Unlicensed moneylenders, typically also known as loansharks or “Ah Longs”, are illegal lenders who are not licensed by the Registry of Moneylenders to give out loans. These Ah Longs usually target desperate borrowers who often have no other means of getting a loan approved via legitimate sources. It may seem like a good idea to borrow from an Ah Long if one needs cash just to tie over for a short period of time, but the best advice for dealing with loanshark is “DON’T”. A moment of folly will result in having to pay a far higher price for borrowing from them.
There are several risks involved in borrowing from an Ah Long, as they are known to lend money at unreasonable and unfair terms. The most common examples are the exorbitant interest rates they charge and since these people operate outside the law, threats like splashing paint on doors and walls of the debtors, or intimidation to ensure repayment are common. More examples of such violent harassment acts include locking and setting fire on the debtors’ front doors, scribbling debtors’ personal details on common walls, and damaging properties belonging to the debtors and their neighbours.
The authorities take a very serious view on loansharking activities, and loansharking activities of any nature. Under the Moneylenders Act, a Moneylender’s License from the Registry of Moneylenders is required to operate a moneylending business. Similarly, Licensed Moneylenders have their set of rules and regulations and are required to abide by the law in their moneylending operations. An updated list of licensed moneylenders can be retrieved from the Registry of Moneylenders website. Please click here. As at 1 March 2016, there are 168 active and valid licensed moneylenders in Singapore.
Remember, the price to pay to borrow from an “Ah Long” is never worth it. There are always alternatives to loansharks. If you are on a low income, have poor credit rating, or you simply just need a small sum of cash to tie over a short period of time, there are still legitimate sources out there you can turn to instead of approaching them.