There is no such thing as a scheduled emergency. At times, circumstances call for immediate expenses, and very often those expenses are too large for our wallets to address, and we’re left to scramble for anyone who can give us an urgent cash loan.
While the average licensed money lender in Singapore is known to have a fast cash loan process and is a good source of an instant cash loan, the legitimacy of 24-hour money lenders is still something that needs some clarification.
So are 24-hour money lenders in Singapore a scam, or are they legit? That question will be answered in this article, along with a few other information on keeping your borrowing journey both safe and convenient.
Are there licensed money lenders in Singapore that are open for 24 hours?
The quick answer is: no, there are no 24-hour money lenders in Singapore. Not to say they don’t exist—they are not some urban legend that pops up in hours of great need.
Rather, a licensed money lender open for 24 hours is likely an illegal money lender.
However, licensed money lenders do run their websites 24/7 for online loan applications. Any borrower can go apply for an urgent loan online, but the money cannot be processed until their next business day.
If a money lender promises to send you the money within the day, especially if they say that they can send it to your bank account, you might be dealing with a loan shark. Licensed money lenders in Singapore may only disburse money in person.
Are there licensed money lenders in Singapore that are open on weekends?
Another availability question commonly brought up is whether or not licensed money lenders can be open on weekends. While it’s not uncommon, not every legal money lender provides weekend services.
But yes, unlike banks, there are licensed money lenders that can provide urgent loans during Saturdays and Sundays.
If you have an urgent cash need during weekends and you’re unsure where to look, you can work with Instant Loan. Instant Loan can review your situation and provide you with appropriate financial solutions from legal money lenders that are open on weekends!
How to tell the legitimacy of a licensed money lender
The danger of mistakenly dealing with loan sharks and unlicensed money lenders is something one should always keep in mind when looking for cash loans, whether it is a personal or emergency loan or any other type of financing.
The quickest way is to cross-check any money lender with the Ministry of Law’s Registry of Licensed Moneylenders. It is a full list of all licensed moneylender businesses in the country, which can be found on their website here.
The do’s and don’ts of licensed moneylending
Despite there being a list of licensed moneylenders to refer to, it’s always good to be aware of illegal lender practices that you will only see from an unlicensed money lender or a loan shark.
Here are a few ways to tell what licensed money lenders can and can’t do. Licensed moneylenders…
Do: advertise in approved channels
Licensed moneylenders may only advertise through proper channels as required by the Ministry of Law. These include:
- Consumer or business directories in print media.
- Websites that belong to the licensed money lender.
- Ads placed on the exterior or within the approved place of business of the licensed money lender.
Don’t: advertise via SMS, emails, and etc.
A licensed money lender in Singapore cannot advertise through SMS messages, calls, emails, WhatsApp, and flyers outside the vicinity of their approved place of business.
Loan sharks solicit business through these illegal practices, and as such, you should be wary of a lender that contacts you through these means.
Address and Contacts
Do: maintain a physical address
A licensed money lender in Singapore must maintain a physical address as in-person verification is required to complete loan transactions.
Don’t: work only from a website
Loan sharks often work digitally, or from places that are not registered businesses. If a lender does not have a physical address and only maintains contact with you online, you are likely working with an unlicensed money lender.
Another sign to look out for is to confirm their landline number, as having one suggests their legitimacy.
Do: face-to-face verification before a loan is approved
Loan providers must have borrowers come into their physical place of business for face-to-face verification to make sure the borrower understands the loan contract and to iron out terms.
Don’t: settle for online verification
A loan provider that opts to have your loan approved through digital means is likely a loan shark.
Loan sharks may press you to continue with this method for convenience, but it may be the modus operandi of an online loan scam.
Do: follow the proper limit for interest rates
Licensed money lenders in Singapore may only charge interest rates that do not exceed 4% for any type of loan.
This ceiling was provided by the country to ensure that borrowers do not get buried under debt and experience worsening financial difficulties.
Don’t: charge interest rates higher than the limit
Loan sharks and illegal money lenders will hike up their interest rates beyond the given limit in order to scam borrowers out of extra cash.
They may not do so right away, but make sure to keep track of the loan repayments you have to make in the contract, and if it remains consistent with what you have to pay each month.
Do: follow the guidelines for processing fees
A licensed money lender is subject to regulations, even when it comes to fees charged from processing a loan.
There are only specific fees that loan agents may charge, and they cannot charge prior to processing a loan. Even if you fail to meet the repayment schedule, there is a limit to the charges.
The following fees are:
- An administrative fee amounting no more 10% of the principal amount, charged only after a loan extension;
- A fee that does not exceed $60 for each month of late repayment, and
- Court-ordered costs for the successful claim for the recovery of the loan.
Don’t: charge more fees during the loan application
Lenders who do not follow the regulations stipulated above are likely illegal money lenders. These lenders will charge you admin fees before processing a loan, which is a scam to get you to pay more money. Remember: you cannot be charged fees until after the loan application.
They may also attempt the same before disbursing the loan to you.
Moreover, a loan shark may resort to hiking up your late repayment fees when you fail to squeeze out money from you, so it’s best to be wary of this and avoid further contact when a loan agent increases their charges outside of regulation.
Do: provide a clear explanation for the terms of the loan package
As part of regulations, a licensed moneylender must meet you face-to-face for verification to finish up the loan application. This is for the express purpose of clarifying the terms of the loan, from the principal to the interest rates, and loan tenure.
Licensed moneylenders are bound to help you understand what you’re signing on for as part of Singapore’s initiative to keep individuals from taking on too much debt.
Don’t: provide a “blank contract”
A blank contract in the case of a loan is being made a deal with terms that are not written out on paper. When you sign onto a blank contract, you may have a verbal agreement of the terms of the loan, but without a legally binding document, you may be being tricked into different, unfair terms that can compromise your financial safety.
Unlicensed money lenders may go as far as get you to move forward with the loan by convincing you of the convenience of immediately getting money without the formality, or they may attempt to forego it entirely and move straight to disbursement in order to surprise you.
Loan Amount and Approval
Do: base the loan amount on your requirements
The maximum loan amount you can borrow is up to 12x your monthly income across all your unsecured credit facilities, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
In fact, when borrowing money, your maximum loan amount will depend on a number of different factors outside of your monthly income—usually including your debt-to-income ratio and credit history.
Banks and licensed moneylenders are expected to follow this threshold to make sure you do not borrow well above what you can comfortably pay for, so you can avoid falling into deep debt.
Don’t: promise to give you as much money as you want
While it may seem heaven-sent when a lender offers to give you your desired loan with lax enough requirements, you should be wary when a lender presents you with an offer that is too good to be true.
Illegal lenders will present you with a large loan principal even on an unsecured loan without considering your credit standing and income and will sweeten the deal with other perks so they can lure you into debt. The larger the amount, the more they can bury you in.
Don’t be swayed! If the amount exceed the limits of a personal loan, and when you know that your eligibility does not match, it’s better to consider other options.
Loan Approval and Security
Do: Carefully review your requirements and ensure the security of your documents
Every type of loan has its own set of requirements and eligibility. In the case of personal loans, your monthly income and citizenship status will come into play.
A licensed money lender is required to take into account all of the different factors to determine your eligibility for a personal loan.
The eligibility criteria and requirements of a personal loan from moneylenders include:
- At least 18 years old
- Minimum monthly income of S$1,500 for citizens and permanent residents; S$2,000 for foreigners
- Proof of income and employment
- Proof of residence
- SingPass to log in to CPF, IRAS, and HDB websites
In addition, important documents cannot be kept by the money lender.
Don’t: Approve your loan without proper procedure and retain your documents
Getting easily approved for a loan with a bad credit score might sound like a blessing, but it’s worth looking into the matter further on how a lender decided you are eligible.
Loan sharks will want to get you the loan as part of their modus operandi, and as such, they won’t make an effort to look into your ability to repay.
Carefully consider if the approved loan principal is reasonable for your financial situation.
Do: follow the proper loan disbursement procedure
A licensed moneylender is expected to disburse the loan in person, along with other parts of the loan application process that requires physical interaction.
Don’t: send the principal loan amount directly to your bank account
A money lender intent on digital disbursement may be running an online loan scam. Online loan applications can be done online, but for disbursement, you have to meet the money lender face-to-face.
How to report loan sharks
If you experience any of the above signs, you may most likely be dealing with loan sharks. Your next course of action is to avoid further contact, and to report loan shark harassment to the authorities.
You may either phone the Singapore police or the X Ah-Long hotline at these numbers:
- For emergencies and immediate police response, call the Singapore police hotline at 1800-255-000 or 999.
- You may also report loan shark activities and illegal lending practices at the National Crime Prevention Council’s “X Ah-Long” hotline at 1800-924-5664 if you have information on loan sharks.
The Singapore Ministry of Law’s Registry of Moneylenders also does not take harassment and illegal lending activities lightly. You may report the lender through their website or their telephone number at 1800-2255-529 for further assistance.
If you are worried about your identity upon reporting, the Registry will keep your personal information confidential. The process may however require that you attend an in-person interview about your financial involvement with the moneylender in question.
The Registry takes any complaints seriously while keeping your identity discreet. If a moneylender disregards your rights, you may try and take legal action through the Small Claims Tribunal or the Court under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. The Court also has the authority to void loan agreements that are deemed to be unfairly structured or overly costly.
So if you think you’re being subjected to illegal lending practices, it’s best to go to the authorities. Especially in the case of hazardous activities that may damage your belongings and/or compromise your safety like threats of violence, destruction of property, abusive language, and harassment.
Tips for a safe and convenient borrowing journey
Aside from all the telltale signs listed above, one of the best ways to avoid illegal lenders and ah longs is to confirm the validity of their business through the Ministry of Law’s Registry of Moneylenders, which lists out all the licensed moneylenders operating in the country.
It’s best to confirm for yourself if a lender you are conferring with has a legitimate business operating in the country before jumping into a contract with them. The list can be found here.
Is money lending illegal in Singapore?
Money lending is a legal business practice in Singapore. While there are no laws that specifically govern money lending businesses, there are subject to regulations mandated by the government which seeks to protect the financial health of borrowers.
Where can I borrow money in Singapore?
There are many institutions you may get a loan from. The first is of course you family and friends, but more legitimate options can be found with government-backed loans, banks, licensed moneylenders, and credit unions.
How can I get a 20,000 instant loan?
Requirements will vary between each lender, but you may be required to have a healthy enough credit score and a sufficient monthly salary. Money lenders will typically also impose a smaller maximum loan limit, so you will have better luck with banks. Lastly, secured loans typically provide larger loan quantums than unsecured loans.
The bottom line
- 24-hour money lenders are doing illegal business, but those that are open on weekends are legitimate.
- If you need an emergency loan, you can apply online and wait until the following available business day.
- The best personal loan option is not the most convenient option, but the safest option.
If you want financing options that are both safe and convenient, reach out to Instant Loan. It is a loan comparison service that carefully reviews your financial situation and provides you with a list that is catered to your needs with loans from the top licensed moneylenders in Singapore.