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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.

General Elections Singapore 2015. Money Matters & How it Affects You.

General Elections & Money Matters. How it Affects You!

General Elections 2015 begins! It’s time to cast your votes! This time to your political party in Singapore. The General Elections of 2015 are just around the corner and it has caused quite a sensational stir here in Singapore. With the added usage of social media and the gen-y kids with their first foray into the voting cycle, it’s no wonder every news platform is publishing about the general elections.

Well, here at Empire Global we are under the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. Which is the political fight between the incumbents PAP versus the SPP-DPP joint party. It will be an exciting fight as strong leaders of the PAP have stepped down to make way for new leaders. Of course, we will not tell you which party we are voting for (voting is secret).

General Elections 2015 & Money

Money has always been on every Singaporeans minds especially in regards to housing loans, loans and CPF. Debates have been launched on such topics and it will always be the talk of the town. This is important as the  cost of living in Singapore is set to rise, the thought of having to work till old end is certainly scaring the younger generation to build families.

It has been significant in our population numbers as the number of new births are on the decline. Even with subsidies and incentives setup for families, Singaporeans at large are still on a worrying mindset of money and trying to keep up with their loans.

And yet the cost of living is one of the most complained issue during the general elections. Furthermore, the widening income gap has made the situation worse. Some of our customers mentioned about the cost of living in Singapore and how it had affected them when they come to our loan officers.

“It’s not just about people paying more. The deeper unhappiness is the sense that economic growth and wealth have not been suitably shared.” – SMU law don Eugene Tan.

This has probably got people to pay more attention to what the different political parties have to say on the different heartland issues in Singapore during the general elections campaign. It is clearly evident this time round as crowds had turned up during the Worker’s Party first campaign.

Huge Crowds at Worker's Party first election rally at Hougang GE 2015.

Huge Crowds at Worker’s Party first election rally at Hougang GE 2015.

Government Policies & General Elections

Like you, we are concerned about business. In terms of employment as an employer, we do have issues in hiring and maintaining our staff at times. We also look towards the different policies that the government intends to implement. Such as the much talked about 4% interest rate on money lending. That has caused quite a stir within our moneylending industry. Even at Empire Global, we have to make a couple of changes in terms of our business. We of course want what is best for our borrower clients.

The debates on foreign talent (FT) is especially obvious. Furious locals are banking on new policies to change the numbers of such foreign talent that seems to be snapping up their jobs. We as employers are more concerned with employing reliable and good people.

It indeed is a complicated case that remains set to be unresolved totally. Read more on a debate that about general elections whether it is able to cause investors to flee if the ruling party loses more than half the votes.

Well what about you? Who’s your favourite political party?

P.S: We have no affiliation with any political party. Just a voice.

Interest rate capped at 4% and many new regulations affecting moneylending industry in Singapore

Moneylending: Interest Capped at 4% per cent Monthly

The government has accepted new proposals on licensed moneylending, together with one of the biggest change amid protests which is the 4% interest rate cap per month.

The Government has accepted most of the recommendations put forth by an advisory committee and these changes will be implemented progressively starting from July this year (2015). And yes this news has caused quite a stir in the moneylending industry but we at Empire Global are well prepared for these changes.

With twelve of the 15 recommendations from the committee being accepted, the new changes has created some news amongst moneylenders. Two of the recommendations – to lift to lift the moratorium on the granting of new licenses and to regulate debt collection behaviour will be reviewed in time as the moneylending industry adapts to the new regulatory changes.

4 Per Cent Interest Rate Cap: How does it affect everyone?

In order to protect borrowers, the new ruling will place caps on interest rates. As of current rules, there is no cap on interest or late interest rates for borrowers earning more than S$30,000 annually. Some licensed moneylenders charge additional fees (e.g when GIRO repayments fail or dishonoured cheques are issued).

There is currently no restrictions on the total borrowing costs for moneylending loans.

With the new measures kicking in, licensed moneylenders will be restricted to maximum rates. This include the new ruling that they cannot charge interest of more than 4 per cent per month plus this has to be on a reducing balance basis. Should a borrower be late in his repayments, licensed moneylenders can then charge a late interest, however this interest must not exceed more than 4 per cent.

The limit extends to charges on late payments: A similar maximum interest rate of 4 per cent a month, while late fees will not exceed S$60 a month.

Going forward, the total borrowing cost will be capped at 100 per cent of the original loan to keep debts from spiralling. Additional fees for, say, early loan redemption or unsuccessful GIRO deductions will not be allowed.

Furthermore, the total borrowing costs will not exceed 100 per cent of the principal loan sum which will prevent debts from getting out of control.

New Moneylending Regulations affecting Moneylenders?

Chairman of the Advisory Committee Manu Bhaskaran said data has been carefully studied to ensure that the industry remains commercially viable, even with the new caps.

“We completely accept that there will always be a class of distressed borrowers who will not be able to secure loans that they need urgently, from banks and other financial institutions,” he said. “So there is a role for a moneylending industry. And once you accept that, you must accept that you should allow them to have a decent return, taking into account the risk that they face, which is much higher.”

Although with the 4 per cent ruling, moneylenders will be allowed to charge an administrative fee up front, capped at 10 per cent of the original loan amount, for legitimate costs such as securing credit reports.

With regard to borrowers earning more than S$20,000 annually, the new rules will cap their loans at six times their salary from all licensed moneylenders. Such borrowers can currently take a loan of up to four times their monthly salary from each moneylender.

What’s Not Including in the Recommendations?

The government did not accept a recommendation that moneylenders be allowed to advertise in newspapers using strict templates, taking the view that advertising could lead to increased borrowing.

Moving Forward

Stiffer Rules on moneylending to be rolled out

Stiffer Rules on moneylending to be rolled out. Photo credit: Straits Times

A new Moneylenders Credit Bureau will also provide a centralised, comprehensive database of borrowers who use licensed moneylending services.

“We set up this committee to come up with recommendations that would help protect the consumer, the borrower. But at the same time, if you kill off the moneylending industry, then the people who need to borrow won’t get access,” Mr K Shanmugan, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs said. He further mentioned that the new recommendations are centred on how best to balance both.

The 4% interest rate caps would be the first of a list of proposals recommended by the committee to be rolled out within a month by the Law Ministry.

Mr Manu Bhaskaran, director of Centennial Group International and chairman of the committee said, that the committee has decided to accept the moneylenders’ recommendations to help them cover their administration costs incurred in giving out the loans and late payments from borrowers.

More References: TODAY reports on moneylending interest rate cap

Licensed Money Lender faces criticism in Singapore. A new set of woes to worry about.

Licensed Money Lender Facing Criticism in Singapore

The licensed money lender industry in Singapore has gotten its run of bad publicity for 2015 given the recent events occurred amongst debt collection. Debates have been brought up on how debt collection can be made better.

Licensed Money Lender Scene

This was due to a recent scene in the licensed money lender industry in Singapore when seven employees of Double Ace Associates confronted a stall owner at Funan DigitalLife Mall foodcourt and created a big scene during the busy lunch hour. All offenders were charged with unlawful assembly just last month.

Debt Collectors in Singapore creating a fuss at Funan Digital Mall Singapore

Debt Collectors in Singapore creating a fuss & harrassment at Funan Digital Mall Singapore

Licensing Debt Collection in Singapore

Debt collection in Singapore. Hired by licensed money lender.

Debt collection in Singapore. Hired by licensed money lender.

Licensed money lender hire debt-collection companies from time to time for long standing debts that they cannot handle and this incident highlighted on how a loan can go horribly wrong.

“Licensing the debt-collection industry could clean up its image, and clamp down on the use of harassment tactics” – suggested by Mr David Poh, President of the Moneylender’s Association of Singapore, has been backed by the Credit Collection Association of Singapore (CCAS).

This matter of debt collection has been raised in Parliament last month when MP Foo Mee Har mentioned whether debt collectors should abide by a code of conduct, and if the Government of Singapore would consider introducing laws that govern fair deb-collection.

Others have mentioned that should such a code of conduct be in place, there will be a lot of infrastructure that needs to be put up for case investigation. Hence the onus should be on the licensed money lender, to ensure their debt collectors do not use violence or high pressure tactics.

“Moneylenders found to have committed offences may have their licences suspended, not renewed or revoked by the registry,” Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah

Late Fee Charges by Licensed Money Lender

Late Fee charges by Licensed Money Lender

Late Fee charges by Licensed Money Lender

Late last year, an article about how a borrower got a small loan and incurred a large debt due to the late fee charges.

Suggestions have been made to cap the penalty late charges. However this has led to many licensed money lenders protesting that the new rules could kill their business.

This is why at Empire Global we always encourage borrowers to negotiate early and fully understand the terms involved. Terms from different licensed money lender vary greatly. All these could lead up to you getting into greater debt.

Licensed Money Lender Woes & The Review Committee

With the advisory committee proposing major changes of which a controversial interest rate cap of 4 percent per month has led to an outburst in the licensed moneylending industry.

Many licensed money lender in Singapore have mentioned that the cap will lead to borrowers not paying back instead. Without late penalty charges, it will be tougher to collect back their money.

Borrowers have a higher chance to default on their payments. Leading to lower profit margins by the money lenders.

The advisory committee basis on the proposed interest rates is also referred to prevailing interest rates charged by licensed moneylenders in jurisdictions like Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and Britain, which range from 1.5 to 4 per cent.

We at Empire Global are looking at ways to improve our infrastructure and to work with the interest rate cap. Hopefully, the Ministry of Law considerations on relaxing advertising restrictions on newspapers will be implemented.

Most definitely, we want to be geared up to in advance to follow through the new rules imposed.
Interest Rates Take a Hike with rising Sibor in Singapore. Look at how it will affect you.

Interest Rate Spikes & Latest in Moneylenders News

Money, money and more money! The recent news about the US interest rates hikes has hit our shores in Singapore and the news is not entirely encouraging.

The three-month Sibor, which is used to price most loans and mortgages here, has been inching its way upwards due to interest rate hike in the United States and a weakening Singapore dollar versus the greenback. The recent announcements by MAS to reduce the Singapore dollar from appreciating aims to keep the Sibor elevated.

The Sibor is fixed daily by the Association of Banks in Singapore based on quotes from banks on what they expect to pay for interbank loans that day. In short, it is affected by liquidity in the banking sector.

“The reduction of the appreciation slope could keep pressure on the US and Singapore dollar exchange rate and thus could ensure Sibor remains at current levels … This move by MAS helps keep Singapore policy on a stable footing, and we expect it to be modestly beneficial for Singapore bank earnings,” analysts from Morgan Stanley said in a research note.

Interest Rate Hike: What does it mean for You?

Many housing loans offered by banks are tied to three-month Sibor. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC), for example, has 3 types of home loans and one that is currently offering home loans at three-month Sibor plus 0.85 percentage points for the first three years, according to its website. Lending rates are reviewed every three months. As the Sibor is set to increase, so will the interest rate rise. Home owners will eventually face higher mortgage payments.

“We had expected the bullish move in the SOR and Sibor since last year,” says UOB economist Francis Tan (source)

Analysts are looking at further upside to about 1 to 1.2 per cent at the end of the year. Effectively leading to an interest rate of about over 2% for home loans.

Let us assume an outstanding housing loan of S$500,000 and 20 years remaining. With the current interest rate of 1.5 per cent, this works out to a monthly payment of about S$2,410.

If the interest rate is increased to 2 per cent, the monthly payment would rise to around S$2,530. Should the rate rise to 3 per cent, the monthly payment would be S$2,770.

What to Do Next with Higher Interest Rate?

Higher interest rates charged by banks affect your loans directly. Thus you will see your loans, home mortgage loans, renovation loans slowly inching its way up.

Hence start reviewing your loans! For example, review your home loan packages every two to three years. Look at the trends Conventional wisdom has it that you should review your loan package every two to three years, or before the promotional period ends and your bank raises its premium on the interest you pay, which increases your monthly instalments.

In short, think long term and look around for good deals. Always negotiate with the bank on refinancing options.

Latest in Moneylending Industry Singapore

DPM Teo added that the improved situation was due to the tough laws enacted, strong enforcement efforts against loan-shark syndicates and the high level of community support in the fight against unlicensed moneylending activities.

According to DPM Teo, about 1,900 people were arrested for unlicensed moneylending and related harassment offences on average yearly between 2011 and 2014, while about 2,600 were convicted in court for these offences.

Debt Collectors in Singapore creating a fuss & harrassment at Funan Digital Mall Singapore

Debt Collectors in Singapore creating a fuss & harrassment at Funan Digital Mall Singapore

Seen the recent hype about public harassment during working hours? Debt collectors created a ruckus at Funan Mall over unpaid debts. Moreover, this was during working hours infront of the public eye.

With clamping down on unlicensed activities and harassment cases, this is looking good for us licensed moneylenders at Empire Global. The image of licensed lenders is changing for the better as tougher laws are weeding out bad lenders. Thankfully, the ruly debt collectors have been arrested for unlawful assembly.

Sources
http://business.asiaone.com/news/what-do-about-home-loan-interest-rates-rise
http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/courts-crime/story/debt-collectors-who-created-scene-funan-mall-foodcourt-arrested-po?page=15

Singapore Dollar gets strong against Malaysian Ringgit

Singapore Dollar Stays Strong: Time to Travel!

With a spate of recent news, signifying that the Singapore dollar has hit historical highs against the Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah. So what does that mean for us at Empire Global? Travel!!

It’s the perfect time to hit the money exchangers and get stocked on Malaysian ringgit. It’s the year end and holidays too. Hence there is probably no greater time than to take advantage of the situation plus take a break with the family.

Singapore Dollar Strengths?

Firstly, the Singapore dollar has gained great ground on the yen due to monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

Since the start of the year 2014, the Singapore Dollar has risen 7.3% on the ringgit with the money market currently standing at SGD 1 to RM 2.64 (time of writing). This has been extremely great news for those Malaysians working in Singapore as they enjoy the benefits of the exchange rates. Some analysts expect it to fall even further. We hope so too!

In-depth of Oil Demands

Part of the ringgit downward trend has been affected by the continuous slide in oil prices. As Malaysia has been a strong oil-exporting country, there are fears that falling oil prices will further cause declining revenues for the country. The oil price has fallen by more than 40% since June, when it was $115 a barrel. It is now below $70. This comes after nearly five years of stability.

Weak economic demand has caused oil demand to slide tremendously. Hence a great oil-exporting country like Malaysia has seen it’s export market falling. Oil-related industries account for a third of Malaysian state revenue.

How Does the Singapore Dollar Work?

The Singapore dollar is managed by the MAS against a currency basket comprised by the country’s major trading partners and competitors. The central bank established the weight of every different currency by taking into account the trade flows between the countries and the way the corresponding economy is impacting Singapore’s exposure to the rest of the world.

Being a massively export dependent economy and a crucial financial and logistics centre, the way monetary policy is conducted has proven to be an essential tool for the booming economy since 1981.

What Next for you?

This has made Malaysia a more affordable country to travel to. President of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) has also highlighted his comments that Malaysia should try to take advantage of the situation as travel has weakened greatly since the attack on the MAS planes has caused strong negative sentiments to the travel industry. See more at: Travel Industry May Benefit from Weaker Ringgit

Arcade Moneychangers one of the best in town. Great Rates!

Arcade Moneychangers one of the best in town. Great Rates!

You probably have already seen moneychangers having long queues for the holidays. Now with the weaker Ringgit there are even longer queues and higher Singapore Dollar exchange needed to get the better exchange rates.

Today, moneychangers said they were still seeing long queues of people buying the Malaysian currency at their shops. However, they were not expecting a shortage in the coming days. Mohamad Rafik of Arcade Money Changers said: “Most people already bought as much ringgit as they can. I don’t think they will buy more.”

The falling value of the ringgit over the past weeks has been good news to Malaysians working in Singapore and Singaporeans who regularly travel across the Causeway for business or leisure.

Singaporeans travelling to these locations (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia) are going to enjoy great conversion rates and get more for their money.

Although while the Singapore Dollar is good in the asian markets, it has suffered against the Euro & the USD. Holiday makers rejoice as you can now make your dollar stretch event further especially in Malaysia or any oil-exporting country!

Word of Caution for Singapore Dollar

Malaysia Increases VEP fees. Reduces savings from  strong Singapore Dollar.

Malaysia Increases VEP fees. Reduces savings from strong Singapore Dollar.

As with all currency exchanges, do not overplay into the whole forex exchange. Exchange what you need or exchange just a little more for future needs. Currencies can change rapidly when the time comes and its seldom wise to hedge so much into currencies.

However, you might want to consider taking public transport. With VEP charges raised more than 5 times from RM2.90 to RM16.50 and with recent news that the Malaysian authorities plans to increase it to RM20 in middle of 2015 the savings from the falling ringgit might not be seen.

Meanwhile, enjoy the exchange rate!

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