

  1. Borrow from a Licensed Moneylender. Firstly, always check whether the moneylender has a licensed. That’s rule number 1. A licensed moneylender has to be registered and such licenses are monitored heavily to ensure that licensed moneylender firms do not abuse their authority. For example, Empire Global is a licensed moneylender registered with the Insolvency & Public Trustee’s Office. (License No. 64/2017).
  2. If you are considering to apply for a personal loan, check that the licensed moneylender that you are approaching is approved by the Ministry of Law, and registered with the Insolvency & Public Trustee’s Office.
  3. Responsible licensed moneylender will advice on your loan scheme, loan term, loan needs according to your financial records. This prevents you from overborrowing leading that might lead to further liability. A responsible licensed moneylender will explain the loan terms and conditions to a potential borrower. All clauses are explained properly before a loan agreement is made.

If you are considering to apply for a personal loan, you should approach a licensed Moneylender approved by the Ministry of Law, and registered with the Insolvency & Public Trustee’s Office.

It is important to only borrow what you can repay.

You should consider these before applying for a loan from a licensed Moneylender:

  1. Never borrow to pay off another debt
  2. If you are unable to fulfill the contractual terms, the late payment and interest fees will be a financial strain not just on yourself, but also on your family
  3. Make sure you fully understand the terms of the contract, in particular, the repayment schedule, the interest rate charged, and fees applicable.

How do I know if a licensed moneylender is actually licensed?

Details of licensed moneylenders in Singapore are clearly detailed and updated regularly on the Registry of Moneylenders’ Ministry of Law website https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/rom/en.html

How much can I borrow?

Depending on your income, there are limits on how much you can borrow, and how much interest you can be charged.

We are Empire Global: Responsible Licensed Moneylender

As a responsible licensed moneylender, we build on initiatives by the government to create the best customer experience in the loan market. Our loan officers are professionally trained and ensure that borrowers are educated on the loan terms put forth. We provide responsible loan solutions that would benefit our clients. Empire Global is a licensed money lender and regulated by the Ministry of Law and is fully compliant with the Moneylender’s Act. We update our internal processes from time to time and keep up to the date with the latest underlying laws in the Registry of Moneylenders’ Ministry of Law website

Conclusion of Borrowing from Responsible Licensed Moneylender in Singapore

As with any commitments in life, do practise due diligence before committing to anything permanent. Such rules apply to taking out a loan. With new uptake of financial means through loans or money assistance schemes, it is your responsibility to practise mindful and responsible borrowing. To be a dutiful responsible borrower and for us at Empire Global to play a part in being a good responsible licensed moneylender.

 

Covid 19 Managing your Business in Singapore During Crisis

Covid-19: Managing Your Business in Singapore during Crisis

Covid-19 has caused economies to shut down and devastated businesses across the globe and Singapore is no exception.

Similarly, to curb the spread of corona virus, Singapore entered into its own version of lock down — circuit breaker — for a total period of 1 month, 3 weeks and 4 days lasting from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020.

Businesses heaved a sigh of relief when Singapore decided to end the circuit breaker on 1 June and laid out a 3-phase plan to re-open the economy.

Covid-19 Phases in Singapore

Phase 1 – Safe reopening – only businesses and activities that don’t pose a high risk of transmission

Phase 2 – Safe transition – almost entire economy will reopen but there will still be restriction on activities with involve large number of people

Phase 3 – Safe Nation – social, cultural, religious and business gatherings or events can resume but number of people will be capped. Will likely remain in this phase till a vaccine is found.

This is done with the understanding that the number of cases will likely rise again as activities start resuming, so this phased approach will be able to help them identify and contain new cases a lot quicker to prevent new clusters from forming.

Covid-19: Entering Phase 2 of Circuit Breaker

After 18 days in Phase 1, Singapore officially shifted to Phase 2 on 19 June.

In this phase, while businesses that allow for telecommuting should continue to do so, more brick and mortar businesses such as retail, F&B (dine-in), personal health and wellness, home-based services, and enrichment classes will be allowed to re-open.

But this is not business as usual — as a business owner, there is a lot you have to take note of the safe management measures as you move towards reopening.

Safe Management #1: Appointing Safe Management Officers to assist in implementation of Safe Management Measures

This person will help to conduct inspections and checks on your premise to prevent any lapse.

Safe Management #2: Employee who can work from home should continue to do so

If your employees don’t need to access systems and equipment that can’t be accessed from home, then they shouldn’t be going to the office.

Safe Management #3: Reduce physical interaction and ensure safe distancing

As much as possible, you should allow your employees to work in split teams, stagger working hours and avoid congregation and socialising amongst colleagues.

Safe Management #4: Support contact tracing

It’s compulsory to use safe entry to record entry of all customers and employees. You can visit https://www.safeentry.gov.sg/ to get all the instructions on how to set this up for your business.

Setting this up is not enough, you will also need to have a staff monitoring this to ensure that everyone has a SafeEntry Pass before entering.

Safe Management #5: Wear mask and observe good hygiene

This applies not only to your employees but your customers too.

Safe Management #6: Keep workplace clean

You should frequently clean and disinfect common spaces and equipment. This is especially true for F&B dine-in businesses.

Safe Management #7: Implement health check and protocol to manage potential COVID-19 cases

You should check your employees twice a day for fever or any respiratory illness. Customers should be checked too before they enter your business premise.

Don’t be complacent in this COVID-19 period.

While coronavirus cases have maintained at a low level in Singapore, business owners should not be too complacent, and should continue to adhere to the best practices laid out by our government.

Besides those recommended by the government, some other good practices that can be considered includes:

Asking customers to fix appointments before going down to your store or office. Handle transactions digitally and deliver products to your customers instead of asking them to collect it from your store. If you are getting a loan or wish to inquire loans from us at Empire Global, do use our online quotation or make an appointment with our loan officers.

Together, we can ensure Singapore business’s survival during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Bad financial habits can lead you into bad debts and heavy loans

Bad Financial Habits That Lead to Bad Debts and Loans

Prevention is better than cure applies not only to your health, but also your finances — eliminating bad financial habits will go a long way towards getting into bad loans and debts.

Let’s take a look at some of the simple ways we can plan ahead in order to achieve financial freedom!

1. Not planning ahead with enough insurance coverage

No matter how much you scrimp and save for the future, all it takes is one unexpected event such as falling sick or getting into a major accident to completely wipe out your savings.

And one of the best ways to prevent that from happening is to make sure that you and your family members are insured.

Singaporeans have a pretty bad impression of the insurance industry mainly due to horror stories of people who paid for insurance companies’ investment policies and not having much to show for it at the end of its investment period.

However, you can completely ignore those insurance products and go straight for the important ones — term life and hospitalisation insurance.

BONUS: If you have served national service, you are actually eligible for MINDEF Group Insurance from Aviva. MINDEF subsidised a portion of the premiums, making these plans a lot more affordable. You can even buy them for your spouse and children!

2. Not sticking to a budget

One of the most common reasons why people get into debt is that they did not budget and often spend more than they thought they did.

Here’s a method you can try if you aren’t sure where to start with budgeting.

The 50-30-20 ratio

50% in spending — this includes your things like your travelling cost, food and bills

30% in investments or wants — you can use this fund for investing in your retirement or to buy things that you want

20% in savings — this will be your emergency or rainy day fund. A good gauge will be to save at least 6 months worth of living expenses in case you can’t work for any reason.

Besides budgeting, you can also start tracking your expenses to find out where all your money went in order to have a better grasp of your finances.

3. Not repaying credit card bill in full

As Singaporeans, we love our rewards, cashback and miles points, and some of us sign up for a myriad of cards in order to take full advantage of all the different promotions.

That can be a really dangerous situation, especially if you do not track your spending well, and wind up owing a lot more credit than you can pay off.

One of the worst things you can do with credit card bills is to only pay the minimum sum every month, and letting your debt roll with interest every month.

For example, if you only pay the minimum sum on a $5,000 credit card bill with a 25% annum interest rate, you will take almost 14.5 years to pay off everything and end up paying almost 3 times more than what you originally owe!

So, if you rely on credit card often, make sure you pay the full sum whenever possible.

4. Not checking your bills regularly

Singaporeans led a busy life and sometimes that means letting those bills sit on the table longer than it should.

This can lead to late payment charges or interest charges if you let your bills accumulate from month to month.

There is really no excuse to make this mistake and pay more than you should. Set a reminder or an alarm to take care of your bills on time!

5. Not spending within your means

This applies no matter how much you earn.

For example, if you compare someone who earns $100,000 but spends $120,000, and another who earns $50,000 and spends $25,000, who is in a better financial position?

Of course, it will be the guy who only spends 50% of what he earns. By spending only half of what he earns, he can invest or save the rest in preparation for emergencies and retirement.

Start making the right financial decisions today, and your future self will definitely thank you. 

How to get Personal loans in Singapore from licensed money lenders and avoid loan scams

Personal Loans in Singapore from Licensed Money Lenders and Tips to avoid Money loan scams

Regardless of your life situation now, one seldom cannot run away from the usage of money. In today’s fast-growing economy with increasing global changes to market needs and demands, you probably worry about your financial situation at some point. Aside from that, you probably would have gotten a form of personal loan from a company (e.g home loan, car loan, renovation loan, bank loan). 

Or you would need to pay a large upfront amount like hospitalisation for the birth of your newborn, purchase of a new BTO flat, your wedding plans or the down-payment of a car. All these are personal loans or big expenses to meet your needs but not the unexpected needs that may arise. These cash flow issues can come at any moment, say an emergency hospitalisation stay (god bless that this does not happen), a sudden shortage in financial income like a job loss (retrenchment).

This is when you would need to ready your emergency or rainy day funds, which is recommended to be 6 months of your monthly salary. Hence regardless of your life stage, having access to finance is crucial.

Should you run into such cash flow issues, you might turn to your family members or relatives, your friends or colleagues for financial help. Some may be afraid to do so or are shunned away or no one in their network can provide any help. Some turn to banks or loan sharks for fast personal loans should they want immediate cash access. Those who turn to loan sharks might do so because of their financial standings not meeting the bank needs or they have no other means. Some turn to licensed money lenders instead, which are quite often a misunderstood lot given the bad rep it is given from the media. 

Seriously?! Wut? Getting a personal loan from licensed money lenders? YES! 

Aren’t they loan sharks? No!

Personal Loans from Licensed Money Lenders

Yep! Licensed Money Lenders are completely legit, registered firms and in fact undergo a stringent checklist under the Ministry of Law (MinLaw). It is often misunderstood term due to the phrase “Money Lenders” linking them to loan sharks or the typical ah long 大耳窿

In fact, licensed money lenders adhere strictly to the rules and terms set upon them and licenses are given only to firms that pass these standards. New licenses are seldom issued and standards are getting tighter every year as new rules bound them. Min Law depicts the terms, one such term is the 4% maximum interest rate per month. This was created in the plight of the public concerns on the misapplication of interest rates by licensed money lenders and to prevent borrowers from over-borrowing and lenders from over lending. 

Aren’t they loan sharks? No!

Where can I find Legit Licensed Money Lenders?

So how does one know whether a firm is operating a licensed money lending business? Simply check the full list of licensed moneylenders on MinLaw website. As of September 2019, there are 158 licensed money lenders in Singapore. This list is updated frequently, so the first thing to do before heading down to a moneylender for a personal loan is to check it’s license against the MinLaw site.

The Must-Have Checklist to identify Licensed Money Lender

  1. All licensed money lenders have a unique license number which you can verify against the MinLaw website. 
  2. Licensed money lenders will not use abusive language, or behave in a threatening manner to you. We are a pretty happy bunch. 
  3. Will never ask for your SingPass user id or password. There have been cases in the past whereby illegal money lenders asked for it and used it for other means.
  4. Will never retain your NRIC card or personal document (driver’s license, passport, work permit, employment pass) 
  5. Licensed money lenders must issue you a proper Note of Contract for the loan. They are to explain to you the legal terms behind it. A borrower has to 
  6. Licensed money lenders are not allowed to solicit loans, or SMS or WhatsApp potential borrowers about loans. They are only allowed to advertise on their own property, website or in directories. Should you receive such messages, it is from an unlicensed moneylender. 
  7. Licensed money lenders do not transfer loan amounts immediately. Do not be enticed by scammish and misleading sales tactics such as “Immediate Cash”, “Instant Cash”.
  8. Licensed money lenders are only allowed to charge a monthly interest rate of not more than 4%.
  9. Licensed money lenders in Singapore can only charge a fee of not more than 10% of the principal granted loan amount. For late fees, the maximum amount they can charge is capped at $60.

Money lender licenses are difficult to obtain and maintain at the same time, hence these moneylending firms would not want to risk losing their licenses due to quick gains. 

Illegal Moneylenders Acts in Singapore

Illegal Moneylenders Acts in Singapore

“Hi bro, looking for a reliable and trustworthy lender for money loans?” – by illegal moneylenders.

Have you been getting this type of messages from random numbers in the past few months? If so, you have been targeted by illegal moneylenders syndicates.

Illegal moneylenders have been acquiring databases of mobile numbers and hounding potential customers with SMS or WhatsApp messages, sometimes up to a few times a day, to promote their money lending deals.

Money Lending Scams

To make things worse, some of these moneylender messages can be scams.

The scammers will act like a typical illegal moneylender and ask for your personal details in order to secure the loan but are not willing to release the money until they have received a cash deposit from you.

However, once the deposit has been sent over, these scammers go uncontactable and might even use the details collected from you to harass you further.

Not Just Messages, But Calls Too

Moneylenders has gotten more brazen recently and started calling their “leads” to solicit for business.

Blocking or marking the numbers as spam doesn’t stop any of these acts from happening either because just one week later, you will see a new number messaging or calling you.

What To Do If You Start Receiving These SMS or Calls

First, you have to know that licensed moneylenders can only advertise their business on their website and on their premises. Any other form of money lending advertising is prohibited by law, so make sure to avoid making contact when you receive money lending sms or calls.

The Singapore Police Force has also outlined the following steps to deal with these SMS and calls:

a) Do not reply or interact with the loanshark;

b) Notify the Police via i-Witness at https://www.police.gov.sg/iwitness;

c) Report the number as “spam” and block the number using readily available spam filter applications.

Avoid Illegal Moneylenders At All Cost

Illegal moneylenders might offer you fast money or flexible repayment options such as weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even on pay days, but the interest rates they charge generally hover around 10 per cent to 20 percent — which is a lot more than what licensed money lenders can charge.

If you find yourself in need of money, always try to look for government organisations to help you before looking at financial institutions such as licensed moneylenders, banks or pawn shops.

Illegal Money Lending Activities in Singapore: Learn about remittance firms creating illegal loans

Illegal Money Lending Activities signs: Remittance firms offer loans

Illegal money lending activities seems to have another new scheme involved. This came in the form of remittance firms providing cash advances with interest to maids. 

Illegal Money Lending activities

Illegal money lending activities was seen in a remittance licensee, Toast Me, which was providing a special form of cash advance with interest to maids. In one contract, the firm charged a maid 10 per cent interest for a loan amount of $700. Only $630, was issued to her after a “first-time fee of $70” was deducted. However, this format of money lending can be considered illegal as it is exploiting a loophole in the regulation systems.  As the primary goal of remittance firms is to receive money and transmit it, as compared to lending money, which is the role of licensed moneylenders

A new prohibition against illegal money lending activities for remittance firms will be in place by Sept 10 to stop loan activities. The new prohibition will not affect existing loans, including restructured and refinancing loans. 

The rise in an increasing number of foreigners borrowing from licensed moneylenders, from 7,500 for the entirety of 2016 to 35,000 in just the first half of 2018.

It was mentioned by industry observers that it was unusual for remittance firms to be offering loans as the priority is to receive money for the purpose of transmitting it overseas but noted that some remittance firms might be exploiting the loophole since they are not licensed moneylenders under the oversight of the Ministry of Law. 

Loan caps and tighter regulations have been aimed at protecting foreigners who are living and working here in Singapore. However, this has led to some borrowers to turn to unlicensed moneylenders for sources of loans. 

The new prohibition notice was issued before the new Payment Services Act comes into force. In the upcoming Act, companies that are offering payment services such as remittance will not be allowed to grant loans to individuals. 

The current Payment Systems (Oversight) Act and the Money-changing and Remittance Business Act will both be revoked Payment Systems (Oversight) Act and the Money-changing and Remittance Businesses Act will both be repealed when the new legislation takes effect next year.

Pastor Billy Lee, executive director of Blessed Grace Social Services, was quoted to have received distress calls from maids with multiple debts and had handled 110 instances of such cases who had taken loans from Toast Me. Some had even lost their jobs here due to turning to illegal money lending activities and “Toast’s aggressive collection tactics”. Sending letters of demand addressed to their employers and harassment messages. 

He has urged the authority to stop such illegal money lending activities immediately “to prevent Toast me from aggressively advertising their credit facility to foreign domestic helpers who have reached their borrowing cap of $1,500 with the licensed moneylenders”

Job Search Singapore - How to Excel in Search

How to Excel at Your Job Search in Singapore

Job search has evolved over the years, especially with the emergence of social networks and innovative job search sites such as Glassdoor and Hired.

In this article, we will explore all the resources you can leverage on during each the job searching and interview process.

Once you have mastered these resources, it will definitely put you ahead of the other job applicants when it comes to finding and landing your dream job.

Job Search Channels

Are you only seeking out new job opportunities via traditional job aggregators such as JobStreet and Indeed, or directly on a company’s career page?

If so, you are missing out on a lot of job opportunities that might not be listed on either channel. An article by Payscale estimate that as much as 80% of new jobs are never listed but are instead filled internally or via networking.

However, you can actually discover this hidden world of job opportunities through one simple action — building up your LinkedIn profile.

You can start by connecting with all your past business contacts, friends and acquaintances.

With this simple action, LinkedIn will let you know if you have any connections currently working in the company you are applying to, and you can approach these connections for a referral!

Another channel that you can tap on is actually recruiters or headhunters, and one way to get discovered by them is to complete your user profile on websites like LinkedIn, Jobstreet or Indeed.

Often, these job search websites provide a tool to recruiters to filter and find the talent they need for their customers. And if you dutifully fill up your profile with all your skills and experiences, you will often find the right opportunities knocking on your door.

Job Search: Interview Preparation

After a few weeks of networking and profile filling, you finally got an interview offer from your dream company.

Now is the time for you to shine and you will be wise to be fully prepared for it. Here are a few resources you can leverage on:

  1. Company website
    You MUST read through the company website. Find out how the company position themselves, what their culture is like and what products they are selling. You don’t want to be caught dumbfounded when asked: “What do you know about us?”
  2. Google News
    Find out what are some of the latest media release or news about the company. They are great icebreakers and can quickly help you build a rapport with your interviewers.
  3. Competitors
    Try to find out who are the main competitors and how they compare. Websites such as G2Crowd, Owler, Quora can provide you with the answers you need.

Once you have familiarised yourself with the company and landscape they are operating in, it’s time to prepare for all the possible interview questions.

Here are some great articles that tackle this:

31 Common Interview Questions and Answers

Top 10 Common Job Interview Questions and Best Answers

Understand what are some of the most common ones and rehearse your answers multiple times. This way, there is a lower chance you will be caught off guard during your interview.

Best of luck in your job search!

Illegal Money Lenders on Facebook

Are Licensed Money Lenders on Facebook Allowed to Advertise in Singapore? Be Careful!

Illegal Money Lenders on Facebook

Licensed Moneylending is a strict business in Singapore with various levels of restrictions for both online and offline presence. However, with the rise of digital media and the ease of digital advertisements, some moneylenders (illegal and legal) are turning to creative techniques to acquire more customers. Social media has made it an equal fighting ground for everyone. Illegal Money lenders on Facebook or unlawful lenders are now using social media to push creative new ways to attract customers.

Facebook Advertising Guidelines. No loan ads.

Facebook Ad Review Process

Facebook Ad Review Process

Facebook has 30 types of ad content that are not allowed (prohibited) to be advertised on Facebook. One, in particular, points out to the moneylending and finance industry.

“Payday Loans, Paycheck Advances, and Bail Bonds

Ads may not promote payday loans, paycheck advances, bail bonds, or any short-term loans intended to cover someone’s expenses until their next payday. Short term loan refers to a loan of 90 days or less.”

This strikes out as a strict advertising regulation for moneylenders, denoting payday loans and the likes of such are not allowed for money lenders on Facebook. Any forms of ads or sponsored content on Facebook for payday loans are not allowed on Facebook. Hence money lenders turn creative or get businesses to churn creative mediums for them.

Cloaking for Money Lenders on Facebook

This was a law raised in light of pressure to protect vulnerable users. Cloaking is a technique used by advertisers, spammers and companies to bypass the moderators and algorithms on Facebook.

Illegal Cloaking on Facebook - Infographics

Illegal Cloaking on Facebook – Infographics

A website or link is presented to the users that may appear legit, however, they are redirected to another version of the site or an illegal site to collect information. It may lead to misleading information on the website and taking up loans or financial products that might not seem favourable to them.

Companies like Facebook are trying hard now to protect their own users from harmful and deceptive financial products rather known as a “bad ad”. These bad ads can range from counterfeiting to phishing to promoting of illegal financial products, something that is not advertised.

Facebook algorithms are getting stricter and tighter, however, new creative ways of companies bypassing Facebook regulations are interesting.

The advertising regulation law for licensed money lender in Singapore

The Ministry of Law has a strict set of rules that governs a licensed Money Lender dos and donts in relation to marketing and advertising. These rules were set to ensure that the society at large is well protected and also due to the increasing negativism on the way financial products are being wrongly promoted.

What is not allowed:

Paid-for internet links

Paid-for internet links (also known as “sponsored links”) through search engines such as any paid-for links from search engines, appearing on internet search engine results pages or on any other Internet webpage.

This means that paid links on any online mediums are not allowed. Ads on Facebook are strictly not allowed in this case.

The Ministry Of Law has a set of rules that governs what a licensed Moneylender may or may not do in relation to marketing and advertising. Obviously, these rules were set in place for good reasons – to ensure that society is protected. We have extracted some of the key directions worth understanding.

Online advertisements that are not on the licensee’s business website or in an online business directory. Note: For the avoidance of doubt, advertising on internet social media sites (e.g. “Facebook”) or video hosting sites (e.g. “YouTube”) is not permitted.

This rule also adds on to the list that disallows online advertisements of social platforms.

Directories on online medium which consist solely of listings and advertisements of moneylenders and which are advertised in any manner or which are engineered in the same manner as described in paragraph

Advertisements in the form of Short Message Service (“SMS”) messages and e-mails sent to the general public, patrons of the licensee or former patrons of the licensee.

Still Bypassing Money Lender laws

However, even with tight restrictions by technology giants and by the local government laws, companies still find innovative ways to bypass such systems. One such technique is start-up companies try to cut into this space by offering a system to provide loan quotes to customers. These loan quotes serve as an offering to potential borrowers as they are gathered by various different companies. These companies are in the umbrella of the startup and not publicly known. This shields illegal money lenders on facebook or even legal money lenders that might resort to such techniques to acquire new customers.

Money Lender on Facebook to get Loan Quotes

Money Lender on Facebook to get Loan Quotes

Hence a word of caution, always check and be careful of what you might be in for. Read the fine print, and there’s be sure of the laws behind borrowing money. Also, ensure that you have a firm grip on your financials and spendings.

Remittance vouchers the new Illegal moneylending scam

Remittance Vouchers the new Moneylending Loan Scam?

With the hard clamping down of illegal moneylenders and the tightening of moneylending borrowing rules, moneylenders are now starting to feel the pinch. In a new rise of moneylending schemes, one that uses remittance vouchers has caught the attention of Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW).

Remittance Vouchers Scheme

This new remittance vouchers scheme that has been hitting the news targets specifically at FDWs They are the prime targets because of the tightening of licensed moneylending rules which permits foreigners from borrowing over a certain cap. This new loan cap caused a new struggle amongst foreigner workers as they are unable to pay back the money they owed.

Under the new regulations, foreigners earning less than $10,000 a year in Singapore can borrow up to only $1,500 from all licensed moneylenders combined. Even with rising concerns about a sharp increase in maids taking out loans and ending up in debt.

It was revealed in Singapore’s Parliament last November that 28,000 maids borrowed from licensed moneylenders in the first six months of last year. This number is more than double the 12,000 who borrowed in the whole of 2017. In 2016, there were just 1,500 maids who took out such loans.

Since then, foreigners are turning to other moneylending sources and at times turning to illegal moneylenders. Their debt further increases as they start missing their repayments.

The Story of Kata

Kata  Store, a cellphone retailer at Lucky Plaza, sold remittance vouchers which provided maids to remit money and get a loan indirectly.

It works by allowing them to buy remittance vouchers of a certain value, of which they have to pay an upfront fee. They are then required to make high-interest repayments which in one case was paying up 45% more than the initial loan. What’s more is that administrative charges of $2 a day would be imposed if repayments are not met on the due date.

With the remittance vouchers, they will give it to the staff at Brunphil Express. They will then remit the cash back to their hometown.

Kata does not hold a moneylending license and is issuing loans that are disguised as instalment plans to maids who do not understand the consequences. This form of offering is causing people to end up in bigger debts.

There have been cases of foreign workers not being able to pay back loan sharks and ended up being recruited by them as runners. Some would even persuade their friends and colleagues to borrow money from them.

Some of the maids are being pressured to send money home thus leading them to borrow from illegal moneylenders. This has resulted in a slew of foreign worker scams too. Scam operators call and threaten potential domestic workers, harassing their employers making them pay money not owed.

It appears that the new rules have somehow affected foreigners living in Singapore although the loan cap ruling was initially introduced to allow them to avoid over-borrowing.

If you are an employer of a foreign domestic worker, do educate them about the problems of borrowing and they would be repatriated back if they borrowed from unlicensed moneylenders.

Advice on Borrowing

If you are thinking about borrowing, always borrow from a licensed moneylender or licensed financial institution. They undergo stringent checks by the government and ask for financial advice on their offerings. Make comparisons with other lenders and read the fine print. Clarify any questions before you attempt to make the loan.

Money Lenders Regulations and outlook for 2019

Money Lenders Regulations and Outlook of Money Lending Industry 2019

Money Lenders Regulations

The fast-paced financial industry is Singapore has brought about several new changes to the Moneylending Industry here and introducing new money lenders regulations that is both benefiting to money lenders and borrowers.

Hearing from public outcry, the Ministry of Law introduced new loan interest rate caps. This ruling caps the interest rate of loans issued by lenders to be at 4 per cent monthly. This indirectly borrowers from over-borrowing and at the same time the borrowing cost that a moneylender can impost is now capped at 100 per cent of the loan principal.

Not only extending to locals, foreigners are also better protected now. An aggregate loan cap of $1,500 across money lenders is applied to foreigners earning less than $10,000 annually.

However, even with this ruling to protect borrowers, foreign domestic workers (FDW) are now lured into the borrowing game and think of it was quick and easy money. Some money lenders exploit the situation and charge the 4% on top of late repayment fees of $60 monthly. This amount of total repayment does not help FDW as they are unable to maintain their loans and lead to stealing from employers or even criminal activities.

New Business Models, New Money lenders, New Money Lenders Regulations

Late last year, new moneylending licenses were issued. This is a first in six years as a one-time lifting of the moratorium (imposed in 2012) as part of a pilot scheme in light to the new money lenders showing promise in better protecting borrowers through business-led improvements.

The new business models shows usage of data to assess creditworthiness of potential borrowers, digitizing their business processes to lower cost and provide better lending terms to borrowers.

New Loan Rules

Since Nov 30, 2018, the first phase of the Moneylenders (Amendment) Act 2018 and Moneylenders (Amendment) Rules 2018 kicked in, aggregate loan caps are set to limit the amount borrowers can borrow from all licensed moneylenders combined.

These new loan caps restrict Singapore citizens and permanent residents with an annual income of less than $20,00 to only borrow up to $3,000 from all moneylenders combined.

For foreigners, a lower aggregate loan cap of $1,500 is set to those earning less than $10,000 annually. If they are earning between $10,000 and $20,000 a year, they can borrow up to $3,000. For those who are earning at least $20,000, they can borrow up to six times their monthly income.

Regulatory Framework

A regulatory framework is now implemented, whereby licensed money lenders must obtain a borrower’s credit report from the Money Lenders Credit Bureau (MLCB) before granting any loan. This bureau is a central repository of data on borrowers’ loan and repayment records.

Accurate borrower information must be sent back to the bureau with timely updates when borrowers repay their loans.

Similar to the casino self-exclusion rule, there is now a rule to help borrowers regulate or curb their borrowing behaviour. They can opt for the self-exclusion framework and licensed money lenders are prohibited from lending to any individual.

What’s more for Money Lenders Regulations in 2019

The second phase of implementation is to professionalise the moneylending industry. This requires all licensed money lenders to be incorporated as companies limited by shares with minimum paid-up capital of $100,000 and to submit annual audited accounts to the Registry of Moneylenders.