You may have heard about how it is fairly easy to get a loan from a licensed money lender compared to a bank.
But do you know what licensed money lenders need to operate a moneylending business?
For any business to offer moneylending services in Singapore, it must be registered with the Ministry of Law’s Registry of Moneylenders. It will then be issued a license number.
This is why it is important to know how to check money lender license.
How To Check A Money Lender Is Licensed
You can confirm that the money lender you’re dealing with is licensed and legit using a simple process:
- Open the list of licensed money lenders in Singapore from the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).
- Open the link in a new tab to see the list of licensed money lenders in Singapore. You could also download it as a PDF. Check this list to see if your prospective money lender is on the list.
- The list also indicates the moneylending companies whose licenses have been suspended. If a potential lender did not feature in the first list, it may be in this one. If it does not feature in either list, it’s probably an illegal business seeking to scam or exploit borrowers.
Singapore has more than 100 licensed money lenders, so it should be easy to find one that will help you meet your financial needs, rather than dealing with an illegal lender.
You can access information about licensed money lenders on the website of the Moneylenders Credit Bureau.
When it comes to how to check money lender license, another way would be to visit the money lender’s place of business. If it is a licensed lender, the license should be displayed prominently in its premises.
Deception Tactics Used By Unlicensed Money Lenders
Scammers and unlicensed lenders use the following tactics to get to their targets, so be careful.
Approach Their Loan Targets Through Mobile Text Messages And Phone Calls
Unlicensed money lenders notoriously contact their victims through text messages, emails, flyers, phone calls, or in person, offering unsolicited loans. Some even ask borrowers for money in the name of “GST fees” and “processing fees” to disburse loans that don’t exist.
Run Fake Websites And Social Media Accounts
Unlicensed lenders are not necessarily secretive about what they do. Some have a massive online presence mimicking legitimate lenders to confuse borrowers. Many people do not catch on to this tactic and end up falling prey to their tactics.
A common trait of unlicensed money lenders is that they are always looking to access your personal information to use it for illegal dealings. So they may ask for your Singpass, home address, NRIC number, and other personal information.
Although some may even lend you the money, they often use predatory practices and harass you in pursuit of their debt. That’s why they are called loan sharks and you should avoid them completely. This is because often, their loans leave borrowers worse off than they were before they received the money.
The way to deal with unlicensed money lenders is to simply not engage with them. Do not respond to their emails or text messages, and do not pick up their calls.
Even if you are badly in need of credit, you are better off getting it from a licensed money lender whose actions are governed by Singapore’s laws.
What Licensed Money Lenders Cannot Do
A legal money lender in Singapore will not do any of the following. If a money lender does any of these actions, it is likely illegal or fraudulent. These include:
1. Authorise Or Grant Loans Online
Licensed money lenders in Singapore are required by law to arrange for a physical meeting with borrowers at their business premises.
The meeting allows for the verification of a borrower’s identity and the checking of documents presented. No loan process should be initiated and completed entirely online.
Conversely, an illegal lender or a scammer will want a fast virtual process – one that they can complete quickly before the borrower changes his or her mind. Beware of such loan offers.
2. Make Unsolicited Calls, Messages, Or Visits
The law does not allow licensed money lenders in Singapore to solicit borrowers directly through calls, text messages, WhatsApp, phone calls, or on social media platforms.
Licensed money lenders must obey advertising rules that stipulate that they can only engage with potential borrowers on their own websites, ads placed on their premises, or listings in consumer or business directories.
So treat an offer presented on the wrong platforms as fraudulent.
3. Ask For Payment Before A Loan Is Approved
Money lenders do ask for loan processing fees, but legit lenders deduct it from the loan principal after granting the loan.
The law forbids licensed money lenders from accepting payment before loan approval. An unlicensed lender, on the other hand, will use the fees argument to paint a picture of legitimacy where there’s none.
4. Ask For Your Personal Information
Licensed money lenders in Singapore do not ask for very personal information such as your Singpass username and password. However, unlicensed lenders will insist on having these details as part of their approval process.
5. Retain Your Documents
Licensed lenders will not retain your personal documents such as your NRIC, work permit, driver’s license, employment pass, or passport.
But an unlicensed lender will try to have something on you that it can later use to intimidate you.
6. Present A Blank Or Incomplete Contract
If the money lender does not offer a loan contract or presents a blank or incomplete one, it is likely a con or loan shark. Others may present a contract that is vague. They may also refrain from explaining its terms but ask you to sign it quickly.
7. Threaten, Intimidate Or Insult You
By law, it is illegal for money lenders to use vulgarities, violence or abuse when pursuing a debt. If any lender, legal or otherwise, behaves this way towards you, you have the right to lodge a complaint against them.
Report such lenders to the police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or the website www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. Or call the National Crime Prevention Council through its X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664.
How Money Lenders Apply For Their Licenses
A business applies for a moneylending license in Singapore from the Ministry of Law (MinLaw). The application fee is an upfront and non-refundable $600. The business owners must meet these additional requirements:
- At least one person on the team must have passed the Moneylenders Test
- Be subject to the law requirements stipulated in Cap. 188 of the Moneylenders Act and also the 2009 Moneylender Rules, particularly those established to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing
The documents required are:
- Documented proof of the source and the availability of financing. This may include bank statement copies, income slips, or past years’ IR8A
- Copies showing the front and back photos of the members’ NRICs
- Managers’ education qualifications and accompanying certificates
Aside from the $600 application fee, the team must also pay a $1,500 license fee, and a $20,000 security deposit. The business must also have a registered Unique Entity Number (UEN).
After presenting all the documentation and fees to the Registry of Moneylenders, the average processing time needed is four weeks.
Note that the Registry of Moneylenders is temporarily not issuing new moneylending licenses.
Updating Or Renewal of A Money Lender License
The process of updating or renewing a money lender license is done entirely online. The applicant can change many things including your business name, address, or contact details. He or she may also include the appointment of a new manager, employment cessation, and the transfer or allotment of shares.
To change the business address, the team should have photos of the new premise and a document indicating the landlord’s approval of hosting a moneylending business.
These should be sent to the Registry of Moneylenders within seven days of the online application. If the Registry approves, the following must be submitted:
- Scanned copy is proof of premise ownership (title deed or property tax forms)
- Scanned copy of tenancy agreement
- Photos of proposed signage
If you are transferring all-time shares, the following items are required:
- Clear and current ID cards of the transferor and transferee
- Number of shares to transfer and why
- Agreed price of shares
- Evidence of the source of funds
- Clear indication of the existing relationship between transferor and transferee
- Indication of position transferee will hold, including whether he is to be a major shareholder
- Statement of company’s finances in recent months
- Transferee’s experience and education, if any, in the moneylending business
- Relationship between transferee and persons involved with other members, including family, friends and acquaintances
Before presenting any documentation, the Registry must first accept the online application and endorse it. Only then can the money lender license be updated or renewed.
Criteria For Excluded Money Lenders
According to the Moneylenders Act, no business should carry on moneylending before first acquiring a money lender’s license unless the business is excluded or exempted.
An excluded money lender is one that primarily lends to corporations, trustees and their managers, limited liability partnerships, accredited investors and real estate trustees.
Examples of these lenders are registered societies, licensed pawnbrokers, or even employers who lend to the employees on the grounds of their employment.
Always Choose To Work With A Licensed Money Lender
It is important to know how to check money lender license so you will know all the red flags of an illegal or unlicensed lender.
For credit with good lending terms, contact Credit 21, a legal, licensed and reputable money lender in Singapore. We provide a host of custom financing solutions to those looking for quick and convenient cash.