Illegal Moneylenders Scam Alert

Watch Out! Illegal Moneylenders & The Ah Long Scams

Anyone catching up with the World Cup 2014 recently? We at Empire Global certainly have. Have you bet on a soccer match before? Know of friends who betted on sports and lost heavily? We believe this is becoming a norm to us all.

Rise in Illegal Moneylenders

If you have been catching up on our local news, there’s been a rise in local publications and awareness campaigns on punters borrowing from illegal moneylenders or loan sharks (also known as Ah Longs) to finance their gambling habits.

They take up high risk loans and some get conned into scams led by these illegal moneylenders. This shows the increasing rise in illegal moneylending and the risk awareness that the authorities are trying to put up front. Punters are being gamblers still delve into the habit of gambling.

Caution!!

A word of caution upfront: if you ever get caught up in borrowing from illegal moneylenders, it will be a bottomless pit of debt. Please be careful! Always check the source and seek advice or borrow from legal moneylenders instead.

As people get uptight about their money, they start borrowing or listening to any source that seem reliable. We have cases whereby borrowers have sought out illegal moneylenders that seemed legitimate, but yet ended up in even higher debts.

Read more on 7 Great Tips to identify legal moneylenders vs illegal moneylenders

 Rise of Technology And How You Are At Risk

With technology being easily available to all plus all everyone is getting on-board with social media, it has become easier for syndicates to retrieve all your private information and use it to their advantage. As time passes, these lenders get smarter and better hidden.

3 Rising Scams Run By Illegal Moneylenders or Scam Syndicates

Let us introduce to you 3 rising scams that have been run by illegal moneylender scam syndicates.

Scam No. 1: The Threatening Letter

Although this is seldom reported these days, but it was once at its peak.

Illegal Moneylenders Syndicate: Threatening Letter Scam

Illegal Moneylenders Syndicate: Threatening Letter Scam

A simple letter will reach your mailbox with similar content such as “ “We don’t want to disturb your family, neighbours or vehicle… Call this number… (dinosaur). If no return call, we will take action (last warning).” Some letters like the one shown will just plainly threaten others into fear.

You must be wondering how did the syndicate gotten hold of the address. This is a harassment and a scare tactic that the illegal moneylenders deploy.

Well, there are a couple of scenarios whereby this could have happened. It could be a simple contest or survey whereby your personal details have been leaked. The government has taken strong approach on privacy protection this is done through PDPC.

Read more on: DNC Registry Do-not-call List: Goodbye to unwanted calls and messages

Or in the worst case, a borrower has misused your information to borrow money and placed you as a guarantor. The mistaken identity that borrowers use is commonplace, and it really disrupts your personal life as illegal moneylenders are all out to harass and embarrass you.

Read more on: New Loan-shark tactic or scam?

Scam No. 2: Frightening Phone Call Scam

Illegal moneylenders are now using your own mobile number to contact you. Using abusive language and forcing innocent parties to repay for loans that they did not borrow.

  1. They target people and send threatening calls to tell them to deposit money into their account. They play on people’s psychology by threatening harm on their family or loved ones.
  2.  They target people who have previously borrowed money from illegal moneylenders. The unscrupulous ones will sell or leak information that scammers can use. As these borrowers will less likely report to the authorities, they are the prime targets and are more willing to pay than face shame and embarrassment.
  3.  In addition, scammers make false loan claims of innocent victims and intimidate them to pay up unknown loans they had not taken.  These callers will follow up with continuous SMSes, threatening the family members of the victim.

Do check out this episode by Crimewatch SG, and the Ah-Longs scams that have been run by the syndicates.

Scam No. 3: SingPass Scam

Firstly requesting a SingPass ID Password is strictly forbidden by law. Illegal moneylender syndicate start to request SingPass on unknowingly victims by assuming fake identities of legitimate sources. With a SingPass access, scammers can gain access to personal information

Illegal Moneylenders Scam Syndicates request Access to Singpass Login.

Illegal Moneylenders Scam Syndicates request Access to Singpass Login.

The Battle Against Illegal Money Lenders

The battle against Ah Longs (illegal moneylenders) is long and hard. It has since intensified when NCPC and SPF joined hands to launch a nationwide campaign to eradicate them. There are now campaigns consisting of Roadshows, TVCs, billboards and awareness movements to educate the public about the dire consequences of borrowing from unlicensed moneylending syndicates (Ah Longs).

As licensed moneylenders, Empire Global has strongly supported the movements and advise our customers to practice due diligence and for some not to repeat the past borrowing mistakes they had with illegal moneylenders.

The above scam practices are unacceptable of licensed moneylenders. If you encounter such money lenders, you should report it to the Registry of Moneylenders.

We highly encourage you to share this information to your network to highlight the alarming scams that are run these days.

Read more on: Why borrow from licensed moneylenders

Help Take Action: The X-Ah-Long Hotline

The hotline is at 1800-X-AH-LONG or 1800-9-24-5664, and allows the public to provide information on loan sharks anonymously. If you are in trouble or see others in trouble, please, help to reach out to the hotline and help to take action.

 

Moneylenders Genuine or Fake

Moneylenders boosting sales or genuine to help via online platforms?

Singapore — Followers and friendship is cheap. Recent article on the May 11, Sunday Times 2014 showcasing the bloggers community in Singapore. Highlighting that there is an increasing number of people buying “likes” on Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms. People have been boosting their online popularity by paying for “likes”, retweets and followers. All these for a small price. True? Totally.

Now there are modern bots who are very good at emulating human interactions and these are developed by service providers who all want to earn from a person’s or company’s ego. Some companies are known to using these providers to give them an edge in the market.

Stronger” social community means the company has some good PR with the customers right? Well, don’t be too easily deceived by it. Having higher numbers of ‘Likes‘ or ‘Followersdoes not necessary tell you anything about the person or business. Believable? Up to you.

Moneylenders giving a bad name to themselves

It has come to a concern that in our community of licensed moneylenders, there are an increasing number of companies using link networks and providers. Unlicensed moneylenders or some legit lenders even, have used similar offerings to promote their website. All these are done in order to attract and achieve more sales for the company. However, most of the services provided by them are like just to close sales and increase loans take up rate rather then sincerely there to provide good services and advice.

Some of these loan information are grabbed from other websites that are not even relevance to Singapore. Marketing firms have been arguing about this practise stating that these providers are providing dishonest means to convince their customers.

Increasing number of moneylending firms using black hat SEO techniques to boost ranks

Increasing number of moneylending firms using black hat SEO techniques to boost ranks

Paid articles or blogs to popular bloggers made by moneylender firms are increasingly misleading and the competition is heating up. With strict laws made by the government, some moneylenders are now using these methods to give themselves good online reputation.

As consumers, always do your research and check out the reality of the information and accuracy. With the internet providing vast amounts of information, it’s now much easier to make your choice. Look out for legit reviews and always check out the competition.

Online popularity the right way

As a licensed moneylender company, we want to provide real value to our readers and to allow them to make the right choice when they require a loan. This is why we have written lots of guides on the hows of getting the right loan and the whys of borrowing from licensed moneylenders.

Our practise as legit moneylenders, we want to provide sound advice to borrowers. We understand the borrowers mindset, that they want quick solutions to solve their financial woes. This is why we have heavily emphasized on the “what to avoids” inborrowing.

Ask our loan officers and they will offer you great advice

Ask our loan officers and they will offer you great advice

We want to the educate the borrowers first and provide the most updated information to them.

Borrowers need to understand on how to choose the right moneylender and to know about the importance of borrowing from a legitimate licensed money lending firm. Although there has been a surge in money lending firms in the neighbourhoods, the government has been introducing ways to curb bad practises made by some firms. Hence checks are constantly carried out and firms found flaunting the rules are heavily fined.

Therefore, do not be shy to pick up the phone and call the licensed moneylenders and enquire for more details before taking up a loan. Pay a visit to the moneylenders office and find out more information and ensure they are legit and sincere loan providers before signing on any loan document.

Doing all the necessary checks and finding out more information do not only ensure you are borrowing from the right source but also ensure you get the best available loan as well as the right loan package that you are able to service and solve your financial difficulties during tough times.

Why Borrow from licensed moneylenders

Why borrow from licensed moneylenders

Singapore — Unlicensed moneylending services have been creating issues for long in Singapore and recently efforts have been ramped up to deal with such occurrences.

Although with additional efforts to handle unlicensed moneylenders, there has been a debate to make moneylending from such lenders a crime.  This is done in order to further reduce moneylending harassment issues.

Head of Unlicensed Moneylending Strikeforce, Superintendent of Police Aileen Yap mentioned in an article on ChannelNewsAsia 11 Oct  “Singapore has zero tolerance for unlicensed moneylending activities resulting in harassment acts that threaten the safety and security of our community.”

The benefits of borrowing from licensed moneylenders have long been accepted by the community at large. This is shown by the thriving popularity of legit moneylenders setting up shops in the neighbourhood. People have grown to accept such licensed moneylenders which set themselves aside from illegal lenders as they provide a form of legit lending services for those in need. The increased supply due to rising cost of living have led to people turning to such businesses to apply for personal loans.

Avoid the bad stuff early!

Avoid unlicensed moneylenders

Avoid unlicensed moneylenders syndicates. Avoid harassment & high interest rates. Save the trouble of endless worries.

Avoid harassment methods by properly borrowing from legit moneylenders. In Singapore, moneylenders have to adhere to strict policy of different moneylending laws laid out by the government and if lenders fail to abide to one, they will face harsh punishments such as fines or revoking of lender’s license.

More professional licensed moneylenders would also advise borrowers on a feasible repayment scheme which they can manage their money properly.

Avoid extremely high interest rates met out by unlicensed moneylenders. Moneylenders are licensed by the “Registrar of Moneylenders” in Singapore, meaning there’s restrictions in place on the different fees, maximum interest rates they can make and the maximum amount they can lend out.

With the new rules mentioned in this year Budget 2014, tighter control over licensed moneylenders shows the government interest in this business and ensure it does not go beyond control.

Avoid SMS spam from illegal moneylenders tempting you to borrow from them. Licensed money lenders are by law not allowed to tele market or send advertisements via SMSes to potential customers. One can report them to IPT as they have violated the personal DNC act and moneylenders act.

Avoid illegal means of people obtaining your personal information. Bad moneylenders have been touted to use one’s personal Singpass login details to obtain personal information. This piece of information can be wrongfully used. Hence legal lenders will only do Singpass verification checks when one is obtaining a loan at the office. This is usually to check on your previous salary to issue you the appropriate loans that one can service.

Borrowing from  moneylenders. What’s better?

On the whole, it’s much better that borrowing is not criminalized, but addressed through educating people on borrowing from different sources.

Loan advisers are now equipped with proper knowledge to dish out proper loans to borrowers. They are usually trained by licensed moneylending firms and they adhere greatly to the rules enacted towards the company.

By borrowing from legit licensed moneylenders, they offer short term payday loans and personal loans that ease up one’s financial burden. Aside from that, it is better knowing that these businesses have a regulatory compliance and legit licenses to provide loans.

This form of security is a huge advantage as compared to borrowing from unlicensed ones. One can save their own trouble and borrow from legal providers instead.

7 Tips to identify legal moneylenders vs illegal moneylenders

7 Great Tips to identify legal money lenders vs illegal money lenders

Singapore – As with the ever-changing environment in Singapore, money lenders are moving into the heartlands to reach to a wider audience. This has led to a rise of illegal money lenders who want a piece of the loan industry. Every so often, a money lending company gets caught up in the news for malpractice or false advertising. This is why if you should need a money lender, you have to be smart about it.

7 Great Tips Compiled to identify legal money lenders

We have compiled seven important tips that one must be fully aware of prior to approaching a money lender. This will help you to identify the reliable legal money lender very quickly from these illegal and ill-practice ones.

Tip 1: Legal money lenders do not send SMS or perform telemarketing service

SMS is a great way of advertising, however in terms of loan services it appears like a spam service. Under the IPTO rules and privacy acts in Singapore, money lenders are not allowed to advertise their services in the form of SMS or telemarketing. Any company caught doing so will face harsh punishments by the government.

Some fake money lenders have started to copy wholesale the writing style of SMSes that banks send to customers, and use these SMSes as templates when they reach out to potential clients. They simplify copy and add-on their own phone numbers at the end of the message hoping to bait a borrower.

They even restore to using the names of legal money lenders and tricked potential borrowers into believing that they are the real deal and running a legit business.

Hence the strong emphasis that legal money lenders are not allowed to solicit for business via SMS. If you receive a SMS advertised with a Legal money lender name, DO NOT REPLY OR CALL.

Tip 2: Legal money lenders do not perform online bank transfers

Legal moneylenders do not perform bank transfer. Do not take up any offer for bank transfer when borrowing

Legal moneylenders do not perform bank transfer. Do not take up any offer for bank transfer when borrowing

There’s lots of articles and money lenders who assure instant bank transfer or advance cash via your bank account. These are usually illegal money lenders who want to avoid detection or the required paperwork to be done.

Legal money lenders will advise the borrower on the required paperwork, charges and require the borrower to visit the office. By doing so, it is a form of verification on both ends and further processing is done to facilitate the loan application.

Therefore, if a money lender offer instant bank transfer service, DO NOT TAKE UP THE OFFER.

Tip 3: NEVER, ever disclose your sing pass details over the phone

Singapore’s universal citizen login through SingPass contains a large amount about a person. It is very important that one should never divulge their own individual SingPass details to a third-party over the phone.

It’s a personal access account and illegal money lenders can do a lot with it It is part of the process to verify borrower income and working status in order to determine he/her ability to service the loan.

However, SingPass verification is done on-site personally and not disclosed over the phone.

Tip 4: Always research your money lender

First check onto IPTO website to see whether the moneylender is a licensed body. Check that they have a valid license number on their website or on their retail shopfront. Reason for doing so is that some illegal money lenders have resorted to mimicking or use  the names of licensed money lenders to advertise their services.

Anyone in a rush would have overlooked the details and end up getting a really bad deal on their loan or in the worst case get stuck in the loan. By then, even the authorities would have a hard time to rescue the situation. Look at their advertisements properly and ensure that the company being used is reflected properly.

Look for reviews made by people who have used the money lender’s services. This marks their service and real testimonials being given out. It is always important to find out more on a money lender first and ensure they provide the best service and advice before taking up a loan with them.

Tip 5: No need to provide income documents or meet face-to-face

Licensed money lenders have a physical approved office. In most cases, they would require borrowers to come down to collect their money face-to-face. This is part of the IPTO regulation to ensure that proper paper work and advice is done by the borrower before any loan is issued out to the borrower.

Hence, legal money lender will require you to pay a visit to their office to complete a hassle free paperwork and loan process within 15-30 minutes.

Tip 6: Legal money lenders operate from registered landline

The government has put in place many safety measures to help citizens and borrowers. One of which is that legal money lenders are required to use their registered landline whenever they advertise. Illegal money lenders are known to use mobile numbers or overseas numbers in their advertising materials.

Therefore, if you see an advertisement or calls from mobile number of oversea number to advertise for their loan services. These are 100% illegal money lenders. DO NOT TAKE UP THE LOAN OFFER!!!

Tip 7: Do not sign blindly

 

Do not sign an empty contract. Licensed money lenders must draft a written contract in a language that the customer understands.

Be careful of what you sign for. Do not sign blindly on any contract. Get the loan officer to explain to you.

Be careful of what you sign for. Do not sign blindly on any contract.

They must also explain the terms and conditions to the borrowers and ensure they understand all terms before signing. The terms and conditions must also be in line with the regulations found on the IPTO website.

If you see any unfair condition or term that is not in-line with the regulation, you can choose to walk away and not take up the loan.

In summary, read and understand before you sign. If not, get the loan officers to explain it to you.

Avoid being tricked

  • Legal money lenders do not send SMSes
  • Legal money lenders do not perform online bank transfers
  • Legal money lenders are licensed and required to be registered
  • Always conduct your research the money lender
  • Always meet face-to-face with the money lender
  • Always check what you are signing for and that the terms are understood
  • Never disclose your SingPass details over the phone
  • Never approach a money lender which operates from overseas or mobile number

There are lots of trickery that illegal money lenders resort to. As a consumer of any product, especially those related to money, one must understand the situation and be fully aware of the risks involved.

We hope that you do not have a bad experience in borrowing money, if so you can approach our knowledgeable loan officers who will be there to assist you. You can also write in to us or post a comment regarding loans or money lenders. We will be most happy to reply and assist you.

Reference Links:

Budget 2014 Singapore and how it affects money lenders and borrowers

Budget 2014 Singapore for Moneylenders & Borrowers

Budget 2014 Singapore. How does it affect a borrower? 

Bishan – The no. 1 important question in the most anticipated current affairs of Singaporeans and businesses in Singapore. From the wage workers to the highest salaried white collar people. From small businesses (SMEs) to large corporations (MNC). Budget 2014 Singapore affects everyone in every way.

This is why we have this special article on Budget 2014 Singapore . How it affects us as borrowers and money lenders alike   in Singapore. Singapore’s Law Ministry new plans this year’s Budget 2014 Singapore. In order to avoid unlicensed  moneylenders from exploiting lenders, here are some of the measures in place this year.

  • The Singapore Law Ministry intends to establish a new central credit bureau. This bureau will allow “tighter controls” over the total amount of unsecured credit an individual can borrow.

  • A review of the interest rate cap and considerations on further restrictions on fee charges (early redemption, loan termination charges)

  • A new regime that will allow bankrupts to be discharged within clear timeframes.

Here’s what the current fee structure officially on  IPTO (Insolvency & Public Trustee’s Office) .

From 1 June 2012 onwards, money lenders are only permitted to charge six types of fees:

  • For each occasion of late repayment of principal or interest;
  • For each occasion the terms of the loan contract are varied at your request;
  • For each dishonoured cheque issued by you;
  • For each unsuccessful GIRO deduction from a bank account, as payment to the moneylender;
  • For early redemption of the loan or early termination of the contract; and
  • Legal costs incurred in the recovery of the loan.

Any other fees are not permitted, and are hence not enforceable by the money lender.  An official guide can be found from IPTO for further review

Why the need for change?

Primarily, the number of complaints against moneylenders have been on the rise. Recent news of money lenders in heartlands (Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio) have triggered a spate of concerns on easy credit. As compared to the past where they usually operate from areas such as Chinatown and Beach Road. Recent cases of errant money lenders have been sprouting out. Some examples are those who have been furnishing false information  or those granting limits above the standards.

The future in Budget 2014 Singapore?

In short, moneylenders will be having tighter rules on lending policies. Fee charges review. And a new bankruptcy policy. And how does it affect you as a borrower?

For the uninformed borrowers, it becomes tougher for bad money lenders to accumulate charges on the borrower. A better way to borrow money from licensed moneylenders. With this in mind, you will make a better choice in choosing your next payday loan or foreigner loans.

How Budget 2014 Singapore affects moneylenders?

Budget 2014 Singapore affects money lenders in several ways. The new schemes allow better ways to establish moneylending.  It allows money lenders to establish a better understanding of the situation and a better relationship with the borrowers as they can better control their limits. Borrowers will benefit from a better fee structure. Are you affected in this year’s Budget 2014 Singapore? Share with us on how it has affected you . 

How Budget 2014 Singapore affects borrowers?

With the new schemes it will allow borrowers to be more educated and informed. Borrowers can benefit from the new fee structure and limit caps. This prevents themselves from underestimating their loan amounts and repayment policies.

What is going to happen to Empire Global?

At Empire Global you as the borrower, are our customers. We offer better flexibility in terms of overall policies and fees. We have long anticipated this move by the government. The rampant growth of moneylenders in Singapore has led to increasing numbers of unethical moneylenders gaining from the stress of borrowers.

We at Empire Global want to prevent that. We have continually improved our service quality to differentiate out from the rest (illegal money lenders, unethical licensed moneylenders) and constantly learn from our borrowers to better service them.