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.