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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.

Don't Get Red Card this World Cup 2014: Avoid Illegal Soccer Betting

Moneylenders & World Cup: Moneylending Review Just in Time?

Go..Gol.. Goal!!  There goes my bet against my friend on supper. Disappointed by the big teams loses in this recent World Cup? Who could forget England’s recent World Cup disappointment against Uruguay? Out after just two games! We at Empire Global were glued to the television and were totally saddened by the team’s loss. Terrible performance wasn’t it?

Well if you had been staying up vigilantly catching this year’s World Cup matches, our local police has been going around catching illegal betting centres and moneylenders who violated the law.

Large spike in Illegal Betting this World Cup

Infographic: Illegal Soccer Betting $6.4 million into illegal World Cup bets
Infographic: Illegal Soccer Betting $6.4 million into illegal World Cup bets

There has been a large spike in illegal soccer betting activities due to gamblers faulting on their loans, turning to ah-longs or illegal moneylenders to facilitate their gambling addiction.

We are seeing more of such cases being reported and we had to turn some customers away whom had long-standing debts with these ah-longs.

With technology being easily accessible to everyone with just about a smartphone, a gambler can simply place bets via online soccer betting rings setup by syndicates.
Illegal bookmaker sends SMS for bet on World Cup
Illegal bookmaker sends SMS for bet on World Cup. Just one of the ways that you can place a bet via technology.

Ah-longs are further targeting victims who have succumbered to heavy betting losses turning them into “agents” or bookmakers for them.

These ah-longs harass and embarrass others when they collect money leading to moneylenders getting a bad name by the public. There has been public outcry and calls for review of the moneylending industry and the change has occurred just about recently.

New Rules for Moneylenders

Previously we wrote about how this year’s Budget 2014 is looking at revising the moneylending industry , it has come to be true. In recent news, the Ministry of Law has formed an advisory committee to review regulations for the licensed moneylending industry. This in turn could be good news for borrowers allowing better protection.

The advisory committee will review and implement practises such as capping of interest rates, restrict charging fees by moneylenders. This is to further look into bad moneylenders abusing their licenses and resorting to harassment means, excessive borrowing and charging exorbitant rates.

Some moneylenders give ill-advise to borrowers and tell them to take up loans which they cannot payback. This acts allow moneylenders to collect more interest and further land the borrower into greater debt.

With a stop to new licenses being issued to moneylenders since 2012, there has been a call to better review the licensed moneylending industry.

The committee is looking to cap the number of loans that a borrower is allowed to borrow, this in turn could lead borrowers to turn to illegal moneylenders. Which is why we advocate proper borrowing and educate our borrowers here at Empire Global.

Read more on: New Rules for Moneylenders

God of Football Gambling? Do Not Bet Illegally!

Never ever bet with illegal online bookmakers thinking it is more convenient and provide better odds. That will not be the case when you are arrested, charged in court and given a hefty fine.

Penalties

Betting with illegal bookmakers = Fine up to $5000 or imprisonment up to 6mths or both

Being involved with illegal bookmaking = Fine at least $20000 and up to $200,000. Imprisonment up to 5years.

Don't get Red Carded this World Cup 2014. Do not bet illegally.

Don’t get Red Carded this World Cup 2014. Do not bet illegally. Campaign by NCPC

AVOID illegal moneylenders or loansharks as they will try all means to land you further into debt. This is to allow a continuous flow of cash for them.
Need loans? Get it from Licensed Moneylenders
If you ever end up in debt due to unforeseen circumstances, do take measures to do proper money management first. Do consult our friendly loan officers at Empire Global to do a loan assessment before deciding to take up a loan or a payday loan for yourself.
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.

 

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.