Are you worried about getting scammed by a money lender? After all, it’s a valid concern in this day and age.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. This article will teach you how to check a licensed money lender in Singapore. This is a critical step in protecting yourself from fraud and financial instability.
Once you’ve verified that a money lender is licensed, you can be sure it is legitimate and trustworthy. This knowledge will give you the peace of mind you need when borrowing money.
Where Can I Find A List Of Licensed Money Lenders?
To find a list of licensed money lenders in Singapore, click here. This list, from the Ministry of Law’s (MinLaw) Registry of Moneylenders, contains the names and contact information of all licensed money lenders in Singapore.
Remember: Don’t trust a lender that tries to explain why it is not on that list.
It’s most likely a loan shark.
- A loan shark can argue its company is not on the official list of licensed money lenders because of a glitch in the system.
- It can also argue its company name is different from its brand name.
- “Ah Longs”, another name for loan sharks in Singapore, can also publish a fake money lending license on their website, hoping you won’t do further checks.
These are all just strategies meant to trick good people like you and me.
Need more assurances?
Pro tip: Send an inquiry to the Credit Association of Singapore (CAS) to check if a legal money lender is registered with them.
Legal money lending in Singapore isn’t tied to being part of CAS. However, being a member of this association commits practitioners to higher ethical standards.
What Licensed Money Lenders Can And Cannot Do
Licensed money lenders are financial institutions that provide loans to individuals and businesses. They are regulated by the government and must follow specific rules and guidelines such as:
- Money lenders can provide loans for various purposes, including home renovations, business expansion, or personal expenses.
- Their loans can be different from bank loans. For example, licensed money lenders in Singapore can allow you to purchase furniture and electrical appliances through their renovation loans.
- The interest rate on a money lender loan is typically higher than the interest rate on a bank loan.
- Money lenders are allowed (and willing) to work with borrowers who have less-than-perfect credit.
- Money lenders in Singapore can withhold up to 10% of your principal loan amount as their admin fee. This charge will be withheld upon loan transfer.
Legal moneylending in Singapore entails certain restrictions:
- Money lenders cannot advertise freely. They also cannot send direct marketing messages to persuade you to get one of their loans. MinLaw restricts their advertisements to:
- Business directories
- Consumer directories
- Their websites
- Their business premises (for example, they are allowed to stick posters on their walls and windows, but they cannot give out flyers outside their company’s headquarters).
- Money lenders cannot charge more than 4% monthly interest, calculated from your remaining balance.
- The maximum late interest rate cannot exceed 4% out of the missed installment. The maximum late repayment fee is $60 for each month of late repayment.
- They cannot charge any fees for early payments.
- Money lenders don’t have any pre-approval charges.
- Legal money lenders must not omit writing a thorough loan contract that details all the terms of your agreement. They must give you a copy of that agreement.
- The money lender can’t change the contract conditions (e.g. increasing your rate or decreasing your tenure abruptly).
- A legal money lender in Singapore isn’t allowed to hold onto your personal documents, such as your NRIC or passport. It also shouldn’t ask you for bank or credit card passwords.
- A licensed money lender must not use force, threats, or harassment of any kind to get payment.
- The legal money lender cannot approve your loan without a prior face-to-face verification meeting conducted at its headquarters. For example, it cannot agree to the loan via SMS or in a parking lot.
- If you default on a loan from a money lender, it can take legal action against you, but it cannot use violence or threaten you in any way.
How Much Can You Borrow From A Licensed Money Lender
The answer to this question depends on the type of loan you opt for.
For example, there’s no maximum cap for a secured loan. If you’re willing to use your $2,000,000 property as collateral, a licensed money lender can legally offer you a $2,000,000 loan.
However, MinLaw has established certain limits for unsecured personal loans:
- $3,000 for citizens and permanent residents earning less than $10,000 per year and $500 for foreigners earning less than $10,000 per year
- $3,000 for citizens and permanent residents earning less than $20,000 per year, and foreigners earning $10,001-$20,000 per year
- Six times your monthly income for citizens, permanent residents and foreigners earning at least $20,001 per year
In addition, personal loans from licensed money lenders are capped at $250,000.
The maximum amount you can borrow from a legal money lender is also influenced by the Total Debt Service Ratio (TDSR). This ratio represents the percentage of your monthly income that goes towards repaying debts.
The current TDSR limit is set at 55%.
For example, suppose your monthly income is $10,000, and you’re already dedicating $4,500 to other financial commitments (e.g. credit card bills, car loans, etc.). In that case, the maximum amount you can borrow from a licensed money lender is $1,000.
Here’s the math:
$10,000 x 55% = $5,500. Since you’re already dedicating $4,500 to other debts, the maximum amount you can borrow is $5,500 – $4,500 = $1,000.
What Are The Interest Rates And Fees A Licensed Money Lender Charges?
The fees a licensed money lender can charge are:
- Interest rate
- Late interest rate
- Late penalty fee
- Admin fee
Let’s discuss them below.
Interest rates for licensed money lenders are capped at 4% per month. The interest you owe each month is calculated from the outstanding balance.
That means money lenders use the reducing interest model.
Here’s how that works:
If you take out a $10,000 loan with a 4% rate, the first interest will be $400. Let’s say your monthly installment is $500.
After the first month, you’ll have paid $400 for the interest and $100 for your principal amount.
In the second month, your interest rate will be 4% out of $9,900. That means the interest you owe is $396.
The same calculations apply, and your interest decreases month by month.
Late Interest And Late Repayment Fee
As mentioned above, money lenders can charge a late interest rate of up to 4% per month on the missed installment. They can also impose a maximum late repayment fee of $60.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you take out a $10,000 loan with a $500 installment and a 4% monthly interest rate. If you are 60 days late on your repayments, the licensed money lender can charge you a late interest of up to 4% per month on the missed installment.
4% of $500 is $20. So, you’ll have to pay an extra $40 in late interest for the two months. The money lender can also impose a maximum late repayment fee of $60.
This means that, in total, you’ll have to pay an extra $100.
The last fee your money lender can legally charge you is the 10% admin fee. From the $10,000 loan example, that admin fee is $1,000. So, the money lender can legally wire you just $9,000.
Warning: A licensed money lender in Singapore cannot legally claim this admin fee before approving the loan as a way to facilitate:
- Faster approval
- Lower interest
- Longer tenure
- Other advantages
How To Check If A Money Lender Is Licensed
The easiest way to check if a money lender is licensed is by looking for its registration number on the Ministry of Law’s website.
Here are the steps:
- Go to the Ministry of Law’s website.
- Under the “Info for borrowers” tab, click on “List Of Licensed Money lenders In Singapore.”
- You will be redirected to a new page with extra information and a PDF link.
- Click on that PDF to download the list.
- Check your money lender’s name on the list.
Alternatively, click this link to MinLaw’s list of licensed money lenders.
Pro tip: MinLaw also has a list of exempt money lenders. The government has specifically exempted these agencies from having a moneylending license.
You can also find this number on physical materials such as business cards or contract templates. If you can’t find the registration number, it’s probably because the money lender is operating illegally.
Warning: Even if the money lender gives you its registration number, continue your verification process. Many illegal lenders count on your lack of follow-up.
What To Do After Your Loan Is Granted
Once you’ve been granted the loan, double-check the interest rates and fees with the licensed money lender. Make sure everything is in order before signing the contract.
Remember: Read the contract thoroughly and understand every charge the money lender imposes. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, feel free to ask the money lender to explain it to you.
A licensed money lender is not allowed to hide any information from you. They are required by law to be completely transparent about everything related to your loan.
If you’re satisfied with everything, go ahead and sign the contract.
Once you’ve signed it, the money lender will wire the money to your bank account within one working day.
And that’s it. You’ve successfully taken out a loan from a licensed money lender in Singapore.
However, your journey is just beginning. Remember:
- You must keep your contract, Statement of Account, and receipts in a specific folder.
- Make copies of those documents just in case.
- Strive to make timely payments.
- You can set up an automatic payment system with your bank to ensure your installments go through.
- If you find yourself in a tough spot that prevents you from disbursing these sums, reach out to your money lender. Being upfront about your situation will help you negotiate better conditions.
Lodging A Complaint Against A Licensed Money Lender
Even licensed money lenders can break the law. For example, they can charge you hidden fees or threaten you with violence.
If this happens and you feel in immediate danger, you should contact the Singapore Police Force:
- Emergency phone number: 999
- Police hotline (for crime-related information): 1800 255 0000
- Anti-scam helpline: 1800 722 6688
You can also file a complaint with the Registry of Moneylenders, the government agency that regulates licensed money lenders in Singapore.
To do so, call 1800-2255-529.
Make sure to include as much details as possible, such as the name and registration number of the money lender, the date of the incident, and any other relevant information.
The Registry will then investigate your complaint and take appropriate action. This action might involve revoking the lender’s moneylending license or taking it to court.
That’s everything you need to know about verifying a money lender’s license.
Besides, you now know what to look for when dealing with a licensed money lender, from maximum sums to interest rates and other conditions.
Just remember to do your research, read the contract thoroughly, and lodge a complaint if necessary.
Lending Bee is here to help.
Our loans are designed to help you in your time of need, from emergencies to big purchases. As a licensed money lender, we offer competitive interest rates for personal, business, and foreign worker loans.
Plus, we have a team of experienced loan consultants who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Find more info, plus a personal loan calculator, here.
About Ashley Sim
Calling herself a “professional multi-tasker”, Ashley worked as a relationship manager in a bank for five years. She left her job just before the pandemic happened and became a freelance writer for about a year. Now, she’s making the most of her love for writing and knowledge of the banking and financial industry in her role as a content marketing lead. She hopes to help people make better financial decisions through her content and campaigns.