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.

Unlicensed moneylenders: Learn about harassment tactics and avoid them

Unlicensed Moneylenders New Harassment Tactics and How to Avoid Them

Unlicensed moneylenders a.k.a loan sharks have been keeping up with technology and equipping themselves with new harassment methods, which led to the Singapore Police Force issuing a new advisory on it last month.

Getting New Customers

It starts from how to recruit new borrowers — instead of printing flyers and going by word of mouth, loan sharks have started buying databases of numbers and sending WhatsApp messages to them, offering loans at low cost.

These loan sharks will often appear to be legitimate businesses through having a business name, phone number and even a website.

Simplifying the Borrowing Process

After securing your trust, the loan sharks also understands that they should simplify the borrowing process in order to onboard new customers.

So instead of meeting up and asking for your financial details, all they need are some personal details like a screenshot of your identification card, company name and address, SingPass login details and even where your children are studying.

(Note: This should raise alarms about the legitimacy of the business. Licensed moneylenders are not allowed to ask for your SingPass logins and other personal details like where your children are studying.)

First Incentivise, then Lie

In order to further convince you, they will first put up a repayment plan that seems reasonable, but over time, they will come up with excuses to change it and forces you to abide by the new change.

“At first, it could be monthly payments, but next week they would say: ‘Hey your payment is up’,” she said. When she told the moneylender of the original terms, the usual reply would be that the guy who gave it had gotten into an accident.” – As reported by CNA

The New Harassment Tactics

Finally, after you paid back your original debts, and some more, you realised that you still owed 5 times the original amount you borrowed.

And when you failed to pay that, harassment begins. While the previous methods of harassment such as splashing of paints and drawing graffitis on walls are still in used, loan sharks have begun using methods that inflict more emotional harm.

One such method is to send unsuspecting strangers to your house through various means.

They might place a large order with food delivery services such as McDonald’s or KFC and send them to your house. Or they might lure unsuspecting male subjects to your place by pretending that their “dates” live there.

Other more sinister methods include threatening to burn your home by sending you a video of burning homes or taking photos of where your children study.

Sounds scary right? Because it is. And the best way to avoid all of the above is to not approach unlicensed moneylenders at all, and do due diligence before borrowing from any sources.

In the police advisory, SPF encourages the public to avoid unlicensed moneylenders at all cost, and if necessary, approach licensed moneylenders that are listed on the Ministry of Law’s Registry of Moneylenders website at https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/rom/en/information-for-borrowers/list-of-licensed-moneylenders-in-singapore.html.

Credit Card Debt and Bad Debts in Singapore

Credit Card Debt, Bad Debt and Usage in Singapore

Credit cards, with its convenience and high amount of rewards, continues to be the preferred payment method over cash, bank transfer and e-payments in Singapore.

According to the Global Payments Report by Worldpay, this is especially true for online purchases, where credit card had a 67 percent share of all payment methods.

And with the rising popularity and frequent occurrence of online sales events such as Black Friday, Singles Day and the upcoming 12.12 event, this meant that credit card usage has soared through the roof.

However, more credit card spending, coupled with the rise in interest rates started causing some undesirable situations such as the rise in bad credit card debts.

Rising Credit Card Debt

Kuo Huo Nam, Chairman of Credit Counselling Singapore noted a disturbing trend — that is the rise in credit card rollover balance, with $5.6 billion at the end of September, which is not far from the all-time high of $5.8 billion.

This trend is also showing up in bad credit card debt. Monetary Authority of Singapore data showed that bad credit card debt (“written off debt”) has risen to $27.9 million in March this year, which is only four percent lower than last decade’s peak.

According to Yahoo Finance, this is mainly due to two reason — an increasing reliance on credit card usage and the rise in interest rates.

Credit Card Usage and Interest Rates Increases

The fight for market shares amongst banks has led to attractive rewards for credit card usage. Coupled that with the convenience brought by innovation from contactless payment, it is no wonder that Singaporeans are increasing their use of credit cards.

This has led to an increase in total billings per card to $500 — an all-time high in Singapore — which inevitably caused the rise in credit card rollover balance.

When you combine that with the hike in US Fed rate, it just means more debtors in Singapore are going to find it harder to repay debts.

How to Manage Your Credit Card Debts

With this in mind, it would be best not to default on your credit card loan and let it roll over month to month, as it could become an astronomical amount that might just be impossible to clear off.

If you have the habit of missing payment due to the sheer number of credit cards that are in your wallet, it might be time to evaluate all the options and decide which are the ones you really need on a daily basis.

Lastly, you can also make use of finance apps available on both the Play Store and App Store to track your finance so you will always know how much you have spent for the month right at your fingertips!

Unsecured Loan Rules and Comparison. Learn how it affects you.

Unsecured Loans Rules and Comparison: How does it affect you

Understanding Unsecured Loans

With the rapidly changing financial industry and laws imposed on it, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) stepped in early this year to aid borrowers landing in excessive unsecured debts. A new rule of capping the unsecured loans limit was imposed.

The new rule prevents borrowers from further getting any unsecured loans credit from financial institutions should the borrower have unsecured debts that exceed six times his or her monthly income, financial institutions will not be allowed to provide any increase in credit limit or additional credit that will cause a borrower’s credit limit to exceed 12 times their monthly income.

The rule comes in a move to reduce the escalating debt problems in Singapore and led to a slew of changes in how unsecured loans work.

An Infographic by MAS on new measure to help individuals manage unsecured debt

An Infographic by MAS on new measure to help individuals manage unsecured debt

Secured Loans vs Unsecured Loans. What are they?

Secured Loans

Loans are secured if and only when borrowers pledge their assets to the lender as a form of collateral for the loan. Should their loan fall through when repayments are not met, the lender has the authority to sell the assets to recover the money due. If the money recovered is not enough, borrowers are liable to make up the shortfall.

Unsecured Loans

Unlike secured loans, for unsecured loan borrowers do not provide or pledge any form of assets to the lender as collateral. Therefore, interest rates for such loans tend to be higher as financial institutions or lending companies take on more risk.

Past financial records, monthly salaries, unsecured loans debt are taken into consideration whenever an unsecured loan is issued. Personal loans, credit cards are a form of unsecured loans.

What next? Afterthoughts of loans

Regardless of loan types, do be clear on the loan you are getting. The goal is to opt for a loan that best fits your needs and minimising the interest cost whenever possible. Managing your financial wealth is of utmost importance as you would not want to end in a spiralling debt cycle.

Always be clear on your loans, ask the loan officer during your session. When in doubt, do your due research or seek another financial institution.

Learn Foreigner Loan in Singapore

What You Should Know About Foreigner Loan in Singapore

Singaporeans and PRs have aggregate loan caps and self-exclusion framework for borrowing from licensed moneylenders to protect themselves and their families. But foreigners do not face the same restriction, and this has led to an increase in the number foreigner loan and problems that arises with it.

Foreigner Loans Increased 4.5X from 2016

The ministries have reported that foreigner loans increased from 7,500 in 2016 to 35,000 in the first half of 2018 with domestic workers making up a bulk of these loans.

Pastor Billy Lee, executive director of Blessed Grace Social Services said, “Many of these maids come with no money and a mountain of debt to their agents. By right they shouldn’t be borrowing any more money.”

This has led to problems for some employers as they are left to deal with the mess, which include harassments and unsolicited phone calls, left behind from their maid’s borrowing after sending them back home.

A Cap on Foreigner Loans in Singapore

The new cap on foreigner loan, implemented in Q4 2018, will affect foreigners holding any of the following passes: work passes, long-term visit passes, short-term visit passes, dependant’s passes and student passes.

The loans will also be capped based on the foreigners’ earning power.

Foreigners will also be able to protect themselves by applying for self-exclusion, which are already available to Singaporeans and PRs.

Foreigners who borrow from Unlicensed Moneylenders

To further reduce and limit the problems of borrowing, Ministry of Law has taken a hard stance on those who chose to borrow from unlicensed moneylenders.

All foreigners found guilty of this will have their work pass revoked, repatriated and barred from further employment in Singapore. Although employers can choose to appeal this on a case-by-case basis.

Education is Still the Most Important

Prevention is still always better than cure, and the ministries understand this.

So besides having these restrictions in place, the MOM and police will also step up education on the management and risk of borrowing from moneylenders for both foreigners and employers.

The rest of the moneylender restriction stays the same for foreigners — that includes the 4% interest rate caps on the loans and the sum of all permitted borrowing costs on any individual loan must not exceed 100% of the loan principal.

Our team here feels this is a great step in the right direction. Although most licensed moneylenders are already cautious when lending to domestic workers, having a cap in place will help inform those with less experience.

Credit Matters and why you should be aware

Credit Matters and Why you should be Aware

Your creditability of finance based on your credit history can majorly impact what you want to finance like housing loan, renovation loan, business loan or loans that taps onto your credit history. The reason why credit matters is that it affects the amount of loan or even the interest rate and repayment amount that’s dispensed to a borrower.

Financial institutions will check on your credit score when acquiring a loan, loan officers will vet through your credit history to give the proper advice and loan terms to a borrower.

Credit score is seldom thought about to most people, however credit matters as it affects directly the loan and interest rate and can even affect various aspects of your financial life or job. Therefore, it is paramount to keep your credit score in good shape.

Credit score is basically a number based on complex credit assessments by various institutions, this number makes credit matters greatly. It indicates the possibility of a borrower getting a loan and whether a financial institution will approve the loan application.

In Singapore, much of these credit assessment is kept in a credit report at the Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS). This shows your personal details, loans, payment history, bankruptcy records, credit limits, loan accounts and amount owing. CBS analyses these data to determine a credit score using various algorithms.

The fact that if you can’t get a mortgage or loan is likely due to your low credit score, and this is why credit matters in life. If you aren’t on time with payments, it impacts your credit score.

Even with job applications, a person’s credit history can be checked upon especially if the applicant is applying for a financial position.

How to improve your Credit Score?

It is important to keep to your payments on time, as repaying late affects your credit score greatly.  You could also reduce your number of loans or credit cards you have. This reduces the risk of having your credit score affected.

To get a copy of your credit report here, so you can review it and correct it if it is wrong, simply go to the CBS website at www.creditbureau.com.sg and request a copy.

Keeping in mind that credit matters, paying your loans on time and checking up on your credit score are steps to maintaining a good credit score.

Thinking of getting a loan or to better understand the loan application approach, contact our loan officers to find out more.

Learn how to best review legal moneylender in Singapore

How to Best Review Moneylender in Singapore

Let’s recap on what to look for in a legal and reliable moneylender. We are going to list through several methods on how you can best review moneylender in Singapore, to provide you with good service and reasonable loan rates.

Quick Tips to best review moneylender in Singapore

There are several reasons why one would seek out a loan and there are several loan types to cater different needs. Hence regardless of the loan type (personal loan, payday loan or business loan), the licensed money lender is one of your best option in Singapore. Learn some quick tips on how to best review legal moneylenders.

1. Experience and years of service

Loan officers go through your loan application and request. They will aid you in identifying the best loan options to go through. They are also obliged to tell you all the terms in the loan such as length and number of repayments, interest rates of the loan. They will also understand and want you to borrow within your means as they still have to recover money from you.

This takes experience in servicing borrowers and also the business itself has been running long enough to understand the various changes that could occur in the moneylending industry and be up-to-date with it.

2. Licensed moneylenders will have you sign a contract

A formal contract is required by law for licensed moneylender with borrowers. The contract terms are drafted by a lawyer and contain the following:

Interest rates

  • Late repayment fees
  • Repayment period
  • Repayment amount
  • Legal terms

Hence it is vital to ensure that the loan officer guides and explains to you the terms of the contract before you sign. Never except a loan without fully understanding the terms. Some businesses are disguised as legal moneylenders but do not offer such contracts. Avoid them at all costs.

3. Approval Process. Do online checks.

More and more businesses are moving online. Convenience is vital to anyone now. Hence check out the moneylender online, read their website, their offerings and google reviews. Check out with them on the different loan options, do an online loan enquiry before heading down. Most legal moneylenders will reply quite promptly and accurately. The process is fast and you will not waste your time in heading down and be disappointed.

4. Check out Ministry of Law

The Ministry of law has a constantly updated list of licensed moneylenders. As licenses can be revoked due to ill business practises, it is good to check the most legal source of information.

Like shopping, you will compare the different offerings from different moneylenders. They will offer different interest rates so do look around and enquire to get the best loan options for yourself.

Learn from the Law Ministry’s guide to effective interest rates to understand how to make good comparisons between moneylenders.

Best Review Moneylender? Check on Google Reviews!

Looking for legit businesses? Like hunting for good food places, one has to check for reviews first. To best review moneylender, before heading down onsite, check on google reviews to seek out actual comments and reviews made by customers.

It’s a good place to identify legal moneylenders from the loansharks or illegal moneylenders and can be used as a comparison point between the other moneylenders that can be listed in google reviews.

How is the moneylender reliable?

One of the natural option to best review moneylender is to check the number of years that a business has been running is vital to identify its reliability and trustable. To be able withstand the ups and downs of financial crisis or economic slumps shows a business reliability and that customers see them through.

It also means that the business can tide through tough times and itself have to get a winning edge over others. Customers naturally trust them either through the years of running or the service that these companies provide.

A moneylender license is not easy to maintained. It is subject to checks on business practises, complaints and undergo stringent review by Singapore law. Licenses are limited and only businesses that provide proper legal loan services in Singapore can be issue such license.

Empire Global is always ready to serve and help our customers in getting the loans they require.

Instant Cash Loan Singapore - Learn about the pros and cons of Instant Cash Loan in Singapore

Instant Cash Loan in Singapore

The finance industry itself is a tough one. Not to mention the lending industry that exist within. The lending industry is constantly revolving to adapt to the multitude of changes that happens in the financial world and government policies. This has led to stiff competition and many use attractive instant cash loan offers to entice customers. The current economy is not doing anyone good either, with wages and salaries stagnating and with a downward decline in job availability. Thus having cash on hand is becoming an issue, and people turn to loans to maintain their needs or to fix their financial woes.

There are many different loan options in Singapore, instant cash loan options are one of the most common loan type that borrowers get. Both banks and moneylenders issue instant cash loan, sometimes they can be just called as cash loan. It does not matter what name it runs under, more importantly as a consumer you have to weight the various pros and cons of such offerings.

Pros of Instant Cash Loan in Singapore

Fast –  Instant cash loan as it’s name is termed, allows one to have cash pretty quickly. This is due to lesser credit checks and collaterals needed. Lenders are able to provide a quote based on your monthly income, commonly through email request. Most loan requests get replied within 1-2 working days.

Ease of Acquiring – As we get more digital, so do businesses such as moneylenders. One can go online to get pre-approval without physically heading down to the shop and await approval. A borrower can get multiple quotes too from various moneylenders. This allows borrowers to first survey the field, acquire quotes, compare the offerings and make more intelligent choices down the line.

Flexibility – Instant cash loans are made to be easier to understand. As long as there’s proof of income, borrowers will have it easier to get their loans. Typically, borrowers can get up to 2-4 months of monthly income. More often than not, your credit score is not subjected to the loan approval process.

Cons of Instant Cash Loan in Singapore

Control – Having an influx of cash might lead one to be out of control. A borrower might splurge on the new found money instead of using it to settle debts or other financial needs. Having new cash in requires a good amount of discipline, control and an action plan. Always plan your money resources as tight as possible. Be #smart with your money.

Summary of Loans in Singapore

As with new control measures by the government, interest rates are now capped at 4% monthly. This new ruling may lead to moneylenders keeping a tight watch on whom they loan the money to. Hence, be upfront if you have any issues or an action plan as this will give you a better case to acquire loans from moneylenders.

When in doubt, always check in with the loan officer. Instant cash loan is a simple loan system, nevertheless, be a cautious borrower and always read the terms and conditions provided. If you have any queries, ask the loan officer especially in terms of repayment packages and additional fees and charges. Being a smart borrower and a well informed one will allow you to make better decisions. Aside from all these, find a licensed moneylender that you are comfortable as they are more than willing to work with you.

 

Empire Global Best Google Reviews Feedback Licensed Moneylender

Best Google Reviews Licensed Money Lender

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. – Jeff Bezos

Amazon is one of the few companies in the world that pride themselves on serving customers well, and that has been instrumental in helping them become the biggest e-commerce company in the world.

Similar to Amazon, excellent customer service has become our ethos here at Empire Global. Which leads us to being the best google reviews licensed money lender in Singapore.

Licensed money lenders in Singapore was born out of necessity. In the past, individuals who can’t get financing from banks and other legal financial institutions used to turn to loan sharks for solutions, and that created a whole lot of social issues.

This move has helped to bring down the rate of unlicensed moneylending.

However, licensed money lenders have got its own controversies too. The methods employed by licensed moneylenders used to collect bad debt has often been compared to loan sharks, especially since incidents like the Funan Mall debt collection happened.

These news made our team more committed to good service, not just because we believed that it will bring about word-of-mouth recommendation, but also because we believe our customer deserve it.

A quick search for our brand name “Empire Global” on Google will surface our company detail on the result page, along with the reviews our satisfied customers have given us.

With 95 Google reviews and an average of 4.8 stars rating, we are confident that our team are providing the right service and help to our customers. We are literally the best google reviews licensed money lender.

So, how do we provide a good service?

Our Business Environment

We have designed our environment to make you feel at ease upon entering the store. This is done with the help of soothing music and clear lighting with professionals that are both friendly and helpful.

This is to ensure that you will never be pressured to take on any loan and that you can take your time to fully understand all criteria before committing.

Clear Explanation

We understand this might be your first time borrowing from a licensed moneylender so our team always make sure you understand all the necessary details and payments schedules before taking on your payment.

Fast and Efficient

Our team have processed hundreds of loans and are well versed in all the requirements of a loan. We also understand that you might need the financing urgently, so we always try our best to process your loan as quickly as possible.

With this, we hope we have changed your opinion on how some licensed moneylender operate and that you should find the one that you are most comfortable with before making the commitment!

En Bloc SERS. Worth the risk for HDB Loan?

Taking on Expensive HDB Loan for Possible SERS En Bloc Flats: Yes or No?

SERS (Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme) or more commonly just known as En Bloc refers to when HDB decides to rejuvenate aging estates by buying back the old blocks of flats from homeowners (often at a premium) and providing grants.

Due to this, some homeowners are not taking the remaining lease into consideration when purchasing a new flat, and some are even willing to take on expensive HDB loan to purchase old flats. Let us explore if that’s true here.

Benefits of Being in the SERS Scheme

Here are a few things you can benefits from being a part of the SERS scheme:

  1. Compensation based on the market value of the flat at the time of the SERS announcement
  2. Reimbursement of reasonable expenses in moving to a new place (e.g. removal fees, stamp, fire insurance and legal etc.)
  3. 100% chance of getting a new flat at HDB’s designated replacement site at a subsidized rate
  4. Higher chance of balloting for new HDB flats outside of designated replacement site as 5% of all BTO are reserved for affected SERS owners.
  5. Rehousing benefits grants of up to $30,000 for first and second-time home owners and more

En Bloc Affects Surrounding Flats too

99.co did a research on whether SERS causes flats around it to go up in value too. And their verdict? Yes, it does bring a uplifting effect most of the time on its surrounding flats.

Their theory is that home owners participating in SERS might not necessary wants to move in to the replacement units that HDB has set aside for them and prefers to buy resale or private properties. Hence causing a surge in demand, and eventually, a surge in price.

You can see how attractive this is to flat owners whom have been staying in a flat for several decades yet don’t have the financial capabilities to move out to newer blocks of flats.

But this is also seen as a potential “investment” for others who knows that they are up for a possible huge pay-out if they were to purchase one of these en bloc flats.

But… that’s not necessarily true.

The famous colorful Rocher Centre up for En Bloc SERS

The famous colorful Rocher Centre up for En Bloc SERS

Your Flat Might Worth Nothing at The End of Its 99 Year Lease

Our National Development Minister Mr Lawrence Wong recently put this rumour to rest in his blog post where he warned home owners to not assume that their flat will be selected as part of the SERS when the lease runs out.

Fun fact: Only 4% of HDB flats have been selected as part of the SERS programme since its 1995 launch.

He also mentioned that there a block of flats has to meet several criteria to be eligible for SERS, and some of these includes:

  • Potential for redevelopment: the flats have to be deem under-utilised by the Government and that its redevelopment will bring value to its surroundings.
  • Replacement sites must be available: there must be suitable land nearby to house the current SERS scheme home owners.
  • Government financials: we would assume the government has a planned budget for this scheme every year and that it’s only sufficient for a small selected group of flats.

“We will continue to maintain this strict selection criteria. So please do not assume that all old HDB flats will be automatically eligible for Sers”, said Mr Lawrence Wong.

In the end, although being part of the SERS scheme can be profitable, there is no telling whether a particular block of flat will be selected.

Hence, it would be better to purchase a flat based its remaining lease and on factors that affect your living condition instead of its potential to be en-bloc.