Where Can You Get Help For Licensed Money Lender Harassment?

Written by Shannon Wong on January 19, 2023

If you’re in financial difficulty, reaching out to a licensed money lender in Singapore could be the only solution if you need money urgently. You avoid loan sharks and illegal money lenders as they are known to harass borrowers.

Notwithstanding, some licensed money lenders knowingly break the rules and harass borrowers while collecting debts. 

If this happens, you don’t have to fear threats or vandalism of your property. There is a way to get help and stop such harassment. 

Whether a borrower cannot pay a money lender in Singapore doesn’t matter. No one should undergo licensed money lender harassment.

We have a detailed guide on how you can seek help if you experience licensed money lender harassment. 

What Licensed Money Lenders Can Do

The regulations set by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in Singapore mean licensed money lenders must act differently from loan sharks. 

A loan shark will give you a loan and become violent in case of defaults. You may even find your interest rate hiking.

However, legal money lenders have to abide by the moneylending rules in the Moneylenders Act to maintain their business or risk losing their moneylending licenses.

Moreover, a licensed money lender must appear on the Ministry of Law’s list of licensed money lenders. Under the Moneylenders Act, no one can carry out a moneylending business without a valid license. The only exception is exempted money lenders. 

According to the Act, any licensed money lender has obligations toward borrowers. It must maintain confidentiality and integrity and offer security to borrowers’ information. 

However, licensed money lenders can use debt collectors that must have a debt collector license in Singapore.

Fortunately, most companies use licensed debt collectors that refrain from using bad tactics to recover debts. But there are always exceptions. 

What You Need To Know About Debt Collectors 

All licensed debt collectors in Singapore work under the Credit Collection Association of Singapore (CCAS). MinLaw does not regulate them. Hence, there is no specific legislation on debt collection. 

Nevertheless, its code of ethics allows them to:

  • Talk to family, friends, colleagues, or boss: If you fail to pay your loan, debt collectors can contact your friends or family about your loan. They can also talk to your employer or stop by your office to speak to you concerning your loan. 
  • Mediate loan repayment terms: If you have issues paying your monthly installments, a debt collector can help. A debt collector can negotiate loan repayment terms with your licensed money lender on your behalf. 

They can also offer workable repayment solutions or offer better repayment options. After an agreement, they pass it on to your lender for approval.

While the code of ethics stipulates they should do the above, some debt collectors are prone to act like gangsters. This may result in unpleasant situations.

What Some Debt Collectors May Resort To

It’s not uncommon to default on your loan repayment, after which your money lender will task a licensed debt collector in Singapore to collect the debt on their behalf. 

But in some cases, some debt collectors may resort to:

  • Intimidation or threats ordering you to pay your dues
  • Vandalising your property
  • Conducting mob-style group harassment that may result in violence and humiliation
  • Inflicting physical or psychological damage
  • Mimicking government agencies and using fake identities to coerce you to pay

If a debt collector acts against the code of ethics, you should report such cases to the police. However, you need to have enough evidence about harassment of any kind.

Payment defaults don’t mean that a debt collector can resort to licensed money lender harassment. You must be aware of your rights. It’s the only way to understand how to settle with a licensed money lender.

If a debt collector crosses the line, you should seek help. Any report of unlawful behaviour may lead to business termination or closure.

What Licensed Money Lenders Cannot Do

While a debt collector can talk to your family or friends about your loan, a licensed money lender is not allowed to:

  • Intimidate or threaten you. According to the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), no one should talk in vulgar language, threaten you or act in any way to cause distress. 

A legal money lender cannot use violence, communicate using threatening language or make repetitious phone calls to scare you. No one should exercise irresponsible behavior towards you, physically or online.

  • Use any form of vandalism, such as posting pictures on your gate or walls. Some may even put stickers on your work premises or damage your property. 
  • Physically harm you. Using a weapon or punching may lead to a fine, imprisonment, or both.
  • Stalk you. If you find someone following you, taking your pictures, or hanging around your home or office with intentions to embarrass or intimidate you, the person is stalking you, and this is illegal.
  • Seize your property. No one has a right to take your asset, sell it, and recover the debt without a Writ of Seizure and Sale. If this happens, the wrongdoer may get punishment, a fine, or both under the Penal Code.
  • Organise an unlawful assembly: A licensed money lender can’t send more than five people to your home. If that happens, you should report the illegal assembly, which may result in a jail term.

Where To Get Help For Licensed Money Lender Harassment

Debt collectors abide by a code of ethics. Likewise, licensed money lenders must obey business directions under the Ministry of Law.  

You can negotiate loan repayment terms with your legal money lender if you cannot pay your dues. Most agree to negotiate repayment terms with borrowers in case of defaults. 

It’s a win-win negotiation. Your legal money lender will not hesitate to allow any conversation that may mean success in getting their money back. 

However, if you become a victim of licensed money lender harassment, you can:

Contact The Registry Of Moneylenders

For licensed money lender harassment, you can complain to the Registry of Moneylenders at 1800-2255-529. 

Check if your lender is on the list of licensed money lenders before taking any steps. You will be required to provide your money lender’s name, contact details, license number, and how the harassment occurred.

Call And Report The Licensed Money Lender Harassment To Law Enforcement

If trying to negotiate your loan terms fails and harassment continues, call the police on 999.

But if in a situation where you cannot talk, you can use the emergency number for SMS- 71999. The police will advise whether the alleged party is in the wrong. They will also provide the steps to take or even conduct patrol to catch the offender.

Apply For A Protection Order/ Expedited Protection Order

The police may advise you to ask for a Protection Order or an Expedited Protection Order against your money lender or debt collector. The POHA protects against further harassment of borrowers. You can also sue the harasser.

File A Complaint To CCAS

It is easy for CCAS to deal with a licensed money lender or debt collector. However, they must be a member of the association. CCAS will then take the necessary action against the offender. 

Note that this may not result in strict punishment as there is no specific law on it. But they may act as mediators by negotiating your loan repayment terms. 

File For Bankruptcy

This helps you avoid incurring further fees as your debt escalates. Also, you avoid the cost of any legal proceedings against you.

Conversely, if your debt is less than $150,000, you can opt for the Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS), which is far better than filing for bankruptcy. The latter may lower your credit rating, which could affect your borrowing in the future.

While DRS is better, it is not free. The court has to recommend the scheme. Note that your name will appear on public records. Furthermore, you will have to repay your loan within five years.

What Happens When You Lodge A Complaint Against Your Licensed Money Lender

Once you lodge a complaint, the concerned party will investigate your case. If there are issues, your money lender’s license may be suspended or cancelled. Or it may face imprisonment, fines, or both.

It’s advisable to keep any document such as SMSes, or emails, that could provide evidence of your harassment.

Never Tolerate Licensed Money Lender Harassment

It’s challenging when you have to deal with a legal money lender that wants to take advantage of your financial situation.

Licensed money lender harassment will cause distress and humiliation.

In case of any harassment, you should immediately stop making any payments. You deserve to be handled professionally, even if the licensed money lender is trying to recover its money.

1AP Credit is a licensed money lender with superb experience in helping borrowers meet their financial needs. 

We conduct ourselves with integrity and do not tolerate any form of licensed money lender harassment. We abide by the Moneylenders Act and treat every one of our customers with the respect they deserve. 

We advise anyone who wants credit access to contact us for more information or apply for a loan safely.

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