Did you recently run into an emergency that drained you financially?
It could be an unwelcome expense or a medical situation that couldn’t wait for long, and now you are wondering how to pay back those bills.
Paying off bills, medical emergencies, or wedding and home renovations expenses can be an uphill task, especially when you do not have any financial assistance or do not want to borrow money from your friends and family.
Most people resort to a bank loan under these circumstances, but that doesn’t always work out. Bank loans usually have stricter terms and prerequisites, and it might take a while before you see some cash from a bank.
This is where a licensed money lender can come to your rescue.
Getting a loan from a licensed money lender may seem risky when you don’t have complete knowledge about the process, and many people are wary of running into fraud.
But armed with the right information how to choose a licensed money lender in Singapore, you can be financially secure, and deal with loans in an easy, manageable way.
Contrary to popular belief, licensed money lenders are far from being a scam. All licensed money lenders in Singapore are thoroughly vetted and are governed by the Ministry of Law.
As such. they are a safe and reliable method to borrow money legally. All licensed money lenders are required to follow strict guidelines to make it easier for people to borrow money.
Which Are The Licensed Money Lenders In Singapore?
All approved lenders that are authorised by the Ministry of Law to lend money as a business are licensed money lenders in Singapore.
They are governed by Singapore’s Ministry of Law and provide Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and foreigners with instant loans under strict terms and conditions.
Licensed money lenders in Singapore are the best alternative to a traditional bank loan, as they are quicker, much less stringent about their terms, and can be your go-to if you are in a bind and need instant cash.
All licensed money lenders in Singapore are listed in the Registry of Moneylenders, which is easily accessible as it is on the Ministry of Law website.
It is highly recommended that you check the Registry before borrowing cash from any money lender.
Are Licensed Money Lenders Allowed To Advertise?
Licensed money lenders in Singapore are not allowed to advertise their services through traditional marketing tactics such as phone calls, text messages, and emails.
Singapore citizens and permanent residents are required by law to meet the licensed money lender and conduct a face-to-face verification at the authorised place of business, as listed in the Registry of Moneylenders before they get a loan from the licensed money lender
Applying and acquiring loans online, without any physical verification, is disallowed and discouraged by the Ministry of Law.
As for advertising their moneylending services, licensed money lenders are only allowed to publicise their business through limited means, under the 2011 directive released by the Ministry of Law.
They can advertise their licensed moneylending business by getting their information published in directories, their official websites, or by displaying ads on the windows, doors, gates, or walls of their physical business locations, that is, their offices.
Using flyers, banners across the city, cold calls, and emails, or going door to door is strictly banned, and by doing so, they could even get their moneylending license revoked.
Licensed money lenders in Singapore are also not allowed to inform others about their services through TV, radio, or print ads, or through online pop-up ads and banners.
The reason behind the limited advertising opportunities for licensed money lenders is to prevent scammers and fraudulent businesses from luring unsuspecting people to take loans when they are going through a rough patch.
There have been numerous instances reported where unlicensed money lenders and scammers deceived innocent people by asking them to pay “processing fees” upfront without disbursing any loan.
In some instances, they also misused the personal details of the victims by using their contact details, addresses, and NRIC numbers for unlawful purposes.
Fees And Rates Charged By Licensed Money Lenders
The Ministry of Law has some set rules and regulations regarding the fees, taxes and interest rates licensed money lenders in Singapore can charge borrowers.
These laws apply to all borrowers equally – regardless of their annual incomes and the principal loan acquired, and whether the loan borrowed is secured or unsecured.
With effect from 1 Oct 2015, the Ministry of Law has limited the interest rate licensed money lenders can charge borrowers to 4%.
If a borrower, due to any reason or circumstances, is unable to return the monthly loan installments on time, the money lender cannot charge them with a late interest of more than 4% for each month the loan amount was returned late.
The licensed money lenders can also only impose a late fee of not more than $60 every month.
Also, the administrative fee cannot exceed 10% of the principal amount of the loan acquired by the borrower.
As a rule of thumb, interest rate, late fees, administrative charges, and any other charges must not be greater than the amount of the principal loan.
How To Tell If You Are Dealing With An Unlicensed Money Lender
Always make sure that you are dealing with a licensed money lender and not a loan shark.
There are too many scams and illegal money lenders pretending to be licensed businesses ready to rob people of their hard-earned money.
It is highly advisable to be vigilant and look out for these signs before you signing on a loan contract with a money lender:
- A licensed money lender is required by law to explain the terms and conditions, late fees, interest rates, and administrative fees to you in clear and easily understandable terms, before you sign the contract.
Your loan contract is the document that contains all the details of the terms and conditions under which both parties are entering the business transaction, and these conditions are legally binding to both parties.
- Any money lender sending you an online contract, or sending PDF documents through WhatsApp, requiring you to pay a deposit before the loan is approved, is a scammer and must be avoided.
- A licensed money lender cannot, by law, send you text messages, emails, or calls to advertise their business. It has very limited options for advertising, and can only inform the public about its moneylending service through directories, its official website, or by placing ads on the walls, doors, and windows of its office.
Using other advertising channels can get them banned from the Registry of Moneylenders Singapore, and cause their licenses to be revoked.
- Any licensed money lender will also not ask for an interest rate or a late fee greater than 4% per month for your loans. Asking for any amount more than the 4% set by the Ministry of Law, or asking for an upfront fee, is a clear red flag.
- There is also a limit on the amount of money you can borrow as an unsecured loan from a licensed money lender. According to the regulations set by the Ministry of Law, you can acquire an unsecured personal loan of $3,000, if you are a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, and if your annual income is less than $10,000.
For an annual income between the $10,000 to $20,000 range, you can get a $3,000 loan. For an annual income that is more than $20,000, you can acquire any amount of loan up to six times your annual income.
Rules are a bit different for foreigners residing in Singapore, where the loan amount they can acquire is $500, depending on their annual income.
- Any money lender offering you a loan amount greater than that set by the Ministry of Law is a potential scammer and must be avoided.
Are 24-hour Money Lenders Legitimate?
Under the Ministry of Law’s approved Registry of Moneylenders, there are no legit 24-hour money lenders in Singapore.
If a claims to be such, it is likely a loan shark or an illegal money lender looking to scam you.
Since most Singapore residents are bound by time limitations, loan sharks exploit their urgency and operate 24 hours.
Any moneylending business open round the clock is most probably a loan shark, masquerading as a licensed money lender.
Another possible explanation for a 24-hour money lender is that it is a licensed Singapore money lender guilty of breaking the law, and you don’t want to be dealing with it either.
But that doesn’t mean that you cannot reach out to legitimate moneylending businesses in your time of need.
Licensed money lenders such as Lending Bee, have a website on which you can fill out a form to apply for a loan at any odd hours.
However, you will meet at its office for the face-to-face verification only during office hours.
What To Do Before Taking A Loan
After you have decided to take assistance from a licensed money lender, it is recommended by personal finance experts to do your due diligence before you apply for an unsecured personal loan.
Some important aspects to consider before filing a loan application are:
Decide On The Type And Amount Of Loan You Can Acquire
Depending upon your financial needs, credit score, annual income, and other factors, decide beforehand the amount of loan you need to acquire.
Do not ask for more loans than you can repay comfortably, without further deteriorating your personal finances.
Ask yourself what the purpose of the loan is, and after considering all options, see if a small personal loan fits your needs. Such a loan is the best option if you are looking to consolidate debt, renovate your house, pay off school, or deal with a medical bill.
After you have settled on the loan type and amount, research the repayment terms, the interest rates offered, and negotiate a deal with a licensed lender that is the most feasible for you.
Get Your Documents In Order
Have your credit score evaluated, and get all your relevant documents in order before you go to a licensed money lender.
Check your eligibility for the maximum amount of loan that you can apply for, depending on your credit rating, annual income, and citizenship status.
The important documents that you need for your loan application are your credit score, residency proof, income statements, employment letter, proof of income, and NRIC.
How To Check If A Money Lender Is Licensed
The easiest way to ensure that you are dealing with a licensed money lender is to tally its business name and details with that on Ministry of Law’s list of licensed money lenders.
Each month, the list is updated with a list of authorised money lenders in Singapore.
Other methods to verify a lender’s authenticity is to have a face-to-face meeting before signing the contract, look into its advertisement tactics, and research the lender online.
Make sure that any money lender you are dealing with doesn’t make you sign on a blank Note of Contract.
Also remember to never leave your original documents such as your NRIC, driver’s license, work permit, or ATM card with the money lender. Any person asking you to do so is a clear scammer.
What To Do After You Are Granted A Loan
Your loan is approved, and you are unclear about what your next step should be.
This is the right time to make sure that you have all your important identification documents with you, and that the licensed money lender has granted you the correct principal amount of the loan. Remember that a licensed money lender can deduct a loan approval fee of 10% upfront.
Also, make sure to collect receipts every time you pay back a loan installment. Check the receipt to ensure the amount, date, and name are correct.
Ensure you collect a statement of account for all loans, at least once every January and July. Don’t forget to check whether it contains correct details of the amounts paid back, dates, and your name. Keep all receipts and account statements with you as evidence of payment.
Where To Get Help
If you find yourself dealing with a licensed money lender involved in unlawful practices, and resorting to harassment and abuse in case of late payment, then you can instantly file a complaint with the Registry at 1800-2255-529.
The Registry would require further details and all documents relevant to the loan transaction and may call you for an interview for further details.
Rest assured all complaints are dealt with seriously by the Registry of Moneylenders.
If you need a loan urgently, Lending Bee could be what you need in times of financial difficulty.
We are one of the most trusted licensed money lenders in Singapore. With easy terms and conditions decided mutually, Lending Bee is now even more accessible through its mobile app. Apply for a loan with us today.
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.