Loan sharks are a problem in every country, but illegal lending seems to be especially rife in Singapore.
As a fast-growing economy attracting many new businesses, Singapore is full of people in need of a quick cash injection, and those willing to exploit them.
Of course, Singapore has strict laws against this.
The Moneylenders Act of 2010 imposes harsh punishments on illegal moneylenders and those acting on their behalf, with suggested fines of up to $300,000 and prison time of up to 5 years for serious and repeat offenders.
Earlier this year, 123 people were arrested during a 3-day island-wide crackdown on loan sharking activity.
Beware of unsolicited SMS or WhatsApp messages
Loan sharks love new technology because it gives them an easy way to find and contact vulnerable people. If you receive an SMS or WhatsApp message offering you a loan, the best thing to do is ignore it.
The Singaporean Police also advise you to report any such messages via i-Witness, mark the message as spam, and then block the number.
Remember, a licensed money lender will never advertise their services in this way.
If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is
A licensed money lender in Singapore will be bound by strict laws about how much they can lend and who they can lend to.
If a money lender is offering you a large loan when you only have a modest income, they are probably a loan shark.
Look for red flags
There are a number of warning signs to look out for when choosing a money lender. If the lender operates without a license number from the Ministry of Law, or without a business address, they are probably not legitimate. The same goes for any moneylender trying to lend you money without a contract. If you spot any of these red flags, steer clear.