If you’ve been receiving strange loan offers via WhatsApp or emails from unknown sources, chances are you’ve become a target of unlicensed money lenders. Don’t fall prey to any of these fancy loan shark advertisements that promise you a good deal because they are just sham tactics.
These are unlicensed money lenders trying to scam you into handing over your hard-earned money for loans that have deceptive terms and conditions. In recent years, there have been countless reports of rampant marketing from loan sharks. These advertisements are trying to entice individuals to sign up for illegal loans.
Such illegal money lenders are dangerous because they trick borrowers into taking up loans at exorbitant interest rates and utilise unregulated harassment methods to chase debt repayment. Their methods often cause harm to borrowers, their families, their employers, and even disrupt the neighbourhood.
The best way to avoid being scammed by these illegal money lenders is to first identify what a loan shark advertisement looks like and what to do when you receive one. Read on to find out more.
Licensed moneylenders in Singapore are regulated by the Ministry of Law and their activities are governed by the Registry of Moneylenders. This Registry stipulates strict guidelines on how and where moneylenders can promote their business, their debt collection methods, and even the maximum interest rates they can levy on a loan.
According to the Registry, licensed moneylenders in Singapore are only allowed to market their business via their:
- Official business or consumer directories in print or online media
- Business websites that legitimately belong to them
- Promotional materials or advertisements within the lender’s premises or on the exterior of the business. These include an external wall, doors, shutters, gates, and windows.
If you see any advertisements or promotional messages from moneylenders in channels that are not part of the three approved ones mentioned above, they are bound to be loan shark advertisements. You should steer clear of these advertisements and never engage a loan shark’s services, no matter how desperate for cash you are.
In a country like Singapore where over 90% of the population is literate, it is hard to believe that many still fall into the trap that illegal moneylenders set. However, most people who are in dire situations tend to think less rationally and are more vulnerable to attractive offers like an illegal loan.
This is why having a clear understanding of where the possible traps are laid and taking mindful steps to avoid them are of utmost importance. Based on many reported cases, loan scam marketing tends to take place in the five methods listed below:
- Unsolicited mobile phone messages via SMS or WhatsApp offering attractive loan packages and financial assistance
- Online advertisements and unsolicited messages via social media platforms like Facebook
- Unsolicited emails to initiate contact and offer financial assistance
- Flyers and pamphlets distributed in public places or via mailboxes
- Approaching ignorant foreign domestic workers to sign up for illegal loans
The Singapore Police Force has always emphasised the threat of unlicensed moneylenders to the community. Additionally, the police have been actively clamping down on these syndicates to reduce the rising number of scam cases. However, more needs to be done throughout the community to fight against these negative occurrences.
Here’s what you can do to avoid being scammed by loan shark advertisements and help others not to fall prey to loan shark scams too:
- Delete, block, and report: Don’t leave it at just deleting unsolicited loan shark messages from your mobile phone – block and report these scams in the app. Even personal and group WhatsApp messages can be reported within the app itself.
- Ignore loan shark advertisements: Do not reply to such messages or give out your personal information to anyone. This includes your NRIC, Singpass login details, and bank account information.
- Make a report: Report all loansharking activities and suspicious individuals in your neighbourhood to the police.
- Contact the relevant hotline: Call the National Crime Prevention Council’s hotline at 1800-924-5664 if you spot illegal loan shark marketing activities.
- Use I-Witness to provide information about suspicious loan shark activities: It’s an online submission platform managed by the Singapore Police Force where you can choose to remain anonymous when supplying information on this platform.
- Be a helping hand to others: Educate your foreign domestic worker about loan shark scams and the consequences of taking up a loan with illegal loan sharks or assisting them in illegal activities.
If you’re in need of emergency funds urgently, do consider Dio Credit. We are a reputable licensed moneylender in Singapore that has been in business ever since 2013. We offer a wide range of personal and business loans. Simply reach out to us via our online form and our experienced loan executives will get back to you with a personalised quote.